The Burma Campaign

1st and 2nd Rangoon Battalions, Burma Military Police

The Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police was formed in April 1893.  On separation of the Government of Burma from that of India in April 1942, two Rangoon Battalions, the 1st and 2nd, were retained together with the Mandalay Battalion and acted as armed police, providing support to the Civil Police.[1]

In December 1941 the reported strengths of the 1st and 2nd Battalions were 1,421 and 1,129 respectively.[2]

War Comes to Rangoon

With the outbreak of War with Japan on 7th December 1941, the duties and responsibilities of the two Rangoon Battalions, Burma Military Police stationed in Rangoon greatly increased.  In Rangoon guards had to be provided over Japanese premises and vulnerable points in the city and its suburbs had to be guarded.  The Battalions also worked with the Civil Police in organising passive air raid defence measures.  Active air defence was organised for the protection of the Battalions' Lines (barracks) and plans were made for participation in an anti-parachutist scheme should this become necessary.  Advanced tactical training begun under Army supervision came to an end given these new duties.[3]

In addition to duties in the city, the Battalions found garrisons at the Headquarters of Districts along the coast line from Victoria Point up through the Tenasserim area to Akyab and in Burma up to a line drawn slightly north of Toungoo and Prome.  The posts in the Tenasserim Area withdrew as the Japanese advanced throughout January and February 1942 and most of the men came in to the Battalion Headquarters in Rangoon.[4]

In view of the probability of the general evacuation of the city and the likelihood of the Burma Military Police having to leave Rangoon, and to prevent further disruption to the training of recruits, due to air raids and air raid warnings, the training companies of both Rangoon Battalions under the command of Major T.H. Geake, 1st Rangoon Battalion were sent to Mandalay and from there eventually to Bhamo.[5] [6]

In February 1942, two platoons of the 2nd Battalion were detailed on column duty at Thongwa in the Tharrawaddy district, and came under the command of Lieutenant H.J.M. Lindsay, an Assistant Commandant of the Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police.[7]  Lindsay had arrived with six platoons of the Mandalay Battalion on 5th February to help guard the oil installations at Syriam.[8] 

During two air raids on Rangoon on 23rd and 25th December 1941 more than 1,250 civilians were killed, precipitating the exodus of three quarters of the population.  During the raid of 2nd December the men at Burma Military Police Headquarters fired upon the Japanese planes with their rifles and light machine guns.  No bombs fell on the Burma Military Police Lines during either raid and there were no casualties among the Battalions.  Thereafter there were frequent air raid warnings as the Japanese attacked Mingaladon aerodrome but there were no further raids on Rangoon.  However each raid brought disruption as the men of the Battalions were forced to leave their barracks to take up their Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.) posts around the city.  The civil evacuation continued and a heavy strain was placed on both Battalions owing to the additional duties including the provision of escorts for prisoners and treasure.  The Battalions' records and men's kit was now packed in anticipation of the Burma Military Police being withdrawn to Mandalay.  Only a small part of this baggage actually ever left Rangoon before the order to leave was received and that left behind was looted.  At 13:00 on 20th February the two Battalions were ordered to Tharrawaddy by march route (on foot).  They left at 17:00 the same day under the command of the senior Burma Military Police commander, Major J.E.L. Martin, the Battalion Commandant of the 1st Battalion.[9]  A few lorries were obtained from the Civil Government so most of the baggage had to be left.  Around 200 men were detailed from the two Battalions to remain in Rangoon to provide essential guards and escorts, under the command of Major M.D. Hindle.[10]  During the march to Tharrawaddy two men were killed and others injured when the lorry they were travelling in left the road near Okkan.  Whilst en route notification was received that the Burma Military Police had come under the control of the army.  On arrival at Tharrawaddy the men of the 1st Rangoon Battalion were accommodated at the Burma Military Police Post and those of the 2nd Rangoon Battalion in the Karen High School.  During the course of the withdrawal from Rangoon to Myitkyina, various parties of Burma Military Police previously on outpost duty and also returning prisoner and treasure escorts rejoined and thus the strength of the Burma Military Police party under Lt. Colonel Martin fluctuated from day to day.[11]

Coast Watching

The 17th Indian Division arrived at Rangoon from India in January 1942 and immediately took over command of the defence of Tenasserim.  In the 17th Indian Infantry Division Operation Instruction No. 6, dated 2nd February it was noted that a force of Burma Military Police had been allotted for coast watching and coast protection, given fears of a Japanese attempt to outflank the defences from the sea.  The Brigades within the Division were to be notified of the locations of the Burma Military Police detachments and to keep in close contact with those in their operational area. 

In command of the Burma Military Police coast watching patrols in the Boyagyi-Kyaikkatha and Wimpadaw areas since at least 1st February was 2nd Lt. R. Saunders, Burma Military Police.[12]  On this date he was given instructions by the Headquarters 2nd Burma Brigade, following the Brigade’s withdrawal from Moulmein.  The Brigade’s Operation Instruction No.1 of 8th February noted that three platoons of Burma Military Police were under the command of the Brigade.  The Burma Military Police headquarters were at Kyaikto and platoons were deployed on coast watching and patrolling with detachments at Mokpalin, Kyaikkatha and Mokkamu.  These detachments were to make contact with the 4th Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment and with patrols of the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles that were working along the coast. [13]

The 17th Indian Division’s Operation Instruction No. 10, dated 12th February, gave detailed instructions for coast watching.  The most likely landing places that might be used by the Japanese were identified as either bank of the following waterways: the Bilin River; the Sittang River; the Kawthan Chaung; the Yinnyein River.  Ordered to watch these locations and the intervening coast, Burma Military Police posts were set up as follows:

Post A: - Kyaikkatha - one section;  Mokkamu - one section
Post B: - Taungzun - one platoon
Post C: - Zothok - one platoon
Post D: - Kadaik - one platoon
Post E: - Mayangon - one platoon
Post F: - Okpo - one platoon
Post G: - Thegon - one section
Post H: - Tatmugyaung - one section.

Co-ordination of this coast watching organisation was under the command of 2nd Lt. R.A. Anderson, The Rangoon Battalion, Burma Auxiliary Force (Anderson was commissioned into the Army in Burma Reserve of Officers (A.B.R.O.) on 4th February 1942).[14]  In command of the Burma Military Police detachments was 2nd Lt. Saunders, Burma Military Police.[15] 

Post A was in the 2nd Burma Brigade area and was to continue to maintain close contact with the 4th Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment who were close by.  Posts B, C and D were located in the 16th Indian Brigade area.  Communications relied on a telephone line between Post B and Divisional Headquarters and Hninpale.  Posts C and D were to relay messages to Post B using visual signals.  Until visual signal equipment could be made available, Posts E, F and G had to rely on runners on bicycles (for which a requisition had to be placed) to carry messages to the 46th Indian Brigade Headquarters.  Visual signals were heliograph during the day and lamps and Verey Lights at night.  In addition to maintaining a strict lookout at all times, all Posts were to carry out patrols day and night.  In the event of a Japanese landing all those not involved in sending off or carrying messages were to engage the enemy and attempt to hold them until reinforcements arrived.  The coast watchers were also warned of the possibility of a Japanese airborne landing.  Also operating in the Kyaikto-Thaton area and the nearby coast was No.1 Column of F.F.2, Burma Frontier Force, the 17th Indian Division Reconnaissance Unit, under the command of Captain J.O.V. Edwards.[16]  In addition to conducting patrols of its own, this column was also charged with supporting the Burma Military Police Posts and had under command three additional platoons of Burma Military Police.[17]

The Japanese began attacking the Bilin River line on 16th February.  On the morning of 18th February a report was received at the 17th Division Headquarters from Burma Military Police coast watchers that the Japanese were on the coast South-West of Bilin in the Kali-Tawgyi-Taungou area.  That evening, “B” Company, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Gurkha Rifles was ordered to contact the Burma Military Police and F.F.2 patrols that were holding isolated posts along the Bilin-Kyaikto road.  The initial target post was not found nor was contact with Captain Edwards made.  Edwards was ordered to find this company and to seek out the enemy on the coast and attack them.[18]

