"Blackpool" and the 111th Indian Infantry Brigade

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Hebridean Chindit, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Is there anyone with a particular interest in these events...?

    I'm working towards a consise history of the 1st Cameronians involvement in the battle - the work has sidetracked quite considerably...

    It originally started with my father's notes from his call up in '41 to "Blackpool" and his recuperation post the battle, but this has moved on considerably...

    There are primary published works on the subject... John Master's "The Road Past Mandalay" and Richard Rhodes-James' "Chindit" but both centre on Battalion command.

    Secondary works include John Hedley's "Jungle Fighter", an article within the Covenanter by the Reverend Donald MacKay, and quotes within Phillip D Chinnerys' "March Or Die", Julian Thompson's "Forgotten Voices Of Burma" and "War In Burma, 1942-45" - the last three contain references from first hand accounts - I need to do the IWM trip but I'm dreading it...

    I'm presently talking to a "Blackpool" survivor (1st Cameronians) and working through photos I took of the complete 111th Indian Division diaries (although I've either missed a pair of pages or they are missing - still cropping images - errors happen...)

    Plenty to do...

    Any interest or pointers welcome...
  2. Pete Keane

    Pete Keane Senior Member

    Anything relating to Burma works for me....

    I've pushed titbits to Bamboo as I come across them, will do the same for you, although the second Chindit op was far larger in scope and manpower - can see ot would be easy to get sidetracked!

    Hebridean Chindit likes this.
  3. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    You basically mentioned all books related to 111th Indian Brigade as far as I know. You on the other hand didn't mentioned this one

    Towill, Bill.
    A Chindit's Chronicle.

    Account of a participant of the 2nd Chindit mission, Operation Thursday. He served in a Gurhka column in 77th Brigade under Calvert. He writes of his time seeing action from the landings to the defense of Broadway. After this, his unit was transfered to the command of Masters of 111th Brigade, and he describes his participation in the siege of Blackpool and the final actions.

    Author served with 3/9th Gurkha Rifles during 2nd Chindits. I guess you know that all citations for awards you can find on chindits.info. I have citation for award for Gnr G.W. Parchment who was attached to 1st Cameronians and which are not displayed on that site, if you are interested.
    Hebridean Chindit likes this.
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi HC,

    I may have something for you soon. I just need to firm things up in another area. Should be very interesting for your 'Blackpool' whirlpool!!!:)
  5. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Cheers Sol, I've heard of the book but not the reference to his involvement with the 111th - just sent him an email...

    ... I have citation for award for Gnr G.W. Parchment who was attached to 1st Cameronians and which are not displayed on that site, if you are interested.

    Yep - I'll pm my email - many thanks...

    Steve, I'll make that call in the early part of the week - you've hit the interest spot... :D
  6. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    The citatation that Enes forwarded to me again shows something that has surprised me about "Blackpool" - although the original name ("Clydeside") was compromised in an open transmission it remained in use - even to post the fall...!

    My reply to Enes...

    You have provided me with something I consider to be quite significant – when I went through the Battalion diaries I noticed that the name “Clydeside” was still in use, significantly into the campaign, although history records it being dropped due to a signalling error. This document was signed by both Masters (111th) and Brennan (26 Column) on 29th May – the event took place on the 24th – what history records as “Blackpool” FELL on the 25th May – they were still calling it “Clydeside” after the event…

    The joys of minutiae...

    ps - I've ordered that book and your referencing it may have resulted in something quite significant for me... once I can be more certain I'll post... many thanks again...

    Oh Lords of the Talk... Have I posted this in the wrong section...? Now found the CBI department - for the sake of order I'm happy to have this placed where I guess it belongs...?
  7. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    This also could be posted in the ABDA-CBI-SEAC book thread but I chose to post it here. Next should be published another book about 2nd Chindits, this time it's a personal memoir of Frank Baines who served with 111st Indian Brigade as officer of the Brigade H.Q. protection unit. More about this book you can read here

    Pen and Sword Books: Chindit Affair
  8. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Frank Baines' died some years back - he was an author... there is also his biography being published by the same author... both scheduled for publication the same month...

