The Burma Campaign

[Transcribed from National Archives File WO 172/976, War Diary 3rd Burma Rifles by:  Steve Rothwell - The Burma Campaign web site.]

[Note: The file is a wartime photostat of a typed document and is in poor condition and difficult to read in places.]

 

Diary of Events Affecting[?] the Operations [??] 3rd Bn Burma Rifles

Wrote[?] by Col G. D Taylor[1]

 [??] MOBILISATION TO DATE OF DISBANDMENT

War diary to 31 Jan 42 destroyed at MOULMEIN. That to 28 Feb destroyed at SITTANG.  That to 31 Mar sent to Defence Dept. and was subsequently lost at MONYWA.

Dec 1941

When mob[ilisation] was completed, about 11 Dec, the Bn was occupied in trg [training], etc.  Two Coys were ordered to MERGUI, about 15 Dec.  These were B Coy (Karen) under CAPTAIN H.E. LE[2] and D Coy (Chin) under MAJOR V.A. CHIODETTI.  A small proportion of HQ Coy also were included.  These two Coys sailed from RANGOON on a cruising[?] ship.  Their orders, received from HQ Burma Army[?] by request of GOC 3 Burif, were that they would report to OC Troops at MERGUI, and that their role was reinforcements.  It must be remarked here that these two Coys, with the exception of a few Chins, and later, Capt LE, were never seen again.  No report was received of their doings from any Officer who commanded them.[3]

Jan 1942

The Bn, less two Coys already at MERGUI, proceeded to MOULMEIN by train on 19 Jan.  British Officers accompanying were as follows:

Lieut Col G.D. TAYLOR         comdg.

Captain D.C. LINCOLN[4]         adjt.

     “        J.C. FRASER[5]                       Q.M.

     “        R.W. WOOD[6]           O.C. C Coy.

2/Lt      A.M. STUART[7]           Mortar offr.

The Bn was up to strength in men and arms, but had no M.T. and also no carrying eqpt for 3in mortars.  This was to prove a serious handicap later on.  Animals were up to strength.  The Karen Coy, A, had no British Officer present[?].  C Coy (Kachin) was under comd of Capt. R.W. WOOD, a fine linguist in Chingpaw.  The strength that moved to MOULMEIN was as under.

B.O.                 5.

G.C.O.             16.

B.A.O.R.          463. approx (no figures available now to check this).

Followers         40.  approx.

The following B.O.s of the Bn did not accompany it.

Capt. J.C. EDWARDS [E.J. Edwards][8].           on course in India.

  “      W.A.S. HYDE[9]              “

2/Lt P. BA LOSE[?]                             “

2/Lt R.W.H. PEEBLES[10]                      “  in Burma.

Capt P. H. RODGERS[ROGERS].[11]     Depot Comd.

 

On arrival at MOULMEIN, the Bn came under orders of 2 Bur Inf Bde, and was used in patrolling EAST and SOUTH.  No contact was ever made with the enemy.  Sometime before the end of the month, news came of the action at TAVOY, and some sort of story regarding the two Coys, sent originally to MERGUI, was now available.  These two Coys had been shipped from MERGUI to TAVOY, and arriving at the latter place about1800[?] hrs the day of the action, had gone straight into the fight.  This is all the news received then or since.  In this action, MAJOR V.A. CHIODETTI[12] was killed, and CAPT H.E. LE was wounded.  Capt LE subsequently was able to make his way to RANGOON by country boat.  One man of D Coy, Bugler VAI THIO received the Burma Gallantry Medal for this action.[13]  Of the two Coys of 3 Burif engaged in action at TAVOY, presumably under cmd of 6 Burif, not a single man of B Coy (Karen) was seen again, and of  D Coy (Chin), about 30 men, under Subedar SIMA ZAM found their way back to MOULMEIN, with their arms and eqpt.  The mule leader came in without his mule, but carrying the mule’s saddle on his own back.  A small number, about 21[?] [????] of 6 Burif also came with this party, and were taken under cmd, but sent back to    RANGOON shortly after, as their morale was spent.[14]  It is thought now, that exaggerated tales from TAVOY, brought by those stragglers, was about the worst thing possible for the rest of the Bn.  About this time, MAJOR L.G. WHEELER[15] joined, and 2/Lt R.W.H. PEEBLES rejoined.  Major Wheeler took over 2 in Cmd[?] and 2/Lt Peebles took over A Coy.

[an officer unreadable?] was taken away to Bde HQ, but Major [name unreadable?][16], also from 6 Burif, was attached for few[?] days [unreadable text?].   Major BROOKE[?] was away from the Bn until about 5[?] Feb.

About 24 Jan, the defence line around MOULMEIN was shortened, and the Bn was given a sector, roughly between MOULMEIN RIDGE[?] and the SALWEEN.  The strength was still less two coys, but the few Chins who had got back from TAVOY, after [???????], were called [?] Coy, and held as a reserve.  The Bn front was some two miles long.  A Coy on the rt, C Coy on the left opposite [place name unreadable?].  [?] Coy near Bn HQ, not far in front of the MOULMEIN RIDGE.  All available men were deployed[?] on wiring and digging the position.  One sec[tion] of 4[?] (Carrier) pl was with A Coy, and one sec was with C[?] Coy.  The third sec was near Bn HQ, where the whole of the mortar pl[platoon] was deployed.  Line cable[?] was out to ford[forward] coys.