In the end, the 17th Indian Division was thrown back from the Bilin River and subsequently almost destroyed at the Sittang River.  By 25th February however a defence of the Pegu area on the West bank of the Sittang had been organised.  Once again detachments of the Burma Military Police were assigned the role of coast watching and once again were under the command of Captain Anderson.  On 1st March it was reported that the Thanaptin Railway Bridge in the Pegu district, vital to the movement of the tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade, was patrolled by the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment and detachment(s) of Burma Military Police.  During the uncertain operations to defend the Pegu area, the Headquarters 17th Indian Division issued orders on 3rd March for the 16th Indian Brigade to move back to the Tharrawaddy area upon relief by the newly arrived 63rd Indian Brigade.  Upon arrival the 16th Indian Brigade was to take over command of all troops in the Prome-Tharrawaddy area, including a detachment of Burma Frontier Force and the Burma Military Police at Tharrawaddy.  As part of the withdrawal of the 17th Indian Division formations from Pegu to the Hlegu area, the detachments of the Burma Military Police on the Pegu River, around Dabein, were to remain in place until further orders were received.  Their observation role was to continue.[19]

The fate of all the posts in the Irrawaddy delta and the Arakan is not known.  Owing to the breakdown of the Post and Telegraph and steamer services, upon which communication with the posts depended, it was never possible to get any news through to them.  Some of the men joined at Prome, others got away over the Arakan Yomas to the coast from where some reached India by sea.  However many of the men were not heard from again.[20]  The detachment of the Rangoon Battalions sent to Thongwa in February 1942 and now under the command of Lieutenant Lindsay was evacuated by sea to India on 7th March, along with the defenders of the Syriam oil installations; these being elements of the Kokine Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, the detachment of the Mandalay Battalion Burma Military Police under Lindsay, and F.F.7, Burma Frontier Force.  These evacuees arrived safely in Calcutta on 11th or 12th March before making their way to the Elephant Falls Camp near Shillong.  The evacuated men of the Burma Military Police were subsequently incorporated into the Assam Rifles.[21]

Evacuation of Rangoon

Following the departure of the Burma Military Police from Rangoon the situation in the city deteriorated and there was much looting and arson.  The men under Major Hindle had their hands full with their allotted tasks and were not available to deal with the situation.  In view of this, orders were received for the return of 500 Burma Military Police to Rangoon to restore law and order.  Around 200 men of the 1st Rangoon Battalion and 300 men of the 2nd Rangoon Battalion were detailed for this duty.  They returned to Rangoon in an empty Army motor convoy on 25th February under the command of Major H. Chappell, the Battalion Commandant of the 2nd Battalion.[22]  The 200 men of Major Hindle's command were added to Chappell's contingent.  Lieutenant Smith Dun also returned to Rangoon and Major A. Smith, whose duties as Staff Officer, Burma Military Police had ended, now joined the Battalions.[23] [24]   From this point on the officers and men of the two Battalions were mixed and were to remain so.  The Army referred to the Battalions simply as the Rangoon Battalion or just the Burma Military Police.  In combating the looting and arson, the Burma Military Police were located in the various Police Stations in Rangoon and operated from there under the orders of Police Officers who had been given Army rank.  As Police Station areas were cleared of looters, the Burma Military Police were moved to the outskirts of the city.  Law and order were restored.  At least one hundred individuals surprised either in the act of looting or arson were shot during these operations.[25]

As the Burma Military Police had no transport of their own and none was available, it was decided that when the evacuation order was given they would move on foot carrying their kit, cooking pots and rations to Kemmendine Railway Station and entrain on the last train leaving that station.  However on the final day of the evacuation from Rangoon, 7th March 1942, some forty Government lorries became available, sufficient to move all the Burma Military Police from Rangoon.  These lorries collected the Burma Military Police platoons from the Police Stations and also the Headquarters together with stores and records.  When the withdrawal signal was given, the Burma Military Police and the Civil Police set out in convoy from the Burma Military Police lines with orders to proceed to Prome.[26]

Major Chappell was the last to leave and made his way up the column by car.  At Insein it was noticed that a lorry was missing so Chappell went back for it.  The lorry had taken a wrong turning and was eventually found.  With four other lorries which had waited on the road Chappell moved on to Taukkyan where he expected to find that the remainder of the lorries had gone on ahead to Prome.  Such, however, was not the case as the enemy had blocked the road, fighting was in progress which continued all night.  Lieutenant Smith Dun was sent back to Mingaladon to look for the missing lorries.  By nightfall, some fifteen lorries containing approximately 270 men arrived at Taukkyan, but the remainder had returned to Rangoon after Major Smith who was with them had been told at Mingaladon that the road was blocked and that he should instead try to escape on the last train from Kemmendine.[27]

The next morning, 8th March, the Burma Military Police at Taukkyan were placed by Army Headquarters under the command of the 1st Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment.  An attack by infantry of the 63rd Indian Brigade and tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade was made on the road block only to find that the Japanese had gone.  During the night the enemy had passed a large force across the road and this had gone on to Rangoon.  Apart from some sniping the road North to Prome was clear and the Burma Military Police at Taukkyan were then able to continue their journey to Tharrawaddy where they halted.  Lieutenant Smith Dun returned early the next morning with 100 men at Okkan.[28]

Of those Burma Military Police who did not travel to Tharrawaddy by lorry it is not clear whether all were able to board the train at Kemmendine, the last to leave Rangoon.  Three platoons, those commanded by Subedar Saw Pan Kyaing, Officiating Subedar Major of the 2nd Rangoon Battalion, Jemadar Maithang Limbu and Jemadar Hastabahadur Limbu were never seen again.  It is possible that they were captured.  Those who did board the train under Major Smith met with near disaster at 22:00 on 7th March when the train was wrecked by hostile action.  As it approached the bridge near Wanetchaung Station a pilot engine fell through the bridge and was immediately followed by the main engine.  The train then came under fire from what was presumed to be a mixed force of Japanese and Burmans who were quickly silenced by return fire from the Burma Military Police.  Around 20 enemy casualties were inflicted before they were driven off, although at a cost to the Burma Military Police whose losses included Havildar Major Lall Khan of the 1st Rangoon Battalion.  Khan was found dead with his rifle to his shoulder with six dead Japanese nearby.  The remaining Burma Military Police made their way in foot to the Prome road where they were fortunate in being picked up by friendly lorries that took them to Tharrawaddy.  Others made their way through the jungle and joined up several days later.[29]

Major Chappell left for Prome with Major Smith on 9th March.  Moving by rail and road, some 370 men also went to Prome and on arrival were accommodated in the Burma Military Police and Civil Police Lines.  Most of the survivors from the train wreck at Wanetchaung eventually were sent to Prome to join Major Chappell’s party which came to total some 600 men under the overall command of Lt. Colonel J.E.L. Martin.  At Prome the men were fitted out with considerable difficulty with whatever could be obtained from the Field Ordnance Depot there.  The first duty of the Burma Military Police at Prome was the prevention of looting in the town.  Strong patrols were sent out continuously day and night and guards were posted at various points in the town and the looting soon ceased.  The Burma Military Police also secured the Military transit area and provided escorts for prisoners, treasure and arms.  A platoon of Karens escorting prisoners from Prome jail to Myingyan by launch suffered casualties when the launch was sunk by enemy aerial bombing.  Some fourteen men of this platoon were unaccounted for.[30]

Major Smith, the only British Officer with Major Chappell at Prome, left soon after his arrival, under Lt. Colonel Martin's orders to take command of a column near Tharrawaddy.  Brigadier F.A.G. Roughton, Inspector General, Burma Frontier Force and Officer Commanding Central Sub-Area visited Prome a few days later, and realizing how difficult it was for a single British Officer to supervise all the work required of the Burma Military Police at Prome, sent Captain H. Kavanagh to assist.[31] [32]  During their stay at Prome, there were two air raids in which two men of the Burma Military Police were killed and there were several narrow escapes.[33]

