The Burma Campaign

[Transcribed from National Archives File WO 172/980, War Diary 8th Burma Rifles by:  Steve Rothwell - The Burma Campaign web site.]

 

W A R   D I A R Y

8th Burma Rifles

 

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

 

3-1-42[1]

Moulmein

9 Jap bombers attacked aerodrome slightly damaging 4 of our planes on the ground.

 

7-1-42

CAPTAIN P.H.M. GALBRAITH[2] taken temporarily as S.C. 2 Bde.[3] Captain F.H.S. ALLISON[4] took over B Coy and 2/Lt J.L. THOM[5] sent as S.O. to Aerodrome officer.

1500

7-1-42

36 Jap planes attacked Moulmein and Martaban.  Damage to Martaban Ry Station.

 

11-1-42

3 Jap planes bombed Aerodrome.  No military damage whatever[sic].

 

12-1-42

Major A.V. PERRY[6] took over re-organisation of Aerodrome defences.

 

15-1-42

One Pl A Coy sent to PAPUN to bolster up civilian morale.

0900

17-1-42

23 Jap planes arrived from East and made bombing attack apparently intended for South Rly Sta and Rly line.  No damage to Sta or line but extensive damage to Civilian life and property in MUTPUN.

0900

18-1-42

Hav[ildar] Gurdial Singh and one Sepoy sent as staff to Reception Camp MOCLEBIN[? illegible].

0900

19-1-42

B Coy relieved by D Coy on Aerodrome.  D Coy prepared and occupied new position on Aerodrome in rubber plantation North of Aerodrome Qr Gd.

1100

20-1-42

19 Jap planes attacked Moulmein, Martaban and flew over our area.  Two Buffaloes on L.G. [Landing Ground] which took off to attack Japs were destroyed.  One Hav[ildar] A.A. Bty on Aerodrome was killed, and one man was wounded.  Hanger set on fire on Aerodrome.

1230

9 Jap planes appeared from 2.E. and circled for 45 mins over Aerodrome.  No bombs dropped.

1600

7 Jap planes appeared from East and after circling over Moulmein disappeared again.

 

20-1-42

Moulmein.

B Coy took up position on line 7-2 M.S. Rd. MOULMEIN-AMHERST on flank of C Coy.

 

21-1-42

Major A.V. PERRY returned from Aerodrome handing over duties of Aerodrome Officer to Capt N.A.P. RANNARD[7], Comd D Coy.

 

22-1-42

Whole Bn standing to.  All B.Os sleeping in office.  Officers Mess moved nearer to office.  No. 5 Pl sent to C Coy to strengthen their position, thus enabling C Coy to occupy hill on extreme left flank.

0930

25-1-42

Bn withdrawn from line 7-2 M.S to position about 4th Mile Rd MOULMEIN-AMHERST.  C Coy on left of road, B Coy on right, Bn H.Q. at fork roads M.S. 3-7 Rd MOULMEIN-AMHERST.

1030

26-1-42

Bn withdrawn from 4 M.S. position to defensive line North of Zegyo Bazaar.  B Coy left of Zegyo bazaar[sic], C Coy right.  Bn H.Q. in house on South end of ridge.  One Pl A Coy on right-area St. Augustines School.  7 Burif on our right flank.  One sec 12 Mtn Bty supporting our position.

0700

28-1-42

Recce party of 1 G.C.O. and 3 ORs proceeded on recce to Bilin with S.C.

 

D Coy withdrawn from Aerodrome and put in Bn Reserve position on ridge behind H.Q. Coy.

2300

29-1-42

Recce party of 1 G.C.O. and 3 men returned.

0115

30-1-42

Firing by 7 Burif on Sampan in river.

0715

D Coy plus 1 Pl A Coy and 1 Sec 4 Pl moved out behind B Coy’s position and on to Aerodrome Rd to mop up party of Japs reported at Peinnegon.

0730

Heavy Jap attack on B Coy posn and later C Coy posn.  Leading Pl of D Coy cut off but managed to rejoin later.

Heavy fighting all day but no ground given by our fwd Coys.

1830

Bn H.Q. shelled.  One Jem[adar] killed, 2/Lt T.C.FLACK[8] and one Sepoy wounded.  Bn H.Q. moved.

2030

No. 9 Pl A Coy rejoined Bn from Pt.851 and sent to A Coy Posn.

2100

Message received saying 7 Burif withdrawing to new Posn.

2230

Bn Started to withdraw to conform to new line.

0430

31-1-42

Moulmein

Withdrawal completed.  Two fwd Coys now C & A, C left and A right, D behind C and B behind A.  H.Q. Coy and Bn H.Q. in centre of Salween Park.

0700

A body of enemy broke through into Salween Park but were repelled with the bayonet.

0745

Orders received from Bde to withdraw whole Bn to Mission St. Jetty and there embark for Martaban.

Withdrawal carried out successfully and Bn marched from Martaban.  Half the Bn were embussed at 18 M.S. and the other half entrained at Kywegyan.  Whole Bn less casualties reached Kyaikto early morning 1 Feb.

 

 

 

 

T.I. Bowers[9]

Lt.Col,
Comd 8 Burif.

NOTE:  The original War Diary for Jan 42 had to be destroyed during the evacuation of MOULMEIN.  This diary has been compiled from rough notes made by the Adjt, other officers and partly from memory.

 

 

 

 

1st February 1942.[10]

0400 Hrs

B and D Coys with Bn HQ and HQ Coy brought back off the perimeter as Bde reserve to Salween Park in the vicinity of Original Bde HQ.  ‘C’ Coy was left holding part of the Eastern perimeter.

 

0600-0800 Hrs

Japs after heavy shelling and mortaring broke through perimeter in several sectors.  One party of Japs which got through to Salween Park were driven out by a bayonet charge by us.

 

 

0750 Hrs

Order to withdraw to Mission Street Jetty was received by us.  Unit withdrew to Mission Street Jetty with a certain amount of street fighting.

 

0900-1200 Hrs

Crossing was carried out and practically the whole unit was ferried across to Martaban by this time.  During crossing ships were bombed, shelled and machinegunned[sic] enroute[sic].  Heavy bombing took place on Martaban in area Rly station and jetty.  Japs followed up withdrawal by bringing their guns up and shelling Rly station accurately from across the river.

 

1200-1800 Hrs

Bn strength about 540, after casualties and missing men accounted for, marched in direction of Kyaikto.  Practically the whole of our equipment except mules were brought across and loaded on to a train.  Our Q.M. Capt Andrews[11] helped to take the train out of the station at Martaban while it was being shelled.  The train proceeded to Kyaikto.  The Bn marched to a station approx 18 miles from Martaban one station Martaban side of YINYEIN I think the name was KYWEGYAN, and arrived about 1700-1800 Hrs.

 

 

1000 Hrs

Bn boarded a goods train consisting of open trucks meant for log carrying.  Train after shunting back someway towards Martaban to pick up stragglers of other units proceeded towards Kyaikto and arrived about 0400 Hrs 2nd February.  Here officers and men received some tea.

2nd February 1942

KYAIKTO

During the morning Bn marched to a camp site in some scrub jungle about 6 miles from Kyaikto on the Kyaikto-Sittang Rd.  Here the offrs and men had their first food since the evening of 30th January.  No food or tea arrangements were met during the withdrawal to Kyaikto by march route and train.
Bn stayed in this scrub jungle with inadequate water supply until 6th February.  During this time the Bn reorganized and received some clothing and equipment, very little of both.

4th February 1942

 

Party of Eight men who had been cut off in Moulmein rejoined the Unit.

6th February 1942

 

Bn moved from camp to Kyaikto and entrained and proceeded back towards Moulmein and stopped at HNINPLAE near BILIN.  here the Bn camped between Road and River M.S.1 Hninpale-Bilin Rd.  Bn now came under 46 Bde 17 Div[12].

7th February 1942

HNINPALE

‘A’ Coy plus dett HQ Coy under Comd Capt. P.H.M. Galbraith and Lt. Thom proceeded to KAMAMAUNG on special detachment.  Strength 97 men.  This detachment left HNINPALE by M.T.[Motor Transport] route and completed the move by march route.  This Coy’s subsequent moves given in detail Appendix 2 attached.

On this date the Bn left 46 Bde and came under 16 Bde 17 Div[13].  C.O. received a letter regarding the Bn’s work at Moulmein.  True copy of letter attached Appendix 3.

 

 

 

7th February 1942

HNINPALE

Bn less A Coy remained in this camp at M.S.1 until 13th February.  During this time the Bn continued re-organizing and dug in with all round defence.  Strength of Bn about 440.

7th February 1942

HNINPALE

Jap Recce plane came over and dropped leaflets, some were picked up.  They depicted P.M. Churchill beating Burmans carrying heavy loads.  Bando for cooking mens[sic] food still bad, as no cooking utensils available.

HNINPALE

13th Feb

2100 Hrs

‘C’ Coy was sent to a rd Block Posn at M.S.60.4 Rd KYAIKTO:THATON and relieved one Coy of 1/9 R.Jats.[14]  One Pl manned the Road Bridge defences.

 

 

2100 Hrs

Two pls ‘D’ Coy sent to relieve one Coy 1/9 R.Jats on Ry Bridge defences.

14th Feb

0700 Hrs

Two Pls ‘B; Coy sent to relieve two Pls 1/7 G.R.[15] on Rd Blocks on Kyaikto and BILIN Rds.

15th February

One Pl ‘B’ Coy moved from Bn Reserve and relieved one Pl ‘C’ Coy on Rd Bridge.  This Pl of ‘C’ Coy moved to rejoin the Coy at M.S.60.4 position Rd Kyaikto-Thaton.

We changed Brigades from 16 Bde to 48 Bde – 17 Div.[16]

BILIN

16th February.

Recces carried out of Bilin village and River Bank with a view to taking up a Coy posn.  D Coy relieved at Ry Bridge by one Coy 1/9 R Jats D Coy moved at area Bilin village.

Bn HQ moved from its original position near Rd M/S.1 HNINPALE-BILIN Rd to a new position about 1 mile South from Bilin on BILIN-KYAIKTO Rd.  K.O.Y.L.I’s withdrew from THATON during the day with a gap of over a mile between their Right Coy and our Left Coy ‘D’ Coy.  While the K.O.Y.L.I. were getting into position one Coy of theirs were shot up by Japs who were in a small village on the West bank of the River.  Mortar and small arms fire was heard spasmodically most of the afternoon.  This village was also shelled but all the Japs could not be dislodged.

 

 

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

BILIN

16th February.

Position at BILIN on evening of 16th was as follows:- K.O.Y.L.I. left watching a well defended track round our flanks joining up with the main Kyaikto Rd about 6 miles South of Bilin.  8th (F.F.) Bn The Burma Rifles[17] with an enormous front; from the West of Bilin village to the Road Bridge held by 2 Coys with one Coy forward holding a Rd Block posn at M/S 60.4 with Bn HQ about 1 mile South of Bilin along Bilin-Kyaikto Rd.  1/9/ R.Jats on the Right covering the Ry Bridge.  All coys in Bn were wired to Bn HQ and L/T working O.K.

February night 16/17

Fairly quiet night with only sporadic firing on front held by K.O.Y.L.I.

17th February 1942

Morning quiet on all fronts except K.O.Y.L.I. from which small arms and Mortar fire could be heard.  They were supported by the Mtn Battery.  Japs in large numbers were reported still in the village and an unsuccessful attack was put in to clear them by K.O.Y.L.I. fierce fighting was reported.

Very little of interest on our front.  Bilin village was completely cleared of inhabitants and orders received to shoot anyone crossing the River – which was fordable anywhere and therefore no real obstacle at all.  Several suspicious movements were seen on far bank and sniping by us continued.  C Coy still in position on Rd block posn at M.S.60.4 on THATON Rd.  A/Tk mines were laid and 2 ATk guns which were in position with this Coy were withdrawn in case they could not be got away in time if it became necessary to “blow” the Rd Bridge.