On 30 Jan ([?]) the enemy attacked MOULMEIN from the SOUTH and [unreadable?].  The Bn share of this fell on A Coy(Karen), in the rt ford[forward] sector.  The rt ford pl soon lost a sec, by mortar fire, and the rest of the pl fell back.  The country here was jungle, and very difficult to defend against an enemy like the Jap.  The left ford pl was near the bank of the river, and out of sight of Coy HQ.  As no reports came in from them, a patrol of A Coy went out to contact them, and brought back the information that the whole pl had disappeared.  This was confirmed late by a patrol of C Coy, who had come down the river bank.  The battle at this stage had died away from the Bn front, and was continuing well away to the rt flank, i.e. SOUTH[?] of MOULMEIN.  Bn HQ was not worried much except by mortar fire, most of which was landing behind them, on the ridge.  The position of A Coy was now bad, so they were moved back at 1600hrs to a position the [sic] left of Bn HQ.  The Coy was now only about one pl strong.  This move was followed up at once by the enemy, on whom some very effective mortar fire was directed by Bn HQ.  This advance by the enemy had threatened the town of MOULMEIN from the EAST, so at 1800hrs, orders were given from Bde HQ to withdraw from the forward positions, and to get into position behind the RIDGE, on the left of 4/12 FF.Regt, and between them and 7 Burif.  There was no time for any recce, and no tpt for any eqpt, except Brens. (Mortar carrying eqpt had still not been issued).  The result was a scramble, at short notice, in the dark, to a position which most Offrs and men had not seen.  A Coy ceased to exist as an effective force, and this left Bn HQ, less two secs MG, and C Coy, to hold the line.  Dispositions eventually taken up, by about 2300hrs, were C Coy rt ford, next to 4/12 FF. Regt, and Bn HQ left ford, with a large gap between them and 7 Burif.  The small E[?] Coy were with Bn HQ at this time and in the front line.  All sig[signals] eqpt had been lost, most of the amnn [ammunition] reserve was left behind, and there was nothing to carry the heavy mortar amnn, beyond what the gun numbers themselves could carry.  The night was quiet, but an enemy attack was made on the Bn position at dawn.  The first contact was made in a sunken rd, cutting through the RIDGE, between C Coy and Bn HQ.  Here SUBEDAR KARU SAM[???], comd A.A. pl, with two LMGs, and some half dozen men, was overrun, and all his team killed.  The G.O.C. himself was wounded, but managed to account for 4 enemy with his dah.  This move by the enemy cut comm[unications] with C Coy, but the position of that Coy, as of Bn HQ, was thought very strong, being on a razor backed ridge, inside the Pagodas, and the outlook was not too dark.  No comm was received from rt, left or Bde HQ during the whole of this period.  The only order received at Bn HQ from Bde HQ was  brought up at about 0830hrs, saying ‘evacuate the ridge at once.  Retire to KALEGAM JETTY, keeping the box closed, and embark on ferries for MARTABAN.’ (or words to this effect).  This order had apparently been given the night before but never reached the Bn.  A call was made for volunteers to take orders to C Coy, and two KARENS came out.  Timetable for the withdrawal to the jetty were given out at once, and the withdrawal started at 0845.  All heavy stores had to be abandoned, but most had already been left the previous evening. Capt D.C. LINCOLN was the last man off the ridge, with a party of Bn HQ.  The withdrawal to the jetty was unopposed, although there was plenty of fire going overhead, to the river and jetties, shipping, etc.  On arrival of Bn HQ at the jetty, they were told to stand by for a ship.  There was at this time a good deal of sniping going on from the houses round[sic], and an Offr of a Madras Fd Coy was killed.  In the event, the last ferry for MARTABAN had already left.  The Jap shells could be seen falling among the ferries at Martaban, and it was soon obvious that no more ships would be available, to take over most of Bn HQ.  Orders were given, therefore, to break up into small parties, and make the other side of the river as best as possible.  Some men tried to swim, but were soon carried downstream by the strong current, being fired at the whole time by the enemy.  Others tried to get up river, under the bank but walked into enemy hands.  Others managed to lie up during the day, and eventually get across by night, on rafts.  Great help was given in this raft building by a VCO of Madras S and M, and a detachment of his Coy.  Those lucky enough to get across, under their own steam, eventually caught up with the remains of the Bn at KYAIKTO.  So ended the Bn share of the battle for MOULMEIN.  Two hurried withdrawals, at very short notice, with no tpt, would have tried the powers of endurance and morale of even seasoned troops.  Both were at night, and without a previous recce of the positions.

The two Karens who had offered to try and get through to C Coy with the message to withdraw, were unable to do this.  There was no way through, and anxiety was felt about the Coy.  During the retirement of Bn HQ to the jetty, it was noticed that there was no movement on the hill held by C Coy during the night, and no visual signals were answered from there.  The Coy had, in fact, already retired, getting the order to do so from 4/12 FFR, on their right.  The Bn HQ was alone on Moulmein  Ridge for some time, without knowing.  This fact was discovered only on arrival at KYAIKTO, where contacts with other units led it being known.  The lesson of this failure of vital orders being received points to the necessity of liaison Offrs being deployed.  The order was eventually brought by Capt J.C. FRASER, who had been sent down to Bde HQ to find out the situation.

