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The EK1

Burma, March 1944 – June 1946

There is no doubt that the enterprise and dash of this improvised and light-hearted brigade was a very real contribution to the pursuit to the Chindwin.  It had operated for six months on pack transport, supplemented by an unavoidably meagre air supply, across two hundred miles of jungle mountains, against the enemy flank and rear.  Considering the paucity of its equipment and resources, it gave one of the most effective and economical examples of long-range penetration.

From Defeat into Victory by Field Marshall Sir William Slim.

For the maps please go HERE

Formation of the Lushai Brigade

This hastily improvised brigade was formed on 28th March 1944 when it was realised that a Japanese offensive against Imphal was under way; the concept for the brigade came from the Commander of the 14th Army, Lieutenant General W.J. Slim and he kept the Brigade under Army command.  In March the British 17th Division of 4 Corps came under serious Japanese pressure in its positions on the Tiddim Road south of Manipur and had to fight its way north from Tiddim in Burma into Indian territory.  This left two lightly-armed local forces, BAR Force and HAS Force, in the Chin and Lushai Hills out on a limb.

Right: Chin Levies of the Sokte tribe

BAR Force consisted of the 1st Battalion The Bihar Regiment (less two companies), a detachment from the Chin Hills Battalion of The Burma Regiment and detachments of Western Chin Levies.  HAS Force consisted of the Chin Hills Battalion less its previously mentioned detachment, and detachments of Western Chin Levies.  Both forces were under command of IV Corps HQ in Imphal.  The Chin Hills Battalion withdrew back to India with 17th Division and moved to Shillong to rest and refit for a more mobile infantry war in Burma.

The Brigade was created to prevent an enemy advance through the Lushai Hills to Silchar or Chittagong that would have outflanked to the west 14th Army’s plan to fight a decisive battle in Manipur and would have threatened the British Lines of Communication.  Two important passes were located in the Lushai Hills at Lunglei and Aizawl.  Although moving through the hills would have been difficult it was within the capabilities of the Japanese as the advance of their 31st Division from the upper Kabaw Valley onto Kohima showed.  The Commander of the Lushai Brigade was Brigadier P.C. Marindin (The West Yorkshire Regiment) who had come to General Slim’s notice during the retreat from Burma in 1942.

The initial order of Battle of the Lushai Brigade was:

·         Brigade Headquarters
·         1st Royal Battalion 9th Jats (Lieutenant Colonel L.S. Spearman).
·         7th Battalion 14th Punjabis (Lieutenant Colonel S. Goodchild).
·         1st Battalion The Bihar Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel J.R.H. Tweed MBE).
·         1st Battalion the Assam Rifles less 2 platoons and ‘V’ Force detachments (Lieutenant Colonel F. Williams DSO MC).
·         5 ‘V’ Force Operations Area (Lieutenant Colonel W.G. Ord).
·         8 ‘V’ Force Operations Area (Lieutenant Colonel W.J. Parsons).
·         The Lushai Scouts (Major J. Longbottom).
·         The Western Chin Levies less the Tiddim detachment (Lieutenant Colonel L.B. Oatts).
·         77 (British) Field Ambulance (Lieutenant Colonel O’Neill).
·         35 Indian Animal Transport Company (Major Halford).
·         5 Indian Animal Transport Company (Major Duckett).
·         1616 Company Porter Corps (Captain B. Pinder).
·         The Lushai and Chin Porter Corps.

Above: Aizawl, Mizoram

Initial Brigade operations

After holding a conference of Commanding Officers Brigadier Marindin deployed his Brigade as follows:

-  1(R)/9th Jats with a platoon of 5 ‘V’ Ops patrolled in the north from Tippimuk to Churachandpur.

-  7/14th Punjabis less 1 company and 1 platoon concentrated at Champhai (east-south-east of Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram State).

-  Operating against enemy units in Falam were 1 platoon of 7/14th Punjabis, 1 platoon of Assam Rifles from 5 ‘V’ Ops, and detachments of Western Chin Levies.

-  Facing the enemy in the Haka area were 1st Bihars with one company of 7/14th Punjabis, 8 ’V’ Ops (four platoons of around 50 men each of the Assam Rifles), with Western Chin Levies and Assam Rifles detachments at various locations.

-  HQ 5 ‘V’ Ops and 2 platoons were located in between the Jats and the Punjabis to provide an intelligence screen and patrolled east and north.

-  Brigade Rear HQ was at Aizawl with a garrison of Assam Rifles.  Brigade Tactical HQ was at Biate east of Aizawl or wherever the Commander happened to be.  Resupply was by air-drop which was co-ordinated from Aizawl.  The Brigade communicated by radio or runner.

The enemy forces facing the Lushai Brigade

According to Peter Ward Fay’s The Forgotten Army the enemy forces were two battalions of the 1st (Subhas) Regiment of the Indian National Army (INA), strengthened by Japanese troops, in the Falam, Haka and Fort White areas.  A.J. Barker in his The March on Delhi states that many of the INA sepoys were from the 1/14th Punjabis who had surrendered in Malaya and Singapore and they were surprised to meet Indian Army units in the Chin Hills, as their propagandists had stated that the Indian Army in general had thrown away its arms and was waiting for the INA in India.

Left: INA officer's badge

The INA leader was the Brigade Commander Shah Nawaz who used his Brigade Adjutant, Mahboob Ahmed, to deliver a difficult attack on a British post on Klang Klang Ridge.  The Dogra Company of the INA penetrated the defence, and the Western Chin Levies garrison hid in jungle and harassed the attackers’ withdrawal, so both sides claimed to be the victors.  One immediate benefit to the Dogras was that they seized some useful British Army rations, as the INA resupply system was beset with difficulties.

Peter Fay quotes the British Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 129, dated 21 April 1944 in describing the inadequate arms and equipment allotted to the “crack” 1st Battalion of the INA Subhas Brigade:

The battalion is composed of Sikhs, Jats and Dogras, all ex-prisoners of war.  It possesses no signal equipment, bicycles, or motorcycles, and only one 3-ton ration lorry.  Each platoon has a mule cart which is manhandled by six men.  These carts carry ammunition and officers’ kits.  There are no stretchers, and there is a great shortage of bandages and iodine.  Only half the battalion possesses field dressings, the majority of these are the original British issue.  Each company [there were five in the battalion] has six anti-tank rifles, six Bren light machine guns and six Vickers machine guns.  The senior representative of the Bahadur Group has a stock of British hand grenades which he issues to men going forward on duty.  Some non-commissioned officers in the battalion carry grenades . . . Number 2 and 3 Battalions are said to be similarly equipped and organized. 

The INA possessed some medium (3-inch) mortars but they were held at formation level; similarly the few radios in INA possession tended to be used above battalion level.  When looking at the light scales of equipment carried by this brigade it must be born in mind that the proposed role of the brigade was not to fight British front-line units but to move through such units once the Japanese had broken them; the brigade would then operate in a guerrilla role behind British lines.  But the Japanese did not really believe in the effectiveness of the INA and the Subhas battalion in the Fort White area was for a time put onto road maintenance duties.  The lack of medical facilities was to cause havoc amongst the forward INA units as malaria and other diseases afflicted the sepoys, causing Japanese General Mutugachi’s men to refer to the Subhas battalion up in the Chin Hills as “The Indian Malarial Unit”.