While the Burma Military Police were at Prome there were two enemy bombing raids on the town in which two men of the Burma Military Police were wounded.  In the first, the bombs were dropped accurately in the transit area.  A platoon of Burma Military Police, on this occasion, had a narrow escape when a bomb which dropped on a raised road completely shattered the upper storey of a building, 30 yards away, which they had vacated for the ground floor two minutes earlier.  The second raid resulted in the whole town being set ablaze.  One of the bombs set a building on fire and fanned by a strong wind the fire was carried right through the town.  By shutting all doors and windows in the Burma Military Police  and Civil Police Lines, and putting out fires as they broke out, the men’s accommodation was saved.  This was only accomplished by the very gallant efforts of a small body of men who carried water and beat out flames in almost intolerable heat, dense smoke and fumes,.  Sepoy Barkat Ali of the 1st Rangoon Battalion must be mentioned for climbing a tree to a height of some 30 feet from the ground and dealing with a fire which had started in the bole of a tree, and from which sparks and burning embers were falling on to the roof of one of the barracks.  The whole time he was there he was in danger of being overcome by fumes and crashing to the ground.  The fire interfered with the water supply to the lines - after this, water had to be brought by lorry from the other end of town.[34]

Out On the Flanks

The 17th Indian Division withdrawal continued after the evacuation of Rangoon and by 10th March the division had taken up positions to defend the Thonze-Tharrawaddy-Letpadan area. The Burma Military Police played an active role as part of the outer screen sent out by the division in an attempt to observe Japanese movements.  The Burma Military Police now worked in conjunction with detachments of the Burma Frontier Force and the Forest Watchers.  Burma Military Police platoons totalling about a company in strength plus a troop of mounted infantry were responsible for the area between Henzada and Bassein on the West bank of the Irrawaddy River.  The river itself was patrolled by the Royal Marines detachment, Force "Viper" and its commander, Major Johnson was ordered to liaise with the Burma Military Police Commander at Henzada Railway Station.  On the East bank, a much larger detachment, of around three companies in size, provided the observation screen from the Pegu Yomas hills to Okkan.  A detachment of the Burma Military Police of around a company in size formed part of the divisional reserve at Tharrawaddy.  The Division also had an armoured train at its disposal, manned by the 1st Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment, and if required it was to be used by the Burma Military Police-Burma Frontier Force Group on the line between Letpadan and Tharrawaddy.  In the rear, to the North of the main defences and centred on Letpadan was the 48th Indian Brigade.  One of the Brigade's tasks was to act as a reporting and rallying centre for Burma Military Police detachments operating to the East and North-east of Letpadan.[35]

On 14th March the Royal Marines Force "Viper" river patrol was based on Monyo and responsible for patrols as Far as Danubyo and Henzada.  Liaison with the Burma Military Police continued, operating through Major Hindle who was also based at Monyo.  On the 14th and 15th March, the 17th Indian Division withdrew northwards, forming new defensive positions around Okpo, South of Shwegon.  The Burma Military Police-Burma Frontier Force Group withdrew on the armoured train and on reaching Okpo took up guard of the area around the railway station.[36]

Throughout this period the Burma Military Police were used continuously to gather intelligence of Japanese movements.  They were valued for their ability to talk to local village headmen to obtain information.  In Operational Order No.7 dated 29th March, the 17th Indian Division noted that the Burma Military Police were by now relied upon for all information on the situation on the West bank.  They were seen as the best means of getting information from local villagers and that this should be exploited to the full.[37]

The Royal Marines Force "Viper" now came under the command of Lt. Colonel G.R. Musgrave, who served with the Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.), as did the Burma II Commando operating under the command of Major M. Calvert, who went on to serve with the Chindits.  On around 20th March a company-sized detachment of the Burma Military Police reinforced the group, arriving at Myaunaung on the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company launch, "Hataro".  Musgrave set off upstream on 25th March, thinking to ambush the Japanese at Kyangin.  At 02:00 the following morning, the Commando, a Royal Marine Vickers gun section, No. 2 Platoon Royal Marines and the Burma Military Police landed to set up an ambush.  However the Japanese did not arrive as expected and by 10:00 it was thought that they had bypassed Kyangin.  A further attempt at ambush was planned just North of Tonbo and the river force arrived there later that evening.  News was received that the Japanese were approaching however the next morning the group was ordered back to Prome by the 17th Indian Division.  On the night of 28th March the Commando and a Burma Military Police platoon were landed by canoe near Padaung.  On 30th March the Royal Marines landed two platoons and a Vickers machine gun section at Padaung to find that the Commando and Burma Military Police were out around the town on patrol.  Early the next morning the Marines were ambushed by the Japanese who had been hiding in the village and lost one officer and 35 men missing before taking off the balance of their men.  About half of the commando and most of the Burma Military Police platoon also got back safely.[38]

Defence of Prome

The whole of the Military Police in Rangoon had been ordered to march to Prome.  Although in reality only armed Police and very indifferently armed at that, they combined with regular units on a number of occasions in beating off Japanese attacks.  At Prome a very active part was taken in the defence of the town and the whole force of the Burma Military Police there eventually found itself alone with the Japanese on three sides.[39]  Detachments of the Burma Military Police were deployed on the West bank of the Irrawaddy, under the command of the 63rd Indian Brigade which was responsible for the defence of Prome, and led by officers of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.[40]  This British infantry battalion had flown in to Magwe from India between 9th and 14th March and by 19th March was concentrated in the Prome area.[41]

The Inniskillings battalion commander, Lt. Colonel R.G.S. Cox, later killed by an enemy fighter plane while driving a Jeep, was appointed Officer Commanding Troops, Prome.  Not long after assuming command of the area, Lt. Colonel Cox ordered the Burma Military Police to assist in the defence of Prome.  Four platoons under Subedar Moti Ram Thapa of the  2nd Rangoon Battalion, subsequently killed in a railway accident, came under the orders of Captain Walshe, a company commander of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and occupied platoon posts on the heights on the West bank of the Irrawaddy River immediately opposite Prome town.  Four platoons under Subedar Rattan Sing [sic], went with 2nd Lieutenant Semple of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to Padaung on the West bank of the river some 8 miles downstream from Prome.  One platoon under Jemadar Bisi Ram of the 1st Rangoon Battalion went with 2nd Lieutenant C.M. Monteith of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to Tonbo, also on the West bank of the river, South of Padaung.  The rationing of these detachments presented some difficulty as there were no Government launches or boats to take rations across the river.  This difficulty was eventually overcome when the Deputy Commissioner, Prome, hired country boats for the purpose.[42]

These dispositions were made on or around 23rd March, according to the war diary of the 1st Burma Corps.  The difficulty of supply was also discussed when it was noted that 2nd Lieutenant Semple had requested an advance of Rs 500 to defray the expenses of the Burma Military Police West of the Irrawaddy in the area of Tonbo-Nyaungchidauk.[43]  The men under Lieutenant Semple formed platoon posts on the Padaung-Taungup road and saw some action after which the Gurkha platoon under Jemadar Gande Rai of the 1st Rangoon Battalion was specially mentioned by Lieutenant Semple as having done well.  One of the platoons with Lieutenant Semple, led by Havildar Pasang Chhiring Lama of the 2nd Rangoon Battalion, and the platoon with 2nd Lieutenant Monteith failed to get away at the time of the withdrawal and were not heard of thereafter, although it is known that 2nd Lieutenant Monteith survived.  On 31st March Subedar Moti Ram Thapa reported the enemy moving to the West of his position towards the North.  The enemy, however, made no attempt to engage the Subedar's men who were in position on the heights.  These platoons were withdrawn without loss later that day under the orders of Headquarters 63rd Indian Brigade, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers being assigned to the 48th Indian Brigade.[44]

On 1st April the 63rd Indian Brigade ordered the Burma Military Police to provide 200 men to man four posts, each of two platoons.  Three posts were established on the foreshore on the East bank of the river to prevent the enemy from crossing the river and the fourth post was held in reserve at Brigade Headquarters.  The Burma Military Police Headquarters and the remainder of the men, less those acting as guards on ration dumps and other vital points in the town, were located in the Burma Military and Civil Police Lines around which trenches had been dug.  Here there were approximately some 200 men in total.  Lt. Colonel Martin, who had passed through Prome two days earlier, had been asked to take over these duties, but owing to some of his detachments not having returned was unable to do so.  Instead he left Captains G.B.P. Sibley and E.J. Edwards to assist.[45] [46]   Captain Kavanagh had already left Prome for Allanmyo some days previously with 120 men, including unessential details, as part of the move of Major Chappell’s party which it had been decided to withdraw to Allanmyo.  The men with Captain Kavanagh, it is understood, were moved across the river to Thayetmyo under the orders of the 2nd Burma Brigade in whose area they were now located.[47]  Captain Kavanagh now became attached to the 2nd Burma Brigade.[48]  The office records and stores at Prome had been sent previously to the Burma Frontier Force Headquarters at Yenangyaung for safe keeping and were stored at the Nyaunghla Stud Farm.[49]

