Aerial photographs of Allied bombing raids on Japanese occupied Burma.

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by High Wood, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    This is turning out to be a great series, fascinating stuff. Really appreciate the detective work

  2. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Recently got back in the saddle re my 230 research and been pawing over maps of the route they would have taken in from Dibrugarh to Indawgyi, trying to do the same thing... to find where the very bendy-river aerial images from the Sunderlands were taken... I have confirmed some taken approaching the lake from the north and now have the basic structure of the route... remarkably little of it is noted in the records...?
  3. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    There are definitely some very bendy rivers in Burma and can be time consuming matching photographs taken from oblique angles with known water courses. It is even harder trying to find the location of bombed bridges over those same very bendy rivers if there are no details on the photograph. This photograph being a good illustration of my point. I know when it was taken and by whom and, from the Squadron Operations Records, I have a fairly good idea where but I am finding it very difficult to give a precise location.

    Unfortunately, I cannot help you in your quest as I have no detailed maps of the Indawgyi area.

    177 003.JPG

    177 Squadron.

    18th November 1944.

    A/C: N.E. 807. Crew: F/L Sutherland-Brown. A. RCAF. J10507. W/O Aldham. J

    A/C: N.V. 375. Crew: F/L Simpson. O.E., F/O Archer. N.F. OPS.

    Time Up: 1125. Time Down: 1705.

    Aircraft on target at PEGU at 1321 and followed the road and railway south. On the road 10 miles north of PEGU a lorry full of coolies was attacked by both aircraft and after the third attack it caught fire. The locomotive shed at WAW was strafed but it could not be confirmed that it was occupied. Two rolling stock at ABYA were also attacked. At this point the aircraft parted, NE 807 followed the railway. The rail bridge at HNIN PALE is U/S and coolies were seen at work on a bypass bridge which is nearly complete to the north of the main bridge. Locomotive shelters at DONWUN were empty. On the road 3 miles north of THATON a large bus was seen parked facing south. Six attacks were made and it was left blazing. Aircraft off patrol at 1404.


    Aircraft N.V. 373 followed the roads. The bridge at QM.6895 is U/S and coolies were seen at work. A new span and piles of timber are on the bank. On the road junction north of HNIN PALE, a large lorry was seen under trees with oil drums. Its position made it difficult to attack but after many attempts it was hit and after the first bursts the lorry went up in flames and burned with oily black smoke. The HNIN PALE road bridge is U/S.

    Weather: light cumulus up to 10,000’ in patches.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
  4. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Getting back to the 231 Group raid on Amarapura, here is another original photograph taken on the raid. This one appears to have been taken on the return leg of the circuit (flown clockwise), as the Ava Bridge, crossing the Irrawaddy at Sagaing can just be made out.

    I also have the next photograph in this sequence which is useful in deciphering the marginalia. This one states. 7. 215/670. 25 Jan 45. F14/6000. SE-E, 1237.D. W/O Hadaway, X. Amarapura. As far as I can decipher this is as follows. 7 is the number of the photograph in this particular sequence. 215 is the Squadron and 670 is either the mission or sortie number. 25 Jan 45 is obviously the date. F14 is the aperture of the camera lens and 6,000 is the height of the aircraft. SE-E is the compass bearing of the aircraft. 1237 is the time that the photograph was taken. D is the identification code of the aircraft. W.O Hadaway. is the rank and surname of the officer in command of the aircraft. X. I don't know what this indicates. Amarapura is the target of the mission.

    Armapura 010.JPG
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
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  5. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Close up of the Ava Bridge. The broken spans can just be made out. The long white blob in the river is the sand bank which has built up behind the fallen spans.

    Armapura 012.JPG
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  6. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Here is a close up of the second aircraft in the first photograph The two white horizontal bars on the tail fins are the Squadron indicators that denote a 215 Squadron aircraft. Armapura 014.JPG
  7. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Armapura 011.JPG This is the second photograph of the sequence that I have but number 8 in the actual sequence. It was clearly taken moments after the previous photograph.