As the fighting around Imphal and Kohima developed, much of the Subhas Brigade was ordered forward towards Kohima where the sepoys suffered greatly both from lack of supplies and privations experienced during the Japanese withdrawal, not least because some British Indian Army units were disinclined to take INA prisoners until General Slim ordered a more lenient approach to be practised. Whilst most Chins had remained loyal to the British, despite their disappointments at the British withdrawal from most of Burma in 1942 and the withdrawal of the first Chindit operation (OPERATION LONGCLOTH) in 1943, some Chins worked with and for the Japanese serving in the Chin Defence Army (CDA).  The CDA soldiers were rarely effective as fighters on operations but they were useful in subjugating and plundering Chin areas occupied by the Japanese and INA troops.

Civil Affairs

In areas of the Chin Hills controlled by the Lushai Brigade British Civil Affairs Officers continued to function.  In early May 1944 an airdrop of 100 tons of rice and salt was delivered by the Royal Air Force and distributed to the civilian population by the Civil Affairs organisation.  In enemy controlled areas the Japanese had no surplus of rations to alleviate civilian food shortages.  A citation for the award of Membership of the Order of The British Empire (MBE) to a Civil Affairs Officer is shown in Appendix 3.

 The 1st Battalion The Bihar Regiment

The Bihars were a new regiment formed in 1941 by regularising the 11th (Territorial) Battalion of the 19th Hyderabad Regiment.  The Class Composition was: Adibasis from Bihar, Orissa, Bengal and eastern states (including aboriginal tribes of Hos, Oraons, Mundas, Santals and Kharias), Ahirs, Rajputs and Mussulmans from Bihar.  The sepoys had to prove themselves both to their contemporary Indian Army colleagues and to the Chins who disliked Indians because of the lascivious predation of Chin females by some of the INA Subhas Regiment troops.  Both challenges were met satisfactorily.

Above: Philip Barton MBE  (left) and Harold Braund MC in the Chin Hills

Colonel John Tweed was an inspiring leader for the Biharis and he had been operating his battalion against the Japanese in the Haka area since December 1943 as part of BAR Force.  He encouraged and developed his Indian officers, and the citation for the award of the Military Cross to Major Michael Sunil Chatterjee, a Christian from Ranchi, describes typical Lushai Brigade tactics:

On 23rd March 1944 Temporary Major CHATTERJEE personally led a platoon raid on a Jap position just south of HAKA and again on 15th April he led a raid on a nearby position.  These raids involved a difficult approach march lasting two days and a still more difficult withdrawal at first followed by Japs.

Both raids were entirely successful, gaining valuable information and inflicting heavy casualties on the Japs, largely due to the leadership and personal disregard of danger shewn by this officer.

Colonel Tweed was later awarded a Distinguished Service Order and his citation appears later in Appendix 1.  His Second in Command was Habibullah Khan Khattack, a future Lieutenant General in the Pakistan Army.

The Western Chin Levies

A very personal and human view of service with this unit is found in Harold Braund’s Distinctly I Remember whilst the reminiscences of the Commander are available in Balfour Oatts’ The Jungle in Arms.  The Levy organisation started in May 1942 when guerrilla troops were needed for information gathering rather than for offensive operations.  The northern sector was based on Tiddim, the central sector on Falam and the southern sector on Haka.  The Levies patrolled, reported back information, and ambushed small-scale enemy intrusions into their areas. 

Left: Chin Hills Battalion patrol in the hills

There were two types of Levy.  The ‘A’ Levy were full time former Burma Army servicemen, many of whom had been sent home as the Burma Army retreated in 1942, and they were armed with service rifles, Bren light machine guns, Thompson and Sten sub-machine guns and grenades.  The ‘B’ Levy were part-time, often military pensioners or young men, who alternated full-time service with working their farms where they could still collect information on enemy movements.  They carried flint lock guns, shotguns and later in the campaign service rifles.  ‘B’ Levies were always targeted by the Japanese when an enemy incursion occupied a new part of the Chin Hills, and on one occasion a retired Jemadar who refused to collaborate with the Japanese was tied to a tree, had his eyes put out and was bayoneted; he took three days to die.  Levy officers were mainly Chins or Gurkhas with a handful of Europeans.

The levies were fighting on their home ground and thus had a distinct advantage over their enemy.  An idea of what the Western Chin Levies could achieve operationally can be gleaned from the citation of the Military Cross to Jemadar That Ceo:

Period 16 May 44 -13 Aug 44.  For the last eight months Jemadar THAT CEO and his party have served continuously and without any rest in forward areas.  During this period he has had innumerable clashes with the enemy and has inflicted a large number of casualties without incurring any himself.  On one occasion while patrolling behind the enemy lines his party was attacked by 150 Japs on 15 May.  The attack was repulsed after the battle had closed to within sixty yards and between twenty and thirty casualties inflicted on the enemy including one officer and six other ranks killed.  His party then withdrew in good order without having suffered any casualties.  For the first three months of the period in question, Jemadar THAT CEO’s party received no clothing and were often without rations, and although in tatters, their morale did not decline and they were always in good heart.  This was largely due to Jemadar THAT CEO’s own cheerful and invariably enthusiastic outlook.  In action Jemadar THAT CEO has shown resolution and good judgement.

Colonel Oatts later received a Distinguished Service Order and the citation can be read in Appendix 1 to this article.

‘V’ Force

‘V’ Force was created by the British high command during the Japanese invasion of Burma.  It was planned to be a “stay behind” organisation that would operate deep behind enemy lines but it quickly concentrated on providing short-range reconnaissance and intelligence information from areas forward of the British front line.  The Force operated along the frontier between India and Burma which ran for 800 miles (1200 kilometres), from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal.  The first commander of the force, was Brigadier A. Felix Williams, formerly the commander of the Tochi Scouts, a paramilitary unit on the North-west Frontier. When the Army failed to provide the 6,000 rifles it had promised to V Force, Williams arranged for weapons manufactured by gunsmiths in Peshawar to be delivered.  

The force was organised into six area commands, corresponding to the Indian Civil Service administrative areas, which in turn corresponded to the ethnicity of the inhabitants of the various parts of the frontier. Each area command had a Commander, Second-in-Command, Adjutant, Quartermaster and Medical Officer, four platoons (about 100 men) of the paramilitary Assam Rifles and up to 1,000 locally enlisted guerillas or auxiliaries.  Many members of the Assam Rifles were of Gurkha extraction.

Right: "V" Force cloth badge

The area commanders and other officers were rarely Regular Army officers; the qualification for appointment was more often expert knowledge of the local language and peoples. Some commanders were police officers, former civil administrators, or tea planters. The Lushai and Chin Hills regions were titled Nos. 5 and 8 ‘V’ Operations Areas.

