Current Affairs History Military Politics

The British Army’s “Tuzo Plan” Of 1972

Joint footpatrol of British UDA terrorists and British Army soldiers
Joint footpatrol of British UDA terrorists and British Army soldiers, British Occupied North of Ireland, 1970s

Over on the Broken Elbow blog the veteran Irish journalist Ed Moloney has a detailed examination of the British Army’s so-called “Tuzo Plan, named after its originator General Sir Harry Craufurd Tuzo. If the strategy had been implemented in 1972 it would have seen the UK Forces in Ireland and their counterparts in the British terror factions co-operating together in a military drive against the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army in the north-east of the country. While Tuzo and those around him clearly thought that the destruction of the Irish insurgency would be the outcome of the planned offensive, with hindsight we can see that a more likely outcome would have been an intensified and more wide-spread conflict. One that would still have required a political solution through concessions on all sides to bring it to an end.

“Prior to his posting as General Officer Commanding (GoC) of British troops in Northern Ireland (where he took over from someone rejoicing in the name of Vernon Erskine-Crum, an Indian Army veteran and aide to Lord Mountbatten when he was Viceroy to India), Harry Tuzo commanded a Gurkha Brigade in Borneo during an insurgency in the late 1960’s, which the British claimed had been inspired by an Indonesian regime suspected of being under Communist influence.

Born in Bangalore, India in 1917, Tuzo was a child of the British Raj, the colonial class which ruled the sub-continent from the days of the East India Company in the late 18th century onwards. His father was a British officer in the Royal Sussex Regiment and civil engineer who also saw service in East Africa. His mother, a memsahib, was the daughter of the Raj, her father an official in the Indian civil service. As a child, Harry Tuzo was sent home to England to prepare for a life of imperial service and was schooled at Wellington College and Oriel College, Oxford.

As things turned out Tuzo reached the apex of his miltary service in the twilight of empire. Like so many of his contemporaries, Northern Ireland was to be the last hurrah of a generation whose like would never be seen again: Tuzo, Kitson, Ford, Freeland, King, Wilsey and Creasey. Such names to conjure with!

Sliding effortlessly after Oxford into a military career that was guaranteed to bring rank and honours, and, in the aftermath of World  War II, moving from one post-colonial skirmish to another, Tuzo was, in the summer of 1972, charged with devising a plan to combat and annihilate the Provisional IRA, in much the same way as his Gurkhas disposed of Indonesian rebels in Borneo, with maximum force and minimum fuss.”

As we know the “Tuzo Plan” was never implemented but aspects of it were to shape Britain’s counter-insurgency war on this island nation for the next four decades. Including the use of British terrorist gangs as the proxy-forces of the UK state.

1 comment on “The British Army’s “Tuzo Plan” Of 1972

  1. One of the nightmares of my life was seeing, when I worked in East Kalimantan, Borneo in 1972-1975, a nearby barracks with thousands of pock-marks at chest-height along its entire length. It is where the CIA-led forces of Suharto had killed local Sukarno adherents on the basis that they were communists. Upon wiping them out, the killers continued, wiping out everyone of Chinese ancestry.


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