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Elephant in the room: Indian Army in Burma

The rarely heard CBI Theater

The War Room

Chennai, Nov 4:

The China-India-Burma Theatre was ablaze with heavy firing during the Second World War. Indian soldiers died in thousands over a two-week period at Imphal. The combat zone was reduced to a Maharaja’s tennis court as the Battle of Kohima ended and came knocking on Indian doors.

India’s intrusion in a global war was unprecedented.

Despite having had a significant impact on the East, why was the Burmese zone rarely acknowledged in India?

“It is interesting to note how India’s place in the world is attributed to the summer of 1991 and the new liberalization policy. The assumption is that this ‘Asian Power’ is a consequence of the last 25 years or so. I believe that the Second World War was the catalytic moment of India’s emergence in the world stage”, said Dr. Srinath Raghavan, author of India’s War: The Making of Modern South Asia and a senior…

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April 1944 (2)

Battle of Kohima

Battle of Kohima

4 April – In the CBI, the Japanese started their offensive towards India by attacking Kohima, India.  This operation would suffer from supply problems and the typhoon season.  Over 30,000 of the enemy would eventually be lost to due to disease and starvation.  Ground troops in Burma received support from the 10th Air Force as over 120 aircraft struck Japanese railroads and supply areas.

5-6 April – the Japanese 138th, 58th and 24th regiments of the 31st Div. surrounded the Allied troops at Kohima into a 10-mile pocket.  The 58th attempted to make a surprise attack at the center, but were thwarted by the Royal West Kents.   Within the circle, dependent on air supply were the 17th Indian Light Div., 50th Parachute Brigade, 5th Indian Div, 23rd Indian Div. and the 254th Tank Brigade.

10th Gurkha Rifles clearing 'Scraggy Hill' at Imphal

10th Gurkha Rifles clearing ‘Scraggy Hill’ at Imphal

6-18 April – the Japanese 53rd in Burma took the Chindit supply base known as “White City.”  The Chindits in northern Burma received glider-borne reinforcements.  They then occupied the Japanese base at Indau and that cut the enemy off from southern Burma.

7 April – in Japan, it was decided that despite the Army being overstretched in the Pacific and Burma, the new offensive in China would commence.  Inchi-Go’s objective was to occupy south China, thereby providing open land routes to their other forces in Malaya and Thailand while crushing US air bases.

7-13 April – in India, the Japanese 138th Regiment encircled the 161st Indian Brigade and took Kohima, but further into the settlement, 1500 troops [mostly the Assam Rifles and 4th Royal West Kents), best back the invaders.

14-18 April – the Allied XXXIII Corps began to try relief operations in the Kohima area.  The 5th Brigade/2nd Div. smashed the Japanese roadblock at Zubza and made a break in the circle around the 161st Indian Division.

18 April – the Allied troops were finally relieved in the Kohima area as the 5th Brigade reached them.  This does not in any way slow the fighting down.  Both sides tried to encircle the other with flanking maneuvers.

Kohima War Cemetery

Kohima War Cemetery

26-27 April – the Allied XXXIII Corps started a major offensive to retake Kohima.  The 5th attacked the Japanese right flank from the north and the 4th Brigade came from the south.  After the British took the road junction, both sides took entrenched positions about 72 feet apart, around the “Tennis Court”.  The following 2 weeks would bring heavy and close-quarter battles.

27-28 April – in New Guinea, the Cyclops Airdrome had limited operation.  With the swift success at Hollandia, plans by generals MacArthur and Kenney began to take form on heading west.

A short gallery of photos of constructing an airdrome in WWII.

Click on images to enlarge.

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CBI Military Humor – 

The CBI version of being sold the Brooklyn Bridge.

The CBI version of being sold the Brooklyn Bridge.

"Corporal Gee Eye" always getting into trouble!!

“Corporal Gee Eye” always getting into trouble!!

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eddie Agurkis – Newburgh, NY; USMC, WWII & Korea

salutetop

The Salute

Simon Bromley – AUS; RA Air Force

Ethel Gay Carmichael – Leader, CAN; RC Air Force (WD), WWII

Edward Ebanks – Hollywood, FL; Merchant Marine (Ret. 45 years)

Paul Kelly Sr. – Brighton, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 pilot “Millie K”

John McCambridge – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Samuel Prather – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt.

