The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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Hutton was Wavell's capable chief of staff in India when war broke out. Dispatched to take over command of Burma after war broke out in the Pacific, he did his best to carry out Wavell's unrealistic instructions to fight for every foot of territory. In particular, he deployed small forces to hold the Tenasserim airfields, which formed the air bridge to Malaya and were within Japanese bomber range of Rangoon. However, he was unable to stem the Japanese tide and became the "sin-eater" (Lewin 1996) for the prewar neglect of the Burmese defenses. His devotion to Wavell and best efforts to carry out his instructions did not save him from the wrath of Wavell, who on 28 February 1942 accused him of defeatism (Allen 1984):
It was the only time I have seen him completely lose control of himself. He stormed at me in front of the Governor, the AOC and a number of Officers and Civilians in a most excited way and I felt the only dignified thing was to do was to make no reply. I certainly felt then, and still feel, that if he had had his way the whole army and a large number of Civilians would have been captured in Rangoon by the Japanese.
Hutton was relieved by Harold Alexander in March 1942, who brought in the extremely capable William Slim as his corps commander.
Hutton's principal subordinate, Smyth, believed (probably correctly) that Hutton's dogged adherence to Wavell's instructions severely hampered Smyth's defense of eastern Burma. Smyth would rather have retreated to a more defensible position in order to fight the Japanese on his own terms. The Official History sided with Smyth, leading to a controversy in which Hutton all but accused Smyth of timidity.
||Graduates from Military Academy
as an artilleryman
||Assistant military secretary
||Deputy assistant adjutant
general, War Office
||Staff, Eastern Command
||Military assistant to Chief of
the Imperial General Staff
||Staff, Military Operations
||Staff, 1 Division
||Commander, Western Independent
||Deputy chief of staff, India
||Chief of staff, India
||Commander, Burma Command
||Secretary of War Resources and
Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives (accessed 2007-12-26)
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