Reorganisation

Earlier, on 25th March, Burcorps had issued orders for a reorganisation of the F.F. mobile detachments within the Corps.  As part of the Corps Staff there would be a new post, Commander Corps Frontier Force and Lt. Colonel G.G. Pryce assumed this role at Allanmyo on 29th March.[50]  The 17th Indian and the 1st Burma Divisions would each have a Commander Frontier Force officer on their staff who would be responsible to the Division Commander for the allocation and administration of the Frontier Force units allotted to the division.  The Commandos and the Burma Military Police then operating under Corps command were to be incorporated within this new organisation.  On 1st April Burcorps ordered the disbandment of the 1st and 2nd Rangoon Battalions, Burma Military Police and the incorporation of the these units into the current Burma Frontier Force organisation, under the administrative control of the Inspector-General, Burma Frontier Force, and the operational control of the Corps and Divisional Commanders Frontier Force, as ordered previously by the Commander-in-Chief.  The Mounted Infantry of the Mandalay Battalion were also ordered to be transferred to the Burma Frontier Force.[51]

Shwedaung and the Escape from Prome

By 27th March the defence of the Prome area was the responsibility of the 17th Indian Division, with the 63rd Indian Brigade defending Prome itself.  The Japanese now advanced as far as Paungde on the East bank of the Irrawaddy and were known to be moving up the West bank of the river also.  The 1st Burma Corps ordered a limited counter-offensive to relieve pressure on the Chinese.  The attack was to be mounted on 29th March by "Striking Force" under the command of the 7th Armoured Brigade Commander, Brigadier Anstice, and was given the objectives of Paungde and Okpo.  Brigadier Anstice's orders listed the detachments being made available to protect his line of communications and these included Burma Military Police detachments at Shwedaung, Inma and Nyaungzaye.  The commander of the Burma Military Police detachment at Shwedaung was 2nd Lieutenant Saunders.[52]  However the Operational Order issued by the Headquarters of the17th Indian Division places the Burma Military Police detachments at Inma, Nyaungzaye and Maudaing/Mandaing, the latter to the South-East of Shwedaung and North-East of Nyuangzaye.  The Burma Military Police patrols which had been operating to the South and South-East were to withdraw through Inma.  In the same order it was noted that the Burma Military Police were by now relied upon for all information on the situation on the West bank.  They were seen as the best means of getting information from local villagers and that this should be exploited to the full.[53]

The British attack resulted in confused fighting around Padigon and Paungde throughout 29th March.  However disaster threatened the British “Striking Force” for the Japanese were now discovered to be blocking the line of withdrawal.  Japanese troops crossed the Irrawaddy from Kyangin to land at Tayokhmaw before marching northwards through Nyaungzaye to Shwedaung.  It is not known what became of the Burma Military Police detachments at Nyaungzaye or at Shwedaung but the "Striking Force" was now cut off by the Japanese block at Shwedaung.  Throughout the night and the next day the British fought in vain to clear the block before eventually finding an alternate route through to Prome at the cost of many casualties.

At about 20:00 on 1st April, the Japanese began their attack on Prome from the South.  At 21:30, Captain Sibley led six lorries loaded with the men's kit to the Brigade rendezvous for motor transport where all vehicles were preparing to leave Prome with heavy kit.  Captain Sibley then returned to the Burma Military Police Lines.  There was now heavy firing to the South of Prome.  Later, fire was opened on the Burma Military Police Lines from the East and the enemy was seen moving in the moonlight and was vigorously engaged.  There was heavy machine gun fire from positions held by 1st Battalion, 11th Sikh Regiment to the East and South of the Lines.  Support for the Sikhs could not be given from the Burma Military Police Lines as the line of sight was blocked by a bund.  Later that night fire was opened on the Lines from the North and return fire was given.  Firing then broke out on the foreshore West of the Lines, but no report was received from the platoons in position there.  Later, shells passed over the Lines from the North East and appeared to burst near to the Brigade Headquarters and other units on the foreshore West of the Lines, however none fell on the Lines themselves.  As the situation was obscure, a Burma Military Police patrol was sent to the Sikh battalion's positions to the East to ask for information.  The patrol returned and reported that the Sikh positions had been vacated.  Later still, transport and troops passed along the road near the foreshore West of the Lines towards the North.  This movement was not interfered with by the Burma Military Police platoons stationed in the locality as it was presumed that both troops and transport were friendly.[54]

It appears that the 63rd Indian Brigade withdrew at 22:30 hours, but the order to withdraw did not reach the Burma Military Police Headquarters at the Police Lines nor did it reach the Burma Military Police posts at the North end of the foreshore.  At dawn on 2nd April, Major Chappell, with Captains Sibley and Edwards, took out a reconnaissance patrol and discovered that animal and motor transport to the West of the Lines was in the hands of the enemy.   The enemy called out to the patrol to go away, but to send them the British Officers.  On hearing this, and having obtained the information he needed, Major Chappell ordered the patrol back to the Lines.  Now realising that the enemy was on the South, West and North of the town, Chappell gave orders for the withdrawal to the East of the Lines across a bund and into the jungle.  The Japanese failed to close this exit and Chappell and his men got through without interference by the enemy.  The withdrawal route now headed to the North and parallel to the Prome-Allanmyo road, as far as could be judged.  With the aid of a villager as guide, and after three hours marching, contact with British troops was again made.  An immediate report was then made to the Headquarters, 17th Indian Division regarding enemy movements along the East Bank of the river to the North of Prome.  The Burma Military Police Headquarters party suffered only four casualties in its escape from Prome.  Of the remainder of the Burma Military Police in Prome, all barring two of the patrols on the foreshore withdrew with the 63rd Indian Brigade. The two platoons on the foreshore on the North of the town were presumed to have been driven out of their positions by superior forces.  Subedar Rattan Sing was bayoneted and left for dead and five other men were missing from these platoons.  The remainder fought their way to the North of Prome and eventually joined up again.[55]

Major Chappell’s party then received orders to join up with Lt. Colonel Martin’s force and the combined force set out for Allanmyo.  For four days all the men of the two Rangoon Battalions remained together and moved on further to Taungdwingyi which was reached by 6th April.  At a camp near Taungdwingyi it was decided that Lt. Colonel Martin would retain a party and continue to operate under the command of the 17th Indian Division.  This party consisted of a company of Gurkhas, a company of Kumaonis and a Headquarters of 50 men - a total of 250 men.  The remaining Burma Military Police would travel back to Myitkyina to re-equip.  This remainder moved off under the command of Major Chappell and accompanied by Majors Hindle and Smith.  One platoon from Chappell's party was detached under the orders of the commander Corps Commander Frontier Force, Lt. Colonel Pryce and sent to Migyaungye to give confidence to staff of the Post and Telegraph service stationed there.  This platoon of Karens later rejoined Chappell's party following the withdrawal from Migyaungye on 13th April.[56]

The Withdrawal of Lt. Colonel Martin's Party with the 17th Indian Infantry Division

The Burma Military Police under Lt. Colonel Martin continued to operate with the 17th Indian Division in the by now familiar roles of observation and intelligence gathering up until the withdrawal across the Irrawaddy River at the end of April.  From then on the remaining Burma Military Police men worked in conjunction with detachments of the Burma Frontier Force to guard the line of communications and withdrawal routes until India was reached at the middle of May.

