1st Battalion, Essex Regiment - Burma 44th & 56th Columns

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Fitzgeraldr, May 27, 2014.

  1. Luke Parker.

    Luke Parker. New Member

    A couple of corrections now I've been able to have a good look at the lists.
    Pte Alfred Wilkinson was killed on 12th may 1944.
    Pte James Peter Hayes was killed on 12th may 1944
    Pte Frank Philip Block was killed on 5th may 1944
    Sergeant Charles Adelbert Churan, Reconnaissance.
    As a private soldier in the 1st Essex Regiment, Churan won the Military Medal on 24th Feb 1942 during the Middle East, Libya campaign.
  2. Lloyd St John

    Lloyd St John New Member

    Hi everyone, just thought I'd chim in about my Grandfather, Douglas St John, was with the chindits and was assigned to Column 44. He was, from what I can find, 1 of the 8 Australian pilots chosen from volunteers to serve in this force as an airforce liaison.
    I’m not sure where he ended up as the RAAF apparently lost him and didn’t know where he was during this time.
    What I can find out from his record is that he flew 12 sorties for 27 hours but I don’t know what the aircraft is. The report has ‘LS’ as they type. In addition to this it has that he marched 466 miles during this time as well.

    I know from my father that he marched in and didn’t fly in and he served along side alot of Gurkhas that he was very fond of. I know he also helped drag his good friend out at the end as he was in a bad way.
    I have a couple of photos from prior to him leaving but nothing from the operation.

    He suffered greatly from this and didn’t talk much about it. He got ceribal malaria and from accounts, swapped position with another in the column that not long later was shot that wore on him.
    My aunty also said that when he got home he essentially didn’t talk to anyone for a year.

    Everything I’m reading is hard stories from a hard time. If anyone has more information about him it would be much appreciated. All the Australian records are free to access and I've paid to have his record digitised so anyone can look it up.

    Thanks for all your hard work on finding out this history.

  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Lloyd,

    All I can add to your information, is that your grandfather appears in an Officer's Returns list in the 23rd Brigade HQ War Diary for 1944 (no date shown). It states that he was no longer with Head Quarters and had been attached (as you already know) to 1st Essex. What the listing does tell you, is the rest of the RAF and RAAF personnel present with the Brigade.

    Please find list below:

    DSC06066 copy.JPG
    RosyRedd and Charley Fortnum like this.
  4. Lloyd St John

    Lloyd St John New Member

    Hi Bamboo,

    Thank you so much sharing this. I talked to my father again and had some of my facts wrong. Apparently when he go malaria he was going to be left in a village and by a huge effort from his "adjutant" who was another Australian but I'm guessing his NCO, carried him out.
    I have a couple of photos of Doug and Jeff Furmage (on the returns list). The last two I'm not sure who is in it but looks like could be from that period that some others might be interested in. I have more but some I am not sure if they are from his time at 146 SQN in 1943.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing the history of columns 44 and 56.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  5. veronicad

    veronicad Well-Known Member

    Photograph 3 has got to be a Naga family.
    Thanks for sharing. Veronica.
  6. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Not my field, but I've just checked a few books I have on this kind of thing and some of you chaps have my sympathy: 23 Brigade seems to be in everybody's peripheral vision, but nobody has taken the time to turn and get a full look: found several reference to the brigade and Perowne, but none runs to more that a couple of lines about where-ish they were. I was sure that something more substantial would turn up in one of these

    15618664679.jpg md22556089014.jpg s-l300.jpg

    ...but we have nothing but fleeting asides.

    Most frustrating.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
    High Wood and bamboo43 like this.
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for posting the photos Lloyd, they are wonderful to see.

  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi CF, as you say, not much written about 23rd Brigade at all, apart from Chindit Column 76, by WA. Wilcox. Very frustrating, as I'm sure Veronica will agree.

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