Professor Bill Gutteridge: Expert in southern African politics

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The Independent Online

Bill Gutteridge was an extremely able and versatile academic of considerable experience whose publications covered a variety of themes in the study of international politics.

He will be remembered in particular for his work on the role of the military in African politics and his perceptive analyses of southern African issues. He enjoyed unrivalled access to decision-making in the region and throughout his academic career displayed a capacity for detailed and penetrating understanding of the complexities of African politics. He was, too, a gifted and innovative teacher and as much as home in the classroom as he was giving evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

William Gutteridge was born in 1919, the son of Frank and Nora Gutteridge. He was a pupil at Stamford School and read Modern History at Hertford College, Oxford. He spent the war years in the Far East; commissioned into the Manchester Regiment, he served in Burma as a Staff Officer in HQ33 corps and took part in the Mandalay campaign. He also served as Chief Personnel Officer to the Second Division and was awarded an MBE (Military) in 1946.

In the early post-war period, a Sandhurst post enabled him to cultivate his keen interest in things military; as Senior Lecturer in Commonwealth History and Government he joined a group of young scholars, many of whom subsequently distinguished themselves as teachers and writers on Cold War issues. The two-year course (subsequently cut back to a year's study, much to his regret) enabled him to demonstrate his pedagogic skills: he enthused his young charges, providing a well-rounded intellectual understanding of the complex world in which their military skills would, of necessity, be deployed.

His interest in African affairs was enhanced by the award of a Nuffield Travelling Fellowship (1966-71). He used it to good effect: between 1962 and 1975 he published four major works: Armed Forces in New States (1962); Military Institutions and Power in the New States (1964); The Military in African Politics (1969); Military Regimes in Africa (1975). This impressive body of work on Africa's military was a pioneering effort and one which retained its value as commentary on the impact of military elites on African postwar politics.

He also had a keen interest in the politics of South Africa and was an influential member of the Chatham House Study Group established in 1962. Discussions resulted in several important publications on the apartheid issue and the strategies deemed appropriate for dealing with it.

Leaving Sandhurst in 1963, Gutteridge became head of the Languages and Modern Studies Department at Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry. His eight years there gave him valuable experience as a senior polytechnic administrator which he put to good use in his role as Chairman of the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA). This was a demanding task requiring a commitment to maintaining and enhancing high academic standards as well as sensitivity in advising both the CNAA and the academic community on what was required to advance the cause of polytechnic education.

In 1971 he moved to Aston University where he became Director of Complementary Studies and subsequently Professor of International Studies in 1976. Here he encouraged students of science and technology to think about political and cultural issues – another example of his pioneering cast of mind.

Throughout the years at Aston, and indeed after his retirement in 1982, he maintained a keen and perceptive interest in South African affairs. He also broadened his academic interests to include studies of conflict and terrorism. From 1989 to 1994 he was editorial director of the Research Institute for the Study of Conflict, publishing a number of monographs. Another achievement was his participation as secretary to the British Pugwash Group (1965–1986) where his grasp of nuclear and defence issues was exceptionally helpful to the group's discussions. Worth noting, too, is the assistance he gave in the 1990s to the South African government on the restructuring of the country's armed forces.

Bill Gutteridge was a man of great integrity, with a genuine capacity for friendship and good fellowship. He had immense administrative competence which he deployed with skill and fairness in the discharge of his many responsibilities. As a colleague and co-author he was a pleasure to work with; his conversation was laced with good humour and perceptive observation.

J E Spence

William Frank Gutteridge, scholar of international politics: born 21 September 1919; MBE (Mil) 1946; Senior Lecturer in Commonwealth History and Government, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst 1946-63; Head, Languages and Modern Studies Department, Lanchester Polytechnic 1963-71; Secretary, British Pugwash Group for Science and World Affairs 1965-86; Director of Complementary Studies, Aston University 1971-80, Professor of International Studies 1976-82 (Emeritus), Head, Politics and Economic Studies Department 1980-82; Editorial Consultant, Institute for the Study of Conflict 1982-89; Executive and Editorial Director, Research Institute for the Study of Conflict and Terrorism 1989-94, Director 1994-2001; married 1944 Margaret McCallum Parker (three daughters); died 22 May 2008.