During afternoon intermittent L.M.G. and mortar fire heard in Dogra[18] posn ahead of ‘C’ Coy at 61-4 M/S KYAIKTO-THATON Rd.

 

1430 hours

‘C’ Coy report Dogras withdrawing through them also crossing river via Ry Bridge in JAT’s area.

BILIN

17th February 1942

1500 hours

3 lorries apparently same as those which had been going up to the Dogra position during the morning appeared at ‘C’ Coy Rd block.  Jem.[adar] Qaim Din shouted to the leading driver to go slowly as there were mines laid, he replied in Hindustani “Never mind” and promptly opened fire with an automatic weapon. Jem Qaim Din was wounded severely in  the chest, subsequently he died in India.[19]  ‘C’ Coy 3 Brens covering Rd block opened up on the trucks at short 30-40 yards range and killed off a good many Japs.  Apparently the Japs had captured these trucks and had followed up the Dogras very closely.  Remaining Japs off loaded from the trucks and went into the jungle on either side of the Road.  They commenced sniping and working around ‘C’ Coy posn.  One L.M.G. No.1 gunner killed, Jem Qaim Din wounded was sent back.

 

1600 hours

A large number of Japs observed marching down the Rd from THATON direction about ¾ mile away.  Distress signal for defensive fire put up by Coy Comd but unfortunately as the Batteries were changing over none was immediately available.  L/T to Bn HQ “dis”, and no communication available to HQ; Coy Comd decided to withdraw his Coy which was threatened with being cut off by enemy working round rear and Enemy advancing in large numbers down the Road.  Coy withdrew and crossed river on both sides of Rd Bridge.

 

1620 Hrs

Rd bridge “blown” by Engineers.  Later Ry bridge “blown” by Engineers.

 

1700 Hrs

‘C’ Coy came into Reserve at Bn HQ.

 

1730-1800 Hrs

2 Pls of C Coy did bayonet attack on patch of sugar cane and jungle where some enemy were reported; after which ‘C’ Coy came back and took up a posn on perimeter round Bn HQ.  Firing broke out on all Coy fronts but no attempt was made to cross the River by Japs in force.

BILIN

17/18 February night

Bn holding about 3 miles front along River Edge with a gap of about one mile between D Coy and K.O.Y.L.I. on our left.  Sec posts necessarily very far apart and in difficult positions in BILIN village.   From just before dusk to dawn firing continued throughout the night with only about 5 minute lulls.  Great deal of confusion caused by enemy patrols infiltrating through these scattered posts.  Certain amount of mortaring on both sides and we used mortars fairly effectively on reported enemy targets across the River.

BILIN

17/18 February night

1000 Hrs

D Coy Comd reported 2 Pls missing from their posns also doubt as to 3rd Pl.  Communications very bad.  NO L/T from Coy HQs to Pls as no signal equipment available.

D Coy reported a good many mules and men with muffled hoofs proceeding down Rd in direction of PAPUN.

 

1000-0300 Hrs

Heavy firing on all fronts particularly D Coy front.

D Coy Comd confirmed Sub[edar] 2 i/c and most of 3 Pls missing from their posns.  D Coy Comd and 7 men Coy HQ personnel ordered to withdraw from present position to top of O.P. Hill held by O.P. personnel and 1 sec with Bren.

BILIN

18th February

0500-0600 Hrs

D Coy Comd ordered to take volunteers and search BILIN village to find out whether enemy reported to have arrived had arrived.

 

0900-1000 Hrs

D Coy Comd reported to Bn HQ that BILIN village clear of enemy in any numbers.  Odd shots heard in village area but no enemy seen.  Also reported one Pl of D Coy which had moved during the night to a posn nearer ‘B’ Coy had been put back into posn on river bank.  2 Pls D Coy and Sub[edar] still missing.  Fairly quiet on all fronts only occasional shots and some mortaring.

 

1000 Hours

Full scale attack put in preceded by Arty barrage on area Rd Bridge and left to outskirts of BILIN village; its object to clear any enemy which had infiltrated during the night.  Decision taken to shorten fronts.  1/9 Jats to move to Ry Bridge and Right, Gurkha Bn to come in to posn covering Rd Bridge and to extend to West edge of BILIN.  8th (F.F.) Bn The Burma Rifles to take up posn along River front of BILIN village.

 

1000 Hours

D Coy Comd took 1 Pl Gurkhas with B.O. Pl Comd to take over Right Pl area of ‘D’ Coy.  This Pl later returned after being mortared from across the river.

BILIN

18th February

1100 Hours

Bn moved to area BILIN village advancing on a wide front clearing all jungle and sugar cane for possible enemy.  BILIN village thoroughly searched.  1 man believed 5th Column shot trying to cross the River.  1 Pl ‘D’ Coy met on the way under Comd Hav[ildar] Meharban Khan.  This pl moved into the jungle during the confusion night 17/18 February.  approx 30 men and Sub[edar] completely missing.

BILIN

18th February

1200 Hours

Whole area cleared and BILIN village was searched thoroughly approx 12 enemy cleared out of area.

Bn HQ established in Phoongyi Chaung behind BILIN at the foot of O.P. Hill.  Bn reorganized and 3 very weak coy’s strength about 2 Pls each made under Comd Capt. Rannard.  Each commanded by B.Os, these took up posns held by D Coy originally.

Afternoon all quiet on our front.  Firing still going on K.O.Y.L.I. front.

Lysander planes came in the evening and bombed village held by enemy on K.O.Y.L.I. front and also jungle and village believed to be concentration areas of enemy.  We mortared enemy targets on far side of river.  Our O.P. did useful work in conjunction with gunner O.P. one target of enemy M.T. located near 60.4 M/S believed to be taking back wounded shelled with good effect.

 

18/19 February night.

From just before dusk to dawn firing all along Bn front with small enemy patrols infiltrating through gaps.  Enemy with light automatic engaged on West flank of our posn.  Reports received infiltration taking place through wide gap between us and K.O.Y.L.I.

BILIN

19th February

Intermittent firing along River front at targets across the Rover continued all day.  We engaged targets across River with 3” Mortar fire.  Men somewhat weary as they have had practically no sleep and very little food since 17th February.  Cooking utensils very scarce and iron sign boards taken down from shops to be used for making chapattis.  Little or no rations received during this period.  A small formation of Blenheims arrived in the evening and bombed targets across the River and machine gunned the far bank.  One bomb fell in one Pl area on our side of the river, no casualties.

 

BILIN

19th February

Recces carried out throughout the day for likely enemy hide outs in jungle round our posn.  One brand new lorry found in a Phoongyi chaung, this was effectively disabled.

Sugar cane and jungle on outskirts of our posn between us and K.O.Y.L.I. was “fired” as this afforded excellent cover for enemy infiltration parties.

BILIN

19/20th February 1942 NIGHT

After dusk once more enemy patrols became very active.  Firing broke out everywhere and continued practically without cessation throughout the night.  One signaller wounded while checking L/T wire.  We used 3” Mortar effectively in support our forward coys.  Enemy shelled and mortared us during night, no casualties resulted from this.  One Dogra Subedar with a dett of mortars was killed when a bomb hit branch above the mortar.  Firing was much heavier on all fronts.

BILIN

20th February 1942. 0300 Hrs

Message received that C.O. was required immediately at Bde conference.  An armoured car was sent to pick him up.  Carrier passed by so C.O. went by “Jeep”.

 

0500 Hrs

Message received “withdrawal” to take place at 0600 Hrs drop everything.

 

0600 Hrs

Bn withdrew to “Harbour” approx 1 mile South of BILIN on main Rd BILIN-KYAIKTO.  All arms and ammunition got away with us but no space available for cooking pots once more.

 

0700 Hrs

At “harbour” all sick and wounded evacuated back by truck under Bde arrangements.  K.O.Y.L.I. came through BILIN after us when they should have withdrawn by different route behind the hills.  Our Q.M. borrowed 2 carriers and returned to BILIN and loaded up some cooking Pots (very few) from Bn HQ posn also some stores.  Orders received that we were to be Rearguard to Bde during the withdrawal to KYAIKTO and close the “box” as units went through.

 

0800 hours

Bn moved to approx 6 miles from BILIN on BILIN-KYAIKTO Rd and took up its posn main task watching flanks of road and track junction which came in from behind the hills to NORTH.  During move to this posn while in posn, formation of Lysanders arrived and bombed and machine gunned area as held by 1/9 Jats and Gurkhas to cover their withdrawal.

BILIN

20th February 1942. 0900-1100 hours

Large formation of enemy bombers came over and bombed track running behind hills to NORTH.

BILIN-KYAIKTO Rd

20/21st February 42.    NIGHT:

Changed Bdes about 12 miles from KYAIKTO from 48 Bde to 16 Bde 17 Div.

KYAIKTO 21st February 1942.          0300 Hrs

Arrived at KYAIKTO Bn less C Coy stopped in Bazaar near Ry Station C Coy continued with 12 Mtn Bty to a posn just outside Kyaikto.  Men and officers very tired.  Men slept by side of Rd and officers in an uninhabitated[sic] house.  Men had no food practically a very little tea since 17th.  Last march very tiring due to lack of sleep and little water.

 

0530 Hrs

Good deal of firing started suddenly by entry of enemy patrols in Kyaikto.  Men stood to and replied at enemy targets.  No attack by enemy developed, probably nuisance patrols creating confusion.  Positions taken up covering Rd in our area.

 

0700 Hrs

Bn ordered to withdraw along Sittang Rd as far as 6 M/S KYAIKTO-SITTANG Rd.  ‘C’ Coy who were doing escort duty with 12 Mtn Bty were relieved and rejoined Bn enroute.

KYAIKTO-SITTANG Rd.   0930 Hrs

Arrived area 6 M/S Rd. Kyaikto-Sittang.  Parked down in scrub jungle off the Road to refill water bottles and make tea.  Q.M. had already taken M.T. to this area.

0930 Hrs

Most men refilled water bottles from trough fitted with pump by Engineers.  Tea making just started.

 

1000 Hrs

Bn moved approx 1 mile up Rd to await orders regarding defensive posn to be taken up.

Large formation of Jap bombers arrived bombed and machine gunned us, M.T. on Rd and 48 Bde moving up the Road.

 

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

KYAIKTO-SITTANG Rd.      1200 Hrs

Coy Comds went with 2 i/c to recce Coy defensive posns.

Formation of Blenheims came over and bombed us and Rd also heavy machine gunning from Air.

For the remainder of the day until dusk relays of Jap bombers and fighters; R.A.F. Bombers and Fighters and A.V.G.[American Volunteer Group] fighters continued to bomb and machine gun the Road and the Bdes parked along it with scarcely 10 minute intervals between each attack.  Confusion along Rd indescribable.  Coy Comds away on recce were unable to locate Coys in the jungle and no one could approach the only water about 1 mile back towards Kyaikto.  Towards dusk efforts were made to round up the Coys.  A good many were found, but a good many were missing probably killed by bombing, and a good many had joined other units who were proceeding towards the Sittang. 

KYAIKTO-SITTANG Rd.   1200 Hrs

Total no of men rounded up by nightfall was about 250-300 men.  Men and officers very weary and had no food or sleep.  Men found lack of water a very great hardship; none could be obtained after dark from the well as the pump had been removed by Engineers.

NIGHT
21/22nd February 1942.

Bn spent night in an all round defensive perimeter on a hill at about 6 M/S Kyaikto-Sittang Rd as part of a Bde perimeter.  Strong rumours that Jap forces moving round North towards Sittang Bridge.  Orders received that Tpt was to move at 0300 hours as part of divisional convoy and cross the Sittang Bridge.  Orders received that the Bn was to do Adv guard to 16 Bde and to cross Sittang Bridge.  Intention was 48 Bde to cover Bridge head[sic] 16 Bde to cross and hold West bank of Sittang and 46 Bde to follow up.