  In Appendix 1 at the end of this article is a citation for a Distinguished Service Order, upgraded by General Slim from a recommendation for a Military Cross, awarded to the Commander of 5 ‘V’ Force Ops showing the type of duties that ‘V’ Force performed.   At patrol level this brief citation for a Military Cross awarded to Jemadar Debi Singh Chettri, 1st Battalion The Assam Rifles attached to 5 ‘V’ Ops, provides a good description of offensive action:

On 2/7/44 he led 2 sections to (map grid reference) RO 9455 within ¼ mile of main enemy camp at Chikka and ambushed 2 Japanese lorries killing at least 19 enemy and destroying the trucks.  He was attacked by enemy patrol but successfully withdrew to base without casualties to his men.  He had to take his patrol 35 miles into enemy territory to reach the ambush place.

The Lushai Scouts

When the Lushai Brigade was formed in March 1944 it was feared that the Assam Government would not permit the Assam Rifles to operate in Burma.  Therefore in order to have sufficient scouts to continue conducting ‘V’ Force operations the Lushai Scouts was formed under the deliberately deceptive title of 98 Infantry Company, The Assam Regiment; the recruits were Lushais.  A battalion of four companies was planned but in fact the unit never developed beyond two companies that totalled 250 scouts.  Major J. Longbottom (West Yorkshire Regiment) commanded the unit, having previously served as an Adjutant to Brigadier Marindin.  The citation for John Longbottom’s Military Cross is shown in Appendix 2 and it provides a little background to the unit.

An example of the high standard of training in the unit can be seen in this citation for a Military Cross awarded to the Lushai Subedar Ralkapa, 3rd Battalion Burma Rifles attached to 98 Infantry Company, The Assam Regiment (The Lushai Scouts):

Phaileng near Tiddim.  On the 5 Oct 44 during an attack on a Jap platoon position this Subedar’s platoon came under heavy mortar fire.  Subedar Ralkapa immediately speeded up the attack on the post and led the men with such determination and energy that they got too near the enemy to allow him (the enemy) to effectively use his mortars.  The action prevented many casualties and had it not been for Subedar Ralkapa’s quick action the attack may have failed or been held up.

On the 10 Oct 44 Subedar Ralkapa’s platoon was ordered to attack a Jap bunker position at 0600 hours during the morning mist (Saungpi near Tiddim).  On this occasion Subedar Ralkapa got his platoon up to the inner ring of barbed wire without being detected.  He then took two men forward with grenades to cover the main bunker position whilst the platoon quietly came through the wire.  The Japs were completely surprised and Subedar Ralkapa’s platoon was inside the main position before a round was fired.  The men with Ralkapa liquidated the enemy in the bunker with grenades and the platoon killed every other Jap soldier in the smaller positions.  In all 22 dead Japanese were counted.

 The 7th Battalion of the 14th Punjab Regiment

The 7/14th Punjabis was raised in Kakul in March 1941 and it recruited Punjabi Mussulmans, Sikhs, Dogras and Pathans.  Sadly the only known history of the Regiment (Fourteenth Punjab Regiment 1939-1945 - Lund Humphries, London) is unobtainable.  The Battalion had been deployed into the Hills earlier in the year and as mentioned previously Brigadier Marindin deployed it on foot to operate around Champhai with detachments further south in the Chin Hills.

From Champhai the Battalion was as an experiment instructed to send a patrol eastwards to ambush enemy transport on the Tiddim Road.  The ambush was a success and was accompanied by three other successful ambushes executed by 5 ‘V’ Ops.  These successes led to a re-deployment of Lushai Brigade infantry battalions against targets on the Tiddim Road.  The difficulties of moving in the Lushai Hills, particularly in monsoon conditions, are well described in this citation for the award of the Military Medal to No. 16228 Naik Ghulam Ahmed of the 7/14th Punjabis:

Between 15-26 August this non-commissioned officer was a member of a fighting patrol operating against the enemy on the TIDDIM Road.  During this operation the patrol covered over 100 miles of difficult jungle country man-handling their light machine guns and 3-inch mortars for long distances in torrential monsoon weather, and under heavy fire of enemy mortars and artillery directed by observation posts.

Naik GHULAM AHMED commanded his ambush post along the road in a most praiseworthy manner instilling confidence in the men by his coolness and personal disregard of danger.  Throughout this operation this non-commissioned officer set a very high example of courage and determination and contributed much to the success of the operations.

Identical citations were made for similar awards of the Military Medal to No. 12391 Havildar Hari Chand, No. 16508 Naik Mohammed Sadiq, and No. 14793 Lance Naik Shamshi, all of the 7/14th Punjabis.

Operations against enemy movement on the Tiddim Road

Because of the success of experimental ambushes Brigadier Marindin was allowed to redeploy his Jats and Punjabis along stretches of the Tiddim Road, and he was reinforced by the temporary attachment of the 8th Battalion of the 13th Frontier Force Rifles.  The Japanese assault on Manipur and Kohima was running out of steam and a withdrawal was imminent.  The 5th Indian Division was preparing to advance down to Tiddim and the Lushai Brigade was ordered to support that advance from positions on the west flank of the road.  The Bihars and Western Chin Levies continued to confront the enemy in the Falam and Haka areas.

Left: "V" Force metal badge

The operation was planned to run from 1st July to 30th September and the Brigade was to place three battalion blocks on the road which would be re-supplied by air drop.  Brigadier Marindin’s appreciation was that his battalions could easily be bottled up in static blocks whilst the enemy used the various small tracks that ran through the hills.  Also the lack of artillery in the Brigade made static defence difficult against an enemy who possessed both tank and artillery units.  The finally agreed Brigade Plan permitted the three battalions to operate from secure bases against 30-mile stretches of the Tiddim Road; each battalion was to continually send platoon-strength ambush patrols forward to engage enemy movements at different places, so that the Japanese could never locate a static British location to counter-attack.  The ambushes were generally to be executed at night as British and Indian aircraft were preventing Japanese vehicle movement by day.  If enemy camps appeared to be suitable targets then the size of the attacking force could be increased.  If road blocks were ordered they would be located where the advancing 5th Indian Division could soon relieve them. 

In each battalion two companies would be operating whilst the other two companies were resting.  Supplies were dropped when the weather permitted but there were no casualty or medical evacuation facilities; wounded or sick men were retained in the jungle at the secure bases under the care of their battalion medical staff.

Above: Terrain between Tiddim and Kalemyo

1st (Royal) Battalion The 9th Jat Regiment This battalion had joined the Lushai Brigade in April 1944 and had patrolled in the Lushai Hills as described earlier; up until June it had a quiet time.  Its recruits were Jats from the Punjab and Delhi, Punjabi Mussalmans and Mussalman Rajputs.  The Battalion had fought in the withdrawal from Burma and then had served on lines of communication duties in Assam. 

1(R)/9th Jats was allocated the Imphal – Tiddim Road from milestones 45 to 70.  Shortly after setting out to its base area a raging torrent was encountered which the mules refused to cross; country boats and local porters were hired to get the Battalion over the river and onwards.  The regimental history makes the following comment:

On August 11th, orders were received to place a road block in the vicinity of Mile 70.  This was established the following day, and shortly afterwards, hurriedly retreating under pressure of the 5th Indian Division, the enemy appeared in large bodies.  The original road block troops had been reinforced by a 3-inch mortar detachment, which had man-handled all its guns and equipment and marched 64 miles across the mountainous country in four days, and in the ensuing action they caused utter confusion amongst the enemy and inflicted severe casualties.  Hard pressed as they were by the 5th Division, and emaciated by disease and shortage of food, the Japanese found their return journey laborious in the extreme.  Upon them now, in their wretched condition, were forced the horrors of a road block – the expedient which they had themselves employed do frequently.  On this occasion ‘D’ Company met men of the 3rd battalion, the latter being at the time the leading troops of 5th Division. 