For the next few days, the Bn lay at KYAIKTO, whence it moved to MOKPOLIN[sic], and took over the defence of the SITTANG BRIDGE. [17]  The strength was now not much over 200.  A Coy being reduced to a sec, while Bn HQ had lost a lot of men, who had been cut of on the wrong side of the SALWEEN, without transport.  Of this 200 odd, a party of 50 was sent to SHWEGYIN, under 2/Lt A.M. STUART. [18]  This party did not rejoin until 19 Feb, on relief by 7 Burif.  As soon as they got back, orders were received to send two parties up river, to find defence post at two places,  thought to be likely crossings for the enemy, at low water.  These were under comd of Capt D.C. LINCOLN and Capt R.M[?]. WOOD. [19]  These two parties were never under comd of the Bn again.  After the Sittang battle, they were attached, at various times, to 2 Bde HQ, 1 Burif, 7 Burif and 5 Burif. [20] [21] Meanwhile, a large draft had been received, of some 100 Kachins, 30[50?] Chins, and about 20 Karens.[22]  [23] [24]  These were either very young soldiers, or like the Kachins, reservists, not at all happy at being recalled to the Army.  This made the Bn strength now roughly two Coys of Kachins, one of Chins, and a small Coy of Karens.  Bn HQ was much below strength. [25]  A perimeter round SITTANG BRIDGE, both sides, was taken up, and dug and wired as well as possible. [26] [27]  Major L.G. WHEELER had meanwhile rejoined from Bde HQ.  MAJOR E.G. BROOKE[28] had returned.  2/Lt PEEBLES had gone to Bde HQ as Liaison Offr.  Most of the men had lost all their kit, except what they stood up in.  Cooking pots did not exist, while all except one mortar had been lost at MOULMEIN, with Bn HQ.  The dispositions at SITTANG BRIDGE were as follows.  Rt Bank. Composite Coy from HQ.  Left bank rt C Coy, on BARRETTO HILL.  Centre D Coy.  Left A Coy. [29]  During the attack on the bridge by the enemy, there were only 3 B.O.s present, i.e. MAJOR WHEELER,  CAPTAIN FRASER, and 2/Lt STUART.  Capts LINCOLN and WOOD had, as already related, moved up river, while Lt Col TAYLOR was absent in Rangoon.  The attack came in first against A Coy, who were overwhelmed.  The rest of the Bn was eventually withdrawn across the bridge, other units taking over the position on the left bank.[30]  The Coy formed of Kachin draft proved unreliable.  After regrouping on the left[sic] bank, the Bn share of work came in helping across men of 17 Div, who were cut off when the bridge was blown up.  In this work Jemadar KAMG[?] TUT, his orderly SAN[?] KAIMO[?], and Rfn[rifleman] DUM[?] HAM[?] played a great part, the two Rfn subsequently being awarded the Burma Gallantry Medal.

This action was the last in which the Bn was engaged. [31] [32] [33]  From the [unreadable place name?], the Bn concentrated at PEGU, then moved to HLEGU.[34]  A short stop at HMAWBE[modern Hmwabi] preceded a journey to Mandalay, [by] train to PROME, and thence by steamer [to Mandalay]. [35] [36]  On arrival at MANDALAY, in Mar 42, the Bn was employed in a local mobile column scheme,[37] but was eventually told to send all its men to other Bns.[38]  One Coy of KACHINS went to 5 Burif, one Coy of CHINS to 2 Burif, and about 40 KARENS, the balance, went to 4 BURIF.[39]  Their officers were disposed of as follows.

 

[unreadable list of names and assignments?]Lt Col GD Taylor to Army Comd. Major L.G WHEELER ditto.  Capt J.C. FRASER[?] [???]. Capt [??????]. Lt V[?].[?]STUART[?], Lt R[?].[?].LOSE[?] to Courier service.  Capt.[????????] ditto.  Capt. W.A.S. HYDE, 2/Lt R.W.H. PEEBLES to Chin Hills Bn, BFF.


 

The casualties suffered by the Bn from 15 Dec 41, to 12 Apr 42, when it was disbanded, are as follows.

                            Killed.[40]                  B.O.                1

                                                           O.R.              45

                            Wounded.               B.O.                1

                                          GCO and O.R.s              43

                            Missing. GCO and O.R.s            249

NOTE.

This account has been compiled after an interval of over one year, without any War Diary to consult, and with no brother Officer at hand to check the dates, facts, etc., but it represents, to the best of my knowledge, what happened.

The War Diary up to the end of Jan was torn up and thrown into the SALWEEN.  That up to 28 Feb was thrown into the SITTANG, and that for the rest of the existence of the Bn was sent to Defence Dept, but that copy was eventually lost at MONYWA.

17 Apr 43.

[signed] G.D. Taylor, Lt Col.

 



[1] George Derbyshire Taylor (identified as "Geoffrey" not "George" in the British Half Year Army List for 1938 to 1942), born, 25th March 1894.  In ranks 15 days, 2nd September 1914 to 17th September 1914.  From Cadet/ex-Cadet of the Officer Training Corps, temporary 2nd Lt., South Wales Borderers, 17th September 1914 to 30th November 1914.  Temporary Lieutenant, 1st December 1914 to 4th July 1917.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., 17th June 1915.  Served France and Belgium, 3rd September 1915 to 1st November 1915.  Served Greek Macedonia, 11th November 1915 to 14th April 1917.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 17th June 1916.  From temporary Captain, South Wales Borderers, to be temporary Lieutenant on appointment as probationer to the Indian Army, 14th April 1917.  As Lieutenant, attached as Company Officer to the 7th Gurkha Rifles, 5th July 1917.  Served South Persia, 7th July 1917 to 10th October 1917.  Served Iraq, 6th December 1917 to 11th November 1918.  Acting Captain, 25th March 1918 to 29th September 1918.  Appointed to the Indian Army (IA 236) as Lieutenant, attached to the 7th Gurkha Rifles, 5th July 1918.  Acting Captain, 5th November 1918 to 10th November 1918.  Promoted to Captain, 17th June 1919.  Special Appointment (Class GG) to 16th November 1919.  Served Iraq, 1920.  Promoted to Major, 16th June 1933.  Company Commander, the 4th Battalion, The Burma Rifles, Maymyo, 15th July 1937 to 1939.  Attached to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1939 to 30th September 1939.  Commanding Officer, the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1st October 1939 to May/June 1942.  Promoted to Lt. Colonel, 1st October 1939.  Retired, 7th September 1947 (“War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941”, Savannah (2004); British Army List; Indian Army List; Indian Army List 1919; Indian Army List 1921; London Gazette).