MOKPALIN village.  22nd Feb. 0600-0700 Hrs

Advanced towards Sittang Bridge.

MOKPALIN village.  22nd Feb. 1030 Hrs

On approaching MOKPLAIN Village about 2 miles from Sittang Bridge, firing heard in village.  Bn went into Southern outskirts and found 48 Bde held up by snipers in village.  All M.T. at a standstill stretching from bridge to MOKPALIN Village.  Eventually, snipers in village were cleared, but Japs reported already arriving in posns covering Bridge and 48 Bde endeavouring to clear them.  16 Bde arrived up and our Bn put into posn in Mokpalin village covering main Rd-Ry approach from Kyaikto.  Bn took up all round defensive position.  All day fighting continued between us and Bridge with 48 Bde trying to clear the Bridge.  Posn very confused as no communication possible except by Runner and open ground ahead was swept by enemy fie.  Enemy fire started in vicinity of area North of Bridge also from East of our position.  In afternoon firing, automatic and Mortars heard behind us on KYAIKTO-SITTANG Rd.  Information received that 48 Bde had been ambushed and had to leave the Road and split up into columns and trying to get through by jungle and routes along the river.  Late in the afternoon these columns seen approaching.  In afternoon enemy opened up on us with heavy mortars and guns also sniping commenced.

MOKPALIN village.  22nd Feb afternoon.

Holding Southern extremity of MOKPALIN was ourselves, one Coy K.O.Y.L.I., and about 50 Dogras under Col. Power also one Pl Gurkhas who had become separated from 48 Bde.  By evening position was coming under heavy, Sniping, automatic and mortar fire from enemy.  Groups of enemy approaching along Ry were successfully mortared and great damage was done by our L.M.G. fire.  No enemy planes bombed us and the promised 24 hours air cover for our crossing of the Sittang bridge was very effective except we could not cross the bridge.  Some mortars 3” lying in abandoned trucks were brought into use by us.  Sniping became serious and No.1 gunners of our and K.O.Y.L.I’s on MOKPALIN “Pimple” did not last more than about 15 minutes before being wounded or killed.

Major Perry set a magnificent example by taking a Bren up to the top of the “Pimple” himself and placing the gunners.

MOKPLAIN Village 22/23rd February Night.

Firing continued throughout the night with very short intervals.

Enemy believed to have re-inforced their men near Bridge and also infiltrating to East of our position.  Some mortaring continued though not on a large scale.  One abandoned truck was taken down the road and slewed round to form a Rd block.

23rd February

Enemy

0530 hrs

3 Large explosions heard in direction of Sittang Bridge.  Bridge was “blown”.

0545 hrs

3 mortar shells landed in small mosque on “pimple”.

During morning firing started on all sides and our position was shelled and mortared heavily.  Some Jap or Thai bombers came over and bombed area between us and River also across the river.

1130 Hrs

Liaison officer arrived from Bde ordering C.O. to conference.

1430 Hrs

C.O. returned from conference.  Bde had definitely been blown.  Orders received that we had to hold out until 1930 hours and then withdraw to River bank, where we would find rafts boats etc laid on for crossing.  During afternoon enemy automatic, mortar and shelling of our position intensified.

MOKPLAIN Village 23rd February 1430 Hrs

Many casualties resulted from enemy mortar fire, enemy sniping also accounting for Bren No.1 gunners very difficult to keep guns firing on crest of “pimple”.  Most of Mtn Battery guns between us and River had been silenced, Enemy shelling intensified.

MOKPLAIN Village 23rd February 1500 Hrs

Figures seen in distance wading into the River away from our bank.  Position very obscure as no means of communication available.  Runners and stretcher bearers getting shot up trying to go to and from Bde HQ.  Both sides of Ry embankment swept by enemy automatic fire.  Our automatics on “Pimple” did a lot of damage to Jap concentrations trying to adv up Ry embankment.

Confusion made worse by trucks full of shells and mortar bombs exploding about 100 yards from our position.

Towards evening none of our units observed on our flanks; runner sent to Bde returned telling us that Bde and all other units had already withdrawn across the River.

Thai recce plane came very low over our “pimple”.  All our L.M.Gs opened up and brought it down about 40 yards away.  Thai Pilot killed and Jap observer subsequently died.

1700 Hrs

Thinks looking a bit desperate as enemy fire coming from 3 sides and mortar fire coming down accurately on our position.  Men very tired having had no sleep and no food for days.

1900 Hrs

Capt. Martin K.O.Y.L.I. – Subsequently killed in action arrived at our position.[20]  He informed us that all Bdes had crossed except us and that Japs were reported on 3 sides.  He also told us he knew where majority of crossing of River took place but warned us that no boats, rafts and very little rafting available on River side and offered to guide us to the river.

Night. 1930 Hrs

Terrific burst of enemy fire from East and South.  Mortars 3” taken to pieces and thrown down wells.  Bn started withdrawal to River edge going through a burning village which probably kept this side open for us.  C.O. ordered every man to pick up any wood found enroute.

SITTANG RIVER 23/24 Feb.
Night.
2030 hours onwards

Arrived at River bank about one mile below Bridge.

No wood or rafting materials available.  Order given to get across the River as best we could.  Rafts made out of materials obtained enroute, water bottles etc.  ‘B’ Coy almost to a man refused to try and cross the River about 1¼ mile wide and tidal.  Last seen making their way Southwards along bank with intention of finding boats at a village about 3 miles South.  Remaining men of ourselves, Gurkhas and K.O.Y.L.I. making make shift[sic] rafts and pushing off.  Many men drowned and shouted for help before they were more than 50 yards out.  Jem[adar] Jhanda Singh sent to find B Coy and tell them to make rafts, but could not find them.  Tremendous confusion on river bank, everyone split up into groups making rafts.  Col. Power[21] and Dogras went into a nearby wood to form a leager[sic] and make rafts, they were subsequently captured together with most of B Coy and some K.O.Y.L.Is and Gurkhas.

Captains Pryke[22], Rannard, Clarke[23], Graham[24], M.O. and Allison made a raft and pushed off at 2400 hours.

Captain Allison refused to attempt crossing, was last seen on bank with two 4th Bn officers with the intention of trying to cross further north.

All through night parties of men landed along a wide area on the west bank, due to the width of the river and tides.

West bank was not held by any of our troops as was originally reported.  Small parties of ours made their way on foot from River bank towards PEGU.  Enemy patrols active on west bank and re-organization of Unit impossible.

24th February 1942. 0400 hrs.

Captains Pryke, Rannard, Graham, Clarke and M.O. fetched up on west bank.  Morning spent by this party in procuring bullock carts and back loading wounded towards PEGU.

1200 hrs.

Party started marching towards PEGU.

Most of the day small groups of our unit spent in marching to WAW about 20 miles from Sittang.  On arrival at WAW, the first place from the Sittang held by our troops – food and tea was obtained and then went by truck to PEGU where 17 Div was re-organizing.

24th February 1942.  1200 hrs.

Our Q.M. and our transport (2 trucks & a jeep) managed to get across the Sittang before it was blown.  They remained in the vicinity of the Bridge until 23rd when they with the remainder of the Div who had crossed were ordered back to PEGU.

WAW 24/25th February. Night

Our B.Os party arrived at WAW where they were given tea and food by Cameronians and sent by ambulance to PEGU.  This was probably the last of our unit who managed to get across the River to arrive.

0200 hrs

This party arrived at PEGU and spent night sleeping in the Hospital.

PEGU 25th February       

All our unit that had got away were camped at Leaning Buddha camp near the Ry station.  Strength of unit about 125 men, approx 75 men were armed and remainder unarmed and unclothed.  Most of the men who crossed the River had to jettison all arms and most their clothing and equipment.  Most officers got across with their revolvers and equipment.  Here officers and men had their first hot meal for a week.  We stayed in this camp until 26th.  Men received a certain amount of clothing.  Officers and truck sent to Rangoon to try and get essentials, Razors, soap etc.

PEGU 26th February. 1942.

Moved our position from camp near Ry station to a Ex-convent near Rangoon-Mandalay Rd.  Re-organizing.

C.O. went sick and evacuated by Hospital train towards Rangoon and thence on to Maymyo.  Lieut Flack also evacuated sick with wound in hand giving trouble.  Major A.V. PERRY assumed the Command.

27th February 1942.

Re-organizing unit and obtaining a certain amount of clothes and equipment but no weapons available.

Formation of Jap bombers came over and bombed Rd Bridge.

28th February 1942.

As no weapons available all unarmed personnel under Capt. Graham sent off to Prome for re-equipping, these were eventually sent on to MEIKTILA.  Capt Graham and Party left by train.  Strength remaining after sick and unarmed party went was approx 75 plus 5 officers.

Japs put Rd block down on Rd Ry Pegu-MEIKTILA.

Re-organizing in same camp.  B.O. sent down with truck to Rangoon to get necessities.

 

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

PEGU

March 1st 1942.

Remained in camp all day.  Received movement orders.  We marched approx 8 miles down Pegu-Rangoon Rd to embussing point at dusk.  Brigade moved by truck down Pegu-Rangoon Rd to HLEGU during night March 1st arriving about 22 hours.

HLEGU

March 1/3 1942 Night

Camped the night in jungle about ½ mile South of THAYAGON.

 

March 2nd 1942.

Moved to take up a defensive position in Thayagon.  Dug in and remained in this position until 7th March.  Dispositions as Appendix 1.  We were part of composite Bn ourselves and 4/12 FFR,[25] also 1 Coy BALUCH[26].  One Sec of M.M.G. attached us from 4/12 FFR.

 

March 6th 1942.

Capt Rannard went off to Meiktila to re-organize and bring back reinforcements [See ‘Appendix 2.  Re-organization of Re-inforcements' below].  Large force Jap bombers came over but did not bomb us.  Bofors went into action.

 

March 7th 1942.

Orders received for 16 Bde to fall back into laager in a position on Rd just North of TAUKKYAN fork on Rangoon-Pegu Rd.  Bn moved off  by truck.

RANGOON-PEGU RD. 0900 hours

Capt. Pryke and advance party arrived to recce position.  Met by two generals who asked to which Bn they belonged and where the Bn was at the moment.  On being informed that it was coming up, ordered the Bn to go into the attack against Jap Rd block put down on Prome Rd just above Taukkyan.

Bn was brought round to put in the attack.  Just before putting in the attack the order was cancelled and Bn ordered to wait by Road side until Rd block cleared by Tanks.

 

1200 approx

Rd block cleared.  Bn went by march Rout to Taikkyi distance 28 miles.

TAIKKYI

March 8th morning.

After marching all the previous night arrived in TAIKKYI.

 

Evening.

16th Bde entrained and we went by train to THONZE.  Bde took up a position covering main Rd South to Rangoon.

THONZE

9th March 1942. Morning

Bde moved to area of Nullah just North of Thonze and took a position covering Rd to South.  Bn stayed in this position until 11th evening.

THONZE

11th March 1942. Evening.

Bn moved by march route as part of 16 Bde via Tharrawaddy to OKPO. A distance of 40 miles covered in less than 16 hours.  A gruelling march but not a man fell out.

OKPO

12th March 1942.

Arrived in OKPO and went into position watching the Bde East flank.  Remained in this position until 13th morning.

ZIGON

13th March 1942.

Moved to ZIGON and became 17 Div tps.  Patrols sent out into the PEGU Yomas.  Remained in this area until 18th March.

17th March 1942.

Message received requiring adjutant Capt Pryke and S.M.[Subedar Major] Anar Khan[27] to report to Meiktila in connection with reinforcements.  Capt Pryke and S.M. left for MEIKTILA.  B.O.s now remaining Comd Major Perry, Q.M. Capt. Andrews, Lieut Clarke.

18th March 1942.

