Thursday, 23 February 2012

Military Experience - Thomas Bruce Hutton

Thomas Bruce Hutton was a professional soldier who served in the British Army from his enlistment in 1855 aged 20 to his resignation from the service in 1872 aged 38. During that time he served with the 21st (Royal Scots) Fusiliers, the 61st (South Gloucester) Regiment of Foot and the 100th (Prince of Wales Royal Canadian) Regiment of Foot. Deployments were to the Crimean War, Indian Mutiny, Canada, West Indies and West Africa as well as time spent at Aldershot in England training soldiers.

Thomas Bruce Huttton enlisted as an ensign in the 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers On10 January 1855 when he was 20. By July 1855 he was a lieutenant and on his way to the Crimean War (1853-1856). His first involvement was at the Siege of Sevastopol which took place from 25 September 1854 to 8 September 1855. Thomas would have arrived towards the end of the siege and during the final battle for Sevastopol on 8 September the regiment was in reserve and not involved in the actual battle.

With four other regiments from the Fourth Division the Fusiliers then took part in the bombardment of Kinburn on 7 October. The regiment then returned to the Crimea until the end of May 1856. From there they went to Malta before serving in the West Indies. For his services in the Crimea Thomas received a medal and clasp from the Queen, and also a Turkish medal.

The Crimean War (October 1853-February1856) was fought between the Russians and an unlikely partnership consisting primarily of British, French and Ottoman (Turkish) armies. The Ottoman Empire was in decline and the Russians wanted access to Ottoman territories, particularly to gain  access to the Mediterranean Sea. The British and the French did not want Russia to move into this area especially if it resulted in a risk to shipping through the Mediterranean. There were also disputes about access to religious sites in the area. Most of the battles were fought on the Crimean Peninsula. Major battles and sieges included Sevastopol, Balaklava and Inkerman. The icy winters played a crucial part in the sieges with all the armies suffering from the extreme cold. Major military tactical blunders on both sides were also prevalent during the campaigns in the Crimea. The end of the Siege at Sevastopol on the 8th September 1855 was one such example with the French taking the Malakhov which was their target but the British failing to take the Redan. Some of the British soldiers did succeed in scaling the fortifications but most remained outside refusing to enter, therefore providing no support to those who had breached the walls. Although the Russians later evacuated the city and the Russian naval base at Sevastopol was destroyed, the victory of the French further compounded the embarrassment of the British defeat. The war finally came to an end after the Austrians told the Russians that they would enter the war on the side of the Allies if Russia did not accept an ultimatum by 18 January 1856. Points included freedom for ships of all nations to sail on the Danube and the Black Sea, plus Russia relinquishing the protectorate of Wallachia, Moldavia and Serbia and also over the Orthodox population of the Turkish Empire. Other issues could be raised at a Peace Conference. At the end of the war all parties had suffered severe casualties for only marginal changes to the situation before the war.

The Crimean War was noted for the use of new techniques in warfare including the use of railway and the electric telegraph. Florence Nightingale gained prominence during this period with changes introduced in the treatment of British wounded soldiers. The events of the war were also documented extensively with written reports in newspapers and photographs and other illustrations keeping the public aware of developments.

Thomas Bruce Hutton had transferred to and served with the 61st Regiment in India, and was present at the siege, assault, and capture of Delhi during the Indian Mutiny. The siege took place from 8 June to 21 September 1857. During this time he was wounded in the side by a musket ball and during an assault on the city on 1 August he fell from a ladder used to scale a wall when one of the defenders upset the ladder putting him out of action for a time.

The following article provides an account of the the Siege of Dehli.

For his services during the Indian Mutiny  Thomas was presented with a medal and clasp.

How Thomas Bruce Hutton missed promotion after the fall of Dehli in 1857 (Notes of George Hutton written in early 1930s)

T B Hutton served at the siege of Dehli in 1857 and after the capture of the city went a day or two later to the general's quarters with some report. The general was engaged when T B reached headquarters, so he had to wait outside the general's tent, and passed the time chatting to the native servants. He spoke the dialect of the district well, Hindustani which he also spoke being merely the language of the camp. Suddenly the flap of the tent was thrown back by the general who said:- "Who was it that was talking to my servants?" Tom replied:- "I was Sir." "Do you know Delhi at all?" asked the general. "Yes I know it well" answered Tom. "I lived there as a boy for four years with my uncle, Sir John Malcolm." "Come into the tent, you are just the man I have been looking for" said the general. Tom went in, delivered his report and after further conversation with the general received his appointment as Assistant Governor of the City of Delhi. It was only a temporary job, but as he was not on the strength of the regiment when the promotions were made he did not get his step and it was a year or two later before he got his captaincy.

On retiring from the service some 17 or 18 years later (he was then a major) he wrote to the commander-in-chief (the Duke of Cambridge) asking for the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, but not the pension, on the grounds that he would have been made a Lieutenant Colonel had he not lost a step through being temporarily employed in a civil service position at the time all the officers in his regiment received promotion. The Duke replied making an appointment to see him - at the meeting the Duke asked where he had served abroad and Tom told him "The Crimean, Indian Mutiny, Canada, West Indies and West Africa." The Duke remarked "I did not know you had seen so much service. Have you got any record of the actual fighting you have seen?" T B had. He had made a note of every engagement he had been in. The Duke was more than satisfied and gave him the rank he had asked for ad the pension as well. The Duke was asked about the promotion afterwards in the House of Commons and replied by explaining the circumstances and stated that it was a new arrangement for rewarding deserving officers who through no fault of their own had missed promotion.

Two books on the Crimean War:
Fletcher, Ian and Natalia Ishchinko. (2008) War in the Crimea: an illustrated history
Kerr, Paul et al. (1997) The Crimean War

Two books on the Indian Mutiny 1857:
 Spilsbury, Julian (2007) The Indian Mutiny
Hibbert, Christopher (1978) The Great Mutiny India 1857

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