By 6th April the Headquarters of the 17th Indian Division was at Taungdwingyi and patrols were sent out far to the South in an attempt to ascertain the Japanese moves.  That same day the Burma Military Police reported that there were no enemy in the Aleywa area, sixteen miles South of Satthwa to the South of Taungdwingyi.  By 9th April the 17th Indian Division had an observation screen made up of Burma Frontier Force and Burma Military Police men on the line Kokkogwa-Aleywa and to the West.  That day the screen reported no contact with the enemy.  Between 11th and 14th April there was heavy fighting in the 17th Indian Division sector around Kokkogwa and Thadodon which resulted in a reverse for the Japanese.  However things did not go so well for the 1st Burma Division on the right flank and by 14th April a wide gap had developed between the two divisions.[57]   As part of the juggling of formations in an attempt to hold on to the Taungdwingyi area, the 16th Indian Brigade was moved to Natmauk.[58]  On 17th April the 16th Indian Brigade at Natmauk reported that tracks leading to Kyaukpadaung and to Letpabya were being reconnoitred for signs of Japanese movements.  The reconnaissance was conducted by the Commander of the Brigade Engineers and detachments of the Burma Military Police.[59]

The 17th Indian Division held on in the Taungdwingyi area until 21st April.  However the Japanese had succeeded in pushing back the 1st Burma Division from the Yenangyaung oilfields on the East bank of the Irrawaddy river and a general withdrawal was now ordered to protect the vital communications centres South of Mandalay.  The 17th Indian Division was ordered to withdraw from Taungdwingyi and later Natmauk to positions North-West and West of Meiktila at Mahlaing and Zayetkyon.[60]  From 23rd April the 17th Indian Division moved to concentrate in the Mahlaing area.  The orders noted that the Burma Military Police at Ywamun were to leave that same day for Mahlaing in lorries provided, leaving behind small detachments as escorts.  The northwards move of the division continued and on 25th April orders were given for a move to Ondaw to the North of the Irrawaddy River and Mandalay and where, it was noted, the Burma Military Police and Burma Frontier Force Groups were already in place as guards.[61]

By 29th April the successful rearguard action by the 48th Indian Brigade of the 17th Indian Division was over and the Brigade withdrew through the 63rd Indian Brigade across the Irrawaddy River by way of the Ava Bridge.  During the day Mandalay was cleared of stores as much as possible, some being handed over to the Chinese and some destroyed.  The following evening the last Indo-British troops crossed the Ava Bridge and at midnight the bridge was blown.  The previous day the 17th Indian Division had given orders for its formations to concentrate in the Allagappa-Nyaungbinwun area, to the West of the Mu River, to deny to the Japanese a crossing of the Irrawaddy River.  The Division's formations now did their best to comply. The Burma Military Police were to move with F.F.9, Burma Frontier Force to Tizaung on 1st May to provide protection for the Divisional Headquarters and line of communications.  Until arrival in the assigned areas the Burma Military Police were placed under the command of the 16th Indian Brigade.[62]

From here the withdrawal of the Division continued.  The Burma Military Police, less two platoons,  were ordered to move from Tizaung to Ye-U via Shwebo on the night of 1st/2nd May.  The remaining two platoons together with a platoon of F.F.2, Burma Frontier Force, acted as escort to the Divisional transport moving from Tizaung directly to Ye-U.  The general withdrawal to India was now in full swing.  By 3rd May the 17th Indian Division was readying a series of layback positions on the road to India to allow the 1st Burma Division to pass through.  Following this the Division was to act as rearguard until the crossing of the Chindwin River at Kalewa had been completed.   The mobile detachments of F.F.2 and F.F.9 of the Burma Frontier Force and detachments of the Burma Military Police were ordered to concentrate at Kaduma from dawn on 4th May.  From there it was expected they would be ferried to Pyingaing at dawn the following day.[63]  A significant portion of the 1st Burma Corps was ferried up the Chindwin River to Kalewa from Shwegyin.  The Headquarters of the 17th Indian Division, the 48th Indian Brigade and other units made their way by track from Shwegyin to Kalewa when the Japanese brought a halt to the ferrying operation.   By around 14th May most of the 17th Indian Division reached Tamu by way of the Chindwin valley and from here proceeded to camps at Imphal.

The Journey of Major Chappell's Party to Myitkyina

As early as 30th March 1942 the 1st Burma Corps had issued instructions for the reallocation of certain units at that time located in Prome and the Allanmyo/Thayetmyo area.  As soon as it could be released by the 17th Indian Division, The Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police under Major Chappell was to move to Magwe.  For the first leg of the journey, to Allanmyo, the party was to travel under the orders of the 17th Indian Infantry Division and then under Corps command from there on.  The logistics arrangements were the responsibility of the Commander Corps Frontier Force.[64]  By leap-frogging motor transport, Magwe was eventually reached and the next morning Chappell and his men left by lorry for Yenangyaung.[65]  A Burma Military Police detachment remained in Magwe, that which had been sent down from Mandalay by the Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police under the command of Captain C.G.B. Scovell.[66]  For two days Chappell’s party stayed in the Pin Chaung, an area used as an open camp by units and reinforcements of the Burma Frontier Force.  The party then went on to Meiktila where they stayed for a week.  Here 100 men were employed daily loading railway wagons at the Ordnance Depot while 200 men were used for guarding the two aerodromes.  Enemy bombers visited Meiktila daily and three men were injured in the raids, one of whom died of his wounds.  Enemy fighter planes also flew low over one of the aerodromes nearly every afternoon and the pilots amused themselves by firing at empty petrol drums around the edge of the aerodrome.[67]

However the ultimate goal of Chappell's party was Myitkyina and to make arrangements for the move there by rail, Chappell was ordered by the Headquarters, Central Sub-Area to visit Mandalay to consult Movement Control Headquarters there.  He was also required to visit the Railway Transport Officer at Thazi.  Arrangements were made eventually to attach wagons for the Burma Military Police to an Ordnance special train which was proceeding to Katha.  Those that could not be given accommodation in the train were to move by lorry.  However before the train could leave Meiktila a Burma Military Police platoon had to be sent to Thazi to procure rails with which to mend the line which had been damaged in an air raid.  The rails were obtained and the men helped the Railway Transport Officer, Meiktila to fix them.  Chappell and his men arrived at Meiktila station the next day only to find the railway wagons being looted.  A Karen platoon fired on the looters shooting three of them.  The Burma Military Police then entrained but after consultation with the Commander of the Ordnance Depot and the Railway Transport Officer it was decided to return to barracks and make a start the next evening as a lot of shunting had yet to be carried out in the Ordnance depot.  This would have delayed the train so much that it could not have reached a point far on the main line beyond Thazi before dawn, and so the risk of aerial attack would have been increased.[68]

The next evening, the special train moved out carrying the Burma Military Police under Major Hindle.  After various delays the train reached Myitkyina safely.  Those left to travel by road, around 90 men, went with Major Chappell to Mandalay.  The next day they went to Sagaing, where the office records and stores had been sent previously.  Arrangements were made for the men to entrain at Ywataung on 17th April, the motor transport being sent to the Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police and the drivers following later by train to Myitkyina.  The train from Ywataung was derailed near Kinu, north of Shwebo, at about 10:00 hours on 18th April, the track having been sabotaged.  Besides civilian casualties, Subedar Moti Ram Thapa of the 2nd Rangoon Battalion was killed and five other ranks were injured.  Most of the wagons which were derailed were badly smashed and twisted and it was only with great difficulty that the stores and records they contained could be salvaged.  By nightfall, all the stores had been transferred to a relief train which had come out from Shwebo and the Burma Military Police embarked in this train and returned to Shwebo where they halted for three days until other arrangements could be made to send them on to Myitkyina.  Eventually they arrived at Myitkyina on 24th April.[69]

The total marching strength of the Burma Military Police now at Myitkyina was three British Officers and 728 Governor's Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks.  Soon after arrival a platoon of Punjabi Mussalmen was sent to Shwebo, two platoons of Kumaonis went to Katha, and a platoon of Kumaonis was sent to Wuntho.  Presumably these platoons came under command of the Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police which was responsible for guarding the line of communications throughout the area.  The remainder of the Burma Military Police at Myitkyina were employed in the construction of a camp for Army Headquarters, the clearing of a site for a new aerodrome and guarding the existing aerodrome and the approaches to it.  Myitkyina aerodrome was being used to evacuate military wounded and civilians by air to India.[70]

Finally, on 1st May 1942, the Burma Military Police at Myitkyina were transferred to the Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, under the command of  Lt. Colonel H.G.P. Stubbs.[71]  Subedar Major Rahim Dad Khan, who had done excellent work throughout, became Subedar Major of the Myitkyina Battalion and Major Hindle also transferred to this battalion.  Major Smith was sent to the Bhamo Battalion, Burma Frontier Force and Major Chappell was appointed to a post at the Headquarters, Burma Frontier Force.  On 6th May heavy air raids took place on part of the town and the aerodrome, where two fully laden transport aircraft were destroyed on the ground with much loss of life.  The following day the evacuation from Myitkyina and the march to India began.[72] 

India

All the officers of the 1st and 2nd Rangoon Battalions, Burma Military Police reached India with the exception of Major Geake who, it appears, was murdered by a Sikh orderly at Sagaing, near Mandalay, in May 1942.