Left ZIGON by truck and went to NATTALIN.

NATTALIN

18th March 1942.

Stayed in NATTALIN for 3 days.  Role of unit protection for Div Rear HQ.

 

21st March 1942.

Moved to PAUNGDE distance 6 miles by march route acting as escort to Div Rear HQ.  Stayed 2 days in Paungde.

PAUNGDE

23rd March 1942.

Moved by truck to WETHEGON.  One Pl under Sub[edar] Anwar Khan detached and acted as escort for A.T. Coy [Anti-Tank Company] during march from Paungde to Wethegon.  Distance 73 miles.  Bn stopped one night at Wetthegon[sic].

WETHEGON

26th March 1942.

Moved to Dayindabo distance 20 miles and stayed one night.

DAYINDABO

28th March 1942.

Bn moved back down Prome Rd to a point 7 miles North of Prome.  Later during the day moved back again to a position about 10 miles from Prome.

PROME AREA 28th March 42.

During this move Jap planes caught us on the Road and straffed[sic] heavily with machine gun fire, no casualties and only one 30 cwt truck was hit in the radiator and temporarily disabled.  Defensive position taken up for the night and 3 tanks came under command for the night.

 

29th March 42.

Proceeded to Allanmyo distance 40 miles.  Role escort to No.74 G.P.T. Coy[28] and workshop Coy.

ALLANMYO

30th March 1942.

Arrived in Allanmyo and stayed for 3 days.


 

Appendix 2.  Re-organization of Re-inforcements

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

HLEGU

March 6th 1942.

Capt. Rannard left to re-organize and bring back re-inforcements from MEIKTILA.  left by truck.

PROME

1700 Hrs.

Arrived Prome stayed until 0700 hrs 8/3/42 as no steamer available.

 

March 8th 1942. 0700

17 Div party going for re-inforcements left by I.F.C. ASSAM.  Capt. Rannard left by car.

YENANGYAUNG.        1300 hrs

Capt. Rannard arrived YENANGYAUNG.  Col VIRGIN[29] contacted and was told that all unarmed men sent back from PEGU had been sent on to Mandalay.

March 9th 1942.

Remained in Yenangyaung to try and obtain car also to await arrival of ASSAM and inform them about unarmed parties.

MEIKTILA

March 10th 42.

Contacted party on ASSAM then left by care obtained from B.O.C. [Burmah Oil Company] for MEIKTILA.  Arrival 1700 hours.

March 11th 42.

Worked on lists of stragglers of Bn who had returned from various battle fronts and those available from 9 Burif[30] as re-inforcements.  Contacted Lieut Thom who had just returned that day with A Coy from PAPUN via TOUNGOO and worked on list of his me.

March 12th 1942. 0900

Unarmed party sent from Pegu, less B.Os who went sick enroute arrived at Meiktila.

Capt Rannard went to 2nd Echelon MYINGYAN gave in casualty returns and obtained stationary, forms etc.

Orders received that no re-inforcements to be sent to any Burif Bns.  Asked C.O. 9 Burif to find out if this applied to 8th (F.F.) Bn The Burma Rifles as well.  General Hutton[31] was asked but could give no decision.

March 13th 1942.

Capt Rannard went up to MAYMYO by car to get written orders about re-inforcements for 8 Burif.

MAYMYO

March 13th 1942.

Capt Rannard met C.O. who had just come out of hospital.

March14th 1942.

C.O. went to see A.H.Q. in Maymyo about re-inforcements.  Orders received to carry on and get re-inforcements ready in MEIKTILA.  Wire to recall Capt. Pryke & S.M. to Meiktila to assist with reorganization of reinforcements.

MEIKTILA

March 15th 1942.

C.O. & Capt Rannard left Maymyo by car for Meiktila, arrived in evening.  Capt. Graham had arrived fit again from Hospital Mandalay.  Remained in Meiktila re-organizing re-inforcements, making up Coys, promotions etc until 28th March.

March 19th 1942.

Capt. Pryke & S.M. arrived from battle area to Assist[sic].

Lieut Flack arrived during this period from Hospital.

By 27th March re-organization completed, men clothed and equipped.

Great difficulty in getting automatic weapons.  Brens tommy guns etc.

Lt. G.I. Lewis[?][32] joined Bn from 9 Burif to replace Capt. Allison lost at. “Sittang”.

March 27th 1942.

Capt Rannard sent to A.H.Q. Maymyo to get special sanction of these weapons.  Movement order received.

March 28th 1942.

Capt Rannard obtained sanction, phoned down instructions and requisite weapons received from at Luruce[? illegible].

Movement order issued to Unit.  Strength entraining as shown in appendix 6.  Men entrained and left for Mandalay in the evening.

C.O. & Capt Rannard went on ahead by car.

MANDALAY

March 28th 1942. 2100

C.O. & Capt Rannard arrived in Mandalay and stayed night in Dak Bungalow in Fort.

March 29th 1942 0600

Bn arrived by goods train.  Men marched through town to Race Course and camped on Race Course using grandstand as billets.

March 30th 1942.

All officers and men inoculated for T.A.B. Movement order received.

March 31st 1942.

Men marched down to jetty and embarked on S.L.KOTAH which sailed approx 1400 hours destination PROME to rejoin remainder of Bn.

 

End:  Appendix 2.  Re-organization of Re-inforcements


 

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

ALLANMYO

April 1s.t 1942.

Remained here for 3 days then moved to TAUNGDWINGYI, distance 60 miles.  Re-inforcements which started from MANDALAY by S.L. KOTAH nearing YENANGYAUNG.

TAUNGDWINGYI Apr 4th. 1942.

Arrived here and bombed by Jap planes, remained until 6th April when we were ordered to MAGWE  en route to join up with re-inforcements.. 

Apr 6th. 1942.

Orders received to move to MAGWE.  Movement Order Appendix 2.

MAGWE

April 6th 1942.

Arrived at MAGWE by M.T.  Remained in MAGWE for three or four days.

MINBU

April 10th. 1942.

Crossed the river [Irrawaddy] to MINBU with orders to rejoin Re‑inforcements at MINHLA.[33]  Marched in direction of Minhla and stayed the night in small village midway between Minbu & Minhla.

LEHLA

April 12th. 1942.

Rejoined Re-inforcements in the evening at LEHLA, distance from MINBU 30 miles.  2 Pls FF8 [Frontier Force 8] sent to YENANMA under Comd Captain Rannard, “B” Coy. Comd.

Bn. less “B” Coy. digging in & patrolling in all directions until 14th . April.

LEHLA

April 14/16

Bn. less “B” Coy. ordered back to TAUNG-U area, distance 18 miles.

TAUNG-U

April 16th.

Bn. ordered back to MINBU with orders to cross river with Bde to MAGWE.  Message sent to “B” Coy. at YENANMA by helio to call in patrols and to move with all speed to contact Bn en route for MINBU.

 

1700 hrs

March started.  Movement Order No.4 attached Appendix 9.

MAUNGMAGAN         Apr 16th
1100 hrs

Bn less “B” Coy. marched to MINBU, distance 9 miles.  Movement Order No. 5.

MINBU

Apr 16th. 1400 hrs

Orders received to move on to ZAGU [Sagu].  7 Burif & Fd Amb crossed to MAGWE night 15/16th.  No boats available & Japs already through MAGWE further North than we were.

MINBU
ZAGU RD.

Apr 16th. 42

Bn moved along ZAGU Rd.  Stopped about 5 miles from MINBU for tea.  Jap Recce planes came over & spotted Bullock Cart train.  20 minutes later 3 Jap Bombers bombed Rd & vicinity, one bomb landed in mess site.  Only one man was wounded in this attack.

 

 

 

ZAGU

Apr 16th. 42

Arrived ZAGU before nightfall.  rd block erected & Bn dispersed tactically.  One Motor Car found hidden in jungle was taken into use, distance from MINBU 9 miles.  Villagers frightened & not very helpful.

Apr 17th 42
1900 hrs

“B” Coy. & FF8 2 Pls under Comd Capt. Rannard rejoined Bn after a long march.

2000 hrs

Bn less “B” Coy. & FF8 2 Pls marched to SHAUKTAW near PYINBYU, distance 18 miles.  “B” Coy. & 2 Pls FF8 left at ZAGU to rest and have some food.

Apr 18th 42
0200 hrs

“B” Coy. & FF8 dett marched to join Bn.

SHAUKTAW
(PYINBYU area)

Apr 18th 42
1000 hrs

“B” Coy. & dett arrived rejoined Bn.  FF8 2 Pls detached from Comd “B” Coy. & went to 2 Bde as transport escort.
Recce party left to Recce defensive camp area in SALIN area.  Rumours of enemy in force on West flank.

 

Apr 18th/19th. 42

Bn marched as Adv Guard to Bde to SALIN vicinity, distance 12 miles.  Certain amount of confusion caused by shots fired from SALIN Village found later to have been fired by deserters.

SALIN area

Apr 19/20th. 42
2400 hrs

Bn took up tactical posn for the day.  Patrols sent down to River.  Bn marched as Adv Guard to Bde to CHAUNGBYU, distance 9 miles.  “B” Coy. acted as Bde Tpt Guard.  Movement Order No.5 attached.  Bn took up defensive posn for the day.  Village burnt in parts & villagers not helpful.

CHAUNGBU

Apr 20th 1942 1945 hrs

Bn took up defensive posn by day & Patrols carried out.  Bn as Adv Guard to Bde marched to TANYAUNG, distance 14 miles.  Movement Order No.6 attached.

TANYAUNG

Apr 21st 1942 2005 hrs

Arrived Tanyaung, dug in & took up defensive posn.  Marched to area SEIKPYU as part of Bde.  Movement Order No.7 attached distance 12 miles.

SEIKPYU

Apr 22nd 1942 0400 hrs

Arrived SEIKPYU.  Bn dispersed tactically for day & dug in.  Village inhabited & full of refugees from CHAUK which was still burning furiously.  Village fill of loot taken by villagers from Oilfields.  Obtained some atta, flour etc.  here.  Villagers not unhelpful but evidence of Thakin[34] party members amongst them.

YAW CHAUNG

1830 hrs

In evening marched about 2 miles North to positions just North of YAW CHAUNG.  Movement Order No.8 attached.  River & approaches patrolled.  Villagers frightened but friendly.  Remained in this posn until 23rd.

YAW CHAUNG

Apr 23rd. 1942 1730 hrs

Marched through LANWYA to YENANYAT.  Difficult & arduous march over bad road and steep hills which troops and also bullock train found very tiring.  Movement Order No.9 attached.  Distance 18 miles.  During night heard sounds of motor boats going up-stream.

YENANYAT

Apr 24th. 1942

Early morning one Jap Recce plane flew around looking for us, missed us because of steep hills hiding us along River Road.

 

1000 hrs

Arrived YENANYAT.  Whole village, houses etc in ruins and burnt out.  Men piquetted[sic] hills and Bn dispersed tactically.  Village deserted and no provisions available.

Apr 25th 1942

Bakelite bombs[35] found on “flat” at MAGWE tried out.

Remained in YENANYAT with transport train in a village on River side 3 miles North.

Apr. 26th 1942 0300 hrs.

Marched to MYITCHE, distance 16 miles.  Movement Order No.10 attached.

MYITCHE

Apr. 26th 1942 0830 hrs.

Arrived MYITCHE.  Town inhabited but villagers surly and suspicious.  Foodstuffs bought but villagers not helpful.  Bn dispersed tactically and dug in.  One lorry found camouflaged in bushes put into order and used.

Apr. 27th 1942.

Remained in MYITCHE until 2000 hrs.  2 Burif detailed for another role to proceed to TILIN via PAUK.

 

2000 hrs.

Marched with one Coy. as Adv. Guard to Bde to PAKOKKU, distance 21 miles.  Movement Order No.11 attached.  During night reports received that lights seen crossing river as we left MYITCHE.  Also reports that about 400 Japs & BDA[36] had entered MYITICE as we left.

