Obituary: General Sir Harry Tuzo

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AS A Major-General, Harry Tuzo was not considered Commander-in- Chief material, but luck, the vital ingredient for success, played an important part in his career.

In 1971 General Vernon Erskine-Crum died, a few weeks after becoming General Officer Commanding and Director of Operations in Northern Ireland. Tuzo was selected to take his place, and for the next two traumatic years he was to need every ounce of his diplomatic, negotiating and military skills, for these were terrifying times for the Province.

Just before he arrived the first soldier was killed on duty; a month later three young Scottish soldiers were lured to their death. Internment without trial was introduced which only increased the violence. In January 1972 "Bloody Sunday" provoked international criticism and by June of that year, the 100th British soldier had been killed. "Bloody Friday", in which nine civilians were killed by an IRA bomb, followed a month later. Something had to be done.

After consultation with Whitehall, Tuzo saturated the Republican areas of West Belfast and Londonderry with 30,000 troops and prised open the "no-go" areas. The success of Operation "Motorman" was a turning point in the troubles. Those who had judged Tuzo not C-in-C material had not seen him under fire.

Born in Bangalore, India, in 1917, he was the son of John Tuzo, an army officer who died of fever before his son had a chance to know him. He was educated at Wellington and Oriel College, Oxford, and joined the Supplementary Reserve from where he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1939.

After a fortnight's training he crossed to France with the 21st Anti- Tank Regiment. By May 1940 he was part of the evacuating British Expeditionary Force heading for Harwich in a paddle cruiser. He remained in Britain with the 21st A-T Regiment on coastal defence until June 1944 when he crossed the Channel with them in support of the 11th Guards Armoured Division in Normandy. In the battles across north-west Europe, where there was often bitter fighting, particularly around Caen, he won an MC. As a battery commander in Germany, he had the unusual experience of accepting the surrender of a German Admiral (the Flag Officer U Boats).

After the war his career was a combination of staff and artillery appointments. In 1958 he was made a Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel after commanding L Battery in the 2nd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery (RHA). He then served as GSO1 in Staff Duties and then Directorate of the General Staff at the War Office. He was then given command of the 3rd Regiment, RHA in 1960 and took them to Kenya as part of the Strategic Reserve, east of Suez.

Tuzo returned to become Assistant Commandant of Sandhurst, but 18 months later was given command of the 51st Gurkha Brigade in Borneo, where one of his areas of responsibility was Brunei. It was an unusual appointment which he relished. His Gurkha battalions not only helped to win over the "hearts and minds" of the local tribesmen, but along with the SAS in Operation "Claret" were involved in several successful "shoot and scoot" incursions across the border to threaten the Indonesian forces. The Sultan of Brunei was delighted with Tuzo's work and honoured him with the title Dato Setia Nagara in 1965.

He attended Staff College before being promoted Major-General as Chief of Staff of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in 1967. This was followed by his appointment as Director of Royal Artillery based at the Ministry of Defence.

He was expecting to retire from this appointment, but was called to Northern Ireland and further promotion. Northern Ireland honed his understanding of the military and political implications of a situation and this led to his appointment as Commander Northern Army Group and C-in-C BAOR in 1973. It was a natural progression for Tuzo to become Deputy Supreme Commander in Europe to General Al Haig in 1976.

On his retirement in 1979 he became chairman of Marconi Space and Defence Systems until 1983. He maintained close contact with the army as Master Gunner, from 1977 to 1983. During his time as chairman of the Royal United Services Institute (1980-83), he restructured and restaffed the institute, which laid the foundation for its subsequent role in international security affairs, particularly in its informal dealings with Warsaw Pact countries.

He felt passionately about his home county, Norfolk, where he was a Deputy Lieutenant and President of the Norfolk Society. He was also chairman of the Pensthorpe Waterfowl Trust and chaired the board of King's Lynn Arts Festival.

Tuzo was a man of considerable courage, charm and charisma. He had a sharp intellect, great humour and could hold an audience spellbound. His natural warmth, smile and genuine concern for others endeared him not only to generals and international statesmen, but to the private soldier or the flower arranger at his local church. He seldom left any organisation or situation without having enriched it with his wisdom.

Harry Craufurd Tuzo, soldier: born Bangalore, India 26 August 1917; MC 1945; OBE 1961; Chief of Staff, British Army of the Rhine 1967-69, Commander- in-Chief 1973-76; Director, Royal Artillery 1969-71, Colonel Commandant 1971-83; General Officer Commanding and Director of Operations, Northern Ireland 1971-73; KCB 1971, GCB 1973; Commander, Northern Army Group 1973- 76; Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Europe 1976-78; Aide-de-Camp (Gen) to the Queen 1974-77; Master Gunner, St James's Park 1977-83; married 1943 Monica Salter (one daughter); died Norwich 7 August 1998.