    I find it quite interesting the amount of stories now coming to light... how many more are there to find...

    Does anyone know if (then) Major BJ "Tim" "Breezy" Brennan wrote up anything...?
  9. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Secondary works include .......an article within the Covenanter by the Reverend Donald MacKay


    Is the Rev Donald Mackay mentioned the one who was seconded to 1st Bn Northamptonshire Regt in 1944-5 and won an MC? If so my father in law served in his platoon and I would be interested in any writing of his, [particularly if it refers to his service in late 1943 and on into 1944). Does anyone have copies or know where I could access this?

  10. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    ... Rev Donald Mackay mentioned the one who was seconded to 1st Bn Northamptonshire Regt in 1944-5 and won an MC? If so my father in law served in his platoon and I would be interested in any writing of his, [particularly if it refers to his service in late 1943 and on into 1944). Does anyone have copies or know where I could access this?


    Not a lot of info on him that I have been able to find - This one was seconded to 26 Column, 1st Cameronians from 1st Bn Royals Scots...

    Article is on line here but has text errors (minor, but...)


    I've recently been given a scan of a reprint (DEKHO Autumn 2008) and I'm cross-referencing it for my notes - once finished I'd be happy to send you a copy (personal use only, obviously), but I think this not the guy your looking for...

    Good luck
  11. keston

    keston Junior Member

    my late father Michael John Brennan(360/8285) was a Chindit with the Cameronians.He was conscipted into the 6th border regiment at Carlisle in 1942,and sent to India via south africa in 1943, when he was transfered to the cameronians.He was part of operation Thursday as a vickers machine gunner.I have obtained his war service records ,but it appears no cameronian war diaries were kept.he was i belive in B company part of 26th column.After his time in Burma he was sent back to India for medical treatment ,then out to Singapore in November 1945.Then home in August 1946.He never said much about Burma except it was hot,to many leeches,and every thing was heavy.He never complained .I have several photos which i shall have posted quite soon,which may be of intrest to someone.
  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Keston,

    Welcome aboard, Ken will be very pleased to have a fellow Cameronian family onboard.

    At the National Archives I am sure there is a diary for the 1st Cameronians for 1944.

    I know there are Missing in Action reports for the battalion there, but most of these involve their time in 1942 during the retreat from Burma.

  13. keston

    keston Junior Member

    Thanks for that.
  14. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Welcome Keston, sorry for not dropping a line here before now as I've been somewhat distracted...
    There are 1st Cameronian diaries at Kew but there is not a great deal within them to be quite honest, some interesting details...
    The diaries for the 111th Indian Division are a lot more comprehensive (which has been my primary distraction) - hundreds of pages to go through...
    I presume you know the basic books that detail what they went through...?

    Do post those pictures though... 26 Column had it rough...

    There is another book I've found that was published posthumously about a member of 26 Column called Fred Patterson and entitled "From Rattray And Beyond" - privately published and a very good read...
  15. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    I've had this moved into a more appropriate home (ta VP) as it was one of my earlier posts here...

    I've got the 111th diaries sorted into dated images now so if anyone needs specific help with dates and involvement of any of the brigades I'd be happy to assist...

    Also have the 77th (presently unsorted) but that's more for cross-referencing... again same story - wouldn't be too hard to find something if you have a date to go on...
  16. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    A while back the most-excellent Bamboo43 sent me an article from a rather scarce magazine in his possesion which is rather similar in structure to SEAC based publications I've seen... usually I use OCR to ensure I get an accurate transcription... well, even though Steve's scans were excellent the ruddy thing declined to play ball and I had to actually do some work...
    Neither of us are certain of its origins - I'd estimate 1946 ish - no details of who wrote what or when or publishers, etc - cover posted here...


    I've split it into sections and will post them into the most appropriate of my threads...
  17. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    The first article relates to another scarcely told element of the Chindit operations and recounts the recovery of the wounded and sick from the failed "Blackpool" stronghold - if anyone knows the original writer I'd love to know to give credit where it is due... I've tried to preserve the writing style exactly how it was written... there are Sunderland/"Gert and Daisy" links to this story which is where the other part is posted...

