The Burma Campaign

[Transcribed from National Archives File WO 172/981, War Diary 9th Burma Rifles by:  Steve Rothwell - The Burma Campaign web site.]

 

W A R   D I A R Y

9th Burma Rifles

 

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

1 Feb 42

Meiktila

1 BAOR to 2 Gar Bn – draft

119 BAORs from 10 Burif - draft[1]

2 Feb 42

Meiktila

1 BAOR is absent without leave

2/Lt L.R. Martin[2] reported arrival for duty from 4 Burif

3 Feb 42

Meiktila

5 BAORs to 1 A/Tk Bty

Capt N.H.M. CASTLE [Montefiore-Castle][3] reported arrival from 2 Inf Bde Sigs (2nd Burma Infantry Brigade]

4 Feb 42

Meiktila

5 BAORs arrived from course

5 Feb 42

Meiktila

1 BAOR from Hosp & 5 from course

6 Feb 42

Meiktila

5 BAORs Tgoo [Toungoo?] Hosp

7 Feb 42

Meiktila

A.A.G. [Army Adjutant General] visited this unit

1 BAOR discharged from the service

1 GCO, 17 BAORs & 8 Folls (stragglers) reported their arrival

8 Feb 42

Meiktila

Major General i/c Administration and Adm Comd U.B.A [Upper Burma Area] visited unit

9 Feb 42

Meiktila

1 GCO, 18 BAORs & 9 Folls (attd 7 Burif personnel) rejoined their unit

7 BAORs and 2 Folls from Hosp

10 Feb 42

Meiktila

30 BAORs (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – Bn strength

11 Feb 42

Meiktila

13 BAORs (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – Bn strength

1st Det 9 Burif (3 BOs, 2 GCOs, 238 BAORs & 9 Folls) from Mdly [Mandalay]

12 Feb 42

Meiktila

8 BAORs & 8 Folls (attached) rejoined 7 Burif

1 GCO, 9 BAORs (discharged from Hosp and stragglers) – Bn strength

13 Feb 42

Meiktila

33 BAORs (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken in Bn strength

14 Feb 42

Meiktila

45 BAORs (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken in Bn strength

15 Feb 42

Meiktila

107 BAORs to 7 Burif - drafts

16 Feb 42

Meiktila

70 BAORs to 4 Burif – draft

2/Lt W. WALLACE[4], 2/Lt C.E.D. SEPPINGS[5] [6], 2/Lt V. HTOON[7], 2/Lt D.A. BLAKE[8], 2/Lt P.J.S. COURTENEY[9], 2/Lt J.R.STEWART[10], 2/Lt P.R.S. BANKES[11] and 2/Lt S.A. COPE[12] reported their arrival for duty.

36 BAORs & 4 Folls (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken Bn strength

17 Feb 42

Meiktila

219 BAORs to 3 Burif – drafts

8 BAORs & 2 Followers from Hosp – taken in Bn strength

18 Feb 42

Meiktila

13 BAORs & 1 Folls (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken Bn strength

19 Feb 42

Meiktila

1 GCO, 50 BAORs & 2 Folls from Depot 3 Burif

11 BAORs & 2 Folls (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken Bn strength

2nd Det 9 Burif – 3 BOs, 4 GCOs, 220 BAORs & 10 Folls – from Mdly

20 Feb 42

Meiktila

Sub[edar] NAND SINGH[13] died in Bur Mily Hosp, Mtla[Meiktila]

6 BAORs and 4 Folls from Hosp

3 BAORs are absent without leave

2/Lt L.R. MARTIN & 2/Lt MG MG GALE[14] to 3 Burif - draft

21 Feb 42

Meiktila

1 BAOR is absent without leave

13 BAORs & 1 Foll (discharged from Hosp & straggler) – taken Bn strength

22 Feb 42

Meiktila

34 BAORs & 5 Folls to 7 Burif – draft

7 BAORs from Hosp – taken Bn strength

23 Feb 42

Meiktila

12 BAORs (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken in Bn strength

Capt M.H. WHITE[15] trfd to BFF [Burma Frontier Force]

1 GCO from Hosp – taken in Bn strength

24 Feb 42

Meiktila

11 BAORs (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken Bn strength

25 Feb 42

Meiktila

2/Lt YIN KYUN[16], 1 GCO, 81 BAORs & 1 Foll to 3 Burif – draft

5 BAORs from Hosp – taken Bn strength

26 Feb 42

Meiktila

36 BAORs & 2 Folls discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken in Bn strength

27 Feb 42

Meiktila

15 BAORs (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken Bn strength

28 Feb 42

Meiktila

5 BAORs (discharged from Hosp & stragglers) – taken Bn strength

 