Andrew Repasky – Library, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne, artillery

Robert Segil – Salt Lake City, UT; US Army, WWII, PTO, Lt., tank destroyer unit

Ruth Turner – Knoxville, TN; US Cadet Nursing Corps, WWII

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March 1944 (1)

Marauder Sgt. Gerald Silvey watches Sgt. Robert Passanisi repair the 60 ib. SCR 300 FM Transceiver

Marauder Sgt. Gerald Silvey watches Sgt. Robert Passanisi repair the 60 ib. SCR 300 FM Transceiver

5 March – in the CBI, the Chinese 22nd and 38th divisions captured Maingkwan in the Hukawng Valley in Burma.  On their left flank, the US troops of Merrill’s Marauders crossed the Tanai River and took Walaboum.  Despite a serious lack of food and enduring combat, including suicidal bayonet charges of the Japanese 18th Division, under Gen. Tanaka, the Allied casualties were light.

Chindit forces in north Burma launched Operation Thursday.  The 77th and 111th LRP (Long Range Patrol) Brigades, (~ 9000 men), along with their 1,300 mules were deployed by glider and transports by the recently formed American Air Commando, under Col. Phillip Cochrane.  Their mission was to establish landing strips for air supply and to cut the flow of enemy supplies and communication in the Mitkyina area.  More of the brigades would be flown in over the next 3 months.

Gen. Renya Matguchi’s plan of U-Go began in Central Burma with the 33rd, 15th and 31st divisions, with 7,000 of Bose’s Indian National Army in support.  Their goal was to halt any Allied offensive in that sector, enter India and cut off the Tiddim-Imphal Road; a major supply route.

Chindit operations map

Chindit operations map

On the 12th of March, the enemy reached Witok on the approach to Shenan Saddle.  The 17th Indian Div., under Lt.Gen. A.P. Scoones, became trapped by the Japanese 33rd Div. and the 28th Indian Div. was encircled by Matguchi’s 15th Div.  Mountbatten called in the American Hump and the RAF for assistance.  Other units of the 15th attacked “Broadway”, an Allied airfield in the Chindit area the following day.

As those Allied units fell back from the Japanese offensive, the troops in the Arakan made progress.  They recaptured Buthidawng and the enemy fortress at Razabil.

Chindits, 77th Division

Chindits, 77th Division

15-16 March – the second phase of U-Go started with the Japanese troops, east of Imphal, heading west to meet up with the other units coming up from the south.  Meanwhile, the enemy 33rd Div. began a 3-prong assault toward Kohima.  Chindit troops cut the Japanese supply railways on the 16th.

23-30 March – the 14th LRP Brigade landed at “Aberdeen” landing zone in support of the Chindits near Manhton.  On the 25th, MGen. Orde Wingate, leader of the Chindits and pioneers of Tactical innovations, was killed in an air crash over Burma.  MGen. W. Letaigne would succeed him.  By the 30th, the Chidit operations began to falter.  The 16th Brigade retreated from the Japanese 53 rd. defense at Indaw.

Click on images to enlarge.

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C.B.I.  Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Anderson – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Corps of Engineers

Roy Anderson – Cloquet, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 330th Troop Carrier Sq. (The Hump), C-47 pilot

John Burke – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, CBIimages-1

Brett Burney – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 403939, WWII, Africa & Burma

Llyod Diedrichsen – Scribner, NE; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Scouts & Raiders

Bruce Evans – Cold Lake, CAN; Vintage Wings of Canada pilot

Steven Harris – Huntsville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers, 11th Airborne Division

Magdalena Leones – Lubuagan, PI; Philippine-American Army (USAFIP), WWII, PTO, Silver Star

Richard Reinhardt – Rochester, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 172nd Combat Engineers

Charles Smith – Winfield, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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April 1942 (2)

USS Tenedos

USS Tenedos

1-6 April – off the coast of Ceylon ( now known as Sri Lanka), the Japanese sank the USS Tenedos in Columbo Harbour during an air attack.  As the Japanese Blitz raged on, enemy troops made amphibious landings on Bougainville in the Solomons and in the Admiralty Islands.  On the coast of India, the enemy attacked Vizagapatam and Cocanada.

