The Burma Campaign

[Transcribed from National Archives File WO 172/983, War Diary 11th Burma Rifles by:  Steve Rothwell - The Burma Campaign web site.]

 

W A R   D I A R Y

11th Burma Rifles, Burma Territorial Force

 

Hour, Date, Place.

Summary of Events & Information.

8th Feb. 1942

Mandalay

1.      Orders received to prepare one Company for Magwe Aerodrome.[1]

17th Feb. 1942

Mandalay

2.      One Company ordered to proceed to Magwe to take over defences of Aerodrome.  One B.O., Four G.C.Os and 140 B.A.O.Rs. proceeded to Magwe at 0800 hours on 19th Feb. 1942.

17th Feb. 1942

Mandalay

3.      Ordered to put guard on ammunition dump at Ywdaw.  1 B.O., 1 G.C.O. and 27 B.A.O.Rs. proceeded to Ywada at 0640 hours on 18th Feb. 1942.

1230 hours 17th Feb. 1942

Mandalay

4.      Air Raid on Mandalay.  No casualties in this Unit.

 

 

 

With Strength Return B.A.F.Y.1999 for each Saturday to Officer-in-Charge B.R.R.A.  R.C., Maymyo through 2nd Echelon (Burma) Myingyan.

 

To Defence Department through H.Q. 2nd Echelon (Burma) Myingyan.

 

 

 

11TH Battn The Burma Rifles (B.T.F.) for the month of March 1942

 

Date

Particulars

 

Dispositions

On Railway Security duty from Mandalay to Pegu on Main Line, and to Rly Bridge over the Sittang River on Moulmein Line, approx 220 officers and other ranks; Guard duties nodal points Mandalay approx 80 other ranks; at Taungdwingyi one Coy complete on ammunition dump Guards, approx 150 all ranks; H.Q. and remainder Hill Barracks, Mandalay.[2]

3rd.

Marshalling Yards and Power House, Mandalay, bombed.  Guard of 2 N.C.Os. and 20 Rfn at Power House sustained no casualties.

?

Pyinmana Rly Station bombed.  Guard sustained no casualties.

?

Guard from Sittang River Bridge returned to Mandalay, except 3 who had deserted with their arms.

8th.

Marshalling Yards, Power House and city, Mandalay bombed.  Guard at Power House sustained 1 casualty.

?

The coy sent for the protection of Magwe aerodrome, was relieved by a returned regular Unit, and had to hand over to that Unit its Light automatics and 100 Rifles.  The Coy was then sent to Taungdwingyi to guard ammunition dumps.  6 other ranks deserted from this place with their arms, and the Coy Commander A/Capt [acting captain] Maung Maung (Burmese)[3] dis-armed the remainder of the Coy.  On return of this Coy to Mandalay, application was made and sanction received to disembody the Coy.

?

Post of 1 G.C.O. and 20 B.A.O.Rs. on Rly protection duty at Pegu, was surrounded and captured.  Two men escaped and returned to the Unit.[4]

 

General

During the latter part of the month, there were a fair number of desertions (without arms) from the remaining two Burmese Coys, and one from the two Karen Coys.

 

 

 

P.C. Tudor-Craig[5]

 

Lt-Colonel

Commanding 11TH Battn Burma Rifles (B.T.F.)


11TH Battn The Burma Rifles (B.T.F.) for the month of April 1942

 

Date

Particulars

?

All posts on Rly Security duty south of Thazi were recalled to H.Q., as first line troops were operating that area.

?

Mortars, and remaining Light Automatics and M.Gs. together with a number of rifles were handed over, by order, to returned first line Units.

?

Desertions increased, especially amongst the Burmese troops, and consequently permission was given to disembody all Burmese who wished to return to their homes.  This left the Unit about 340 strong, made up of two Karen Coys, British (Burmese) officers and about a dozen Burmese other ranks.

?

Mandalay Rly Repair Shops and south Mandalay bombed.  No casualties.

?

Joined by remnants of 12 Burif, about 120 strong.[6]

?

One Karen Coy complete sent North, through Madaya, to improve the road from that township to Singu on the Irrawaddy.

20TH.

Warning Order received for move to Myitkyina where 11TH and 12TH Battns were to be amalgamated.[7]  Large numbers of documents were destroyed, and others, and some heavy kit despatched.

?

Mandalay Rly Repair Shops and south Mandalay bombed.  No casualties.

By this time a large proportion of Mandalay was completely burnt out, particularly at any rate due to arson.

?

Post on Rly Security duty at Samon, about 60 miles South of Mandalay was withdrawn by road.  Was bombed at Kyaukse during a raid there, when returning.  No casualties.

?

Orders received to leave Mandalay by steamer for Katha on April 27th.  Arrangements for evacuation of lines begun.

26TH

Shipping and Mandalay foreshore bombed.  Orders received to embark on S.S.Japan for Katha the same day, and pick up the Karen Coy at Singu en route.  destruction of documents etc, and loading was begun at once on receipt of orders and a truck sent to bring in the post at Myitnge.  Other local guards were relieved.  Before loading was completed or the Myitnge post arrived, the steamer sailed.  There was left behind BN. H.Q., the Qr Guard [quarter guard] with all the Field Treasure Chest, the Myitnge Post  and a loading party.  All these except BN. H.Q. and the Qr Guard, were put on a steamer leaving morning 27th for Katha.  BN. H.Q. and Qr Guard left Mandalay in one lorry and one private car at 20.30 hrs, proceeded via Ava Bridge and Shwebo to Kyaukmaung on the right bank of the Irrawaddy.  Here an Army truck was handed over to a B.A.S.C. [Burma Army Service Corps] Officer and the car abandoned.  A South bound steamer was caught, and proceeded down stream to Singu and joined up with the Karen Coy there.  The whole of this Detachment was taken on board by the steamer from Mandalay, joined the rest of the Battn, and proceeded to Katha.