 

 

 

 

[illegible signature -probably  Lt. Colonel F.W Haswell ]

No 484/IR/3

 

 

9 Burif

 

Lt Col[17]

4 Mar 42

 

Comd   9 Burif

[18] [19]

To:-  HQ A.i.B(G.S) Ref 31/2/6 of 18 Nov 41

 



[1] The draft was despatched by the 10th Burif from Maymyo on 31st January 1942 and was made up of 114 reinforcements and 2 hospital cases from the 5th Burma Rifles and 3 hospital cases from the 6th Burma Rifles (London Gazette; British Army List; War Diary 10th Burif WO 172/982  War diary 10th Burma Rifles).

[2] Possibly Laurence Riley Martin (189637): Cadet, from O.C.T.U., to be 2/Lt., 28th April 1941.  Transferred from 4 Burif to 9 Burif on 2nd February 1942; was subsequently drafted to 3 Burif on 20th February 1942.  War Substantive Lieutenant, 1st October 1942, transferred from General List to be War Substantive Lieutenant Highland Light Infantry, 19th June 1944, “retaining his present seniority” (London Gazette; British Army List; War Diary 4 Burif WO 172/977 War diary 4th Burma Rifles).

[3] Norman Henry Montefiore-Castle born about, 1912.  As late Cadet, Wrekin College Contingent, appointed 2nd Lieutenant, 10th London Regiment (Royal Berkshire Regiment), Territorial Army, 24th March 1937.  Appointed as 2nd Lieutenant (70890), 7th Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment, 7th May 1939.  War substantive Lieutenant, 23rd March 1940.  Attached to the 1st Battalion, The Burma Rifles, served with the Reserve Centre, the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles from 12th May 1941.  Temporary Captain, 15th November 1941.  Arrived with the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles from attachment to the 2nd Burma Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Signals, 3rd February 1942.  Evacuated from Mandalay with the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles by river launch.  Sent ahead to Bhamo to assess the situation, 30th April 1942.  Served with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment, 1st January 1943.  As Lieutenant, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment, admitted to hospital, Madras, 21st March 1943 to 2nd April 1943.  Posted from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment to No. 25 Reinforcement Camp, 17th July 1943.  As war substantive Lieutenant, Royal Berkshire Regiment, resigned his commission, 7th April 1944.  AS "BBC Television" staff, travelled from Southampton to New York aboard the M.S. "Batory", departed, 8th July 1947.  Died San Diego, 1980  (“Personal Diary of events in Burma prior to and during the campaign with an account of the retreat through the Hukong[sic] Valley”, Edward Hewitt Cooke, National Army Museum Acquisition No.1972-02-44; ancestry.co.uk; British Army List; Burma Defence Services List July 1941; London Gazette; War diary 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment, WO 172/2497; War diary 9th Burma Rifles, WO 172/981).

[4] William Wallace born, 16th November 1908.  Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, ABRO (ABRO 371), 9th February 1942.  Served with the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 16th February 1942 to June 1942.  War substantive Lieutenant, 1st October 1942.  As 2nd Lieutenant, relinquished commission and granted the honorary rank of Major, 1st December 1946  (Burma Army List 1943; London Gazette; War diary 9th Burma Rifles, WO 172/981; “Personal Diary of events in Burma prior to and during the campaign with an account of the retreat through the Hukong [sic] Valley”, Edward Hewitt Cooke, National Army Museum Acquisition No.1972-02-44).

[5] Carlyle Edmond Seppings, born at Pegu, Burma, 30th June 1921.  Undertook "militia training", Maymyo, October 1941.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., ABRO, 9th February 1942.  Posted to the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 16th February 1942.  Attached to the 2nd/5th Gurkha Rifles, February 1942.  Liaison Officer to Chinese Military Mission, Lashio, March 1942.  Joined F.F.8, Burma Frontier Force as column commander at Minbu, April 1942.  Served with F.F.8, Burma Frontier Force, April 1942 to 1942.  Posted to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Regiment, October 1942.  Served with Special Operations Executive, "with the Inter-Services Liaison Department as an undercover agent in Burma", 1942 to 1944.  Burma Police; involved in the CID investigation of the assassination of Aung San (Rangoon, July 1947) and surveillance of the nationalist politician U Saw, 1945 to 1951.  He later obtained a commission with the Royal Air Force Provost Branch, as Flying Officer (502022), short service (five years on the active list and four years on the reserve, 14th August 1951, with seniority from 22nd July 1950.  Appointed to a permanent commission as Flying Officer, RAF, 18th March 1953.  Died, 17th September 2005  (Bournemouth Daily Echo; Seppings Interview, IWM - Collections; London Gazette; Private Papers [Mss Eur K490 - IOR Pos 12033 – Mss Eur R135]; WO 172/981; Anglo-Burmese Library).