Right: River in the Lushai Hills

Further details of the difficulty of the terrain and the action near this block can be read in the citation for the Military Cross awarded to Jemadar Ali Akbar of the 1(R)/9th Jats:

On the 17th August 1944 spearheads of 5 Indian Division advancing south down the TIDDIM ROAD made contact with the road block which had been established several days previously by 1 R JAT in the rear of the withdrawing Japanese at MS 70.  Subsequently 1 R JAT was ordered to carry out a further flanking movement in the hills West of the road, to seize the village of KHUAIVUM and, using that as a base, to establish a road block further South on the TIDDIM ROAD to assist the advance of 5th Indian Division. The only practicable approach to KHUAIVUM lay along a narrow ridge and the task of leading the advance fell to a platoon of ‘D’ Company commanded by Jemadar ALI AKBAR.  This platoon advanced with considerable speed although visibility was frequently no more than ten yards.  A series of Japanese ambushes were encountered during the advance and these had, owing to the nature of the ground, to be attacked frontally.  Jemadar ALI AKBAR now lead his platoon forward with such courage and determination, and so inspired his men by his example and his splendid leadership that in each case the Japanese were driven off the ridge at the first onset, and the momentum of the advance was maintained in a remarkable manner.

Jemadar ALI AKBAR’s courage and tenacity of purpose played a large part in ensuring the occupation of KHUAIVUM and the successful establishment of the road block in the short time given for the operation, thereby materially assisting 5th Indian Division in its advance South.  Both before and after this operation Jemadar ALI AKBAR has in successful patrols displayed a determination to come to grips with the enemy, and a power of leadership and grasp of the tactical handling of his platoon, which has stamped him as an officer of the highest quality and which has been an example to his company and to the battalion.

Another Indian officer who was awarded the Military Cross was Jemadar Kali Ram, and his citation appears in Appendix 2.  Once 5th Indian Division had advanced along the Jat stretch of road 1(R)/9th Jats came under Divisional command until late August.

The 8th Battalion The 13th Frontier Force Rifles

8/13th Frontier Force Rifles was raised at Solan in the Simla Hills in August 1940, recruiting Punjabi Mussulmans, Sikhs, Dogras and Pathans.  From May 1943 to May 1944 the Battalion fought in 26th Division in the Arakan suffering 300 battle casualties, but in June 1944 it was suddenly moved into the Lushai Brigade to operate against the Tiddim Road.  Under the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel J.C. Lewis, the sepoys travelled by rail to Silchar, truck to Aizawl, and then marched 130 miles over the Lushai Hills to Hnahlan, the rear base, and then a further 20 miles to the forward base at Vavet; the route was a single-file track and large packs were carried and steel helmets worn; torrential monsoon rain fell during the march. 

Vavet was only 12 miles from the Tiddim Road and the Battalion commenced operations on 26th July; the average number of ambushes or attacks per night was four.  The Rifles performed exceptionally on their middle stretch of the Tiddim Road, killing a known 171 of the enemy and putting 50 trucks out of action.  Doubtless more enemy were killed as on some occasions hand grenades were thrown into the backs of trucks full of Japanese soldiers.  The Battalion losses to enemy fire were two sepoys killed and three wounded, but the severe monsoon weather conditions weakened men already debilitated by the Arakan fighting and when the unit was withdrawn to rest in early September 25% of the men were unable to march; the attachment period was over and the 8/13th FF Rifles did not return to the Lushai Brigade.

Above: Unloading mules after a river crossing

Subedar Chuhar Singh of the Rifles was awarded a Military Cross and the citation describes an attack on a large group of Japanese:

During August 1944 Subedar CHUHAR SINGH, who was second in command of a Company, went out on several successful patrols operating in the vicinity of milestone 100 on the IMPHAL – TIDDIM road well into territory then held by the Japanese.  On all occasions he showed himself to be a cool and determined leader with the ability to choose the right occasion to attack with great gallantry and initiative, as is shown by the following example. 

On 6th August 1944 Subedar CHUHAR SINGH was in command of a party of twelve Indian Other Ranks who were to cooperate with a party of another unit in attacking the village of SAIPIMAUL, in which it was reported that there were nine enemy.  On arrival at the prearranged position for the attack Subedar CHUHAR SINGH found that the other party had failed to arrive and that there were between forty and fifty Japs in the village itself.

Fearing that a good opportunity might be lost if he did not take it at once, he immediately attacked, personally leading one party, encouraging the men, and hurling grenades at the enemy.  After a fierce fight the enemy retreated covered by a light machine gun leaving seven dead on the ground along with arms and equipment which were captured.  On this and other occasions this Viceroy’s Commissioned Officer showed great courage, initiative and devotion to duty.

  The southernmost stretch of the Tiddim Road attacked by the Lushai Brigade

At the south of the Brigade operating area the 7/14th Punjabis were deployed and in their length of the Tiddim Road a unique feature occurred.  About ten miles before the road zig-zagged uphill on the “Tiddim Staircase” it ran along the east bank of the swollen Manipur River.  Just over the River, which was unfordable, were excellent fire positions on the western bank at ranges between 100 and 300 yards from the Road.  The Battalion’s 3-inch mortars could be deployed to the rear here and they, along with machine gun and rifle fire, were used to destroy 200 enemy trucks out of the 300 that were destroyed on the Road.  The bulk of the 2,300 Japanese and INA casualties that the Lushai Brigade inflicted also occurred along this stretch of road. 

An Indian officer who achieved significant results was Subedar Abdul Majid and the citation for his Military Cross reads:

Between 30 Aug – 15 Sep this officer was operating against the enemy on the TIDDIM Road.  The patrol was out in very bad monsoon conditions and without cover from the weather.  During this operation the patrol covered over 100 miles of most difficult jungle country and was subjected to heavy mortar and light machine gun fire almost every night directed by Jap observation posts.  Due to good leadership in a series of ambushes this officer’s patrol succeeded in inflicting serious casualties upon the enemy amounting to 192 killed or wounded and 18 lorries damaged or destroyed.

Subedar Abdul Majid showed outstanding determination in pressing home his attacks in the face of most difficult conditions and enemy counter fire and thereby made a valuable contribution to the disorganisation of a vital enemy line of communication.

Almost identical successful citations for Military Crosses, the only differences being the numbers that follow in brackets, were also produced for Subedar Bhuri Ram (168 enemy killed or wounded and 39 lorries damaged or destroyed) and Subedar Sarfaraz (177 enemy killed or wounded and 12 lorries damaged or destroyed), both of the 7/14th Punjabis.

The Japanese did force their way through on their final convoy of 200 vehicles by re-forming into packets of five vehicles that each made a dash down the critical length of road, with only the lead vehicle using headlights, whilst artillery, mortar and machine gun fire from light tanks effectively engaged the Punjabi muzzle flashes.  On this ocasion the Punjabis knocked out about 10% of the enemy vehicles.  Brigadier Marindin wrote: “Even a Section (two guns) of mountain artillery would have made all the difference”.  By the 21st September 5th Indian Division had reached this stretch of Road and the Punjabis were withdrawn for a well-earned rest. 

