Bhamo Battalion, Burma Frontier Force
The Bhamo Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, came into being following the separation of Burma from India in 1937. Prior to this there had been a battalion of the same title with the Burma Military Police from between October 1888 and July 1889 and then from 1893. The Battalion Headquarters were at Bhamo.
In 1939 the Battalion was organised with a headquarters company, a training company, six rifle companies and two mounted infantry troops. Companies consisted of three platoons and a company headquarters platoon but automatic weapons were restricted to one Lewis gun per company and there were no mortars in the Force. The sanctioned strength of the Battalion was 888 infantry and 70 mounted infantry. The majority of the infantry and all of the mounted infantry were located with the Battalion Headquarters at Bhamo. Permanent outposts were maintained at Sinlumkaba, Pangkham, Warabum and Alawpum. Additional posts were manned during the “open season” (the dry season, between October/November and March/April) at Lweje, Nawphrayaung and Nalon.
At the time of the outbreak of war with Japan, Burma Frontier Force outposts had been reduced to a minimum and battalions were little more than training centres containing recruits, and long service men unfit for active duty. The Bhamo Battalion Headquarters consisted merely of a depot with a staff for training all the Kachin recruits for the Force. The battalion was commanded by Lt. Colonel R.M. Jacob  who had been recalled from retirement in 1939 and who was unfit for active service. With him were two Assistant Commandants who had been placed on the Supernumerary Unemployed List for some years and then recalled for duty. One of these was unable to march. The Battalion could not be regarded as having been fit for serious operations.
A number of Kachins of the Battalion joined the Kachin Levies raised by Captain E.R. Leach during April 1942. However by the time of the rapid Japanese drive on Bhamo the men had all deserted Leach. 
As part of the reorganisation of the Burma Military Police in Myitkyina, on 1st May 1942, Major A. Smith, until then an Assistant Commandant with the 2nd Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police, was sent from that town to Bhamo to join the Battalion.
Major Enriquez of the Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police recalled that he on 27th April at Katha he met Captain E.W. Booker of the Bhamo Battalion. Booker left Katha on 4th May with Major Enriquez’s party on the trek to India which was reached on 22nd May.
By mid-April the Japanese were thrusting into northern Burma. The Japanese 56th Division advanced with surprising speed and captured Lashio on 29th April. Its main objective was the bridge over the Salween River in China, which would effectively close the Burma Road and take in the destruction of a large part of the Chinese Army in Burma in the process. With the capture of Lashio and the prospect of reinforcements arriving shortly, while the main body of the 56th Division headed for the Salween crossing, the Division also took the opportunity to launch a secondary thrust to capture Bhamo and Myitkyina. On 30th April, the Division's 56th Reconnaissance Regiment left Lashio for Bhamo. Two Chinese rearguard positions were overcome at Hsweni and Kutkai, formely outposts of the Burma Frontier Force. At Mong Yu late on 2nd May, the Japanese captured a further Chinese force mounted in trucks. Driving on, early the next morning the Japanese reached the suspension bridge across the Shweli River at Manwing near Namkhan. The bridge had been prepared for demolition and was guarded by the Northern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force. For reasons unknown the demolition of the bridge failed and it was captured intact, the Burma Frontier Force commander, Lt. Colonel Wallace being killed. The Japanese raced on to Bhamo.
Meanwhile at Bhamo, the arrival of evacuees and stragglers with consequent rumours and stories caused a number of desertions in the Battalion, some of which were Indian but most were from indigenous classes who wanted to go to their homes. The launch “Shwemyo” arrived from Mandalay on the morning of 1st May bearing the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles and a detachment of the 6th Battalion. On 2nd May, the last evacuation steamer to leave was sent down. On the morning of 3rd May an officer in a lorry reached Bhamo and reported that he had been fired at and chased by Japanese lorries which had crossed the Shweli bridge at Manwing. He declared that the Japanese might be in Bhamo at any minute. As far as can be ascertained the Commandant, Lt. Colonel Jacob issued orders that all ranks were to get to India in small groups in the best possible way they could. Jacob appears to have headed towards Sinlumkaba. He and his senior Assistant Commandant, Major T.H. Geake, Burma Military Police, were not heard of again and it was later reported that Jacob and Geake had been murdered by a Sikh orderly.  The men themselves moved off in small detachments under GCOs and NCOs in different directions, some to the railway at Mogaung, others, including the 9th Battalion, The Burma Rifles, headed for Myitkyina.