[6] Seppings, in his IWM interview, recalls that when he was posted to the 9th Burma Rifles in February 1942, Lt. Colonel “James Francis” Haswell was the Commanding Officer of the 9th Burma Rifles, Major Edward Elliott, “Gurkha Rifles”, was Second-in-Command and that his Company Commander was Captain Ransford.

Francis William Haswell, born, 9th February 1898.  Mobilised with the Territorial Force, service 1 year, 150 days, to 17th  May 1918.  Served in France and Belgium, 14th April 1917 to 15th  February 1918.  Commissioned into the Regular Army as 2nd Lt., 19th September 1917.  Served with the 107th Pioneers, 13th May 1918.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2ndLt (IA453), 18th May 1918.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 19th September 1918.  Served with 2nd Battalion, 107th Pioneers, 1st April 1919.  Served with 2nd Battalion, 61st Pioneers, 1st April 1921.  Served Waziristan, 1921-24, Wana.  Station Staff Officer, 2nd Class, Wana Column, 4th May 1921 to 17th  October 1921.  Served with 48th Pioneers, 4th January 1922.  Promoted to Captain, 12th September 1922.  Served with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Pioneers, 20th December 1926.  Served with the Bombay Pioneers, 1st April 1929.  Assistant Commandant, Burma Military Police, 1933. Commandant, Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Military Police, 12th December 1932 to 1937, then Commandant, Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1937 to early 1938? Promoted to Major, 12th September 1935.  Attached to the 4th Gurkha Rifles, 1938 to early 1940?  Commandant, the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1st April 1940 to 28th  December 1941.  Commanding Officer, the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Burma Rifles, February 1942.  Charged to raise the Chin Levies, April/May 1942?.  Commanding Officer, the Chin Levies, June 1942.  Promoted to Lt.Colonel, 12th September 1943.  As Lt.Colonel (Local Colonel), attached Burma Frontier Force, for raising Chin Levies and leading them with detachments of the Burma Rifles, awarded D.S.O., 16th December 1943.  Promoted to temporary Colonel and to temporary Brigadier, 3rd March 1944.  Took over Command of Fort Hertz Area Headquarters until disbandment of the Headquarters , 28th May 1944 until December 1944.  Retired, 10th February 1949 ("Operations in Burma from 15th December 1941 to 20th May 1942", London Gazette, 5th March 1948; "War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); British Army List; India Office List 1933; Indian Army List; London Gazette; Seppings Interview, IWM- Collections; War Diary of the 2nd Burma Rifles, WO 172/975, (War diary 2nd Burma Rifles); WO 372/31/113; War diary of Fort Hertz Area Headquarters, WO 172/4485).

Edward Elliott has not been identified.

James Kenneth Ransford, born, 18th October 1913.  Baptised Abbottabad, India, December 1913.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt. to the Unattached List, 1st February 1934.  Assigned to the Indian Army, 2nd Gurkha Rifles, as 2nd Lt. (IA294), 12th March 1935.  Promoted to temporary Captain, 1st May 1936.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 1st May 1936.  Seconded to the 1st Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 29th November 1937.  Seconded to the Burma Defence Force, 29th November 1937.  Served with the 1st Battalion, Burma Rifles, from 1938.  Promoted to Captain, 1st February 1942.  Company Commander, 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 16th February 1942.  Commander "B" Company, the 1st Battalion, The Burma Rifles, April 1942 until wounded and evacuated.  As acting(?) Lt. Colonel, assumes command of the 4th Battalion, The Burma Regiment, 12th June 1944.  Promoted war substantive Major, temporary Lt. Colonel, 12th September 1944.  Leaves the 4th Battalion, The Burma Regiment en route for 61 days war leave in the United Kingdom, 22nd January 1946.  Returned from war leave and reassumed command of the 4th Battalion, The Burma Regiment in the Arakan, 22nd April 1946.  Left the 4th Battalion, The Burma Regiment for the Staff College at Quetta, 24th June 1946.  As temporary Lt. Colonel, the 2nd Gurkha Rifles, Mentioned in Despatches, gazetted, 19th September 1946.  Promoted to Major, 1st February 1947.   As Major (375889), from Special List (ex Indian Army), to be Major, 7th December 1947, with seniority from 1st February 1947.   As Lt. Colonel, Employed List (l), late Royal Artillery, retired on retired pay with Reserve Liability, 27th July 1960  (British Army List; FindMyPast; Indian Army List; London Gazette; Seppings interview; War Diary 1st Burma Rifles WO 172/974 (War diary 1st Burma Rifles); War Diary 4th Burma Regiment WO 172/5037).