The Lushai Brigade casualty figures to enemy action along the Tiddim Road were 7 sepoys killed and 10 wounded – a remarkable achievement, and Brigadier Marindin was later to receive a Distinguished Service Order and a Bar for his leadership on the battlefield (see Appendix 1).

  1st Assam Regiment and ‘V’ Force detachments

As the three Indian Army infantry battalions moved forward to occupy their secure bases near the Tiddim Road sepoys of the 1st Assam Regiment and ‘V’ Force detachments were building temporary huts in the secure camps so that the battalions could move straight out to attack the enemy.  Once that task was completed the Assam Regiment and ‘V’ Force men were tasked with longer range patrols and ambushes in which they were assisted by men from the Lushai Scouts.

Captain Edward Allan Conan Pascoe, Gurkha Rifles attached to the Lushai Scouts, was awarded a Military Cross for a particularly bold raid.  The citation read:

This officer led a patrol of 25 men for a distance of 35 miles through enemy territory to lay an ambush at RO 965584 on the enemy line of communication.  On the night of 25/26 July 44 his party ambushed the head of a retreating enemy column from 5 yards range, killing 30 and wounding others.  In the darkness an enemy piquet 60 yards away opened fire on their own troops.  In the ensuing confusion he withdrew his patrol returning to base without a casualty.  The leading group of the enemy column numbered about 50.

Brigadier Marindin wrote:

“ . . . On one of the most successful (ambushes) a British Officer and 15 Riflemen caught a party of about 50 Japs coming down the road in close order.  Wishing to make completely certain of a good bag, the Officer Commanding held his fire so long that one man’s rifle was knocked out of his hand by a Jap falling dead across it.  The man, not wishing to return without his weapon, hid in the jungle when his party withdrew and watched the Jap counterattack party - which quickly arrived – cart away 35 dead bodies.  He then retrieved his rifle and rejoined his companions.”

Using the Lushai Scouts in support, officers of the Western Chin Levies pushed offensive operations across the Manipur River into the Tiddim and Fort White areas, and when arms could be supplied recruitment for the Levies increased in those areas.  Fighting here continued until October.  Meanwhile in August Colonel Parsons had led his ‘V’ Force raid into the Myittha Valley as described in Appendix 1 paragraph 3.

  Operations against Falam and Haka

5th Indian Division, which the Lushai Brigade was placed under on 15th August, forbade attempts to take Falam and Haka until the Division had removed enemy threats east of the Manipur River.  To assist the Division in reconnaissance duties 5 ‘V’ Ops were withdrawn from the Lushai Brigade and employed directly under Divisional HQ.  But the Bihars and Western Chin Levies were not idle as this citation for the Military Medal awarded to No. 136 Havildar Qurban Mian, a Bihari Mussalman in 1st Battalion The Bihar Regiment, shows:

Chin Hills – August to November 1944.

No. 136 Havildar Qurban Mian was commanding a Platoon.  He has been in close contact with the enemy on three occasions, twice as Platoon Havildar and once as a Platoon Commander.  On all occasions he has exhibited exceptional courage, coolness and good leadership under enemy fire.

On 16 September when his Company carried out a raid on an enemy position, his Platoon was detailed to carry out the role of a decoy platoon, to entice the enemy from his position, thus allowing the other 2 Platoons to catch him in the open.  He led his Platoon up to and within 10 yards of the main enemy position and inflicted casualties.  He then withdrew his Platoon under heavy enemy fire.

Throughout this action he was cool, calm and through his good leadership withdrew his Platoon in good order back to the Company rendezvous.

In his book Harold Braund, who had been awarded a Military Cross with the Levies in January 1943 (see Appendix 2) and who knew a lot about the situation in the Chin Hills, made an interesting and doubtless valid comment on the INA troops that he faced:

“The greater part of them comprised a minority of those who had been captured in Malaya or Singapore: they had accepted service in the INA as an alternative to the rigours of continuing captivity.  Among their ranks were three elements of, I would judge, roughly equal representation.  Firstly, there were those who shared Bhose’s belief in the rightness of what they were doing.  Secondly, there were the badmash element – freebooters attracted by the open door to loot and rape.  Thirdly, there were those who saw in feigned enlistment a golden opportunity to escape and get back to their regiments.”

The behaviour of the second element caused outrage and hatred amongst the Chins that sometimes imperilled lone escapers from the third element, but Braund describes a successful group from that third element:

“On one occasion a Dogra section (of the INA) found themselves detailed for night duty at a machine gun post the INA were maintaining on the ridge that overlooked Haka.  It was the chance they had been waiting for.  After dismantling the machine gun and scattering the parts, they skirted Haka and set off with their rifles.

Soon after daybreak they were spotted by one of my patrols commanded by an Urdu-spealing Burma Rifles havildar.  The Dogras laid down their arms immediately they were challenged.  Their non-commissioned officer explained to mine that they had been imprisoned in Singapore, and during captivity had attended lectures by Indian officers who sought to persuade them to join the INA.  They had not been convinced but, after a common oath sworn in secrecy, had decided to join and escape when they could.  Now they were here.

Under escort on the way to my camp, the Dogra naik asked the havildar if he would halt the march to permit of his making a request.  Guardedly the Levy acceded.  The Dogra then pointed to the rifles that had been taken off his men and asked if the bolts might be removed and the rifles returned to them.  He and his men were soon to be paraded before the havildar’s officer, and they wished him to see that their discipline was not broken.  I have always been glad that my NCO gave credit for a soldierly request and complied.

He had his prisoners well but not too blatantly covered as they marched up to where I was standing.  They were dirty and tattered but advanced smartly to their NCO’s shouting step.  They halted, formed up and ordered arms, The Naik stepped smartly up to me, slapped his rifle butt in salute and reported his section’s return to duty.

I knew enough to believe that a lean time lay ahead for these men. . . . Nevertheless, as they were escorted rearward next morning, I watched the Dogras go with a feeling of sympathy.  Peasants turned soldier they may have been, but I was pretty sure that they were gentlemen of their word.”

Left: Terrain in the Lushai Hills

The Lushai Brigade advances

On 27th September the Commander of 5th Indian Division, Major General D.F.W. Warren DSO MC, ordered Brigadier Marindin to carry out three tasks:

Ø  To protect the right flank of the 5th Indian Division in its advance to Kalemyo.

Ø  To capture Haka and Falam.

Ø  To collect information about Japanese strengths and intentions in the general area of the valley of the Myittha river, lying south of Kalemyo and west of the Chindwin.