The Japanese raced up to Bhamo and after a brief fight with a small detachment of Chinese troops, captured the town at around 23:00 that evening, 3rd May. At the riverfront they captured thirteen boats loaded with weapons and supplies.
It is not known if any of the men of the Bhamo Battalion reached India. If any did they would have been sent on in drafts from the immediate border area to Hoshiarpur in the Punjab which had been nominated as the centre for the collection and reorganisation of the Burma Army.
On arrival at Hoshiarpur, along with others of the Burma Frontier Force and Burma Military Police, the men were registered, given advances of pay, replacement clothing and sent to their homes on war leave. On return from leave, the men were sorted out and medically graded. Those found suitable for further service were eventually drafted to Battalions of the Burma Regiment which was formed from Burma Frontier Force and Burma Military Police personnel on 1st October 1942. Initially six infantry battalions were raised, with a mounted infantry and a training battalion also planned, all organised into two administrative brigade.
17 November 2017
 "The Lineages and Composition of Gurkha Regiments in British Service", J.L. Chapple, 1984.
 “Burma Frontier Force … 1939-1942”, by Lt. Col H.M. Day, WO 203/5694.
 “Burma Frontier Force”, WO 106/3673
 “F.F.1’s Part in the Burma Campaign" by Lt. Col. W.R.V. Russell M.C.”, WO 203/5699.
 Rupert Montague Jacob, born 31st July, 1886. Commissioned from Cadet to the Unattached List as 2nd Lt., 23rd January 1906. Appointed to Indian Army, 17th March 1907. Promoted to Lieutenant, 24th April 1908, 124th Baluchis. Promoted to Captain, 24th January 1915, 130th Baluchis. Awarded the Military Cross, gazetted 1st February 1917. Staff Captain until 23rd February 1917. Mentioned in Despatches, 6th August 1918. As Captain, temporary Major, promoted to Brevet Major, 11th February, 1919. As Brevet Major, 130th Baluchis, relinquished appointment as D.A.A.G., 19th February 1919. Promoted to Major, 24th January 1921. As Major, serving with the Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Military Police in 1924. Promoted Lt. Colonel, 24th January 1932. Burma Police, 1933. As Lt. Colonel, whilst serving with the Burma Military Police, awarded the King’s Police Medal for distinguished service, gazetted 7th January 1936. In July 1937 was Commandant of the Bhamo Battalion, BFF at Bhamo. Retired 25th January 1938. Recalled for duty and, as Commandant, Bhamo Battalion, BFF, died 6th June 1942 (“murdered by a Sikh orderly”), recorded on the Rangoon Memorial. Located at Bhamo as Commandant, Bhamo Battalion, BFF - "Said to have gone to Simlum with some of his troops but was never hard of again, presumably killed with Major Geake" (London Gazette; Indian Army List; FindMyPast; Mss Eur E250/(133); “Personal Diary of events in Burma prior to and during the campaign with an account of the retreat through the Hukong [sic] Valley”, Edward Hewitt Cooke, National Army Museum Acquisition No.1972-02-44; “War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941”, Savannah (2004); Commonwealth War Graves Commission; BACSA).
 WO 203/5694
 Edmund Ronald Leach born, 7th November 1910. Educated at Marlborough and Clare College, Cambridge where he graduated with honours in Engineering, 1st January 1932. Went to study the Kachin Hills of Burma, 1939. Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, ABRO (ABRO 79), 10th November 1939. Served with the 1st Battalion, The Burma Rifles, October 1940 to December 1940. War substantive Lieutenant, temporary Captain, 15th June 1941. Served with the 10th (Training) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1941. Promoted to Lieutenant, 17th October 1941. Served with the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles (not verified), 1942?. Seconded to the "X" List (wounded?), January 1942. Appointed to organise the Kachin Levies, April 1942 to May 1942. Trekked out of Burma to China, May 1942. As acting Major, flew to Fort Hertz to organise the Northern Kachin Levies with Lt. Colonel Gamble, August 1942. Transferred to the Civil Affairs Service (Burma) after quarrelling with Lt. Colonel Gamble and being reduced in rank to 2nd Lieutenant, August-September 1942. Transferred to the Civil Affairs Service (Burma), August-September 1942. Became a lecturer in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, 1946. Received a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the London School of Economics, 1947. Became a lecturer at Cambridge University, later being promoted to reader, 1953. Elected provost of King's College, Cambridge, 1st January 1966. Knighted, 1975. Retired, 1979. Died, Cambridge, 6th January 1989 ("Amiable Assassins, The Story of the Kachin Guerillas of North Burma", Fellowes-Gordon I., Robert Hale (1957);"Edmund Leach", Tambiah S.J., British Academy; "Burma Levies 1942", WO 203/5712; Burma Army List January 1940; Burma Army List October 1940; Burma Army List 1943; Burma Defence Services July List 1941; Alan Macfarlane - E Leach; Wikipedia - Edmund Leach).