[2] Herbert Ernest Le, born, 12th October 1907.  Served as a Company officer on probation, as 2nd Lieutenant, 11th (Upper Burma) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, Burma Territorial Force, Mandalay, 24th August 1932 to 28th April 1941.  Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, Burma Territorial Force, 1st March 1938.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., A.B.R.O. (ABRO 124), 28th April 1941.  Served with the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles.  Company Commander of "B" (Karen) Company, sent with "D" Company to Mergui, December 1941.  Sent with 'D' Company, 3rd Burma Rifles, from Mergui to Tavoy, 17th January 1942.  Wounded at Tavoy and made his way to Rangoon by country boat, January 1942.  Joined Major E.H. Cooke, 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, on the trek from Myitkyina to India, 6th May 1942.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 28th October 1942.  As Lieutenant, temporary Captain, served with the 25th Garrison Battalion, The Burma Regiment, 1943-44.  Left the 25th Garrison Battalion, The Burma Regiment to join the Burma Intelligence Corps, Calcutta, 22nd December 1944 (Anglo-Burmese Library; Burma Army List January 1938, January 1940, October 1940, 1943; Cooke Diary; War diary 25th Burma Regiment, WO 172/5038; War Diary 3rd Burma Rifles, WO 172/974; Andrews Narrative, WO 203/5691).

[3] In May 1943 Lt. Colonel B. Ruffell, former CO of the 1st Burma Rifles, stated he thought the  3rd Burma Rifles was in a ‘state bordering on mutiny’ prior to the outbreak of war with Japan.  He felt the battalion had been ‘got at’ by agitators whose work was made easier largely due to the battalion’s Burman soldiers resenting the better terms given to Burmans who joined BNVR and BAF units  (Notes of a conversation with Lt Col B Ruffell, 10/3/1943). 

[4] Dudley Cecil Lincoln born, 6th August 1913.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., (56736), Royal Ulster Rifles, 31st August 1933.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 31st August 1936.  Seconded for service with the Burma Defence Force, 13th March 1938.  Promoted to Captain, 17th March 1938.  Appointed to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 17th March 1938.  Adjutant, the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles from 4th May 1939.  Detached from the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles on or shortly after, 19th February 1942.  Company Commander of a Kachin Company, formerly belonging to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, war-posted to the 7th (Police) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 17th March 1942.  Commander, "A" Company, 7th (Police) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 18th April 1942.  As temporary/acting Major, commanded Karens and Kachins detached from the 7th (Police) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, and withdrawn from front line duty, Myingyan, 26th April 1942.  Promoted to Major, 31st August 1946.  Promoted to Lt. Colonel, 1st January 1956.  Retired from the Regular Army on retired pay, 19th August 1958  (British Army List; Indian Army List; London Gazette; War Diary 3rd Burma Rifles, WO 172/974 (War diary 3rd Burma Rifles); War Diary 7th Burma Rifles, WO 172/979 (War diary 7th Burma Rifles)).

[5] John Coleridge Fraser born Kurseong, Bengal, 12th December 1914.  Worked for Steel Brothers, general staff, Rangoon, 1939 to 1941.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., ABRO (ABRO 74), 7th March 1940.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 8th September 1941.  As Captain, was Quarter-Master for the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, January 1942.  Served with the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles until the battalion was effectively disbanded, March 1942.  Captured and escaped from the Japanese, 1942?.  As Lieutenant (acting Captain), mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma during the period December 1941 to May 1942, gazetted, 28th October 1942.  Served with the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, as part of the First Chindit Operation, with Column 5, commanded by Major B. Fergusson, 1943.  As Lieutenant (temporary Captain), awarded the Military Cross, gazetted, 16th December 1943, for which the citation reads:

 

Brigade:          77th Indian Infantry Brigade

Corps:  4th Corps

Unit:    Army in Burma Reserve of Officers, attd. The Burma Rifles

Action for which recommended :-      Capt. Fraser served as 2nd-in-command to No. 5 Column, and as Officer Commanding the detachment of Burma Rifles with that Column. These troops excelled in all these branches of their duties, in gaining of intelligence, in foraging and in propaganda. Their success in these was due to Capt. Fraser's careful and patient training, and their invariable courage in circumstances which were often trying to his personal example.

The successful crossing at TIGYAING of the IRRAWADDY River on 10 March '43, was almost entirely the work of Capt. Fraser, whose bold reconnaissance, efficiency and exemplary handling of the local inhabitants resulted in a flawless operation.

During the withdrawal from Burma, Capt. Fraser's experience and advice was instrumental in ensuring success on that hazardous journey. As the only Burmese speaker with the party, his work was never ceasing. His intimate knowledge of the Burmese, and the judicious mixture of tact and firmness with which he handled them, were invaluable. From them in the course of the campaign he collected much intelligence of strategic as well as immediate value.

His personal courage was of a rare standard, leading him cheerfully into situations of great danger; and his resolution, particularly in adversity, were an inspiration to all, and not least to his Column Commander.

Recommended by:  Major B.E.Fergusson, DSO, The Black Watch, Column Commander, 77th Indian Infantry Brigade          

Signed By:   Brigadier O.C. Wingate, Comdr. 77th Ind. Inf. Bde.

