Burma Territorial Force
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Created from Indian Auxiliary and Territorial Force units transferred from the Indian Army when Burma separated from India in April 1937.  The Burma Auxiliary Force consisted of British and Anglo-Burmans and Anglo-Indians while the Burma Territorial Force was mainly Burmese.  The BTF was generally regarded as being equipped and trained for internal security duties only.

In 1937 the Burma Territorial Force units were:

The 11th Battalion, Burma Rifles

(The composition of this unit was Burmese and Karen, two companies of each)

12th (Lower Burma) Battalion, Burma Rifles

(Early in 1939, the Governor approved the formation of this battalion - headquarters and two rifle companies were raised, partly by transfer from the 11th Battalion, and became active on 1 October 1939. The remaining two companies were to be raised in 1940-41)

Rangoon University Training Corps, Burma Territorial Force

An additional battalion was raised at the war's start:

13th (Shan States) Battalion

(Headquarters and four rifle companies)

By October 1940 there 1,832 officers and men on strength:

Monthly Strength Return of the Burma Territorial Force - October 1940

Unit

British Officers

Indian/ Burman Officers

Other Ranks

 

11th Battalion, The Burma Rifles

3

15

335

 

12th (Lower Burma) Battalion, The Burma Rifles

3

16

367

13th (Shan States) Battalion, The Burma Rifles

3

24

598

 

Permanent Subordinate Staff

 

British Officers

Warrant Officers

Staff Sergeants

Rangoon University Training Corps

-

19

442

1

2

4

Early in 1941, all battalions were authorised to raise additional companies, the 11th and 12th Battalions one company each and the 13th Battalion, an additional two companies.  In addition, the 12 Mechanical Transport Section was raised.

The strength return for February 1941 shows the following:

Monthly Strength Return of the Burma Territorial Force February 1941

Unit

British Officers

Indian/ Burman Officers

Other Ranks

 

11th Battalion, The Burma Rifles

3

20

625

 

12th (Lower Burma) Battalion, The Burma Rifles

3

19

696

12 Mechanical Transport Section

-

  2

  60

13th (Shan States) Battalion, The Burma Rifles

3

30

880

 

Permanent Subordinate Staff

 

British Officers

Warrant Officers

Staff Sergeants

Rangoon University Training Corps

-

17

380

1

2

4

On 1st April 1941, the 12th Battalion was officially embodied and authorised to raise a fifth company for the defence of Mingaladon aerodrome. [1]   It seems the additional companies raised by the 13th Battalion were used at least in part to raise a new battalion, authorised and embodied on 15th May 1941:

14th (Shan States) Battalion

The 14th Battalion comprised initially of a Battalion Headquarters and three rifle companies, one of which was to be created by the transfer of a rifle company from the 13th (Shan States) Burma Rifles.  The role of the battalion was to be largely static, being employed as aerodrome guards at Namsang and Heho.  The third company was to be a Reserve Company providing reinforcements for both the 13th and the 14th Battalions.  The new battalion was equipped with four medium machine guns and four light machine guns.  It was embodied from the date on which it was raised.

During and after the retreat in 1942, the majority of personnel of the BTF remained in Burma with the exception of a very few officers and men who were either reposted or discharged after arrival in India.

 


[1] WO 172/984.

24 September, 2014

 

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