As 5th Indian Division fought its way south to Tiddim assisted by around 500 Levies, the Jats, Bihars, Levies and Lushai Scouts west of the Manipur River moved on Falam and Haka; this move was not easy because of the lack of mechanical transport in the Lushai Brigade and the difficult ground to be covered.  The Levies ambushed tracks running south and east from Haka.  Movement for the battalions was from one suitable dropping zone to another as air drop was still the only effective means of resupply.   An outstanding patrol led by Lieutenant Saiyed Anwar Hasan Rizvi of the Bihars demoralized the enemy and earned Saiyed Rizvi a Military Cross:

16 October – Area HAKA-FALAM road.

On 16 October 1944 Lieutenant RIZVI when leading a patrol of 4 sections, came across signs of further evacuation of Pioneer Camp.  He tracked the enemy to TIHPUL village and overtook them.  He saw about 150 Japs and INA including 3 officers in the area about 100 yards away.  Disregarding the numerical superiority of the enemy and at considerable risk to himself and his men he advanced within 50 yards and opened fire on the enemy and took them completely by surprise causing 9 casualties.  By his cool and determined action in the face of grave danger he was a great inspiration to his men.

5th Indian Division seized Tiddim on 17th October.  Across the Manipur River the Japanese in Falam decided to withdraw a day later.  A 3-hour battle was fought between 30 Levies supported by the platoon of the 7/14th Punjabis and the Japanese who used medium mortars and machine guns against the British 2-inch mortars and Bren guns; the Japanese broke through the thin British cordon but they left the bulk of their stores and equipment behind.  Two days later the Japanese withdrew from Haka and the Lushai and Chin Hills were cleared of enemy troops and influence.

The advance into the Myittha Valley

The seizing of Haka was great news for the Chins as the Japanese had occupied it and the surrounding region since November 1943.  However the good news did not reach the RAF swiftly enough as they subsequently bombed the town, luckily without killing anyone. 

HQ 33 Corps then sent orders for the Lushai Brigade to move into the Myittha Valley in as conspicuous a manner as possible to deceive the enemy into thinking that this was a major British advance and not a subsidiary one.  The Brigade plan used the Brigade HQ, the Assam Rifles, the Jats and the Punjabis, working from a secure base on the side of the valley, to clear the Valley east to the Chindwin, south to Myintha and north to Kinyan Mauk.  Further north the Chin Levies from Falam were directed towards Natchaung and Sihaung Nauk and then eastwards to the Chindwin; the Levies from Haka also got a sector to operate in.  The Bihars and 8 ‘V’ Ops were to operate around Kan from a firm base but not move east to the Chindwin.  It was hoped that any Japanese withdrawing from Kalemyo would be intercepted.

After marching over some appalling ground the Lushai Brigade was in its operating areas by mid-November and on 1st December enemy craft on the Chindwin were being sunk.  Jemedar Nehemias, a Christian Oraon in the Bihars, gained a Military Cross with the citation:

On the 27th November Jemedar Nehemias was commanding the forward platoon of his Company in an advance to unlocated Jap positions in the jungle.  When his Platoon came under heavy fire at short range this Viceroys Commissioned Officer continued the advance, personally going forward with the leading section

By his personal example and disregard of danger he encouraged his men to move forward until he fell seriously wounded.  He continued to direct their movements until he became unconscious.  His great gallantry and offensive spirit towards the enemy were a magnificent example to all.

In December 7/14th Punjabis were placed in 5th Indian Division – they had operated well in the Hills and were a loss to the Lushai Brigade which now only had two regular battalions.  Scrub typhus began to affect other units particularly the Jats and the Levies, but one advantage of being in the Valley was that airstrips could easily be constructed and light planes could evacuate wounded and sick men.  The enemy effort to backload supplies deteriorated significantly when a raid on Lema by the Levies from Haka found and destroyed a large supply dump containing: 48,000 pounds of rice, 1,000 cases of biscuits, 1,000 cases of fish, 200 tubes of fish and two large warehouses containing ammunition and clothing.  No doubt the Levies ate very well for the following days and nights.  The Levy patrol commander, Captain George Wilson, Royal Engineers, was awarded a Military Cross and his citation is shown in Appendix 2.

The advance on Gangaw

The next Brigade objective was Gangaw which lay on the Myittha River half way between Kalemyo and Pagan on the Irrawaddy, but Japanese garrisons still existed in the area and with the Lushai Brigade being weak and exhausted calculated risks had to be taken.  An offensive patrolling programme gave the impression of strength and luckily the dispirited Japanese reacted by sitting in defence and backloading stores rather than moving out into the Valley to fight.  The Bihars accepted the odds facing them and continually engaged the Japanese in small actions despite the latter’s superiority in heavy weapons and transport.

The last week of 1944 saw the Brigade ordered to clear the Gangaw area and a new unit, the rested and re-fitted Chin Hills Battalion of the Burma Regiment arrived to replace the Punjabis; it relieved the exhausted Jats who moved into Brigade Reserve allowing the Assam Rifles to move forward.  Brigadier Marindin was allocated an artillery Field Regiment from 7th Division and promised heavy air support when required.  For the first time in its existence the Lushai Brigade was operating with all units in reasonable proximity to each other, but it still lacked armoured and engineer support and it needed to be handled prudently.

The Chin Hills Battalion

In 1937 Burma’s military establishment separated from India and The Burma Military Police was re-titled the Burma Frontier Force (BFF); a Chin battalion was established and titled The Chin Hills Battalion of The Burma Frontier Force.  The Battalion HQ was at Falam with outposts at Hakka, Tiddim, Kalemyo, Kalewa, Mawlaik, Homalin, Tamanthi and Layshi.  The ORBAT was an HQ Company, Training Company and six rifle companies; unlike other BFF units there were no mounted troops.  Rifle companies consisted of Company HQ and three platoons; there was one Lewis Gun in each company but no mortars.  Companies were tribal with Hakas, Seiyins, Konsais, Whelnos, Kamonys and Zahous being recruited along with Gurkhas plus a few Sikhs and Indians for specialist appointments.  Urdu, using English script when written, was the common language.  When the Burma Army withdrew into India in 1942 The Chin Hills Battalion stayed in the northern Chin Hills operating until March 1944 when it withdrew into India with 17th Division, leaving the Western Chin Levies to confront the enemy Japanese and INA units.  The Battalion was re-designated as a battalion of The Burma Regiment on 1st October 1942.

Above: Chin Hills Battalion badge

The seizing of Gangaw

On the night of 31st December 1944/1st January 1945 The Levies and the Assam Rifles put in a determined attack that cleared West Gangaw.  Ten days later the Chin Hills Battalion attacked and captured Myaukon after a very heavy aerial bombardment named Earthquake Minor had struck the location; concurrently Colonel Oatts’s levies captured Pya.  That night, 10th/11th January 1945 the garrison of 400 Japanese withdrew from Gangaw and the Lushai Brigade occupied the town.

With the exception of the Chin Hills Battalion the Lushai Brigade was very tired from continuous operational activity and the fresh 22 (East African) Brigade was moved forward to replace Brigadier Marindin’s brigade.  The Chin Hills Battalion and the Lushai Scouts moved over into 7th Division.  The Levies who had been harassing the Japanese in and around Tillin, south of Gangaw, had worked hard and bravely and prevented the Tillin garrison from moving out to support the Japanese in Gangaw.  When the enemy withdrew from Tillin during the second week in January the Western Chin Levies were withdrawn and returned to their native hills where they were converted into a regular battalion titled The 1st Chin Rifles.  The Lushai Brigade’s operational life was over, it had performed its tasks as ordered, traversing rugged country and existing on air-dropped supplies and mule transport except when it descended into the Myittha Valley when elephants were used as pack beasts.