PAKOKKU

Apr. 28th 1942 0300 hrs.

Arrived PAKOKKU.  Bn moved to North of PAKOKKU & took up positions in residential area North of wooden Bridge near Jetty.  Town uninhabited and villagers had pushed off into the Country.  Whole Bazaar burnt out and town; treasury etc. looted.  Police lines, stores etc broken open.  One wing complete of Jap plane found in a store house, wing appeared to be that of a fighter and was crated and metal parts greased. 

PAKOKKU

Apr. 28th 1942 0300 hrs.

Previous orders about proceeding to MONYWA for rations etc cancelled.  Bde to move now complete via PAUK & TILIN.  Major Perry & Capt. Rannard went off to contact 2 Burif at TABYA and recce camp.  Capt. Rannard returned with “Jeep” at 1830 hrs.  During the day a good Many Jap Recce planes seen.

Apr. 28th 1942 1830 hrs.

Marched to TABYA on TILIN Rd.  Distance 22 miles.  Movement Order No.12 attached.

Apr. 28th 1942 2030 hrs.

In vicinity of KANHLA piquetted[sic] by FF8, men seen on horseback and elephant on hills and in jungle; subsequently proved to be advance element of Jap and B.D.A.  FF8 in action during the night.[37]

TABYA

Apr. 29th 1942 0300 hrs.

Arrived TABYA and took up defensive positions round village.  2 Burif rejoined Bde.  2 Burif spies left behind at MYITCHE reported enemy had entered the town as we left.  While in position two green Very lights reported fired in direction East of TABYA.

1830 hrs.

Orders received to march to PYIN CHAUNG.  Bn actually went to THAMADAW area.  Movement Order No.13, distance 16 miles.

THAMADAW Area.

Apr.30th 1942

Arrived THAMADAW vicinity.  Bn took up Tactical dispositions and dug in.

 

1830 hrs.

Bn marched to PAUK, distance 9 miles.  Bde Movement Order No.079 attached.

 

2200 hrs.

Arrived in PAUK.  Large portions of village burnt and mostly deserted.  One bus recovered from jungle and put into use.


 

Appendix 1.  RE-INFORCEMENTS

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

MANDALAY

Apr.1st 1942

Capt. Rannard left by Car for YENANGYAUNG to return car to B.O.C. and rejoin unit.

Re-inforcements on S.L. KOTAH proceeding down river towards YENANGYAUNG.

YENANGYAUNG  Apr. 2nd 1942.

Arrived and disembarked.  Ordered to get billets and await further orders.  Bn found billets in NYAUNGHLA near Hospital.  Remained here until evening of 4th.  Men dug slit trenches.

Apr. 3rd 1942.

Officers and men went on a training march across country.

Apr. 4th 1942.

Received orders to proceed to MINHLA on West bank of River.  Difficulty experienced in getting anyone to man the engines as the regular stokers and engineers refused to go any further South.  Engines were eventually run by B.O.C. European Engineers.  Left Yenangyaung at dusk.

MINHLA

Apr.5th 1942.

Arrived at first light and disembarked.  Recce carried out of town and billets chosen also Bullock cart bando made for carrying our equipment from the boat.  H.Q. located in Dak Bungalow[38] and Coys. spread out tactically for all round defence.

Orders received as per Appendix 3 attached by Telephone.

Apr.7/8th 1942

2 Bur Bde arrived and we joined this Bde.  One Car and two local busses received from MINBU.  Remained at MINHLA until 10th.  Strength statement on 9th. attached, Appendix 4.

YWATHIT TAUNG-U area.

Apr. 10th 1942 0300 hours

Bn moved out to area TAUNG-U, distance 12 miles.  Movement Order Appendix 5.

 

0800 “

Arrived at YWATHIT village near TAUNG-U.  Patrolled area, formed camp, sited Coys. tactically.

YWATHIT

Apr. 11th 1942.

“B” Coy. under Comd. Capt. Rannard sent to YENANMA.  Role to watch approaches and tracks, particular attention to be paid to Rd. from THAYETMYO and Rd. block to be erected, details of “B” Coy’s moves until Bn was rejoined Appendix 6.

“B” Coy. arrived at YENANMA, sited tactically with H.Q. in oilfield Bungalow.  2 Bde OP Instruction No. 12 received Appendix 7.

LEHLA

Apr. 13th 1942.

Bn less “B” Coy. moved to LEHLA to carry out its Role, Distance 12 miles.  Movement Order No.2.  Remainder of Bn under Comd Major Perry arrived from other side of River and 8th (F.F.) Bn, Burma Rifles re-unified under Comd. Lt.Col. T.I. Bowers, D.S.O., M.C.

 

End:  Appendix 1.  RE-INFORCEMENTS


 

APPENDIX 6.  “B” Coy’s moves from TAUNG-U – ZAGU.

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

YWATHIT Taung-U area.

Apr 11th 1942.

“B” Coy under Comd Capt. Rannard marched to YENANMA, distance 16 miles.  Coy. took up dispositions to cover all roads and tracks, H.Q. in oilfields’ Bungalow.  Road block erected on main Rd. to THAYETMYO.  Patrols sent down to South.

YENANMA.

Apr 12th 1942.

Coy. dug in & patrolling carried out to Linke and SHANDATKYI Rd.  Villagers friendly and headman helpful and loyal.  Oilfields demolished.  Inquiries made locally as to whereabouts of a good many elephants supposed to be coming North to join us.  Information received that they arrived at YENANMA but were taken down South about two days previously.

2 Pls. FF8 arrived under Comd.

Agents supplied by headman sent to Linke & SHANDATKYI to get any news of reported enemy movements North of THAYETMYO.

Apr 13th 1942.

1 Pl FF8 sent West to LETPANTAGA with guide to patrol.

1 Pl FF8 sent South to SHANDATKYI with guide to patrol.

1 Pl “B” Coy. sent down to LINKE to patrol.

One Pl “B” Coy, in Reserve and the other manning Rd block and watching tracks.

 

1130 hrs.

Agent reported that he had heard that Japs numbers unknown had arrived at Paungo Village, 4 miles East of Linke at 1800 hrs on 12th.  No news as to direction they were moving.

In evening 1 Pl of “A” Coy. which had patrolled from Lehla via Linke direction reported no enemy movement.  This Pl was sent back to Bn.  Other agent from SHANDATKYI reported that Japs had arrived at village YEJANZIN about 8 miles from MINDON (30 miles South of SHANDATKYI).  Information sent back to Bn by runner and guide.  Small formation of Blenheim bombers came low over us on THAYETMYO Road then flew on towards Thayetmyo.

About 3 bullock cart loads of Rice obtained through headman from LETPANTAGA and surrounding villages, arrived in YENANMA.

 

YENANMA

Apr 14th 1942

FF8 Patrols arrived back confirming news given by agents but had met no enemy.

Agents again sent out to previous villages.

Apr 15th 1942

FF8 Patrols sent out again, one Pl to each of previous routes and a “B” Coy. Patrol down main THAYETMYO Rd.

In late afternoon helio message received from Bn to all in patrols, R.V. enroute North and try and rejoin Bn as soon as possible enroute for MINBU.

 

2000 hrs

“B” Coy. and approx. 16 bullock carts with own kit, F.F.8 Amn etc. and rice for Bn marched with guide.  Guide lost his way and as no detailed map available eventually did night march by compass using tracks.  This 20 mile march was one of the most arduous ever done as country was unknown and chaungs numerous, men had to haul bullock carts through chaungs with high banks.  Men marched very well indeed.

KYUNBYA

Apr 16th 1942 1000 hrs

Arrived KUNBYA.  Villagers frightened and hostile.  men had to dig hole in Chaung for water.

Waited in defensive camp for FF8 Pls.

Message received by Burman runner that Bn was crossing river to MAGWE and that “B” Coy. was to follow as soon as possible to MINBU and contact S.S.O. [Senior Staff Officer?] for further orders.

One Pl FF8 arrived having marched approx 20 miles.

In evening other Pl FF8 arrived having covered about 40 miles.

“B” Coy. and FF8 re-organized.

 

Apr 17th 1942 0300 hours

Marched from KYUNBYA towards MINBU.

KYUNBYA

1200 hrs.

Arrived at KYAUKTAN about 3 miles South of MINBU, distance 21 miles.  Jap Recce planes circling over River in this area and sounds of mortaring heard across River.

Men very tired especially FF8 Gurkhas and weather extremely hot. 

 

KYUNBYA

Apr 17th 1942 1200 hrs.

Villagers appeared unhelpful and Phongyis [Buddhist monks] observed on road side with water and bowls of rice apparently some sort of reception party.  On observing us they immediately covered up the bowls and retired to their Chaungs.  On approaching KYAUKTAN the road was littered with Burmans fleeing from the village.

Police Officer informed Coy. Comd that there were none of our troops in MINBU as they had crossed river the night previously.  Also informed Coy. Comd that about 500 Japs entered MINBU at about 0300 hrs that morning with a detachment at KYAUKTAN in position with mortar and light automatics covering Road to MINHLA.

On this information Coy. Comd decided to by-pass MINBU and cross River further North.

“B” Coy. and FF8 2 Pls went West to YEMYIT village.  Bullock carts discarded and all equipment and ammunition carried on the men.

YEMYIT

Apr 17th 1942

Column marched 8 miles due West on compass bearing across country.  Jap Recce planes flew over.  This march was very gruelling in the heat of the afternoon.  Country was very rough, with no trees or shade.  Also Coy. had no maps of district as they had run off the one used down South of MINHLA.

YOGYI

1500 hrs

Arrived at YOGYI village.  Village populated and full of refugees from MINBU and KYAUKTAN.  Villagers helpful but suspicious.  Sentries placed on all exits from village and no villagers allowed out.  Men rested and filled water bottles.  March continued due North to ZAGU, distance about 8 miles.

ZAGU

1900 hrs

Arrived at ZAGU.  Found 2 Bde less 7 Burif[39] had not been able to cross at MINBU owing to MAGWE having fallen and no boats available.  Rejoined Bn.  Found Bn due to march at 2000 hrs.  Ordered to stay behind until rested.  “B” Coy. & FF8 2 Pls took up posn in Phongyi Chaung with one Pl on Nullah crossing.

ZAGU

Apr 18th 1942 0200 hrs

“B” Coy. & FF8 dett. marched to rejoin Bn. in PYINBYU area, distance 18 miles.

 

SHAUKTAW (PYINBYU area)

1000 hrs

Rejoined Bn at SHAUKTAW.

 

NOTE:-

Between April 15th. 2000 hrs and April 17th. 1900 hrs “B” Coy. & 1 Pl FF8 had marched 57 miles, and 1 Pl FF8 77 miles including a cross country continuous march of 37 miles.  Up to April 18th.  1000 hrs “B” Coy. & 1 Pl. FF8 marched 75 miles & 1 Pl FF8 95 miles.  Bren guns were always carried by the men and on last day everything including ammunition was carried by the men.

 

End:  APPENDIX 6.  “B” Coy’s moves from TAUNG-U – ZAGU.


 

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

PAUK

May 1st. 42

Remained at PAUK whole day.  Bn dug in and dispersed tactically.

 

May 2nd. 42 0300 hrs

Bn marched as Adv Guard to Bde to YEBYU vicinity distance 12 miles.  Movement Order No.15 attached Appendix I.  On leaving PAUK 1 green Very light observed in PAUK, subsequently informed that party of JAPS and B.D.A. had followed up.

YEBYU

May 2nd. 42 1100 hrs

Arrived YEBYU.  Bn dispersed tactically.  Water difficult to obtain and only sufficient for drinking purposes obtained by digging holes in Chaung.  Village practically deserted.