 

 

 

P.C. Tudor-Craig

 

Lt-Colonel

Commanding 11TH Battn Burma Rifles (B.T.F.)

 

 

 

11TH Battn The Burma Rifles (B.T.F.) for the month of May 1942

 

Date

Particulars

1st

Battn together with Detachment 12 Burif arrived Katha; disembarked to dispersal area, and unloaded.  Military Control officer informed that no rail accommodation available, but might be obtained from Naba.

2nd

Joined by details left at Mandalay.

Drew packs and capes anti-gas for all ranks from Ordnance dump.

Wired Commanding [Officer} Myitkyina for orders, and decided to march to Naba.

 

2nd

Only transport available 2 bullock carts.  All kits stocked and left under Guard.  Only Rations taken on carts.  From information, it seemed likely that the Unit would be disembodied, as other Units were moving towards India.  Under B.T.F. Act, the men had only signed to serve in Burma.  Two Officers, therefore, one Burman and one Karen were left at Katha to look after the guards and pay them off, if orders were received to disembody.

3rd.

Remainder of 11/12 Burif marched on night of 2/3rd May and camped 1½  miles from Naba Railway Station.

The only B.O. of 12 Burif, suffering from dysentery, was taken by car to Naba and put on a train for Myitkyina.  Got in touch with 4 Burif who were camped about 2 miles away.

Orders received from Myitkyina for O.C. 4 Burif to take charge of area, and for 4 Burif and 11/12 Burif to hold Naba till all Hospitals [sic] trains had passed through.

4th.

Remaining Hospital trains passed through and O.C. area decided to move on 5th towards Homalin, for India.  During 3rd and 4th there were a number of desertions, chiefly Burmese, but some Karens from both 11TH and 12TH.

5th.

All ranks given choice of going to India on foot, or of being disembodied.  All selected to be disembodied except 3 Karen Rfm, who accompanied the 3 British Officers to India.

All surplus rifles abandoned, the bolts and ammunition were thrown down a disused well some distance away from the discarded rifles.  Word was sent by one of the Karen British Officers, being disembodied, to the detachment at Katha.  The troops then remaining were paid off on the afternoon of May 5th.  This took place at Indaw, from which place the 3 British officers and 3 Rfm set out for India.[8]

 

 

 

P.C. Tudor-Craig

 

Lt-Colonel

Commanding 11TH Battn Burma Rifles (B.T.F.)

 

 

 



[1] The 11th Burma Rifles was headquartered at Mandalay before the war with Japan.  It was composed of two Burmese and two Karen companies.  By December 1941 the battalion had taken up guard duties along the railways from Mandalay to Pegu, with small detachments at the vital railway bridges (Indian Official History, The Retreat from Burma 1941-1942).

[2] The war diary of the 12th Burma Rifles records that the 11th Burma Rifles took over the responsibility for providing railway bridge guards from the 12th Burma Rifles from 15th January 1942 (War Diary 12th Burma Rifles, WO 172/984 (War diary 12th Burma Rifles).

[3] Maung Maung cannot be identified.  Most likely to have been commissioned ABRO 1941/42.

[4] Possibly the night of 26th/27th February and possibly by men of the Burma Independence Army, rather than the Japanese.  A sentry party from the 1st Cameronians were found murdered on this night (“Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion”, I Lyall Grant, Zampi Press (1999)).

[5] Philip Carlisle Tudor-Craig, born 24th July 1893.  Commissioned temporary 2ndLt., 4th September 1914 to 18th November 1914; temporary Lieutenant 19th November 1914 to 9th August 1915; temporary Captain, 10th August 1915 to 21st September 1917.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., Royal Irish Fusiliers, 9th June 1915, seniority from 15th March 1916.  Promoted to Lieutenant, 4th June 1916.  Appointed to the Indian Army as Lieutenant, 20th October 1917, acting Captain 1st April 1918 to date unknown.  Attached as Captain, Company Commander, 3rd Battalion, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force), during 1921.  Promoted to Captain, 2nd June 1919 and to Major 2nd June 1933.  Commandant of the 11th Burma Rifles since 16th March 1938.  Died 5th July 1950 and buried at Kandapola, Sri Lanka (British Army List; Indian Army List; www.ancestry.co.uk).

[6] According to the war diary of the 12th Burma Rifles, this battalion arrived in Mandalay on 22nd April 1942.  On arrival the Depot 11th Burma Rifles and recruits from Maymyo (presumably from the 10th Burma Rifles) were attached to the 12th Burma Rifles (War Diary 12th Burma Rifles, WO 172/984 (War diary 12th Burma Rifles)).

[7] The war diary of the 12th Burma Rifles records on 26th April 1942, “Under orders H.Q. L of C MDLY, the Bn. under command Comd 11 Burif left with latter for MYITKYINA, to implement a scheme for defensive duties there”.  The C.O. of the 12th Burma Rifles, Lt. Colonel P.C. Watson, had left the battalion the previous day to take up the post of Commander Sagiang  (War Diary 12th Burma Rifles, WO 172/984 (War diary 12th Burma Rifles)).

[8] The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database lists the following men of the 11th Burma Rifles.  Where date of death is known this is given.  Note that two of the records show deaths after the 11th Burma Rifles was disbanded.

Rifleman  MG NWET        

Naik  MG SAN TINT  15 April 1943

Rifleman  SAW HLA PE  15 June 1942.