    The Chindit Navy…
    This is the story of the Chindit Navy – a valiant little fleet of quaint country boats, river craft and sapper assault and reconnaissance boats whose valuable work in the evacuation of casualties and maintaining supplies hwen all other means of transport failed is an epic of the 1944 Burma operations.
    Known variously as “Nelson” force, “Kayforce” and “Howforce.” The fleet had no business in deep waters. It plied the shallow, swift running and hazardous chaungs of the Mogaung valley, and the unplumbed depths of Indawgyi Lake, the 15-mile long stretch of water 40 miles west of Mogaung.
    About the middle of June when the giant Sunderland flying boats were no longer available for evacuation of casualties from the lake and extreme monsoon conditions had reduced all flying operations to a minimum more than 300 casualties still remained at the lakeside bases of Namma and Nyaungbin. The responsibility for their safe evacuation was entrusted to a brigade of General Lentaigne’s Chindits, and Major K. M. Robertson R.E., at once commenced the task of constructing his “fleet” which would take the wounded and sick Chindits down the Indaw Chaung to Kamaing.
    “Kay” Robertson decided his “Kayforce” fleet should be constructed from sapper Ranger boats which would be more reliable than country boats with wounded and often helpless men as passengers, although more difficult to operate in the ever changing river courses. Soon afterwards Dakotas flew over Namma, constructional base at the south end of the lake, to drop fifty of these rubber craft. Technicians who had only had five days in which to learn the art of dropping from the skies were sent in by parachute.
    Sappers quickly got to work and with bamboo framework from the lakeside jungle, five boats were lashed together, given a superstructure and mast of bamboo, two 22-hp outboard engines attached, and the first “Dreadnought” was launched. A canopy of tarpaulin to give protection from the sun and monsoon completed the craft which were found to be extremely “lakeworthy”. Each was constructed to carry 35 casualties and a crew of five, while one of the fleet of ten was specially fitted with 12 double-tier bunks to carry more serious cases.
    Known throughout Special Force as “The Umbrella Man” because of his habit of always carrying an umbrella, even when leading patrols round the Jap infested shores of Lake Indawgyi, Major F. D. Edmeades gave invaluable help to the “Chindit Navy” by his advice and practical help in making boats out of the materials which were growing by the lakeside. Living in the jungles in Burma for 25 years, where he was employed as a forestry expert, no one, not even the Kachins, knew the country better than Maj. Edmaedes.
    Named After Warships
    Finishing touch when “the fleet” was ready to sail, complete with casualties, was the launching and christening ceremony in which each vessel received the name of a famous warship and was given a union jack pennant, specially flown for the occasion. The flagship, under “Admiral” Robertson, was called “Ark Royal and she was specially equipped with wireless to keep communications with the Bedford and Hertfordshire Regiment, who were given responsibility for the complete evacuation of all casualties.
    The remaining nine “dreadnoughts” under “Ark Royal” were divided into three squadrons. The first under Captain H. T. Watson, R. E., comprised the “Vindictive”, “Valiant” and “Vanguard”; the second led by Capt. L. Turner, and later by Sgt. R. Ashford, the “Renown”, “Revenge” and “Resolution”; and the third squadron under Sgt. T. Hart with personnel from the Black Watch and York and Lancs Regiments commando platoons had the “Barham”, “Benbow” and “Blenheim”.
    Originally it was intended to have two protective vessels manned by two completely armed infantry sections but by the time the fleet sailed the lake area had been cleared of Japs. But although the “dreadnoughts” could boast no guns or heavy armour the crews manning them were armed with tommy guns and brens. A special repair ship called the “Gryphon”, completely fitted out as a workshop, and a number of smaller auxiliary craft brought the fleet’s total to eighteen.
    With the exception of cut bamboo the whole of the materials used in the construction and maintenance of the fleet was dropped by air and the speed with which the sappers worked in assembling the craft can be assessed by the fact that the last seven were put together and afloat between 10 a.m. and darkness on 27th June.
    On the 28th the fleet sailed for Nyaungbin, 15 miles up the lake. It made an impressive sight as it moved in convoy over the placid waters on an unusually fine day. The maiden voyage was completed without incident and on the morning of the 29th the 320 casualties were loaded for the downstream trip to Kamaing. That same evening they reached Chaungwa.