Dett. S&M [Sappers and Miners – engineers] commenced filling in deep Chaung over which wooden bridge had been burnt.  Impossible to by-pass this chaung as very deep and wide.  Filling in with stones started, “C” Coy. assisted all day.

YEBYU

May 3rd. 42

“B” Coy. took over Bridge repairing time estimated to repair bridge 100 men working 18 hours.  “C” Coy. went forward up the hill towards KYIN and made a by-pass road around another burnt bridge.

YEBYU

May 3rd. 42 1900 hrs

8 Burif completed bridge and Bullock train crossed.  Bn in covering posn to cover withdrawal of Bde and demolish Bridge.  Demolition by explosive completed successfully.  Bn marched to KYIN, distance 10 miles.  Movement Order No.097 attached.  Slow and tiring march over high hills.  Bullock cart had to be man handled over by pass road round burnt bridge.  Carts broke axles etc which had to be repaired.  Bn rear guard Coy. burnt all wood bridges when passing through.  Attempts had been made to burn bridges ahead of us but unsuccessful in each case, we however completed the job in our Rear.

KYIN

May 4th. 42 0900 hrs.

Arrived in KYIN.  Whole village deserted and the greater part burnt out and still smouldering.  No local inhabitants or local rations.  Water here was good.  Two horses bought from neighbouring villages.

KYIN

May 5th. 42 0400 hrs

Marched as Adv Guard to Bde to area ALEBAN-AKYBAN[sic] distance 15 miles.  Movement Order No.17 attached.  A good fast march over very high hill pass.  All Bridges prepared for demolition by burning to be carried out by Rear Guard.

AKYIBAN

May 5th 42 1000 hrs

Arrived AKYIBAN.  Bn dug in and dispersed tactically covering approaches.  Unit Recce party sent off to PONNA.

AKYIBAN

May 6th 42 0445 hrs

Bn in posn to cover Bde off and act as Rear Guard to PONNA.  Bn marched to PONNA, distance 12 miles.  Movement Order No.18 attached.

PONNA

May 6th 42 1000 hrs

Arrived at PONNA just North of TILIN.  Bn dispersed tactically.

 

1715 hrs

Recce party left for PETWUN near MAWLE.

May 7th  0300 hrs

Bn marched to PETWUN, distance 23 miles.  Movement Order No.19.

PETWUN

May 7th 1100 hrs

Arrived PETWUN.  Bn dispersed tactically.  Both MAWLE & PETWUN Villages populated and villagers and headmen very helpful and friendly.  Eggs, vegetables etc. obtained and paid for.  Men bathed by Pls in River.  Recce party sent ahead to GANGAW.

 

May 8th 0300 hrs

“B” Coy. took up covering posn vicinity MAW River to cover Bde off.  Bn marched to GANGAW as Rear Guard to Bde, distance 18 miles.  Movement Order No.20 attached.

GANGAW

May 8th 1000 hrs

Arrived GANGAW.  Bn took up posn on South Flank to guard approaches.  GANGAW population frightened but helpful.  All residential area deserted also Police Lines.

GANGAW

May 9th. 0255 hrs

Bn marched to LETPAN, distance 18 miles.  Movement Order No.21 attd.  All Bridges prepared for demolition.

 

0740 hrs

Halted for tea then continued march to LETPAN.

LETPAN

May 9th. 1030 hrs

Arrived LETPAN.  Bn disposed tactically.  Village populated and friendly.  Bn did some Bren, Tommy & Rifle practice across River.

LETPAN

May 10th 0255 hrs

Bn marched to CHAUNGGAUK, distance 17 miles.  Movement Order No.22.

 

0730 hrs

Column halted for one hour to make tea.  All Bridges burnt by rear party.

CHAUNGGAUK  May 10th 1030 hrs

Arrived in CHAUNGGAUK.  Coys. placed tactically with one Coy. on opposite bank of River covering Rear.  Village populated and friendly.

 

May 11th  0400 hrs

Bn. marched to KINYAN KYAUK, distance 12 miles.  Movement Order No.23.  Area unsuitable so moved on another 8 miles total distance 20 miles to THEYATTAW.  Patrol of CHIN HILLS M.I. contacted.[40]

 

THEYATTAW

May 11th 1400 hrs

Arrived at THEYATTAW.  Very little water in this area and ourselves and Bde HQ disposed along dry Chaung (Yense Chaung).  Had to dig holes for water and only sufficient for drinking.  Had our first shower of rain.  Major Perry and Recce party went ahead to MANIPUR River to investigate crossing difficulties.  Reported back that River bridge demolished, water fairly deep and fast flowing.

SIHAUNG MYAUK       May 12th.  Early A.M.

Marched to SIHAUNG MYAUK, distance 10 miles.  Arrived at MANIPUR River early morning.  Bullock train crossed with difficulty.  Men waded up to their necks in water.  Began to rain hard as we entered village.  “B” Coy. sent about two miles ahead to KONDO village to cover Rd.  C.O. Chin Hills Bn contacted, came in Vannette from NATHCHAUNG[sic].  Some rations received.  Coy stores sorted out.  Information received M.T. available at NATCHAUNG.  Bullock cart train reduced to minimum and surplus paid off.

 

     1745 hrs

Bn marched as rear guard to Bde to NATCHAUNG, distance 10 miles.  Movement Order No.24 attached.

NATCHAUNG   May 13th 0100 hrs

Arrived NATCHAUNG.  Bn dispersed along Rd.  Some M.T. available but insufficient for whole Bde.  2 Burif and Bde HQ were ferried first.

 

0700 hrs

Bn less “B” Coy. embussed & moved off through KALEMYO to 51.4 M/S TAMU Road, distance 60 miles.

NATCHAUNG  May 13th 0700 hrs

“B” Coy. marched to KALEMYO distance 17 miles.  Met by M.T. who ferried “B” Coy. through to 51.4 M/S approx 10 miles TAMU side of YAZEGYO.

51.4 M/S Camp Tamu Rd. May 13th

Bn took up all round defensive posn in jungle near Rd with “C” Coy. up in hills about 5 miles away watching track coming in to main Rd from East.  Bn [illegible] remained in this area until April 15th [sic].  Road crowded with troops coming in from KALEMYO and thousands of Refugees passing through.  Rations meagre and water scarce and fouled by dead bodies.

51.4 M/S Camp TAMU RD.
May 15th

Evening 15th Bn took up Rear guard posns astride Rd and saw 16 Bde – who were Rear guard to all tps along Tamu Rd – through them acted as Rear guard to Bde to MINTHAM.

 

May 15/16th. 2400 hrs

Bn. marched to KHAMPAT, distance 15 miles.  Movement Order No.25 attached.

KHAMPAT MINTHAM

May 16th 1530 hrs

Arrived KHAMPAT.  No lorries available so moved to MINTHAM, distance 25 miles from 51.4 M/S.  Lon halt at MINTHAM and then marched on to WETOK, distance 10 miles.  Movement Order No.26.

WETOK

May 17th Early A.M.

Bn. less one Coy. marched to TAMU, distance 16 miles.  Very long and tiring march.  One Coy. moved in M.T. to TAMU.

TAMU

May 17th 1942 hrs

Arrived at TAMU.  Bn took up a position near the Rd about 3 miles North of TAMU as part of Bde dispositions.  All troops withdrawing from Burma round TAMU area.

 

May 18th 0001 hrs

Bn marched to area LOKCHAO.  Crossed Indo-Burma Border about 2 miles from TAMU as Rear Guard to Bde, distance 14 miles.

LOCKCHAO

A.M.

Arrived at top of hill and one Coy. remained covering side road along crest of hill leading to tubular Bridge at LOCKCHAO.  Bn & Bde HQ dispersed at fool of hill about 1 mile from bridge.  Bn dispersed with Coys. covering main road and Rd block erected and Pls piquetting[sic] adjacent heights.  Bn became Rear guard to all tps and covered dismantling of tubular Bridge.  As Rear Guard we saw 17 Div and Burcorps through.  Remained in position until 22nd May 42.  Rain came down heavily every day and water was very bad indeed owing to dead bodies and animals.  Bridge finally dismantled and all M.T. parked on further side.  Hundreds of Refugees still coming through, a good many were evacuated by M.T. from the other side of the Bridge.  On 22nd Bridge finally dismantled and parts removed by M.T. to Assam where it was re-erected.

 

May 22/23rd 1900 hrs.

All Coys. closed in picquets[sic] and Bn marched to SADDLE, distance 18 miles.  Movement order No.28 attached.  All M.T. ahead of us loaded with refugees.

SADDLE

PALEL

May 23rd.

Arrived at SADDLE (LAIMATOL PASS) after a stiff march over mountainous country.  Bn. ferried by M.T. to PALEL, distance 10 miles.  Remained in PALEL Camp for night.

 

PALEL

May 24th 42

Ferried by M.T. to 1st. Bridge, distance 14 miles.  Marched from 1st. to 2 Bridge, distance 8 miles.  Ferried by M.T. via IMPHAL to 108 M/S IMPHAL – DIMAPUR RD.

109 M/S Camp IMPHAL -DIMAPUR Rd.   May 25th

Arrived at 108 M/S in early hours.  Camped in open field by Road side.  Moved back a mile to camp site near Rd M/S 109.

 

 

 

 

 

During the Burma Campaign the Bn marched approximately 850 miles on foot between the Moulmein Battle and arriving at Palel.  This does NOT include M.T., Rail movements etc.  Approx. 470 miles of this total was marched on West Bank of Irrawaddy River between April 14th. 1942 and May 23rd. 1942 when the Bn arrived in India at PALEL.  This march was a continuous march taking 40 days during which the Bn halted only for 2 days at 51.4 M/S Camp and five days at LOCKCHAO to cover Bridge dismantling party.  Average march 15 miles per night, all marches were carried out a night; the Bn taking up defensive positions by day.  The unit by using bullock carts and trucks where available came out complete with its W.E. [War Establishment] of Bren Guns, Tommy Gins and 3” Mortars and all ammunition and grenades.  These were subsequently handed over to 4 Corps and receipt obtained at 109 M/S Camp, Assam.  Throughout the Burma Campaign Bren Guns were carried by the men, as our mules were left at the outset in Moulmein.  Route taken on West Bank of Irrawaddy River attached.

 

 

[signed] T.I. Bowers

Lt; Colonel

Comd. 1st Bn The Burma Regiment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASSAM.-

 

 

109 M/S Camp Imphal – Dimapur Rd.

May 25th 1942

Remained in this Camp by the Road side until June 24th. 1942.  Strength B.Os 10, G.C.Os 16, B.A.O.Rs 402 and Followers 28.  During the month Bn rested and did fatigues.  Raining practically whole of the month, men sleeping under home made huts and eventually later in Naga huts.  B.Os received tentage.  B.O. sent down to DIMAPUR to buy tin stores etc also Capt. Andrews sent to CALCUTTA to buy necessities.  Our Role was to remain in rear of holding troops on Indo-Burma Border to re-inforce if the Japs followed up the withdrawal.  Troops being evacuated daily and Sick State very high owing to reaction setting in after the rigours of Campaign.  Sick mostly Malaria and dysentery.  Capt. Galbraith rejoined Bn.  Capt. Graham, Lts. Flack, Thom and S.M. [Subedar Major] evacuated sick.  Major Perry went on leave but evacuated sick en route.  Small parties sent out daily to look at tracks and get to know country.

Fatigues on making Roads carried out daily.

All our weapons, ammunition etc except Rifles handed over to 4 Corps and receipt obtained.

 

June 16th 42

Warning order for move received.  Appendix 1.

 

June 17th 42

Strength 7 B.Os, 18 G.C.Os, 283 B.A.O.Rs and 22 followers.

 

June 18th 42

Details received for Adv party move – Appendix 2.

 

June 19th 42

Capt. Galbraith and adv party left for RANCHI.