[7] Possibly Htoon Pay.  Commissioned 2ndLt. ABRO, 26th October 1941.  Later, as Captain (ABRO 248), Burma Army Service Corps, mentioned in dispatches, 10th January 1946.  Relinquished commission and granted honorary rank of Captain, 16th May 1947 (Anglo-Burmese Library; London Gazette).

[8] Douglas Albert Blake.  Commissioned 2ndLt. ABRO, 9th February 1942 (Anglo-Burmese Library; London Gazette).

[9] Peter Jeofry Searle Courtenay, born 11th March 1914.  Educated at Marlborough College. Played first‑class cricket for Somerset in two matches in the 1934 season.  He was born at Weymouth in Dorset and died at Broadstone, also in Dorset on 7th April 1959. His younger brother Geofry also played for Somerset.  Commissioned 2ndLt. ABRO, 9th February 1942 (http://www.cricketarchive.co.uk; London Gazette).

[10] James Robin Stewart.  Commissioned 2ndLt. ABRO (ABRO 898), 8th February 1942.  As Captain, temporary Major, awarded the Military Cross whilst working as an intelligence officer attached to IV Corps, gazetted 9th November 1944 – see national Archives file WO 373/96/429 for the recommendation (London Gazette; National Archives)

[11] Peter Robert Sandham Bankes, born 21st September 1913.   Born in Norwich, he was educated at Oundle and Oxford, where he rowed in the Boat Races of 1933 and 1935.  He studied Forestry and went to Burma to work for the Forest Service of the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd.  Commissioned 2ndLt. ABRO (ABRO 367), 8th February 1942.  Awarded the Military Cross whilst attached to the Chin Hills Levies (Western Chin Levies), 16th December 1943.  He was killed, “accidentally shot” by a sepoy, 27th November 1943, buried near Kennedy Peak, Chin Hills.  His brother was killed at Arnhem on September 20th 1944 whilst second in command of the 4th Parachute Squadron. (http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/cathedral/memorials/WW2/peter-bankes; www.ancestry.co.uk; Anglo-Burmese Library; London Gazette).

[12] Samuel Alexander Cope born at Stone, Staffordshire, 22nd August 1914.  Apprentice, Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, City of London, 1929.  Sailed from Liverpool to Rangoon, occupation given as "merchant", aboard the S.S. "Oxfordshire", departed, 9th October 1936.  Worked as a Forest Assistant for the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation, 1939-41.  Sailed from Liverpool to Rangoon, occupation given as "forest assistant", aboard the S.S. "Staffordshire", departed, October 1940.  Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, ABRO (ABRO 378), 9th February 1942.  As 2nd Lieutenant, arrived for duty with the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles at Meiktila, 16th February 1942.  Served with the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 16th February 1942 to June 1942?  War substantive Lieutenant from 1st October 1942.  Joined Burma Section, Special Operations Executive, given S.O.E. symbol B/B564, with effect from 9th October 1943.  As temporary Major, mentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished services whilst engaged in special operations in South East Asia, gazetted, 7th November 1946.  Sailed from Rangoon to London, occupation given as "merchant", aboard the S.S. "Worcestershire", departed, 23rd November 1949.  Sailed from Southampton to Singapore, occupation given as "merchant" and residence given as North Borneo, aboard the M.S. "Willem Ruys", departed, 7th November 1956.  Died, 1971  (ancestry.co.uk; Burma Army List 1943; FindMyPast; London Gazette; Thacker's Directory; War diary 9th Burma Rifles, WO 172/981; “Personal Diary of events in Burma prior to and during the campaign with an account of the retreat through the Hukong [sic] Valley”, Edward Hewitt Cooke, National Army Museum Acquisition No.1972-02-44).