Married Eileen Mary Whitwell, 1945.  After the war, worked for Steel Brothers as a Mercantile Assistant, 1st January 1946.  As temporary Major, mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma, gazetted, 19th September 1946.  Died, 14th December 1965  ("Beyond the Chindwin", Fergusson B, Pen & Sword (2009); Ancestry.co.uk; Anglo-Burmese Library; FindMyPast; London Gazette; WO 373/31/146; Thacker's Directory 1939/1941; War Diary 3rd Burma Rifles, WO 172/976 (War diary 3rd Burma Rifles)).

[6] Richard Willoughby Wood born, 14th June 1916.  Educated at Wellington and Peterhouse, Cambridge.  Arrived in Burma to work as a Forest Assistant, Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation, 1937.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., ABRO (ABRO 62), 10th November 1939.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 12th May 1941.  As Captain, Commander "C" Company, the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1942.  Detached from the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles on or shortly after, 19th February 1942.  Served in "intelligence patrol work on the Chindwin front" with Z Force until Christmas 1944 when he contracted scrub typhus, 1943 to 1944.  Worked with the Burma Frontier Service until independence, 1945 to 1947.  Awarded the Military Cross (identified as ABRO 76), gazetted, 16th August 1945.  As acting Major, mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma, gazetted, 9th May 1946.  Joined the forest staff of the Borneo Company and posted to Chiang Mai, Thailand, 1948.  Worked as Forest Manager, 1953-1960.  When the Thai forests were nationalised, transferred to East Malaysia, 1960.  Retired and returned to live in Chaing Mai, Thailand, 1965.  Died, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2nd December 2002  (Anglo-Burmese Library; FindMyPast; History of Teak; "Battle for Burma", Rodrigues V.; London Gazette; War Diary 3rd Burma Rifles, WO 172/976 (War diary 3rd Burma Rifles)).

[7] Archibald Maclachlan Stuart.  Commissioned to the General List, Regular Army Emergency Commission, as 2nd Lt. (189654), 28th April 1941.  Mortar Officer, the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, January 1942.  Served with the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1942 to March 1942.  War substantive Lieutenant, 1st October 1942.  Served with the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles on the First Chindit Operation, 1943.  Temporary Captain, 30th September 1943.  Possibly Captain, the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles (identified in 1944 photograph as "Capt. A.M. Smart", 1944 (Anglo-Burmese Library 2nd Burma Rifles - Chindits; British Army List; London Gazette; War Diary 3rd Burma Rifles, WO 172/976 (War diary 3rd Burma Rifles)).

[8] 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).

[9] William Albert Stanley Hyde, born in Burma, appointed 2nd Lt. ABRO (ABRO 122), 28th April 1941.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 28th October 1942.  According to his own account, passed out from the second OCTU which was held in Maymyo, and posted to the 3rd Burma Rifles.  Sometime just before or on 12th April 1942, then Captain Hyde was posted to the Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, with which he served for the next two years.  As Temporary Captain, Chin Hills Battalion, The Burma Regiment, awarded the Military Cross, 8th February 1945 (recommendation may be viewed at the National Archives, WO 372/35/131).  After the war he spent some time in Burma training the newly re-raised 5th Burma Rifles (Anglo-Burmese Library; Burma Star).

[10] Robert William Horsburgh Peebles, commissioned 2nd Lt. (217674) to the Unattached List, 26th October 1941.  Later Captain (temporary), Mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service, 16th December 1943.  As Major, killed accidentally in India, 22nd July 1944, and buried in Gauhati War Cemetery (London Gazette; Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

[11] Paul Herberdon Rogers, born 8th July 1912.  Commissioned, The Loyal Regiment, as 2ndLt., 2nd February 1933.  Promoted Lieutenant, 2nd February 1936.  Appointed to Burma Defence Force, 14th April 1939.  Acting Captain, 1st October 1939 to 31st December 1939, temporary Captain, 1st January 1940 to 1st February 1941.  Promoted to Captain, 2nd February 1941.  Commander of the Depot, 3rd Burma Rifles.  Promoted to Major, 1st July 1946 (British Army List; War Diary 10th Burma Rifles WO 172/982 (War diary 10th Burma Rifles).

[12] Vivian Alexander Chiodetti, born, Rawalpindi, Punjab, 31st May 1905.  Educated at Bishop Cotton School, Simla, India, 1912.  Served in the ranks from 1925.  Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, The Manchester Regiment, 30th August 1928.  Travelled from Brisbane, Australia to Hull aboard the S.S. "Hobsons Bay", arrived, 11th May 1931.  An Indian Cricketer, played one first class match for Hyderabad, 1931-32.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 30th August 1931.  Commanded the Guard of Honour at the naming ceremony of the locomotive 'Manchester Regiment' at Victoria Station, Manchester, 1st October 1936.  Promoted to Captain, 18th January 1938.  Served, Specially Employed, seconded to the Burma Defence Forces from 30th September 1938.  As Captain, seconded to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 2nd November 1938.  Staff member of the Officer Cadet Training Unit at Maymyo, 1940 to 1941.  Quartermaster, 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, from 1st November 1940.  Acting Major, 17th January 1941 to 15th February 1941.  Acting Major from 11th May 1941.  As Major, Company Commander, 'D' Company, 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, killed in action at Kyaukmedaung, near Tavoy, 17th January 1942  ("Distinctly I Remember", H. Braund, Wren (1972); Andrews Narrative, WO 203/5691; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; British Army List; Burma Army List January 1939; Burma Defence Services List July 1941; http://www.espncricinfo.com/ accessed July 2017; http://themanchesters.org/forum  accessed July 2017; http://oldcottonians.org/ accessed July 2017; War diary 3rd Burma Rifles, WO 172/976).