 

June 24th 42

Bn embussed and left 109 M/S Camp.  Lt. H.A.H. Clarke remained behind on temporary transfer to look after M.I. [mounted infantry] personnel.

MAO

P.M.

Bn arrived M.T. Camp MAO and stayed the night.

KOHIMA

June 25th 42 A.M.

Arrived KOHIMA.  Had to remain in camp for day owing to landslide blocking the Rd to DIMAPUR.  Stayed the night.

KOHIMA

June 26th 42 A.M.

Marched about 8 miles down to landslide.

 

0800 hrs

Embussed and went by M.T. to DIMAPUR with 7 Burif.

 

DIMAPUR

June 26th 42 2200 hrs

Remained in rest camp near Ry Station for the day.
     Entrained in Special train with 7 Burif and left for RANCHI.
     Route LUMDING – BADAPUR – AKHURA – CHANDPUR.

 

June 27th 2330 hrs

Train stopped and one Sepoy Sarwan Singh found shot.  The man who shot him Naik Kishan Singh was subsequently tried by Court Martial and sentenced.

CHANDPUR

June 28th 42

Arrived CHANDPUR.

Body of shot Sepoy burnt and C.of I [Court of Inquiry] held on Naik Kishan Singh.

INDIA

P.M.

Bn and 7 Burif boarded “PEGU” and proceeded up river to GOALUNDO.

GOALUNDO

June 29th

Arrived GOALUNDO and entrained on Special train en route for RANCHI.

 

June 30th

Proceeding to RANCHI.[41]

 

 

[signed] T.I. Bowers

Lt; Colonel

Comd. 1st Bn The Burma Regiment

 

 



[1] In December 1941, the 8th Burma Rifles formed the major component of the Moulmein defence force, which was under the command of the battalion commander, Lt.Colonel T.I. Bowers (War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade WO 172/548).

[2] Percy Hardie Murray Galbraith born, 17th June 1912.  Attended the Glasgow Academy, 1919-1929.  As member of the Territorial Army, Gate Cadet, Glasgow Academy Contingent, Junior Division, O.T.C.) to be 2nd Lieutenant, the 6th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (T.A.), 14th January 1931.  Commissioned from the Supplementary Reserve of Officers to the Unattached List for the Indian Army as 2nd Lieutenant, 1st September 1934.  Arrived in India, 14th September 1934.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2nd Lieutenant (461 AI), 24th October 1935.  Attached 2nd Battalion, 6th Rajputana Rifles [not established if he ever served with this battalion], 24th October 1935.  As 2nd Lieutenant, served as Company Officer, 1st Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, 24th October 1935.  Officiating Quartermaster, 1st Battalion, 20th Burma Rifles, Mingaladon, late 1936 to 10th December 1937.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 1st December 1936.  As Lieutenant, served as Assistant Commandant with the Reserve Battalion, Burma Frontier Force at Pyawbwe, 10th December 1937 to early

 1940?.  On leave, ex India, October 1939 to 2nd January 1940.  Served as Assistant Commandant with the Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Frontier Force at Pyawbwe at Falam, 16th March 1940 to 17th September 1940.  Served with the 8th (Frontier Force) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1st October 1940 to September 1942.  Temporary Captain, 1st October 1940.  Acting Captain from 1st November 1940.  Promoted to Captain, 1st September 1942.  Becomes an officer of The Burma Regiment, on formation of the Regiment at Hoshiarpur, 1st October 1942.  Acting Major, 1943.  Second in Command of the 1st Battalion, The Burma Regiment, 1944.  As Major, temporary Lt. Colonel, Officiating Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, The Burma Regiment, following the evacuation and   subsequent going on leave of the actual Commanding Officer, 18th May 1944 to 13th July 1944.  War substantive Major, temporary Lt. Colonel from 18th August 1944.  Commanding Officer of the 2nd Karen Rifles, Bassein, 1946-1948.  Retired from the Indian Army as Captain (war substantive Major) with the rank of Honorary Lt.-Colonel, 25th October 1948.  On the British Army Reserve List as Major (honorary Lt.-Colonel) (49570), Highland Light Infantry, 6th December 1950.  Australian Attorney-General’s Department, 1951.  Relinquished commission in the Territorial Army Reserve of Officers, retaining the rank of honorary Lt.-Colonel, 17th June 1962  (British Army List; Burma Army List 1940, 1943; Burma Defence Services List July 1941; Glasgow Academy Roll of Service 1939-1945; The Peerage; Drum Publications - Oral History - pdf; Indian Army List 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939; 1941; London Gazette; The Chin Hills Battalion, Mss Eur E250; War diary 1st Burma Regiment, WO 172/5036; War diary 8th Burma Rifles, WO 172/980).

[3] The 2nd Burma Infantry Brigade Group, at this time under the command of the 17th Indian Infantry Division, and responsible for the defence of Moulmein.

[4] Frank Henry Samuel Allison.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., General List Emergency Commission (189625), 28th April 1941.  As Lieutenant (Temporary Captain), attached to The Burma Rifles, mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma during the period December 1941 to May 1942, gazetted 28th October 1942.   Died 24th February 1942 (London Gazette; Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

[5] James Leslie Thom (189640), Cadet from O.C.T.U., to be 2nd Lt., General List Emergency Commission, 28th Apr. 1941 (London Gazette).

[6] Arthur Victor Perry born, 9th January 1901.  As temporary 2nd Lieutenant, appointed temporary Lieutenant, 7th October 1916.  As temporary Lieutenant, appointed acting Captain, 3rd April 1918.  As temporary Lieutenant, appointed temporary Captain, 14th May 1918.  As temporary Captain, relinquished commission upon completion of service and retained the rank of Captain, 3rd August 1919.  Commissioned to the Unattached List for the Indian Army as 2nd Lieutenant, 24th December 1920.  Arrived in India, 3rd March 1921.  Attached to the 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment (the battalion arrived in India on 30th November 1919), 6th March 1921 to 6th March 1922.  Served Malabar, 1921-22.  Attached to the 8th Rajputs, redesignated the 4th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment during the year, 6th March 1922.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2nd Lieutenant (IA980), 19th March 1922.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 24th March 1922.  Served Waziristan, 1921-24.  On leave, ex India, 19th March 1925.  Served as Company Officer, the 4th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment, November 1925 to 7th November 1937.  Officiating Adjutant, the 4th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment, 1927.  Promoted to Captain, 24th December 1928.  Served as Adjutant with the 10th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment, 1st June 1930 to 1934.  Leave ex India to 19th November 1931.  Leave ex India, February 1935 to 25th October 1935.  Officiating Second in Command, 4th Battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment, 1936.  Seconded to the Burma Defence Forces, 7th November 1937.  Served as Company Officer with the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 7th November 1937 to 1941.  Promoted to Major, 1st August 1938.  Served with the 8th (Frontier Force) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1941 to June 1942.  Acting Lt. Colonel from 26th February 1942.  Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion, The Burma Regiment, 8th March 1944 to 28th May 1944.  Evacuated sick to India, 28th May 1944.  As Major, temporary Lt. Colonel, promoted to Lt. Colonel, 24th December 1946.  As Major (temporary Lt.-Colonel), Officer Commanding, 2nd Battalion, The Kachin Rifles, appointed M.B.E., 1st January 1948.  As Lt. Colonel, Special List (ex Indian Army) British Army, retired, 3rd January 1949.  As Lt. Colonel (18144) to be Lt. Colonel, Regular Army Reserve of Officers, The Suffolk Regiment, 4th January 1949.  As Lt. Colonel (18144), The Suffolk Regiment, resigned his commission, 15th March 1951  (“War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941”; British Army List; Burma Army List 1940; Burma Defence Services List 1941; Indian Army List 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926,1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1943, 1945; London Gazette; War diary 4th Burma Regiment, WO 172/5042).

[7] Noel Arthur Pogson Rannard.  OCTU Cadet, appointed 2nd Lt., General List, 28th April 1941.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 1st October 1941.  Later 1st Battalion, The Burma Regiment.  As Lieutenant (temporary Captain), appointed to emergency commission in the Indian Army, seniority unaffected, for service in the Indian Army Ordnance Corps (IAOC) as Ordnance Mechanical Engineer, 9th July 1943.  As Major (temporary), mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma, gazetted 9th May 1946.  As Lt.-Colonel (acting) (189609), mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma, gazetted 19th September 1946 (London Gazette; British Army List).

[8] Thomas Charles Flack (189851), Cadet from O.C.T.U., to be 2nd Lt., General List Emergency Commission, 28th Apr. 1941.  Promoted War Substantive Lieutenant, 24th May 1942.   Appointed Lieutenant, 8th November 1946, with seniority from 24th May 1942 (London Gazette; British Army List).

[9] Thomas Ivan Bowers born, 1st October 1897.  Commissioned to the Unattached List as 2nd Lt., 30th January 1917.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2nd Lt. (AI 153), attached to the 11th Rajputs, 4th February 1917.  Served Mahsud, 2nd March 1917 to 10th August 1917.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 30th January 1918.  Served Afghanistan, N.W. Frontier, 1919.  Officer of the 9th Bhopal Infantry, attached to the Chitral Scouts from 31st May 1919.  As Lieutenant, Chitral Scouts, awarded Military Cross, for distinguished service in the Field in the Afghan War, 1919, gazetted, 3rd August 1920.  Promoted to Captain, 30th January 1921.  Served North West Frontier of India, 1930.  Served Burma (Saya San Rebellion), 1930-32.  Served as Assistant commandant, the Burma Military Police, 1933.  Promoted to Major, 30th January 1935.  As Captain, 10th Baluch Regiment, attached to the Burma Military Police, awarded a Bar to the Military Cross for gallant and distinguished service in respect of operations in the Wa States, Burma, January to July 1934, gazetted, 28th May 1935.  Served North-West Frontier, 1936-37.  Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service rendered in Waziristan, North Wet Frontier of India, 25th November 1936 to 16th January 1937, gazetted, 18th February 1938.  Commandant, the Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1939 to 31st October 1940.  Appointed Commanding Officer of the 8th (Frontier Force) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1st November 1940.  Acting Lt. Colonel, 1st November 1940 to 31st January 1941.  Temporary Lt. Colonel from 1st February 1941.  First Commander, 1st Battalion, The Burma Regiment, September 1942.  As acting Lt.-Colonel, Commanding Officer, 8th Burma Rifles, awarded DSO, gazetted, 28th October 1942, for which the citation reads as follows: 

 

Unit:       8th Burma Rifles

Date of Recommendation:                               30-31st January 1942, MOULMEIN

Action for which recommended :-   During the action at MOULMEIN on 30-31 Jan this officer commanded his battalion with the greatest efficiency and displayed qualities of leadership of a high order.  It was largely due to his outstanding example of courage and disregard for his personal safety that the Bn maintained its position throughout the day, and was finally withdrawn in good order on 31st January.

Recommended by:             Commander 2 Inf Bde [2nd Burma Brigade]

Signed By:            J.G. Smyth, Major-General, Commander 17 Indian Division; T.J. Hutton, Lieutenant General [GOC Army in Burma]

Promoted from Major (temporary Lt. Colonel) to Lt. Colonel, 30th January 1943.  Retired but carried on the Special List (ex Indian Army) British Army while employed with the Pakistan Armed Forces, 1st January 1949.  Ceased to be employed with the Pakistan Armed Forces and reverted to the retired list, 7th December 1954.  As Lt. Colonel, C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C. (439632), Special List (ex Indian Army) (Retired), granted the honorary rank of Colonel, 7th December 1954. Died, 1980 (“War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941”, Savannah (2004); British Army List; FindMyPast; India Office List 1933; Indian Army List; Indian Army List 1921; London Gazette; War Diary 8th Burma Rifles, WO 172/980 (War diary 8th Burma Rifles); WO 373/30/155).

 

[10] The actions described here for 1st February 1942 actually took place the day before, 31st January 1942.