The Lushai Brigade was withdrawn to India where it rested and refitted at Shillong.  An early return to Burma was hoped for but because of supply shortages in Burma this did not occur until the end of June when the Brigade ORBAT was:

§  Brigade HQ

§  Brigade Signal Section Burma Army

§  1st (R) Jats (destined for 7th Indian Division but to be replaced)

§  6th Jats §  6th Kumaon Rifles

§  1st Bihars §  4 & 16 Animal Transport Companies

§  77 Field Ambulance (to rejoin in Burma)

§  Lushai Scouts (to rejoin on completion of leave)

Left: Japanese propaganda boosting the Chin Defence Army

The Brigade was moved to the Prome region and given a Long Range Penetration role in eastern Burma, however the ending of hostilities with Japan led to post-war duties such as anti-dacoit (bandit) operations.  1st Chin Rifles came into the Brigade until 6th Jats were returned in November from attachment elsewhere.  The Animal Transport Companies were posted out of the Brigade and the Lushai Scouts were returned to Mizoram for disbandment.

Elements of the Brigade moved into northern Siam to round up 600 Japanese surrendered personnel and because of the rough terrain this took until mid-February 1946 when the Brigade was warned for return to India by June.  The Bihars moved to south Burma and the Kumaons moved to north Burma whilst the Brigade HQ and the 6th Jats moved to Rangoon for shipment to India where the Jats were tasked with duties but the Brigade HQ was disbanded.  The short but eventful wartime life of the Lushai Brigade was over. 

General Slim was not a believer in Special Forces, and he later wrote: “They did not give, militarily, a worth-while return for the resources in men, material and time that they absorbed.”  But as can be seen by his comments below the title of this article he very much appreciated the abilities and attitude of the Lushai Brigade, and the Brigade lived up to his expectations.   

Awards made to the Lushai Brigade

·         1 - George Cross (GC)

·         1 - Distinguished Service Order & Bar (DSO & Bar)

·         3 - Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

·         1 - Officer of The Order of The British Empire (OBE)

·         7 -  Member of The Order of The British Empire MBE)

·         2 - British Empire Medal (BEM)

·         11 - Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM)

·         28 - Military Cross (MC)

·         6 - Burma Gallantry Medal (BGM)

·         9 – Military Medal

·         11 - Certificates of Gallantry


This article has concentrated on piecing together the various strands of recorded detail about the Lushai Brigade in order to present an over-view.  Much more information is contained in some of the Sources listed, however Brigadier Marindin’s ‘History’ requires very careful reading as whilst it is strictly factual it is sometimes almost indigestible.  Prasad’s Indian Army history contains much detail.  Readers of Harold Braund’s and Balfour Oatts’ books may at first feel confused, as though they are reading about different campaigns, but eventually you realise that Harold disliked Balfour so much that he refers to him by a different but not too distant name in Distinctly I Remember!  But I urge you to read both books as they are both full of interest.

  Appendix 1.  Awards of the Distinguished Service Order within the Lushai Brigade (Listed in the order that they are announced in the article.)

1.    Lieutenant Colonel John Reginald Howard Tweed MBE, 1 Bihar Regiment.

I wish to strongly recommend this officer for qualities of leadership, initiative, courage and endurance well above the average, displayed during the period November 43 to November 44 in the Lushai and Chin Hills.  In Nov 43 he took his Battalion, the 1 Bihar Regiment, for whose raising and training he was responsible and whose efficiency is a tribute to his inspiring leadership, into the Lushai Hills.  From Dec 43 to March 44 under circumstances of great difficulty he conducted operations against the Jap forces in Haka.  Though not strong enough to turn them out of Haka, the vigour of his operations called a halt to their further advance and held them static. 

Later between September and October 44, as I was too far away to take personal charge of operations on this part of the Brigade Front, the responsibility for carrying out the plan which led to the fall of Haka and the retreat of its garrison from the Chin Hills fell on him.  This he carried out with the greatest vigour and efficiency, and though the nature of the country precluded their extermination they were chased out and suffered very heavily.

I therefore strongly recommend him for the award of the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.).

Signed: Brigadier P.C. Marindin MC.   2.   Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Balfour Oatts, Highland Light Infantry, attached The Chin Levies.

Lieutenant Colonel OATTS took over command of the Chin Levies in May 1943 and continued to command them for two years.  During this period the Japanese reached the peak of their strength in the Chin Hills and practically all regular troops were withdrawn.  Colonel OATTS retained the loyalty of his men and continued offensive operations against the Japanese and their puppet troops throughout the whole period in spite of the gravest difficulties, and, finally, took part in the offensive which drove the Japanese from the hills.  The Chin Levies destroyed at least 1,000 of the enemy and in addition caused much damage to enemy communications and supplies.

    3.    Temporary Lieutenant Colonel Warren Jonathan Parsons, British Service General List attached ‘V’ Force.

I wish to strongly recommend this officer for shewing exceptional qualities of leadership ability and daring during the period October 1942 to September 1944 under circumstances which were always difficult.

This officer came into the Lushai Hills at the end of 1942 to organise the Lushai Hills as a ‘V’ Force Area.  He has served in close contact with the Japanese Forces since then without a break.  Apart from the efficiency he has always displayed in any task given him, he has become almost legendary in the Areas in which he has served for toughness, courage and endurance.

The men of the Assam Rifles serving under him have had no relief since 1942 and the conditions under which they have served have been most arduous and unpleasant.  Under the circumstances the example set by their Commander Lieutenant Colonel W.J. Parsons has been invaluable.  During this period he personally led and brought to a successful conclusion numerous actions against the Japanese Forces, inflicting casualties and gaining valuable information.

Notably in August 1944 when he took a patrol of 100 men down into the MYITTHA Valley, at that date very deep into the heart of Jap held territory conducted disruptive operations against their lines of communication which included the destructioin of a dump of 50,000 gallons of petrol inflicted casualties, and skilfully withdrew his troops in face of opposition with very little loss.

I therefore strongly recommend him of the award of the Military Cross.

  4.   Brigadier Philip Charles Marindin MC, The West Yorkshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales’s Own).

Period May – August 1944

Has commanded his Brigade in intensive operations with outstanding success.  He was set the task of cutting the Line of Communication of the Japanese between CHURACHANDPUR and TIDDIM.  This entailed a complex, difficult and prolonged air-supplied operation through the most difficult jungle hill country at the height of the monsoon.  The determination and skill with which his troops carried this out was in the first place due to Brigadier Marindin’s determination, skill and refusal to allow any obstacle to overcome him.  He imbued his troops with his own spirit, and thus inspired, they inflicted heavy losses on the enemy and contributed in no small way to the rout of the Japanese forces.

        Award of the Bar to the Distinguished Service Order.


During the operations for the clearing of the IMPHAL – TIDDIM – KALEMYO Road, Brigadier MARINDIN’s Brigade covered the right flank of the 5th Indian Division.  His Brigade fought its way from CHURACHANDPUR to the CHINDWIN RIVER over the most appalling tracks, keeping pace with and often operating ahead of the Division.

Brigadier MARINDIN’s bold and skilful leadership and his personal example were an inspiration to his Brigade throughout the operations, in which a large number of enemy were killed, and quantities of enemy equipment destroyed; and were a major factor in enlisting the loyal and enthusiastic support of the CHIN Tribesmen.