5-9 April – as Bataan fell, the Royal Navy in the Indian Ocean, also was facing humiliation.  Five WWI battleships led by HMS Warspite and 3 carriers had been sent to protect the shipping to Burma.  As church bells rang out over the bay for Easter in Ceylon, Japanese aircraft bombed the installations at Columbo Harbour.  Six Zeros were shot down at the cost of 20 RAF planes

Thirty-one hits on HMS Dorsetshire lifted her out of the water and she sank.  HMS Cornwall received 8 hits, rolled over and sank as well.  About 1,100 men were rescued by destroyers, but the first objective of the enemy’s Operation C was a success, stage 2 would follow 3 days later.

HMS Hermes & HMAS Vampire

HMS Hermes & HMAS Vampire

The second phase began as a raid on Trincomalee, Ceylon.  Adm. Nagumo’s aircraft destroyed cranes, workshops, ammunition dumps and fuel tanks.  Eight Allied planes and 15 enemy aircraft were downed during aerial combat.  HMS Hernes and HMAS Vampire were discovered trying to escape.  The Hermes and the Vampire were both sunk, but remarkably, most of the crew-members were rescued by the hospital ship, Vita.

Across the Bay of Bengal, Admiral Ozawa’s cruisers sank 23 merchant ships.  Shipping between Burma and India came to a screeching halt and the Allies had lost 100,000 tons of matérial.

10 April – the US Pacific Fleet started being organized according to type: battleships, cruisers, destroyers, carriers, Service Force, Amphibious Force, Submarine Force and Patrol Wings.  /  On Burma, the “BurCorps” were continually pushed north by the enemy, but they destroyed the oil facilities as they retreated.

Britain/India negotiations

Britain/India negotiations

11 April – Britain denied India’s independence demands from President Nehru, but the Indian leader pledged continual support for the Allies despite their political differences.

18 April – the Doolittle Raid off the USS Hornet was launched 150 miles further from Japan than originally planned to avoid detection from the Japanese.

Taking off from the USS Hornet

Taking off from the USS Hornet

Once the shock of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor subsided, US military planners turned to retaliation.  Lt.Colonel James H. Doolittle presented his daring and unorthodox plan:  B-25 bombers, normally land-based, to be transported by carrier.  The top-secret training program began immediately and B-25 aircraft were modified for the operation.  The naval fleet used were nicknamed, Task Force Mike, for the operation and the bombers chalked messages on their cargo such as: “I don’t want to set the world on fire, just Tokyo.”

one of the bombers that crashed in China

one of the bombers that crashed in China

Further information and Eye Witness Story to follow……….

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –  [ what the Sarge didn’t tell you ]

What the manual doesn't tell you is........

What the manual doesn’t tell you is……..

CPR exhibited by one who knows.....

CPR exhibited by one who knows…..

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Farewell Salutes – 

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Donald Barnes – Arlington, VA; US Army, WWII

Elmo Copeland – Greenville, FL; US Army, Vietnam

Dominick D’Anna – Tucson, AZ; US Air Force, Lt. Col. (Ret.), Vietnam, Cuban Missile Crisis, Bronze Star

Lewis Giers – Holly, MI; US Army, WWIIpatriotic1

John Joplin – Ft. Smith, AR; US Army, Korea, 3rd Infantry Division

Walter Malec – LaPorte, IN; US Army, WWII, Sgt. PTO

Philip Pelkey – Hampden, ME; US Navy, SeaBee

Ian Seaman – Henderson, NZ; RNZ Air Force # F77538

Malcolm Youker Jr. – Eugene, OR; US Army, WWII, Capt., Counter Intelligence Corps, PTO, Bronze Star

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Eyewitness to Malaya

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This 2-part story is condensed from an article that ran in The West Australian newspaper on Saturday, 7 March 1942.  It is the report of Major General Henry Gordon Bennett:

 

General Bennet

General Bennet

The first defensive position in country near Gemas was covered by young rubber trees 4′ or 5′ high and the ground was fairly open and hilly.  The Australian line was covered by the guns of a very efficient artillery regiment from Queensland and New South Wales.  It was some miles in advance of this position at Gemas that the 30th New South Wales Battalion decided to ambush the enemy.

Far East/Malaya map

Far East/Malaya map

Click image to enlarge.