[11] Walter Norman Andrews, born in Canterbury in 7th March 1888. Enlisting into the 16th Lancers c.1910, he entered the France/Flanders theatre of war on 17 August 1914.  Served France and Belgium, 15th August 1914 to 8th January 1918.  He was commissioned 2nd Lt., 3rd Battalion Essex Regiment on 26 June 1918 and served in Egypt, with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 26th September 1918 to 11th November 1918.  Promoted Lieutenant, 26th December 1919.  Appointed Indian Army, Special List, served as Adjutant & Quartermaster at the Small Arm’s School in India, 16th July 1923 to31st May 1925.  Promoted to Captain, 26th June 1926 (1st December 1928).  Quartermaster-Major, 1st December 1928.  Served C.H.Q. Bombay Pioneers from 1st June 1928.  Served C.H.Q. Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners from 10th February 1933.  Promoted to Major, 26th June 1933.  Retired, 1st June 1945. (British Army List;; “War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941”).

[12] The 46th Indian Infantry Brigade, 17th Indian Infantry Division, had arrived in Burma on 16th January 1942 (Indian Armed Forces in World War II, The Retreat from Burma 1941-42).

[13] The 16th Indian Infantry Brigade arrived in Burma at the end of November 1941 and moved to Mandalay.  The brigade moved to Tenasserim during December and January 1942.  The 8th Burma Rifles came under command of the brigade as part of a reorganisation within the 17th Indian Division, to be completed between 6th and 8th February 1942.  A further reorganisation on 9th February was to see the 8th Burma Rifles come under the command of the 2nd Burma Brigade however this does not appear to have actually taken place and the battalion does not appear in the orders issued for the 2nd Burma Brigade for this period.  It seems the battalion remained under the command of the 16th Indian Infantry Brigade (Indian Armed Forces in World War II, The Retreat from Burma 1941-42; War Diary 2nd Burma Brigade WO 172/548).                                                        

[14] The 1st Battalion, 9th Jat Regiment.

[15] The 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles.

[16] The 48th Indian Infantry Brigade arrived in Burma on 31st January 1942.  The attachment of the 8th Burma Rifles to this Brigade occurred on 17th February 1942 (Indian Armed Forces in World War II, The Retreat from Burma 1941-42).

[17] The official and full title of the battalion – the 8th (Frontier Force) Battalion, The Burma Rifles.  The battalion was raised on 1st October 1940 from Sikhs and Punjabi Mussalmans (Muslims) serving with the Burma Frontier Force.

[18] The 5th Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment, a unit of the 46th Indian Infantry Brigade.

[19] Jemadar Qaim Din, 8th Burma Rifles is not listed as died by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

[20] David Eric Martin.  As Major, injured 27th April 1942 at Taungtha, died from injuries received 7th May 1942 (Commonwealth War Graves Commission; History of The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 1919-1942, Hingston, W, Humphries & Co (1950)).

[21] Henry Ross Power, born 31st December 1897.  Commissioned 2nd Lt. to the Unattached List, 18th April 1916.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2nd Lt., 25th April 1916.   Promoted Lieutenant, 18th April 1917.  Served Aden, 1st October 1917 to February 1918; Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 10th February 1918 to 31st October 1918.  Promoted Captain 18th April 1920 and to Major 18th April 1934.  In 1921 was attached 37th Dogras, which became 1st Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment after December 1922.  Served North West Frontier of India, 1930.  Was Instructor (Class B) at the Indian Military Academy, 12th September 1934 to 3rd August 1937.  Promoted Lt.-Colonel, 18th April 1942.  Mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services while Prisoner of War, gazetted 18th April 1946.  As Colonel (401572), late Reserve of Officers, General List, to be Lieutenant, 31st December 1955, Territorial Army, Army Cadet Force, with seniority 13th July 1949.  As Lt.-Colonel (acting), 10th/11th Surrey Battalion, Home Guard, awarded OBE, 31st May 1956.  Commissioned as Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Surrey, 29th September 1959 (British Army List; Indian Army List; London Gazette; “War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941”).

[22] Peter Stanley Pryke, born 31st July 1916.  Commissioned as 2nd.Lt, Army in Burma Reserve of Officers (ABRO 77), 10th November 1939.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 12th May 1941.  Mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma during the period December 1941 to May 1942.  Awarded MBE, gazetted 8th February 1945.  As Major (temporary, war substantive Captain), Brigade Major to 33rd Indian Infantry Brigade, 7th Indian Infantry Division, 1st December 1943 to 31st March 1944, mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma, 19th July 1945.  As Lt.-Colonel, GSO 1, 5th Indian Infantry Division, killed in a plane crash, 9th February 1945, age 28.

From “ Ball of Fire”:
“Early in February orders had been received from Fourteenth Army that the Division must be ready to enter the battle of Central Burma on March 15. General Warren, with his new G.S.O., Lieutenant-Colonel P.S. Pryke, flew south to Kalemyo to confer at Army Headquarters. They were to be briefed as to the future employment of the Division. On February 11 they set off on their return flight. The small aircraft vanished among the hills. Its occupants were reported missing and were never found.”
(British Army List; Indian Army List; London Gazette; The Peerage; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; “Ball of Fire, The Fifth Indian Division in the Second World War”, Brett-James, A, Gale & Polden (1951))

[23] H.A.H. Clarke, commissioned 2nd Lt., Regular Army Emergency Commission, 26th October 1941. Promoted Lieutenant (war substantive), 26th May 1942 (British Army List).

[24] Hugh Walter Patrick Graham, born 1918.  Went to Burma in 1939 and worked as an assistant on a Tung oil estate, 30 miles NE of Maymyo.  Emergency Commission (189624) to the General List as 2nd Lt., 28th April 1941.  Promoted War Substantive Lieutenant, 14th October 1941 and to temporary Captain, 12th October 1941.  Posted to the 8th Burma Rifles and posted to Mergui as a Station Staff Officer.  Took part in the Second Chindit expedition.  Major, 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles.  Left the Army in 1946 and returned to the Tung oil estate before being evacuated from Burma in March 1949 due to civil unrest following independence.  Died 1985 (British Army List; Anglo-Burmese Library; http://www.ourstory.com/thread.html?t=341336).

[25] The 4th Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment.

[26] The 7th Battalion, 10th Baluch Regiment.

[27] Subedar Major Anar Khan, Mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma during the period December 1941 to May 1942, gazetted 28th October 1942 (London Gazette).

[28] General Purpose Transport Company.

[29] Arthur Herbert Virgin, born 17th April, 1892.  Commissioned into Territorial force, The Somerset Light Infantry, 22nd May 1915.  Promoted to Lieutenant, with precedence from 1st June 1916, 24th April 1917.  Served with 5th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, precedence from 23rd October 1916.  Appointed to the Indian Army, 7th June 1918, acting Captain while commanding a company, 12th Pioneers, 4th June 1918.  Relinquished rank of acting Captain on ceasing to command a company, 48th Pioneers, 27th November 1918.  Promoted to Captain, 22nd May 1919, attached to the 12th Pioneers (The Kelat-i-Ghilzie Regiment).  Promoted to Major, 19th May 1933.  On the Special Unemployed List (Indian Army) from 1st April 1936.  As Major (Temporary Lt.-Colonel), Indian Pioneer Corps (IA 441), mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Burma and on the Eastern Frontier of India, gazetted 19th October 1944.  Promoted to Lt.-Colonel, 20th October 1944.  Later changed surname to Vergin.  Retired Indian Army, 18th January 1946.  As Lt.-Colonel, Conference Officer, Grade I, Foreign Office, awarded OBE, 1st January 1951 (British Army List; Indian Army List; London Gazette).

[30] The 9th Battalion, The Burma Rifles was the regiment’s holding unit, responsible for training recruits who passed out of the 10th Battalion or from the Burma Frontier Force in the case of men destined for the 8th Battalion, and for assigning the men to the other battalions of the regiment as reinforcements.

[31] Lt.-General Thomas Jacob Hutton, previously GOC, Burma Command, was superseded by Lt.-General Sir Harold Alexander on 21st February 1942.  Hutton remained as Alexander’s Chief of Staff for the remainder of the campaign (“Indian Armed Forces in World War II, The Retreat from Burma 1941-42”).

[32] Possibly G.I. Lewis, commissioned into the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Emergency Commission, 1st March 1941.  Temporary Captain, 25th August 1943 (British Army List).

[33] At this point the battalion came under the command of the 2nd Burma Brigade Group (‘2 Bde  Op Instrn No. 18.’, Appendix 7, War Diary 8th Burma Rifles, WO 172/980).

[34] The Thakins were a Burmese nationalist group formed around the 1930s and composed of young, disgruntled intellectuals. Drawing their name from the way in which the British were addressed during colonial times, thakin means "lord" or "master", just as the Indians called the British "sahib".  The Thakins were credited for the formation of the Burma Independence Army (BIA). In 1940, a Japanese Army Officer, Colonel Suzuki Keiji, took thirty Thakins (including Aung San) for military training in Japanese schools situated in Formosa and Hainan Island. These thirty Thakins were the founding members of the Burma Independence Army, which would later number around 8000 men. When the Japanese invaded Burma in late 1941 and early 1942, the BIA marched with the Japanese to expel the British (Wikipedia - Thakins ).

[35] Possibly the British No 69 was a hand grenade developed and used during World War II. It was adopted into service due to the need for a grenade with smaller destructive radius than the No 36M "Mills bomb". The shell of the No 69 grenade was composed entirely of the hard plastic, Bakelite, which shattered without producing fragments like a metal bodied grenade.  This allowed the thrower to use a grenade even when there was little in the way of defensive cover  (Wikipedia - No 69 grenade).

[36] After operations in 1942 ceased, the Burma Independence Army (BIA) was disbanded and the Burma Defence Army (BDA) created in its place.  This war diary was recreated after the campaign, in September or October 1942, the original having been destroyed during the retreat, and where the BDA is referenced this actually describes the BIA (“Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion”, IL Grant, K Tamayama, The Zampi Press, Chichester (1999)). 

[37] Frontier Force 8 (F.F.8).  Company sized units raised from the Burma Frontier Force, the first four F.F. units (F.F.1 – F.F.4) were specialized units each with a unique organization designed to guard a specific area of Burma's eastern border.  Later F.F.5-F.F.9 were formed.  Initially all were formed with the role of patrolling and harassing an enemy advance.  In April 1942 an attempt was made to reorganize these units to provide reconnaissance for the divisions however it was only partially completed.

[38] Government bungalows put up for travellers along the main roads and principal district roads. Government officials had the first use of them and other people could only use them, and had to pay a fee, if they were not needed by officials. (Kipling Society).

[39] The 7th Battalion, The Burma Rifles had crossed the river to Magwe during the night of 15th/16th April, having been ordered to join ‘Magforce’ (War Diary 7th Burma Rifles, WO 172/979 (War diary 7th Burma Rifles)).

[40] A mounted infantry (M.I.) troop of The Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Frontier Force.

[41] The 7th and 8th Battalions Burma Rifles had been formed from Gurkha and Indian members of the Burma Frontier Force and Military Police in 1940 to speed the expansion of the Burma Rifles given the growing threat of war with Japan (check). On arrival in India after the retreat the 7th Battalion had about 300 men, mostly Gurkhas and Kumaonis formerly of the Burma Military Police and the 8th Battalion about 400 men, Punjabi Mussalmen and Sikhs formerly of the Burma Frontier Force.  GHQ India proposed amalgamating the two battalions and the new unit was expected to then serve as a regular infantry battalion in an Indian division.  The Government of Burma were uncomfortable with this and preferred to see the men returned to the Burma Frontier Force and Burma Military Police pool.  Despite an initial intention to retain the identities of these battalions, in the end the men were formed into the 1st Battalion, Burma Regiment (War Diary 8th Burma Rifles, WO 172/980;  British Library India Office Records L.WS.1.1313).