    The marginalia is identical to the previous photograph except for the sequence number.
  8. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    A close up of the second aircraft, 'M'. The serial number is partially visible on the fuselage above the letter M.. Armapura 013.JPG

    The Australian War Memorial has this photograph from the same raid, SUK1 3753. Their caption reads: Armapura (sic), Burma. C. 1945-02. Japanese flak bursting near an RAF Liberator aircraft of the Strategic Air Force, Eastern Air Command, as it approaches its target at Amarapura near Mandalay. The white X on the tail fin shows it to be a 356 Squadron aircraft.

    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
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  9. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    I might have a few... but the Sunderlands approaches to Indawgyi were all from the north... :plane:
    Good luck with your digging...
  10. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Getting back to the 18th November 1944 attack by 2 Beaufighters of 177 Squadron, RAF, as seen in post 23. I do not have any large scale maps that cover the Thaton - Hnin Pale area so I have not been able to determine the exact position of the railway bridge in the photograph.

    I have been able to plot the course of the raid on a larger scale map.

    1) On target at PEGU 13:21 hours.

    2) The Locomotive shed at WAW was strafed.

    3) Two rolling stock attacked at ABYA. At this point the aircraft parted, NE807 followed the railway.

    4) The Railway Bridge at HNIN PALE is U/S and coolies were seen at work on a bypass bridge which is nearly complete to the North of the main bridge.

    5) Locomotive sheds at DONWUN were empty.

    6) Bus attacked on the road 3 miles North of THATON.

    Aircraft off patrol at 14.04.

    maps 177 002 - Copy.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  11. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    This is presumably the U/S railway bridge at Hnin Pale. It does not seem to be a bypass bridge as it is being built from the existing railway embankment. Whether or not this is the bridge at QM6895 I cannot say for certain.

    Hnin Pale.JPG
  12. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Here is a close up of the bottom right hand corner of the photograph. As can be seen, several figures are running for cover. I am not if they are Japanese, Burmese or Indian but they do seem to be wearing shorts which may rule out them being Burmese. Either way, they must have had an unpleasant shock as a low level Beaufighter appeared out of the blue. I can only hope that they all survived the experience.
    Bridge 004.JPG
  13. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    This photograph also taken on the same raid appears to show the destroyed road bridge at Hnin Pale so was presumably taken by the crew of NV 373 who had followed the road rather than the railway. Hnin pale road.JPG
  14. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    As can be seen it is clearly a road bridge rather than a railway bridge.

    Hnin pale rod cu.JPG
  15. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Using Google maps I have located the Hnin Pale railway bridge which has been rebuilt. Just north of it appears to be the location of the unreconstructed road bridge. There appear to be several parts of the structure intact in the river to this day.

    Rothy likes this.
  16. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    This photograph, printed on Air Ministry 'Crown Copyright reserved' photographic paper, has no details as to its location. Some prolonged searching through online photographic archives has identified a more complete example. The Australian War Memorial photograph, SUK 14060, is described thus: Maymyo, Burma, April 1945. The railway sheds were completely gutted and only the skeleton steel work remained after an air attack by RAF Mosquito aircraft.
    Maymio station.jpg
  17. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Here is the same location marked on a map of Maymyo.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  18. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    And a slightly greater area.
    Maymyo 2.JPG
  19. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The Australian War Memorial collection has several other photographs of this raid and its aftermath. Here is PO2491.246 whose marginalia states: 15 13/45. 3/Jan/45, which indicates that it was the 15th photograph in a sequence taken on sortie no 13 by an aircraft of 45 Squadron RAF on the 3rd January 1945. The official AWM caption confirms this: Mandalay, Burma, 3rd January 1945. Cannon shells on engine sheds at Maymyo near Mandalay, during an attack by aircraft of No 45 (Mosquito) Squadron RAF.
  20. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    There appears to have been a follow up reconnaissance raid as the AWM have two further photographs of the Maymyo railway workshops. The first: SUK 14058, has the following caption: An air attack by RAF Mosquito aircraft on the railway sheds and a block of buildings believed to be a communication centre, which was raked by cannon shells and machine gun bullets from deck level height.

    SUK 14058.JPG

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