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.
Defeat into Victory by Field Marshall
Sir William Slim.
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
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 Headquarters ·
Battalion 9th Jats (Lieutenant Colonel L.S. Spearman). ·
14th Punjabis (Lieutenant Colonel S. Goodchild). ·
The Bihar Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel J.R.H. Tweed MBE). ·
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
Above: Aizawl, Mizoram
After holding a conference of Commanding
Officers Brigadier Marindin deployed his Brigade as follows:
Jats with a platoon of 5 ‘V’ Ops patrolled in the north from Tippimuk to Churachandpur.
Punjabis less 1 company and 1 platoon concentrated at Champhai (east-south-east
of Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram State).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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:
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.
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
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:
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 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.
members of the Assam Rifles were of Gurkha extraction.
Right: "V" Force cloth badge
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:
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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
(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
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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:
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
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
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).
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
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:
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
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
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:
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
“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
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
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:
protect the right flank of the 5th Indian Division in its advance to
capture Haka and Falam.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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
Above: Chin Hills Battalion badge
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:
Signal Section Burma Army
(R) Jats (destined for 7th Indian Division but to be replaced)
& 16 Animal Transport Companies
Field Ambulance (to rejoin in Burma)
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.
made to the Lushai Brigade
1 - George Cross (GC)
1 - Distinguished Service
Order & Bar (DSO & Bar)
3 - Distinguished Service
1 - Officer of The Order
of The British Empire (OBE)
7 - Member of The Order of The British Empire
2 - British Empire Medal
11 - Indian Distinguished Service
28 - Military Cross (MC)
6 - Burma Gallantry Medal
9 – Military Medal
11 - Certificates of
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.
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.).
P.C. Marindin MC.
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.
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
Brigadier Philip Charles
Marindin MC, The West Yorkshire Regiment (The
Prince of Wales’s Own).
Period May – August 1944
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.
of the Bar to the Distinguished Service Order.
ASSAM-BURMA FRONTIER. 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
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.
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.
2. Awards of the Military Cross not already
cited. (Listed in the order that they are
announced in the article.)
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.
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.
Captain H.E.W. Braund, Chin Hills
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
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.
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
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.
Captain George Wilson, Royal Engineers,
attached Western Chin Levies.
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.
3. Award of Membership of The Order of the British Empire (Military Division).
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]).
Brigadier Commanding Lushai Brigade.
Award approved was MBE
A.J. Barker. The March on Delhi. (Faber and Faber
Harold Braund MC. Distinctly I Remember. (Wren Publishing
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 &
Major J. Ross. The Jat Regiment 1803-1947, Volume II.
(Jat Regimental Centre 1967).
Field Marshall Sir William
Slim. Defeat into Victory. (Cassell
The coloured sketches by
Anthony Gross are courtesy of the Imperial War Museum website.
The coloured photographs of
terrain were taken by the author.