 “Burma Levies 1942”, WO 203/5712
 Andrew Smith born, 6th February 1901. Commissioned as 2nd Lt. to the Unattached List, 24th December 1920. Served as Platoon Commander, attached to the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, 4th April 1921 to 29th March 1922. Served as a Company Officer, the 79th Carnatic Infantry, 30th March 1922 to 11th November 1923. Appointed to the Indian Army (AI 983), attached to the 79th Carnatic Infantry (from 1923 the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Madras Regiment), 4th April 1922. Served as a Company Officer, attached to the 10th Battalion, 3rd Madras Regiment, 21st November 1923 to 20th January 1924. Served as Company Officer, the 1st Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, 21st January 1924 to 14th March 1928. Served as Quartermaster, the 1st Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, 15th March 1928 to 31st December 1930. Served as Quartermaster, the 1st Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, Taiping, 1st January 1931 to 13th June 1931. Served as Officiating Company Commander, the 10th Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, 14th June 1931 to 2nd November 1931. Served as Officiating Quartermaster, the 10th Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, 3rd November 1931 to 31st December 1931. Served as Company Commander, the 10th Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, 1st January 1932 to 23rd January 1932. Served as Quartermaster, the 1st Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, Taiping, 24th January 1932 to 31st December 1932. Promoted to Captain, 25th October 1932. Served with the 1st Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, 1st January 1933 to 31st October 1935. Transferred to the Special Unemployed List, with effect from 1st November 1935. Arrived from the United Kingdom at Shillong, India for duty with the Regimental Centre, 10th Gurkha Rifles., 2nd October 1939. Captain, Special Unemployed List, attached The Burma Rifles, April 1940. Appointed to the Burma Defence Force, 1st November 1940. As Major, Assistant Commandant, the 2nd Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police, January 1941 to May 1942. Promoted to Major, 26th October 1941. As Major, the Bhamo Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, May 1942. Appointed as Second-in-Command to the Kokine Garrison Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 19th September 1942. Major, Special Unemployed List, attached The Burma Rifles, 14th January 1943. Major, Military Employ, attached The Burma Rifles, 1943-44. Appointed Officiating Commandant, the 26th Garrison Battalion, Burma Regiment, and granted rank of acting Lt. Colonel, 8th March 1945. Appointed temporary Lt. Colonel with effect from 8th July 1945. Relinquished post of Officiating Commandant, the 26th Garrison Battalion, Burma Regiment, 2nd August 1945. Reassumed appointment of Officiating Commandant, the 26th Garrison Battalion, Burma Regiment, and granted rank of temporary Lt. Colonel, 6th September 1945. Proceeded on leave to the United Kingdom, 16th November 1945. Reassumed appointment of Officiating Commandant, the 26th Garrison Battalion, Burma Regiment, 11th February 1946. Commander No.5 H & E Centre, 18th May 1946 to 31st January 1946. Major (acting Lt. Colonel), Military Employ, Special Unemployed List, 1946. Posted to the Burma Regimental Centre, 1st February 1947. Posted as Records Officer, Burma Regimental Centre, 1st February 1947. Appointed as Records Officer, Burma Regimental Centre, 30th April 1947. As Major (AI 983) granted the honorary rank of Lt. Colonel on reverting to the Special Unemployed List, 5th April 1948 (Burma Army List; Burma Defence Services List July 1941; Indian Army List; Indian Army List 1921; Indian Army List April 1940; Indian Army List April 1943; Indian Army List October 1943; Indian Army List April 1944; Indian Army List October 1944; Indian Army List October 1946; IOR/L/MIL/14/2729; London Gazette; War Diary of the Kokine Garrison Battalion, WO 172/691; “Report of Burma Military Police” by Major H. Chappell, WO 203/5693).