[13] Rifleman Vai Thio (No. 7935) was awarded the Burma Gallantry Medal for actions during the operations on the Tavoy-Myitta Road on the night of 17th/18th January 1942 (gazetted 23rd April 1942).  Sadly the text of the recommendation has not been preserved (WO 373/30/132).

[14] The order of battle for the 2nd Burma Brigade for the morning of 30th January 1942 lists the 3rd Battalion, Burma Rifles as being formed with two companies plus a detachment of 54 B.A.O.Rs (Burma Army Other Ranks) made up of survivors of the 3rd and 6th Battalions, Burma Rifles from Tavoy (Operational reports and Order of Battle of 2 Burma Brigade, WO 203/5704).

[15] Lyndon Grier Wheeler, born 31st December 1900.  Commissioned to the Unattached List as 2nd Lt., 17th December 1919.  Admitted to the Indian Army as 2nd Lt., 18th April 1920, attached to the 3rd Battalion, 70th Burma Rifles.  Attached to the 10th Battalion, 70th Burma Rifles from 11th November 1920.  Attached to the 20th Burma Rifles from 3rd January 1923 to 1st April 1937.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 17th December 1920, to Captain, 17th December 1926 and to Major, 17th December 1937.  As Captain, mentioned in despatches for distinguished services rendered in connection with the operations in Burma during the period December 1930 to March 1932 (the ‘Saya San Rebellion’), gazetted 20th December 1932.  On Special Employment as Intelligence Officer in India from 1st April 1933 to 15th April 1935.   Appointed to the 16th Punjab Regiment, 1st April 1937 to 1st December 1938.   In 1939, as Major, was Deputy Director, Defence  Bureau, Burma, attached the 1st Burma Rifles.  After the break up of the 3rd Burma Rifles in February 1942, was redeployed to Burma Army Command H.Q., and, as temporary Lt.Colonel, is mentioned in the war diary of 12th Burma Rifles on 26th February 1942 as being employed at Burma Army H.Q., where he organised the re-equipping of men without arms following the Sittang Bridge disaster.  Later, as Temporary Lt.-Colonel, 16th Punjab Regiment, attached to the 2nd Burma Rifles; killed 4th April 1943; awarded DSO 16th December 1943, dated from 3rd April 1943 (the recommendation for this award is available to view at the National Archives in file WO 373/31/115).  After the retreat to India, Wheeler became the CO of the 2nd Burma Rifles and commanded the battalion as part of the first Chindit operation.  While with No. 5 Column, Wheeler was killed on 4th April 1943 by a stray bullet at the village of Zibyugin.  He achieved the rare distinction of being awarded a posthumous DSO (Commonwealth War Graves Commission; British Army List; London Gazette; Anglo-Burmese Library; Indian Official History, Reconquest of Burma Vol 1, p. 131; “War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941”, Savannah (2004); War Diary 12th Burma Rifles, WO 172/984(War diary 12th Burma Rifles).

[16] Possibly Major J.D. Tucker. 

John Darley Tucker, born, 21st December 1897.  Commissioned into the Gloucestershire Regiment, 2nd Lt., 16th August 1916.  Appointed Indian Army as 2nd Lt. (AI 14), 16th August 1916, with seniority from 25th February 1918.  Served France, November 1916 to April 1917.  Promoted Lieutenant, 16th August 1917, with seniority from 25th February 1918.  Promoted Lieutenant, 16th February 1918.  Acting Captain, 23rd April 1918 to 2nd September 1919.  Served Iraq, wounded, August 1920 to December 1920.  Promoted to Captain, 16th August 1920.  As Lieutenant, attached 3rd Battalion, 70th Burma Rifles, 1921.  Served with the 20th Burma Rifles from formation, 10th February 1922.  Indian Staff College, 24th August 1923 to 31st January 1928.  Instructor Army Signal School, 24th August 1923 to August 1925.  Served Burma (Saya San Rebellion), 1930-32.  Promoted to Major, 16th August 1934.  Adjutant, Auxiliary Force India, 26th February 1935.  Served with the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, April 1939.  As Major, served with 6th Battalion, The Burma Rifles, to January 1942.  Possibly attached to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles for a few days after the fall of Tavoy, 20th January 1942.  As Lt. Colonel, Commanding Officer, the 14th (Shan States) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, January 1942.  As Major, served with 6th Battalion, The Burma Rifles, to January 1942.  Possibly attached to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles for a few days after the fall of Tavoy, 20th January 1942.  Promoted to Lt. Colonel, 16th August 1942.  Retired, 19th March 1948 ("War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); British Army List; Indian Army List; London Gazette; WO 172/976; War Diary 3rd Burma Rifles, WO 172/976 (War diary 3rd Burma Rifles); War Diary 14th Burma Rifles, WO 172/986 (War diary 14th Burma Rifles)).

[17] The 3rd Burif was ordered to the Sittang Bridge ‘by march route’ by 2nd Burma Brigade on 2nd February 1942, the move began the next day (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).

[18] This party left the Sittang Bridge area on the evening of 6th February 1942 (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).

[19] 2nd Burma Brigade orders of 20th February 1942 were to send one platoon to each of Kunzeik and Lepan (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).

[20] 2nd Burma Brigade Operational Instruction No. 7, 25th February 1942 ordered the two platoons of 3 Burif under Captain Lincoln and Captain Wood to Daiku (modern Daik-U) to undertake patrols in the area Layethamein, Donzayit and Myitkyo and to make contact with patrols from 17th Indian Division. At 07:30 23rd February 1942, 1 Burif, at Nyaunglebin, had been instructed by 2nd Burma Brigade to expect a detachment of 3 Burif withdrawing from Kunzeik.  Captain Lincoln’s party reached Nyaunglebin on 25th February (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).