On reaching India, the men were subsequently sent on 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 the Burma Military Police, the men were registered, given advances of pay and replacement clothing and sent to their homes on war leave.  On return from leave, the men were sorted out and medically graded.  All fit men were soon drafted to battalions of the Burma Regiment which was formed on 1st October 1942. 

13 November 2017

 



[1] "The Lineages and Composition of Gurkha Regiments in British Service", by J.L. Chapple (1984)

[2] WO 106/3675

[3] “Report of Burma Military Police” by Major H. Chappell, WO 203/5693

[4] “Burma Frontier Force, Report on the B.F.F. 1939-1942”by Brigadier J.F. Bowerman, WO 203/5692

[5] 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).

[6] WO 203/5693

[7] Hugh John Mainwaring Lindsay, born, 7th July 1907.  Discharged at his own request from the Honourable Artillery Company Infantry Battalion, 23rd November 1925.  Worked for the Indo-Burma Petroleum Company, 1937.  Worked for Steel Brothers, pre-war.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., ABRO (ABRO 96), 7th March 1940.  Served with the Burma Military Police, 1940-42.  Married, 1941.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 5th November 1941.  Assistant Commandant, the Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police, February 1942 to May 1942.  Commanded the detachment of the Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police on coast watching duty in the Hanthawaddy District, 4th February 1942 to 7th March 1942.  Having been transferred to the battalion, arrived with the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 5th November 1943.  Part of the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles that served with the first Chindit Operation, 1943.  As Lt. Colonel, relinquished his duties as Deputy Secretary, Government of Burma, Defence and External Affairs Department, 31st December 1945.  Transferred from the Indo-Burma Petroleum Company to the Burmah Oil Company, post war.  Granted the honorary rank of Major on release from military service, 25th March 1946.  Travelled from Liverpool to Rangoon on board the S.S. "Worcestershire", departing, 29th July 1946.  Returned to Burma from Digboi and took up post as Manager, Chauk, 1952.  Retired from Burmah Oil Company, from the post of Manager, Chauk and lived in Fleet, Hampshire, 1959.  Attended the "Indigenous Forces Luncheon", 4th October 1963.  Died, Hampshire, 26th December 1991 ("Distinctly I Remember", H. Braund, Wren (1972); “Burma Invaded 1942”, Enriquez C.M. (2013); Ancestry.co.uk; Anglo-Burmese Library - Chindits; Burma Army List October 1940; Burma Defence Services List July 1941; Burma Army List 1943; Eulogy - Ancestry.co.uk; Thacker's Directory 1939; War Diary of the 2nd Burma Rifles, WO 172/2658).

[8] War diary of the Kokine Garrison Battalion, WO 172/691; WO 203/5693; “Burma Invaded 1942”, Enriquez, C.M.; War diary of the 1st Battalion The Gloucestershire Regiment, WO 172/861.

[9] James Elliot Leslie Martin born, 5th June 1898.  Admitted to the I.A.R.O., as 2nd Lt., 22nd July 1918.  Company Officer, 1st Battalion, 26th Punjab Regiment (15th Punjab Regiment from 1922), 23rd July 1918.  Served Afghanistan, North-West Frontier, 1919.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt. from IARO to the Indian Army, 16th April 1920, with seniority from 22nd April 1919.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 16th April 1920.  Served Waziristan, 1921-23.  Served 2nd Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment, as 2nd Lt., 1923.  Attached to the 2nd Battalion, 15th Punjab Regiment, 1923 to 2nd May 1940.  Appointed to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers, 1st August 1923 to 26th March 1924.  Served as Captain (provisional), 15th April 1925 to 31st August 1925.  Promoted to Captain, 29th March 1926.  Served Burma (Saya San Rebellion), 1930-32.  Served as Assistant Commandant, the Burma Military Police, 4th April 1930 to 6th September 1930.  Served as Assistant Commandant, the Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Military Police, 7th September 1930 to 15th February 1931.  Served as Assistant Commandant, the Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Military Police, 8th September 1931 to 3rd February 1933.  Served as Assistant Commandant, 1st Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police, 3rd February 1933 to 1934.  Served North-West Frontier of India (Loe Agra and Mohmand), 1935.  Served as Assistant Commandant, 2nd Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police, 25th October 1936 to late 1940.  Promoted to Major, 15th April 1937.  Assigned to the Special Employed List, 2nd May 1940.  Served as Commandant, 1st Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police, 1941 to May 1942.  As Major, attached Burma Military Police, Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted, 28th October 1942.  As Major, temporary Lt. Colonel, Commanding Officer of the 25th (Garrison) Battalion, The Burma Regiment, 1944-45?  As temporary Lt. Colonel (AIRO 649), Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted, 5th April 1945.  Promoted to Lt. Colonel, 15th April 1945.  As temporary Lt. Colonel (IA 649), Unattached List (Indian Army), Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted, 9th May 1946  ("History of the Chin Hills Battalion", Mss Eur E250; "War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); British Army List; Burma Army List; Indian Army List; London Gazette; The History of the 26th Punjabis: 1857-1923).

[10] Malcolm Douglas Hindle born, 7th September 1899.  Commissioned to the Unattached List as 2nd Lieutenant from the Cadet College, Quetta, 31st August 1918.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2nd Lieutenant (IA 489). Attached to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Sikhs, 4th September 1918.  Served World War I - The Black Sea, 1919-20.  Served Waziristan, 1921-24.  Attached to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Sikh Pioneers (from 1922 became the 1st Battalion, 3rd Sikh Pioneers), 1921 to 1922.  Served with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Sikh Pioneers, 1922.  Promoted to Captain, 31st August 1923.  While serving with the 1st/3rd Sikh Pioneers, Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service during the operations in Waziristan, 21st April 1923 to 31st March 1924, gazetted, 18th November 1924.  Appointed to the 3rd Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, 6th February 1933.  Detached from the 20th Burma Rifles, serving with the Bengal Sappers and Miners, 1933 to 1935.  Promoted to Major, 31st August 1936.  Transferred to the Special Unemployed List, 1st April 1937.  Served as Censor, Rangoon, 1940.  Serving with the 7th Battalion, Burma Rifles, 1st October 1940.  On the Special Unemployed List, attached to The Burma Rifles, seconded as Assistant Commandant, the 1st Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police from 22nd December 1940.  As Major, Assistant Commandant, the 2nd Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police, 1941 to 1st May 1942.  Transferred from the Burma Military Police to the Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1st May 1942.  Appointed Lt. Colonel, 2nd February 1947  ("War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); ancestry.co.uk; Burma Army List January 1940; Burma Army List October 1940; Burma Defence Services List July 1941; Report of Burma Military Police” by Major H. Chappell, WO 203/5693; Indian Army List 1919; Indian Army List 1921; Indian Army List October 1935; Indian Army List January 1942; London Gazette).

[11] WO 203/5693

[12] Lt. R Saunders has not been identified.

[13] War diary of the 2nd Burma Brigade - WO 172/548

[14] Robert Arnot Anderson born, 14th September 1910.  Worked as General Staff, Steel Brothers, Rangoon, 1939 to 1941.  Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, ABRO (ABRO 360), 4th February 1942.  Listed as serving with the Rangoon Battalion, Burma Auxiliary Force, commander of the coast watching organisation between Kyaikto and the Bilin River, 12th February 1942.  War substantive Lieutenant, 1st October 1942.  Travelled from Rangoon to Liverpool aboard the S.S. "Herefordshire", occupation given as Mercantile Assistant, arrived, 8th September 1946.  Relinquished commission and granted the honorary rank of Major, 25th March 1947  (ancestry.co.uk; Burma Army List 1943; London Gazette; Thacker's Directory; War Diary of the 17th Indian Division, WO 172/475).

