The Burma Campaign

Upper Burma Battalion, Burma Auxiliary Force

The Battalion was raised on 9th December 1886, as the Upper Burma Volunteer Rifles.  As part of the Indian Defence Force Act of 1917, all the units of the Indian Volunteers became units of the Indian Defence Force and the Battalion was re-titled the 34th Upper Burma Battalion on 1st April 1917.[1]  With the formation of the Indian Auxiliary Force in 1920, the Battalion was again re-titled, this time as the Upper Burma Battalion.  It retained this title when transferred to the Burma Auxiliary Force in April 1937, following the transfer of units to the Burma Army with the separation of administration from India.[2]  

The Battalion was a volunteer infantry force and in 1913 was located with headquarters at Mandalay and companies at Maymyo, Minbu, Meiktila, Monywa, Mogok and Myitkyina.

In January and October 1940, the Battalion was composed of a headquarters and three companies (less two platoons) and five mobile patrols.  There were detachments at Mandalay, Namtu, Bawdwin, Mansam, Yenangyaung, Chauk and Lanywa.[3]

On 8th February 1941 the Battalion was reported to be composed of a headquarters and three rifle companies (less two platoons) with a strength of 16 Officers and 416 Other Ranks.

On 1st December 1941, Battalion Headquarters was at Maymyo, coming under the Maymyo Infantry Brigade Area.  Detachments were located as follows:[4]

Central Area:
- Chauk detachment 'D' Company
- Lanywa detachment 'A' Company
- Lashio demolition squad
- Namsam Falls detachment 'C' Company
- Namtu 'C' Company (less detachments)
- Yenangyaung 'D' Company (less detachments).

During the retreat to India, the Upper Burma Battalion was listed as forming part of the Lines of Communication Troops.  At Mandalay on 23rd March 1942, the Tenasserim, Upper Burma and Rangoon Battalions were reformed and became known as the Rangoon, Tenasserim and Upper Burma Companies of the Burma Battalion.  This new battalion performed garrison duties in Mandalay and also supplied officers and men for movement control.  All its transport with drivers were attached to the Brigade Transport Officer.

At the end of March 1942, the Burma Battalion provided officers and men to man Irrawaddy Flotilla Company launches whose crews had absconded.  On 24th April 1942, the Burma Battalion left Mandalay, after the bombing, on the ‘Japan’ for Katha, which  was reached on 1st May 1942.  On the morning of 2nd May 1942 orders were given to march to India.

13 November 2017

[1] Burma Army List January 1940.

[2] "Sons of John Company", Gaylor J, Parapress, Tunbridge Wells (1992 & 1996)

[3] Burma Army List January 1940.

[4] Indian Armed Forces in World War II, The Retreat from Burma 1941-42” Prasad B, Longmans Orient (1959)