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James Bruce Scott

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Subject: 39th Infantry Division (India), James Scott, Battle of Yenangyaung
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James Bruce Scott

Major-General James Bruce Scott, CB, DSO, MC (1892–1974) was an officer in the British Indian Army best known for commanding the 1st Burma Division during the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942. James Bruce Scott was born 25 December 1892 (his surname is sometimes shown as Bruce-Scott, but this is not correct.[1] He attended Exeter School and Sandhurst. He was commissioned onto the Unattached List for the Indian Army on the 20 January 1912. He was appointed to the Indian Army on the 13 March 1913.

During World War I he served in Egypt in 1914, France in 1915, Egypt & Aden in 1916, German East Africa in 1917. He was wounded and was awarded the Military Cross.[2][3]

Back in India he served during the Afghanistan & North West Frontier 1919 operations.[3]

He served in Waziristan during 1920-21 and was Mentioned in Despatches.[4]

He joined the 1st battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles on the 20 July 1922 and appointed a company commander 8 July 1924

He served on North West Frontier during 1930-31 operations and was Mentioned in Despatches.[5]

Served as a General Staff Officer grade 2 from 1 April 1932 and 1 January 1934.[3]

He served on the North West Frontier (Mohmand) operations in 1933.[3]

On 2 November 1936, he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and assumed command of the 1 Battalion, 8th Gurkha Rifles. On 29 June 1939, Scott was transferred to Burma where he was appointed to command the newly formed Maymyo Brigade and promotion to the rank of local brigadier.[6]

On 1 July 1941, Scott was promoted acting major-general and assumed command of the embryonic 1st Burma Division. This formation was raised in response to the increased tension in South East Asia, and comprised the Maymyo Brigade (re-designated as the 1st Burma Infantry Brigade) the newly formed 2nd Burma Infantry Brigade and the 13th Indian Infantry Brigade, which had arrived from India in April 1941. The 1st Burma Division was one of only two British divisional formations in Burma at the time of the Japanese invasion. Scott commanded the division throughout the difficult Burma campaign of 1942. In the retreat from Rangoon his division was trapped in the vicinity of Yenangyaung and his force had to fight its way out of the encirclement to link up with the force sent to rescue it. During the campaign, Scott was promoted temporary major-general on 1 July 1942. He successfully extracted his division from Burma and led it into India. Scott was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 28 October 1942 for his leadership in Burma. On arrival in India, the 1st Burma Division was re-designated as the 39 Indian Infantry Division on 20 June 1942.

Scott was appointed as the Inspector of Infantry in India with effect from 28 March 1943,[6] his promotion to major-general being made substantive on 20 June 1943.[6] On 12 November 1943, he was appointed General Officer Commanding Peshawar District in India. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) on 1 January 1944. After three years in post, Scott relinquished his command on the 12 November 1946,[6] retiring from the Indian Army on the 10 May 1947. Scott died in 1974.



  • Generals of World War II: James Bruce Scott
  • Military Career of James Bruce Scott
  • Indian Army List Supplement 1941
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