    Pushing on at first light to make the most of the calm weather on the Indaw Chaung two squadrons had left when a signal was received that the flying boats, “Gert” and “Daisy”, were returning to fly out more casualties. One of these squadrons was recalled but Sgt. Hart pushed on with his three dreadnoughts; harboured at Manwe that evening and reached Kamaing on 1st July.
    Wounded Clear Blockage
    Returning from Chaungwa to the lake the fleet operated successfully between the hospital base at Nyaungbin and the flying boats. Two dreadnoughts made the trip to Manwe and evacuated 70 casualties to Lakhren. They had an exciting voyage for the chaung was blocked by a huge timber dam swept down by monsoon rains.
    Thirty yards of jammed trees locked in a swift-flowing current had to be cleared by Sgt. Ashford and his casualties. In spite of malaria, jungle sores, and other sickness. West African Chindits took to the water and dived for several hours in treacherous changing currents to clear a five yard wide channel for the “dreadnoughts”.
    As only three more sorties were flown by the Sunderlands some 200 casualties were left to be brought out by the “dreadnoughts” which, in addition to acting as tenders, ran a shuttle service up the Indaw Chaung and across the lake many hundreds of time, with casualties, food supplies and petrol. During these operations “Ark Royal” and “Vindictive” fouled a weed block and for thirty hours were stranded before finally forging their way through the mass of vegetation much as an ice-breaker drives through an ice pack.
    Only One Accident
    The “Nelson” force continued its lake and river operations, bringing out Chindit casualties whenever the Kamaing hospital could accept them. More than 350 wounded and sick men were evacuated without the loss of a single patient. Gusty squalls and miniature monsoon gales blowing across the lake had all been braved by the “dreadnoughts”; flat-bottomed boats not designed for breasting five feet waves. But there was only one minor accident and precious few patients even suffered from wet feet.
    The force also ferried some 350 mules of Brigadier “Mad Mike” Calvert’s brigade and Chinese forces in the area and also transported many jeeps across the river. Sappers constructed numerous bridges in the lake area; helped in sounding and charting the “unplumbed depth” of Indawgyi Lake and proved themselves first-class motor mechanics and river navigators.
    Operating north from Kamaing and from Mogaung to road head, another section of force known as “Howforce” established a successful L of C. Under command of Lt. Col. H. W. Howell, its outboard engine-powered country boats and river craft did sterling work at a time when extreme monsoon conditions restricted air supplies to a bare minimum, and before the road to Kamaing had been opened.
    This force encountered very rough and difficult navigation in its operations up and down the uncharted Mogaung but under the guidance of Col. Howell – a onetime Dartmouth midshipman and naval officer - there were few mishaps and much valuable material found its way throught their hands to the Chindits.
    “Howforce” had the distinction of being the only part of the fleet to have action with the enemy. One of its boats captured a Jap who was bobbing down the Mogaung rapids in a barrel-like craft. But he was half drowned from river and monsoon and meekly surrendered…
  18. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Ken,

    These booklets do turn up every now and then on EBay and similar places. They were published by Frank Owen at the request of the Supreme Allied Commander of SEAC, and we all know who that was.

    They were printed by the Statesman Press based in Calcutta. As you say they were probably published in the latter stages of the war, mostly cobbled together from previous newspaper articles across the theatre.

  19. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Ta Steve... could have sworn I already asked you that... o_O amended the other posting...

    Much like yourself, I have permanent ebay searches and it's not turned up on my watch... I haven't checked ABE recently but you and the regulars on the book thread have this pretty much covered when it comes to building up the library... B)
  20. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Ta Steve... could have sworn I already asked you that... o_O amended the other posting...

    Much like yourself, I have permanent ebay searches and it's not turned up on my watch... I haven't checked ABE recently but you and the regulars on the book thread have this pretty much covered when it comes to building up the library... B)

    This is where I have been very fortunate over the last 5 years, most of these types of booklet, magazine, or papers have been given to me by veterans from the campaign. Their way of helping out my research.:D

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