 “Burma Military Police”, report by Major H Chappell, 2nd Rangoon Battalion, BMP, WO 203/5693
 Eric Windsor Booker born, 22nd November 1914. Date of first commission or for seniority in A.B.R.O., 17th May 1937. Worked for the Bombay-Burmah Trading Corporation as "Forest Staff", pre-war. Commissioned as 2nd Lt., ABRO (ABRO 33), 10th November 1939. Promoted to Lieutenant, 10th November 1939, with seniority from 17th August 1939. As Lieutenant, served as Assistant Commandant with the Mytikyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 11th February 1940 to late 1940. Column Commander, No. 2 Infantry Column, F.F.2, Burma Frontier Force from late 1940. Temporary Captain from 14th March 1942. As Captain, Assistant Commandant with the Bhamo Battalion, joined a detachment of the Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police at Katha in May 1942. Trekked with that party to Homalin where he reported to Lt. Colonel Learmond of the Mandalay Battalion, 13th May 1942. As Captain, served with the 5th Battalion, The Burma Regiment, 1943. After the war worked as a Forest Assistant in North Borneo (sailed from Southampton aboard S.S. "Corfu" for Singapore, 30th May 1957), post-war. Died, 1980 ("Short History of Original F.F.2" by Capt. E.W. Booker, WO 203/5701; ancestry.co.uk; Burma Army List October 1940; Burma Army List 1943; FindMyPast; Indian Army List July 1940; London Gazette; Thacker's Directory 1941; The private papers of Lt. Colonel A.W.S. Learmond).
 “Burma Invaded 1942”, Enriquez, C.M.
 “Burma 1942, The Japanese Invasion”, I.L. Grant, K. Tamayama, Zampi (1999)
 “Burma 1942, The Japanese Invasion”, I.L. Grant, K. Tamayama, Zampi (1999); “Indian Armed Forces in World War II, The Retreat from Burma 1941-42”.
 “Burma Invaded 1942”, Enriquez, C.M.
 “Personal Diary of events in Burma prior to and during the campaign with an account of the retreat through the Hukong [sic] Valley”, Edward Hewitt Cooke, National Army Museum Acquisition No.1972-02-44
 Thomas Henry Geake, born, 16th March 1899. Joined the Army, the 35th Training Reserve Battalion at Newton Abbot, 2nd June 1917. Appointed temporary Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1st May 1918. Served with the "Hood" Battalion, 189th Brigade, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, 1918-19. Served France, from June 1918. Served as Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve until appointed temporary 2nd Lieutenant, the Royal Fusiliers, 14th May 1919, with seniority from 1st May 1918. Served Russia, July 1919. As temporary 2nd Lt., the Royal Fusiliers, relinquished his commission on appointment as cadet, the Royal Military College, 29th January 1920. Commissioned to the Unattached List as 2nd Lt. (AI 701), 24th December 1920, with seniority from 1st May 1919. Appointed to the Indian Army as Lieutenant, attached to the 30th Punjabis, 10th March 1922, with seniority from 1st May 1920. Attached to the 16th Punjab Regiment from 1st January 1923. Promoted to Lieutenant, 1st May 1925. Served North-West Frontier of India, 1930-31. Served Burma (Saya San Rebellion), 1930-32. Seconded and served as Assistant Commandant, Burma Military Police, 27th May 1930. Promoted to Major, 1st May 1937. Transferred to the Special Unemployed List, 1st March 1938. Assistant Commandant, the 1st Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police from 31st March 1940 to May 1942. Commanding Officer of the training companies of the Rangoon Battalions, Burma Military Police, when these withdrew from Rangoon to Mandalay and then Bhamo, 1942 to May 1942. Murdered by a Sikh orderly, buried Sagaing, May-June 1942. Accompanied Lt. Colonel R.M. Jacob, Northern Shan State Battalion, from Bhamo towars Sinlumkaba and neither were heard of again, presumed murdered, May 1942. As Major, acting Lt. Colonel, (10th Battalion, 16th Punjab Regiment) (AI 701) died, 6th June 1942. Commemorated on the St. Agnes War Memorial, Cornwall, 1st August 2015 ("War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); ADM 339/3/653; BACSA; British Army List; CWGC; Indian Army List 1921; Indian Army List January 1942; London Gazette; Navy List January 1919; “Personal Diary of events in Burma prior to and during the campaign with an account of the retreat through the Hukong [sic] Valley”, Edward Hewitt Cooke, National Army Museum Acquisition No.1972-02-44; “Report of Burma Military Police” by Major H. Chappell, WO 203/5693; WWI Army Service Record (ancestry.co.uk); www.roll-of-honour.com/Cornwall/StAgnes.html).
 WO 203/5694
 “Burma 1942, The Japanese Invasion”, I.L. Grant, K. Tamayama, Zampi (1999)
 IOR L/WS/1/1313