[13] Subedar Nand Singh is not listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

[14] Possibly Maung Gale or Maung Maung Gale.  Commissioned 2ndLt. ABRO, 28th April 1941.  Arrived with the 10th (Training) Battalion, Burma Rifles, on 2nd January 1942 from a course at Ambala, India (Anglo-Burmese Library; London Gazette; War Diary 10th Burma Rifles, WO 172/982 (War diary 10th Burma Rifles)).

[15] Possibly Martin William Helenns White, born 30th September 1908.  Commissioned to the Unattached List as 2ndLt., 30th August 1928.  Appointed to the Indian Army as 2ndLt., 10th October 1929.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 30th November 1930.  Awarded M.B.E. whilst serving with 2nd/9th Gurkha Rifles, 4th June 1934.  Promoted to Captain, 30th August 1937, temporary Major, 21st January 1937 (British Army List; London Gazette).

[16] Yin Kyun cannot be found.

[17] The Commanding Officer, 9th Burma Rifles in February and March 1942 was Lt. Colonel F.W Haswell (see above).  He is mentioned as such in the Seppings interview (see above) for early February 1942 and for late March 1942 in the account of F.F.3 by Major J.H. Turner (Seppings Interview, IWM - Collections; “Burma Frontier Force; Short History of F.F.3” by Major J.H.Turner, WO 203/5702)

[18] On 8th January 1942, the 5th Burma Rifles received 50 reinforcements, “Chins & Kachins”, from 9 Burif.

The war diary for 8th Burif records that on 11th and 12th March 1942, 9th Burif was consulted for available reinforcements for 8 Burif.  The diary also records that on 27th March 1942 “Lt. G.I. Lewis[?] joined Bn from 9 Burif to replace Capt. Allison lost at. “Sittang”.  This is possibly G.I. Lewis, commissioned into the Royal Welch Fusiliers, Emergency Commission, 1st March 1941.  Temporary Captain, 25th August 1943.

The short history of F.F.3 notes that the 9th Burma Rifles, under the command of Lt. Colonel Haswell, were in Meiktila towards the end of March 1942.

The war diary of the 4th Burma Rifles notes that at the end of March/early April, “The battalion was now filled up to about 500, all unarmed, or some in mufti clothing.  They were either recruits from the 10th [Training] Bn. or deserters from other units who had arrived at Meiktila and were sent on from the 9th [Reserve] Bn.”

The war diary of 1st Burif records that a company of Kachins was received as reinforcements on 10th April 1942.  It was noted that this company came from 3 Burif via 9 Burif.  The war diary of 5 Burif records that on 26th April, ‘1 Coy of Kachins’ was received as reinforcements from 9 Burif. 

The war diary of the 2nd Burma Rifles records that on 13th April 1942 it received a company of Chins to replace a Karen company, the Karens were sent back to the 9th Burma Rifles. 

Unfortunately the war diary for 9 Burif only covers February 1942 (War Diary 1st Burma Rifles, WO 172/974 (War diary 1st Burma Rifles); (War Diary 2nd Burma Rifles, WO 172/975 (War diary 2nd Burma Rifles); War Diary 4th Burma Rifles, WO 172/977 (War diary 4th Burma Rifles); War Diary 5th Burma Rifles, WO 172/978 (War diary 5th Burma Rifles); War Diary 8th Burma Rifles, WO 172/980 (War diary 8th Burma Rifles); British Army List; “Burma Frontier Force; Short History of F.F.3” by Major J.H.Turner, WO 203/5702).

[19] The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database lists the following men of the 9th Burma Rifles.  Where date of death is known this is given.  Note that one of the records shows death after 1942 when the 9th Burma Rifles was disbanded.

Subedar ADALAT SINGH              

Subedar DAULAT SINGH              

Rifleman  LAHPAI KUH HPANG, 16 October 1942

Lance Naik  LASHAM NAW           

Rifleman  LAZUM LA      

Havildar  LIAN TUAL      

Rifleman  MANG THEO  

Lance Naik  MAYO GAM

Rifleman  NANG ZING GAM          

Subedar Major  OM BAING, 17 April 1945

Rifleman  PEK TO             

Rifleman  SAW LUTHER

Lance Havildar  SAW PHILLIPS, 01 July 1942.