The rapid and successful advance of 5th Indian Division was in a great manner due to the skilful and daring way in which he handled his Brigade, his readiness to accept the calculated risk, and his unfailing assistance and co-operation.  He is recommended for the award of the DSO.

Addition by Lieutenant General sir O.W.H. Leese, GOC-in-C HQ ALFSEA: RECOMMENDED for Bar to DSO subject to approval of the award of the DSO submitted for the period 16 May to 15 Aug 1944.

  Appendix 2.  Awards of the Military Cross not already cited. (Listed in the order that they are announced in the article.)

1.    Temporary Major John Longbottom, West Yorkshire Regiment (98 Company Assam Regiment, Lushai).

I wish to strongly recommend this officer for always displaying exceptional ability, personal daring and powers of leadership, especially during the periods January-May 42 during the retreat from Burma and later March 44 – Nov 44 in the Lushai Brigade operations in the Lushai and Chin Hills.

During the retreat from Burma this officer was my Adjutant, he deserved the Military Cross on several occasions and his work throughout was invaluable and of the very highest order.  He was put in for the MC at the conclusion of operations, but owing to circumstances beyond control, the Battalion list of awards arrived too late for inclusion and he with others got nothing.

In late March 1944 he was given the task of raising and training a new unit from scratch, the Lushai Scouts.  Though many are serving in other units, Lushais have not hitherto been formed into an all-Lushai fighting unit, and doubts were expressed as to their value at the outset.  Owing to shortage of officers he had to carry out this task single handed.  Such ability did he bring to this task that taking his unit into action six months later at the beginning of October under very tricky conditions for young troops i.e. well behind the enemy lines and far from support, they immediately demonstrated their complete superiority over the Japanese and in a series of actions not only cleared the Japs from the important ridge Vangte Khum Vum Mualbam south of Tiddim.

  2.    Jemadar Kali Ram, 1st Royal Battalion, 9th Jat Regiment.

Between 30 July and 16 August during operations on the TIDDIM ROAD Jemadar KALI RAM led his platoon with great skill and courage.  On four occasions he made contact with Jap patrols and in every case put them to flight.  During these actions 8 Japs were killed and 1 captured and others wounded.

Jemadar KALI RAM’s leadership and determination to close with the enemy whenever the opportunity came was a fine example to his men, and played no small part in making the Jap withdraw from the area Milestone 70 – 72.

  3.    Captain H.E.W. Braund, Chin Hills Levies.

Captain H.E.W. BRAUND has served in the Chin Levies since May 1942 and has always been stationed in the forward defensive lines which he has never left during that period.
Of late months he has been in constant contact with the enemy, and has led many offensive patrols into the KALEMYO Area.  On December 24th 1942 he led a small Levy raid on TAHAN, inflicting a number of casualties on the enemy, although considerably outnumbered.

He has been indefatigable in his efforts to make a success of the Chin Levies under his Command , and by his great personal courage and example, has greatly increased the morale and offensive spirit of the Levies, during a very difficult period.

This officer is highly deserving of the Award of the Order of The British Empire Medal (Military). [Amended to the Military Cross].  Recommended by:  Area Commander, Chin Hills Levies.     Signed By:  G.A.P. Scoones, Lieutenant-General Commanding IV Corps; N. Irwin, Lieut-General, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Army.

  4.    Captain George Wilson, Royal Engineers, attached Western Chin Levies.

On 29th November 1944 this officer led a fighting patrol across the Myittha River and raided a Japanese staging camp at LEMA.  The enemy were driven off and three large dumps of ammunition, stores, and rations were destroyed, some of the contents being brought away.  During the destruction of the dumps the enemy counter-attacked.  The counter-attack was ambushed and repulsed, the enemy leaving four dead on the field and carrying back some wounded, of whom two were later reported from other sources having died.  At least two enemy were killed by Captain WILSON himself at close quarters.

This officer has displayed courage and initiative of high order on several other occasions during the past six months in the operations around HAKA.  He was responsible for the rout of a strong enemy foraging party at BUALTAK in September 1944 when the enemy suffered heavy casualties.  He also intercepted and inflicted many casualties on the enemy withdrawing from HAKA in October 1944.  He has shown a high example to all ranks during the six months he has served with the Levies.

  Appendix 3. Award of Membership of The Order of the British Empire (Military Division).

Lieutenant Philip Trehearne Barton, Army of Burma Reserve of Officers, Civil Affairs Officer, Burma.

I wish to most strongly recommend this Civil affairs officer for showing the utmost devotion to duty, and rendering most valuable assistance to the armed forced during the period April to September 44 on the Lushai Hills Border and in the Chin Hills.  From April – July this officer worked in close co-operation with Officer Commanding 5 ‘V’ Ops whose role was to reconnoitre for operations on the Tiddim Road and break the power of the Jap Chin Defence Army. 

During this phase he rendered invaluable assistance in getting information and fearlessly venturing into enemy held territory, with a small Civil police escort only on several occasions, did sterling work in encouraging loyal Chins. 

When large scale operations started I attached him to my HQ and he has been invaluable again in the matter of local information.  Also his influence over the Chins has smoothed away transport difficulties which would have held up operations.  I therefore recommend him for the OBE (Order of British Empire [Civil]).

Recommended by Brigadier Commanding Lushai Brigade.  Award approved was MBE (Military).


·         A.J. Barker. The March on Delhi. (Faber and Faber 1963).

·         Harold Braund MC. Distinctly I Remember. (Wren Publishing Australia 1972).

·         Anthony Brett-James. Ball of Fire. The Fifth Indian Division in the Second World War. (Gale & Polden 1951 and on the internet at: ).

·         Brigadier W.E.H. Condon OBE (compiler). The Frontier Force Rifles 1849-1946. (Naval & Military Press softback reprint).

·         Eric Dennison. The Western (Chin) Levies 1942-1945. (Article in Durbar, Journal of the Indian Military Historical Society, Volume 31, No. 1, Spring 2014).

·         Peter Ward Fay. The Forgotten Army. India’s Armed Struggle for Independence. (University of Michigan Press paperback 1995).

·         John Gaylor. Sons of John Company. The Indian and Pakistani Armies 1903-1991. (Spellmount 1992).

·         Major General S. Woodburn Kirby. UK Official History. The War Against Japan. Volume IV. The Reconquest of Burma. (Naval & Military Press softback reprint).

·         Brigadier P.C. Marindin DSO MC. Official History Lushai Independent Brigade Group. (UK National Archives WO203/1718).

·         Lieutenant Colonel Balfour Oatts DSO. The Jungle In Arms. (New English Library paperback 1976).

·       .  Bisheshwar Prasad D.LITT (General Editor). Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War. The Reconquest of Burma. Volumes I & II. (Combined Inter-Services Historical Section (India & Pakistan) 1958).

·         Major J. Ross. The Jat Regiment 1803-1947, Volume II. (Jat Regimental Centre 1967).

·         Field Marshall Sir William Slim. Defeat into Victory. (Cassell 1956).

·         The coloured sketches by Anthony Gross are courtesy of the Imperial War Museum website.

·         The coloured photographs of terrain were taken by the author.

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