 

The 30th inflicted heavy casualties.  It was our first clash with the Japanese… LtCol. Galleghan was awarded the D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order), for his conduct in this battle… He led his men personally.  On one occasion, Brigadier Duncan Maxwell sat beside him while a captain sent back ball-to-ball description of the fight, “They are coming at us now.  They are attacking from the left.  They are holding their hats in their hands.  They are shouting not to shoot because they are Indians.”  Maxwell replied, “Tell them to shoot – there are NO Indians in that front sector.”

There was dog-fighting for 2 days.  We had strong patrols on each flank preventing infiltrating parties of the Japanese.  It had just been decided to replace the tired 30th with the 29th when the situation at Muar on the west coast became critical.  The 45th Indian Brigade could not stop the Japanese who crossed the Muar River.  As a consequence, the 29th was hustled into lorries and driven to that front.  They arrived just in time to stop the advance.

The Argylls in Malaya

The Argylls in Malaya

Realizing that the position was vital and its loss would threaten our line of communications well to the rear, we withdrew the 19th Battalion from Mersing to help the 29th.  This left me with 2 battalions at Mersing, 2 at Gemas in the centre of the peninsula and 2 at Muar.  Soon after the 19th arrived near Muar, the Japanese attacked with tanks.  Our gunners realized they had to make sure they were completely destroyed.  Some of the disabled tanks were finished off with Molotov cocktails.

To be continued….With many thanks to Trove.com

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POLITICAL CARTOONS of 1942 – 42edit

42091803

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Bonvetti Sr. – Wilmington, DE; US Army WWII

Malcolm Dewar – Vancouver, CAN; Royal Air Force, WWIIOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jesse Dyess – Jacksonville, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, 270th Field Artillery Battalion

Marlene Graham – Colorado Springs, CO; FBI, WWII

Geoffrey Hardwick – Mitchell, AUS; RA Navy, WWII

Eric Larsen Sr. – Kiln, MS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Christ Rink – South Bend, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Herbert Stanley – Anchorage, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Thomas Tyson – Taumarunui, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, #EC15591, Captain

Lionel Violette – Palm Beaches, FL; US Air Force, LtColonel (Ret. 25 years), pilot

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10-12 December 1941

Indian troops

Indian troops

 

Basically the Japanese Blitzkrieg continued on for approximately another six months, but from here on out the Pacific War data will be titled by month and year.  I hope my efforts help to make the sequence of events for this historic era more clear.  Please remember the comment section is always looking for the stories you know.  No one should ever be forgotten!

FDR's fireside chats

FDR’s fireside chats

10 December – Roosevelt gave his ‘fireside chat’ on the radio to unite the citizens of the US against the Japanese, (despite the fact that every military enlistment post being full of volunteers).  But, even though the majority appeared to hold a favorable acceptance of avenging Pearl Harbor, there were sounds of discontent in Congress as to the reason America was caught by surprise.  The unity, instantly brought on by the attack in Hawaii, was at this point halted by the question – WHY?

No.2 Company, Bombay Sappers  (Engineers)

No.2 Company, Bombay Sappers (Engineers)

One Representative quoted the news correspondent, Leland Stowe in Chungking, “…it seems incomprehensible here how the Japs were able to get to the Army’s big airfields in Oahu and without large numbers of American fighters getting into the air promptly… On Sunday evening [Chungking time], at least one hour before the Japanese blitz on Hawaii, an official of the US gunboat “Tulitz” [Tutuila], warned your correspondent: It is going to happen tonight.'”

11 December – Adolph Hitler solved a major problem for President Roosevelt by declaring war on the United States.  If the president had been forced to act first, he would have risked losing support of a large portion of the country.

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh’s entry into his diary for 11 December read: “Now all that I feared would happen has happened.  We are at war all over the world and we are unprepared for it from either a spiritual or a material standpoint.  And then what?  We haven’t even a clear idea of what we are fighting to attain.”

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12 December – the British 18th Division and four squadrons of fighters were diverted to Bombay to strengthen the Indian divisions.  No matter how serious the setbacks became in the Far East, Churchill will remain steadfast in his belief that it did not deserve a fleet.  It was Britain’s third matter of priority at the onset and would remain so.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

A quote from Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet of Japan told a friend, “…after more than 4 exhausting years of operations in China, we are now considering simultaneous operations against the US, Britain and China, and then operations against Russia as well.  It is the height of folly.”