[15] War diary of the 17th Indian Division, WO 172/475

[16] John Oswald Valentine Edwards born, 14th February 1912.  As  University Candidate, commissioned from the General List, Territorial Army - University Candidate, as 2nd Lt. (50496), East Surrey Regiment, 28th October 1933, with seniority from 28th January 1932.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 28th January 1935.  Seconded to the Burma Defence Force, transferred to the Special Employed List, and served as Assistant Commandant, Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 11th July 1938 to 1939.  Promoted to Captain, 28th January 1940.  Officer Commanding No.1 Column, F.F.2, Burma Frontier Force, 1941.  Officer Commanding No.1 Column, F.F.2, Burma Frontier Force, 1942 to 10th February 1942.  Column Commander, F.F.2, Burma Frontier Force, 10th February 1942 to 10th April 1942.  Column Commander, F.F.2, Burma Frontier Force, attached to the 1st Battalion, The Gloucester Regiment, whilst at Tharrawaddy, 10th March 1942.  Identified as "detachment commander, F.F.6" in a newsreel, actually a Column Commander with the merged F.F.2/F.F.6 whose command included elements of F.F.6, late March/early April 1942.  Killed in an attack "just" South of Prome, 10th April 1942.  Died at Paungde, 10th April 1942 ("Cap of Honour, The Story of the Gloucestershire Regiment (28th/61st Foot), 1694-1975", D.S. Daniell, White Lion (1951 & 1975); "Notes on B.F.F.", F.F.2, by Major D. Mostert, WO 203/5700 (Notes on B.F.F.); British Army List; CWGC; IWM Collections; Indian Army List; "Burma Frontier Force, Short History of Original F.F.2" by Captain E.W. Booker, WO 203/5701).

[17] WO 172/475

[18] WO 172/475

[19] WO 172/475

[20] WO 203/5692

[21] Enriquez; WO 203/5693; WO 172/691

[22] Hereward Chappell born, 21st April 1898.  Educated Wyggeston School, Leicester.  Enrolled as Cadet in the Saugor Military Academy, India, 1916.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt. to the Unattached List, 18th April 1916.  Appointed as 2nd Lt. (AI 847) to the Indian Army, 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles (18th Royal Garhwal Rifles from 1921), 27th April 1916.  Served Iraq, 20th March 1917 to 28th September 1918.  Served Salonika and Turkey, 25th October 1918 to 11th November 1918.  Served Waziristan, 1919-21.  Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted, 5th June 1919.  Promoted to Captain, 18th April 1920.  Inspector of Messes, Waziristan Force, 17th May 1922 to 2nd October 1922.  Staff Captain, 5th December 1923 to 24th February 1924.  Served North-West Frontier of India, 1930.  Served Burma (Saya San Rebellion), 1930-32.  Seconded to and served as Assistant Commandant with the Burma Military Police from 7th August 1931.  Promoted to Major, 18th April 1934.  Transferred to the Special Unemployed List, Indian Army, 1st November 1935.  Officiating Commandant, Northern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1937.  Commandant, 2nd Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police, 1938 to May 1942.  Commanding Officer, the 4th Battalion, The Burma Regiment, early/mid-1943 to September 1943.  Joined the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Regiment, 1943.  Commanding Officer, the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Regiment, September 1943 to 22nd October 1946.  Promoted from Major (temporary Lt. Colonel) to Lt. Colonel, 18th February 1946.  Retired, 6th June 1948.  As substantive Lt. Colonel, Officer Commanding the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Regiment, awarded O.B.E., 12th June 1947, gazetted, 20th August 1948.  Died, 28th December 1978 ("War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); British Army List; Indian Army List; London Gazette; Private Papers of Lt. Col. I.C.G. Scott (IWM); WO 172/7802; WO 172/10320; WO 373/82/281).

[23] Smith Dun born, 11th November 1906.  Enlisted 20th Burma Rifles, 8th November 1924.  Served with 20th Burma Rifles, Burma (Saya San Rebellion), 1930-32.  Commissioned as Viceroy's Commissioned Officer, 10th January 1932.  Educated Kitchener College, Nowgong; attended Indian Military Academy, 1932.  Attached to 2nd Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Agra, 1935.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., 1st February 1935, with seniority from 4th February 1934.  Served North West Frontier, 1936-37.  Appointed to the Indian Army, 2nd Battalion, 1st Punjab Regiment, 9th March 1936.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 4th May 1936.  Served as Assistant Commandant with the 2nd Rangoon Battalion, Burma Military Police, 1st November 1939 to March 1942.  Appointed liaison officer, 17th Indian Infantry Division, for the Burma Military Police and Burma Frontier Force around, 10th March 1942.  As Lieutenant (temporary Captain), attached to the Burma Military Police, Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted, 28th October 1942.  Attended Staff College, Quetta, 1943.  Served with the Burma Intelligence Corps, 1944.  As temporary Major, Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted, 5th April 1945.  As temporary Major, 1st Punjab Regiment, attached to the Burma Intelligence Corps, awarded the Military Cross, gazetted, 17th January 1946.  Commander-in-Chief, Burma Army, 4th January 1948 to 1st February 1949.  Died, 1976 ("Memoirs of the Four-Foot Colonel", Smith Dun, Cornell (1980).; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_Dun; London Gazette).

[24] 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).

[25] WO 203/5693

[26] WO 203/5693

[27] WO 203/5693

[28] WO 203/5693

[29] WO 203/5693

[30] WO 203/5693

[31] Francis Arthur Guy Roughton, born, 6th July 1884.  As Cadet, Royal Military Academy, commissioned as 2nd Lt. (3886), Royal Garrison Artillery, 15th July 1903.  Promoted to Lieutenant, Army, 15th October 1905.  Promoted to Lieutenant, Royal Garrison Artillery, 15th July 1906.  Appointed Lieutenant, Indian Army, the 113th Infantry, from the Royal Garrison Artillery, 3rd March 1908, with seniority from 15th  October 1905.  Promoted to Captain, 15th July 1912.  Served as Staff Captain, Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force, 9th September 1917 to 25th April 1918.  As Captain, appointed D.A.Q.M.G., Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force, with the rank of temporary Major whilst so employed, 26th April 1918 to 5th January 1919.  Promoted to Major, 15th July 1918.  Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished and gallant services in Mesopotamia (Iraq), gazetted, 27th August 1918.  Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished and gallant services in Mesopotamia (Iraq) whilst serving with the 113th Infantry, gazetted, 21st February 1919.  Served as D.A.A. & Q.M.G., India, 13th May 1919 to 15th September 1919.  Served as D.A.Q.M.G., Northern Command, India, 1st November 1920 to 31st May 1923.  Served as G.S.O. 2, India, 1st June 1923 to 31st October 1924.  Promoted to Lt. Colonel, 6th February 1929.  Promoted to Colonel, 6th February 1932.  Transferred to the Unemployed List, 6th February 1933 to 13th October 1933.  Served as A.A. & Q.M.G., India, 14th June 1934 to 24th June 1935.  Promoted to Colonel, 14th June 1934, with seniority from 6th February 1933.  Employed as Inspector-General, Burma Frontier Force, granted the temporary rank of Brigadier whilst, 1st April 1937.  Retired, 25th June 1940.  Awarded C.B.E., 12th June 1941.  After the fall of Rangoon in early March 1942, moved to Yenangyaung with the Advanced Headquarters, Burma Frontier Force where he also became Commander, Central Area (a line of communication headquarters), March 1942.  Exhausted, he was evacuated across the Pin Chaung with the C.O. of the 1st Burma Division, Major Bruce Scott, by carrier, 19th April 1942.  Was evacuated to Mandalay and from there by hospital launch where shortly after he died, 21st April 1942.  Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted, 28th October 1942 (British Army List; CWGC; Indian Army List 1921; London Gazette; WO 203/5698; WO 203/5698; CWGC).