[21] Captain Lincoln’s party was ‘war posted’ to 7 Burif at Gonde village on 17 March 1942.  The party is described in the 7 Burif war diary as ‘1 Coy KACHINS’ and was used to replace 7 Burif’s Burman Company which had ‘been disposed of’.  The diary entry goes on to state that 3 Burif ‘had previously been disbanded’.  Captain Lincoln led A Company, 7th Burma Rifles as part of the ‘Magforce’ attack at Nyaunghla, near Yenangyaung, on 18th April 1942. At the end of April 1942, he led the Kachins and Karens of 7th Burma Rifles when these were withdrawn from the battalion and ordered to join with 1st Burma Rifles (War Diary 7th Burma Rifles, WO 172/979). 

[22] The war diary of the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles records a draft of 219 men (BAORs - Burma Army Other Ranks) were sent to 3 Burif on 17th February 1942 (War Diary 9th Burma Rifles, WO 172/981(War diary 9th Burma Rifles). 

[23] Two officers were drafted to 3 Burif from 9 Burif on 20th February 1942, 2ndLt. Laurence Riley Martin and 2nd Lt. Mg Mg [Maung Maung?] Gale. 

Martin was commissioned to the General List from Cadet, O.C.T.U., as 2nd Lt. (189637), 28th April 1941.  Initially served with the 4th Battalion, The Burma Rifles before transferring briefly to the 9th Battalion, The Burma Rifles on 2nd February 1942 and then transferring to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles on 22nd February 1942.  Subsequently formed part of the Composite Burma Rifles Battalion, India, June 1942.  Promoted war substantive Lieutenant, 1st October 1942.  As war substantive Lieutenant, transferred from the General List to the Highland Light Infantry to be war substantive Lieutenant, 19th June 1944, retaining current seniority (British Army List; War Diary 9th Burma Rifles, WO 172/981 (War diary 9th Burma Rifles); War Diary 2nd Burma Rifles, WO 172/975 (War diary 2nd Burma Rifles)).

[24]  On 19th February 1942, the 10th (Training) Battalion, Burma Rifles at Maymyo reported the arrival of a party from the Depot of the 3rd Burma Rifles; Captain Rogers, 3 GCOs and 37 BAORs.  An additional party of 3rd Burma Rifles men joined the same day under Jemadar Lloyd May U, consisting of 12 BAORs and the Jemadar. The war diary of the 9th Burma Rifles records that it received a party from the 3rd Burma Rifles Depot, made up of 1 GCO, 50 BAORs & 2 Folls from the Depot, 3rd Burma Rifles.  It is not known whether any of these men were included in the reinforcements subsequently sent to the 3rd Burma Rifles (War Diary 9th Burma Rifles, WO 172/981(War diary 9th Burma Rifles); War Diary 10th Burma Rifles, WO 172/982 (War diary 10th Burma Rifles)).

[25] On 14th February 1942, 3 Burif came under the direct command of Line of Communications Area, together with 2 Burma Brigade and 7 Burif (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).

[26] 2nd Burma Brigade Operational Instruction No 1, 8th February 1942 (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548) instructed 3 Burif as follows:

3 Burif.                      H.Q. SITTANG BR.

Task:- 

(a) The protection of SITTANG BR, the ferries and the Hy A/A Guns posted there.

There will be no withdrawal.  Positions lost will be counter attacked.  Both sides of the BR will be held.  To examine in consultation with the Det R.E. SITTANG the question of Ry blocks on both sides of the Br.

(b) A Det of not less than 2 Pls will be kept by you at SHWEGYIN to guard the crossings over the river at that place.

(c) All positions will be sited for all round defence and wired accordingly.

(d) Patrols to make contact with the 4/12 F.F.R. and B.M.P. coastal patrols from KYAIKKATHA and MOKPALIN and to patrol all approaches to the SITTANG BR.”

[27] The 3rd Burma Rifles was also directed to send one NCO and 6 men to 4/12 FFR to act as interpreters and guides (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).

[28] Edmund Godson Brooke, born 17th February 1910.  Territorial Army, commissioned to Unattached List as 2ndLt., 30th January 1932.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2ndLt., 12th March 1933.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 30th April 1934.  Attached to 10th Gurkha Rifles. Seconded to 1st Burma Rifles, December 1938.  Promoted to Captain, 30th January 1940.  Whilst serving with the 3rd Battalion, 10th Gurkha Rifles in the Netherlands East Indies, awarded the Military Cross, gazetted 4th April 1946 (Burma List; Indian Army List).

[29] Under command of 3 Burif at the Sittang Bridge was a troop from 8th Heavy AA Regiment, RA, a troop of Light AA (Bofors guns) and a 77mm battery (mountain guns) less one troop (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).

[30] Briefly, 3 Burif was under command of 48th Indian Infantry Brigade, which assumed command of the Sittang Bridge on 22nd February.  The battalion’s withdrawal across the Sittang Bridge would appear to have taken place on the late afternoon of 22nd February 1942 or night of 22nd/23rd February. 

[31] 2nd Burma Brigade Operational Instruction No. 7, 25th February 1942 ordered 3 Burif, less two platoons under Captain Lincoln, to concentrate at Daiku (modern Daik-U) (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548). 

[32] 2nd Burma Brigade Operational Instruction No. 8, 27th February 1942 ordered 3 Burif, by now in the area of Nyaunglebin (modern Nyaung Lay Pin), less two platoons under Captain Lincoln, to defend Brigade HQ and a supply dump and to carry out local patrolling. (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).

[33] On 1st March 1942 3 Burif was ordered to the position at Kyauktaga-Bantaga, north of Nyaunglebin, with FF 3.  This was probably the detachment of two platoons under the command of Captain Lincoln. (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade, WO 172/548).  