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Humor –  courtesy of our fellow blogger Chris, found HERE! 

 

"Alright sailor!  Let's get that hat squared away!"

“Alright sailor! Let’s get that hat squared away!”

Navy training...

Navy training…

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jewell Coffindaffer – Charleston, WV; US Navy, WWII, SeaBees (grandson, MSgt. Vance is currently in Afghanistan)

Andrew Cunningham – W. Australia; RA Navy, HMAS Perth, Karangi, Nizam, Napier, Nepal & 4th WSLS Category (14 years)

Charles Dyer – Jupiter, FL; US Air Force, Korea

Billy Gourley – Shreveport, LA; US Army, Korea, Signal CorpsTaps

Michael Heitzman – Louisville, KY; US Air Force (Ret. 20 years)

Kenneth Raines – New Zealand; RNZ Navy # 1459, WWII

Jadwiga Szyrynski – Ottawa, CAN; Polish Army, nurse, WWII

Frank Torre – Brooklyn, NY & Jupiter FL; US Army, Korea, (MLB player)

Charles Weber – Bridgeville, PA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 21 years)

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Korean War Statistics

Moving the wounded

Moving the wounded

Personal note – The resources I have used throughout this Korean War project all vary in the total statistics; therefore I have been forced to give the readers the range [highest and lowest] or the only amount located.

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All the news fit to print, brings smiles

All the news fit to print, brings smiles

United States – of the 1,319,000 men that served –  33,629 to 54,246 were KIA – – 92,134 to 103,284 were WIA

Republic of Korea – 58,127 to 59,000 were KIA – – 175,743 were WIA and ~ 80,000 MIA

Great Britain – 1,109 were KIA – – 2,674 to 4,817 were WIA and 1,060 MIA

Canada – Of 25,000 who served – 516 were KIA and 1,042 were WIA

Australia –  Of 17,000 served – 281 to 339 were KIA and 1, 050 were WIA

New Zealand – Of 3,794 who served – 33 were KIA – – 79 were WIA

Turkey – 717 to ~900 KIA – – 2,111 to 3,500 WIA and 168 MIA

South Africa – Of the 826 served – 28 were KIA    – – 8 were MIA

Netherlands – 110 KIA

France – 300 were KIA  or MIA

Philippines – 112 were KIA

Greece – 170 were KIA

Belgium – 100 were KIA

Thailand – 110 were KIA

Ethiopia – 120 KIA

Columbia – 140 were KIA

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The border road today

The border road today

From Western resources – North Korea had 215,000 men KIA and 303,000 listed as WIA.  Chinese troops were down as 400,000 as KIA and 486,000 as WIA.

From Chinese resources – North Korea suffered 290,000 KIA and China listed themselves as – 144,000 KIA – 340,000 WIA  – 7,600 as MIA

Civilian casualties in both North and South Korea could only be estimated and those numbers ran from 400,000 to well into the millions.

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India had chosen not to participate in the fighting, but they did send the 60th Parachute Field Ambulance unit which was included in the 1st Commonwealth Division.  The Indian Paratroop Battalion/315 Air Division were deployed later as part of the Custodial Forces sent to enforce the demilitarized zone.

374th's Douglas C-124 Globemaster in Korea

374th’s Douglas C-124 Globemaster in Korea

The US Air Force 374th Troop Carrier Wing, throughout the war, performed air lifts and air drops; after the cease-fire, using the C-124 Globemaster, they moved the repatriated prisoners.  By the end of the war, they had earned their 4th DUC.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – Soldiers_saluting_siloutte1

Samuel Applewhite III – Oakland, CA & Scottsdale, AZ; US Army, Korea

Vincente Blaz – Fairfax, VA; USMC (Ret.)

Donald Boyd – Boone, Iowa & Sun City, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Lawrence Hammar- Kerkeley, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO

Patrick A. Lindsay – born: Tipton, England, died: Village Point-Claire, Quebec; Royal Navy, WWII, HMS Brocklesby

Allan A.C. Riordan – Christchurch, NZ; RNZAF # 72855, WWII, Malaysia

Cyril Shaller – EauClaire, WI; US Navy, WWII

Albert Taylor (Burt) Taylor – Christchurch, NZ; NZEF # 290465

Joseph Vito – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

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