[32] Henry Kavanagh, appointed Junior Timber Assistant, Burma Forestry Department, 1st April 1925.  Awarded the M.B.E., gazetted, 3rd June 1932.  Working for the Burma Forestry Department, Myitkyina Division as a Junior Timber Assistant, 1st January 1941.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., ABRO (ABRO 514), 15th March 1942.  Served with the Rangoon Battalion(s), Burma Military Police, 15th March 1942 to May 1942.  As Lieutenant, served with the Kokine Garrison Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 24th September 1942 to 30th September 1942.  War substantive Lieutenant, 1st October 1942.  Served with the 2nd Garrison Battalion, The Burma Regiment from formation, 1st October 1942 to July 1944.  Received H.E. the Governor of Burma's recognition of Exceptional Devotion to Duty in circumstances calling for Loyalty and Fortitude, December 1943.  Served with the 26th (Garrison) Battalion, The Burma Regiment, August 1944-1945?  (Burma Civil List 1942; Burma Army List 1943; Empire Forestry Journal December 1943; London Gazette; Report of Burma Military Police” by Major H. Chappell, WO 203/5693; Thacker's Directory; War Diary of the Kokine Garrison Battalion, WO 172/691; War Diary of the 26th (Garrison) Battalion Burma Regiment, WO 172/5039).

[33] WO 203/5693

[34] WO 203/5693

[35] WO 172/475

[36] WO 172/475

[37] WO 172/475

[38] “Force Viper, Account of Operations in Burma Campaign”, written in narrative form by Major D. Johnston, R.M., Officer Commanding Force “Viper”.

[39] WO 203/5692

[40] WO 203/5693

[41] War diary of the 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, WO 172/863.

[42] WO 172/863

[43] War diary of the 1st Burma Corps, WO 172/403.

[44] WO 203/5693

[45] George Bernard Purvis Sibley born, 27th October 1909.  Worked as Mercantile Assistant for Mackinnon, Mackenzie & Co., 1938.  Married Nora Joan Constance Grant at Christ Church, Rangoon, 1938.  Worked as a Manager at Strand Road, Akyab for Mackinnon, Mackenzie & Co., 1941 to 1942.  Emergency Commission from Cadet  to the General List as 2nd Lieutenant (217665), 26th October 1941.  Served with the Burma Military Police, 1942.  Relegated to the Unemployed List with effect from 12th October 1942 (Burma Army List 1943; Marriages 1937-52 Anglo-Burmese Library; “Report of Burma Military Police” by Major H. Chappell, WO 203/5693; Thacker's Directory).

[46] Eric James Edwards born, Burma, 18th March 1915.  Attended the University of Rangoon, graduated B.A. with distinction in Economics, 1933-36.  Graduated L.L.B, 1939.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., ABRO (ABRO 92), 7th March 1940.  Served with the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1940 to March 1942.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 14th November 1941.  Temporary Captain from 29th January 1942.  Served with the Burma Military Police, April-May 1942.  As Captain, served with the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles during the Second Chindit Operation, 1944.  Relinquished commission with the honorary rank of Lt. Colonel, 1st January 1947.  Professor at the University of Western Australia Law School, 1947-?.  Died Canberra, Australia, 1998 (“Report of Burma Military Police” by Major H. Chappell, WO 203/5693; ancestry.co.uk; Anglo-Burmese Library; Burma Army List October 1940; Burma Army List 1943; War diary of the 3rd Battalion Burma Rifles, WO 172/976; Western Australian Law Review).

[47] WO 203/5693

[48] War diary of the 2nd Burma Brigade - WO 172/548

[49] WO 203/5693

[50] Gordon George Pryce, born, 21st May 1901.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt. to the Unattached List, 28th December 1921.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2nd Lt., 17th April 1923.  Attached to the 5th Battalion, 8th Punjab Regiment, 17th April 1923.  Served Waziristan, 1923-24 Promoted to Lieutenant, 23rd March 1924.  Promoted to Captain, 23rd December 1930.  Seconded and served as Assistant Commandant with the 2nd Rangoon Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1st April 1937.  Served as Assistant Commandant, Northern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1938 to 13th July 1940. Promoted to Major, 23rd December 1938.  Formed F.F.1, Burma Frontier Force at Kutkai and became first Commanding Officer, 14th July 1940 to 1st October 1941.  Appointed as Commander Corps, Burma Frontier Force, attached to Headquarters, 1st Burma Corps, 29th March 1942.  Mentioned in Despatches for service in Burma, attached to the Burma Frontier Force, gazetted, 28th October 1942. Served with the 8th Punjab Regiment, 13th April 1943.  Died (buried at Delhi War Cemetery), 8th December 1943 ("War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); “Burma Frontier Force by Lt. Col G.G. Pryce”, WO 203/5697; “F.F.1’s Part in the Burma Campaign by Lt. Col. W.R.V. Russell M.C.”; British Army List; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Indian Army List; Burma Army List; London Gazette).

[51] “Burma Frontier Force, 1939-1942”, by Lt. Colonel H.M. Day, WO 203/5694; WO 172/403

[52] WO 203/5718

[53] WO 172/475

[54] WO 203/5693

[55] WO 203/5693

[56] WO 203/5693

[57] WO 172/475

[58] Indian Armed Forces in World War II, The Retreat from Burma 1941-42”

[59] War diary of the 16th Indian Brigade, WO 172/570

[60] Indian Official History

[61] WO 172/475

[62] WO 172/475

[63] WO 172/475

[64] WO 172/403

[65] WO 203/5693

[66] Enriquez

[67] WO 203/5693

[68] WO 203/5693

[69] WO 203/5693

[70] Private papers of Lt. Colonel A.W.S. Learmond; WO 203/5693

[71] Harvey Godwin Patterson Stubbs, born, 1893.  Served Egypt, 1914.  Mobilised, Indian Army Reserve of Officers, 1 year and 222 days, 25th August 1916 to 3rd April 1918.  Served Iraq, 7th April 1917 to 4th  October 1918.  Attached to the 24th Punjabis, 1918 to 1st  January 1922.  Commissioned from Indian Army Reserve of Officers as 2nd Lt. and appointed to the Indian Army (589 AI), 4th April 1918, with seniority from 25th May 1917.  Served as acting Captain, 25th May 1918 to 3rd  October 1920.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 25th May 1918.  Served Salonica, 5th October 1918 to 30th  April 1919.  Served Black Sea, 1st May 1919 to 31st  August 1920.  Served Waziristan, 1921.  Promoted to Captain, 10th May 1921.  Attached to the 14th Punjab Regiment from formation, 1922.  Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted 12th June 1923.  Assistant Commandant, the Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Military Police, in September 1927.  Served Burma (Saya San Rebellion), 1930-32.  Assistant Commandant, Burma Military Police, 1933.  Promoted to Major, 10th May 1935.  Seconded to the Burma Defence Force, 4th February 1937.  Assistant Commandant, Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1938 to April 1938?.  Assistant Commandant, Burma Military Police, July 1938.  Assistant Commandant, Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, October 1938 to January 1938?.  Commandant, Bhamo Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1939 to 1941.  Commandant, Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1942.  Acting Lt. Colonel, 1st April 1942.  Following the withdrawal from Myitkyina, while the Myitkyina Battalion, BFF was acting as a covering force to evacuees using the Sumprabum road, en route to Sumprabum, broke a leg and had to be carried to Putao from where he was evacuated by plane, May 1942.  Promoted to Lt. Colonel, 10th May 1943.  As Lt. Colonel, listed as under "Military Employ", Burma Army, April 1946.  As Lt. Colonel, retired, 20th March 1947.  Died after helping a mother and child away from their burning flat, Hampstead, London, 4th December 1957 ("War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); British Army List; Indian Army List 1921; “History of the Chin Hills Battalion Military Police”, MSS Eur E250, British Library Catalogue MSS Eur E250; India Office List 1933; Indian Army List; Indian Army List 1921; London Gazette; “Sir George Gillan (1958) In memoriam”, Journal of The Royal Central Asian Society, 45:2, 110-114, DOI: 10.1080/03068375808731631; WO 203/5692).

[72] WO 203/5692; WO 203/5693