[34] The war diary of the 10th (Training) Battalion, Burma Rifles, records that on 27th February 1942, 34 BAORs (Burma Army Other Ranks) of the 3rd Burma Rifles arrived “from the Field” at the battalion in Maymyo.  The next day four BAORs were sent by the 10th Burma Rifles to rejoin the 3rd Burma Rifles at Pegu (War Diary 10th Burma Rifles, WO 172/982 (War diary 10th Burma Rifles)).

[35] As part of the reorganisation of 17th Indian Infantry Division after the Sittang Bridge disaster, it was decided on 25th February 1942 that 16th Indian Infantry Brigade was to command a number of composite battalions.  One of these battalions was to be formed from elements of 4/12 FFR, 7/10 Baluchs, 5/17 Dogra, 8 Burif and parties from 3 and 4 Burif (Indian Official History, The Retreat from Burma 1941-1942, p. 185).  This reorganisation went ahead however 4 Burif had very few weapons and was ordered to Prome on 26th February.  It is most likely that the remnants of 3 Burif accompanied 4 Burif, given the approximate timings and movements described in the account above which seem to match those of 4 Burif, whose Burif’s movements were:

25th February       Refitting in Pegu

26th February       Marched to Taukhyan[sic]

27th February       Zayatkwin

2nd March          Marched to Hmwabi and train to Prome

3rd March          Prome and left on 4th by launch

6th March           Meegyanwye

7th March           Yenangyaung

9th March           Minbu

11th March         Mandalay.

(War Diary 4th Burma Rifles, WO 172/977 (War diary 4th Burma Rifles)). 

[36] A further reinforcement draft was dispatched to the 3rd Burma Rifles from Meiktila by the 9th Burma Rifles on 25th February 1942.  This was made up of 2nd Lt. Yin Kyun, 1 GCO, 81 BAORs and 1 follower (War Diary 9th Burma Rifles, WO 172/981 (War diary 9th Burma Rifles)).

[37] The order of battle for the Army in Burma for 1st April 1942 lists the 3rd Burma Rifles under the Army’s ‘Line of Communication Defence Troops and Units’, together with 4 and 6 Burif and 11, 12, 13 and 14 Burif (Indian Official History, The Retreat from Burma 1941-1942, p. 414).

[38] By 12th April 1942.

[39] The war diary of the 1st Burma Rifles records that a company of Kachins was received as reinforcements on 10th April 1942.  It was noted that this company came from the 3rd Burma Rifles via the 9th  (Reserve) Burma Rifles.  The war diary of the 5th Burma Rifles records that on 26th April, ‘1 Coy of Kachins’ was received as reinforcements from the 9th Burma Rifles.  Unfortunately the war diary for the 9th Burma Rifles only covers February 1942.  The war diary of the 2nd Burma Rifles records that a company of Chins from “3 and 6 Burif” arrived on 13th April 1942 to join the battalion, replacing the Karen Company, as ordered by the reorganisation of Burma Rifles battalions  (War Diary 1st Burma Rifles, WO 172/974 (War diary 1st Burma Rifles); War Diary 2nd Burma Rifles, WO 172/974 (War diary 2nd Burma Rifles); War Diary 5th Burma Rifles, WO 172/975 (War diary 5th Burma Rifles).

[40] The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database lists the following men of the 3rd Burma Rifles.  Where date of death is known this is given.  Note that the record for 1946 probably refers to a casualty in the reformed 3rd Burma Rifles, re-raised between December 1945 and August 1947.

 

Rifleman  AUNG THU         

Rifleman  BAI HUM NAW  

Lance Naik  CHAU CHI TANG      

Rifleman  CHIN GO 

Naik  CHIN KHAI    

Rifleman  CHIN ZA PAU    

Rifleman  CHIT PONE         

Water Carrier  CHUNG DI   

Rifleman  DHANJ BAWN   

Lance Naik  DUM LUEI       

Jemadar    GAM GALU TU  

Rifleman  GAU LU HKA     

Lance Naik  GAWLU GAM 

Naik  HANG CHIN THANG           

Rifleman  HAU ZA THANG  04 June 1945

Lance Naik  HKANG DA YAW      

Naik  HKANG MA TANG   

Lance Naik  HPAU YAM NAW      

Rifleman  HTAM TANG LA

Washerman  JHORI LALL   

Rifleman  KAREN JAWNG 

Rifleman  KARENG LA       

Rifleman  KEM KHO THANG        

Lance Naik  KHAN MANG 

Rifleman  LABANG GAM   

Naik  LAL THANE   

Rifleman  LASHI NAW       

Naik  LIAN ZA CHIN          

Rifleman  LUN SEIN

Rifleman  N GANG GAM    

Rifleman  PHANG KHA NANG     

Rifleman  RAM VAK           

Havildar   ROBERT  

Rifleman  SAM ZA NENG   

Rifleman  SAW HARRY      

Naik  SAW HLA SHWE      

Naik  SAW HLA THEIN       15 May 1942

Lance Naik  SAW ISSAC     

Rifleman  SAW SA PAW     

Rifleman  SAW SHWE KO  

Subadar  SAW THA NU       

Rifleman  SAW THA ZAN   

Rifleman  SAW THAN SHWE 02 January 1946

Havildar   SEIN KHA           

Havildar  SON ZA HANG   

Cook  TASFAN         

Havildar  THA LA    

Rifleman  THA ZAN 

Rifleman  THAN KHUA      

Havildar  TSON HAU MG   

Rifleman  YAW NU  

Rifleman  ZAMKO THAWNG SAM ZA NENG.