"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...

    Hi Findley and welcome...

    As to what regiment he was with (unless someone got lucky with the pin/haystack thing) is pretty tricky - several Northern English regiments were involved but where he came from does not necessarily mean he would have been with the most local...

    If you are very new to the mix I'd recommend you look through the book thread for the CBI...

    http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/books-films-tv-radio/30194-abda-cbi-seac-book-thread.html

    Some good starter reference material covering the whole campaign; publishing date first...
    1979 - Shelford Bidwell's, "The Chindit War - The Campaign In Burma 1944" - 300 pages and pics...
    1984 - Louis Allen's, "Burma - The Longest War - 1941-45" - 680 pages and pics...
    1997 - Phillip D Chinnery's "March Or Die" - 250 pages and pics...
    2002 - Julian Thompson's, "The IWM book of the War In Burma 1942-1945" - 450 pages and pics...
    2011 - Tony Redding's "War In The Wilderness" - 440 pages and pics...

    That's just some of them; they all vary in availability and content; some are more "overview" than others - Louis Allen's is possibly the best overview as it also has a Japanese perspective, but somewhat tricky to find (he was a translator and IO during the conlict); but any of them would make good entry pieces...
     
  2. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Post removed for personal reasons...
     
  3. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    "Blackpool" fell on this date in 1944...

    Rest in peace all who never left... :poppy:

    My father was one of the men who "got out", but he never left... it lived with him for the remainder of his life: the scars from the three times he was wounded, the recurrent malaria he suffered, the shrapnel that would occasionally surface; the memories...
     
  4. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I've read Masters and Rhodes-James, Blackpool was truly awful. I may be in a minority in this, but I think it showed some basic flaws in the whole LRP idea.
     
  5. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    It was everything LRP was not, whereas "White City" was the perfect Wingate-ian "Stronghold"... far enough away from the front-line to be a real sharp stick in the Japanese gut...

    LRP was geared up for "hit-and-run" but Blackpool was, quite frankly, a disaster; it was the best of a bad situation though... too close to easily mobile troops, too close to the monsoon season, and then, no way of supplying them, and by rights the Japanese should have finished them off...

    No one really knows why they let them go...
     
  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    After some reading (less than you have done, admittedly), my general impression is that the Chindits on THURSDAY were neither fish nor fowl, a mix of guerrilla, commando, and conventional infantry without the invisibility of the first, the mobility of the second, or the heavy weapons and durability of the third. They did some fine work nonetheless, but I think that Calvert was damned lucky (as well as good) at White City. The Japs learned from that fight, as their use of artillery at Blackpool showed. For a lightly equipped and tenuously supplied force like the Chindits to sit in a stronghold was asking for it, and poor Masters and 111 Bde reaped the penalty of a flawed concept. As you say, LRP was best at 'hit and run' and the further they moved away from that the worse things got.
     
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    It was everything LRP was not, whereas "White City" was the perfect Wingate-ian "Stronghold"... far enough away from the front-line to be a real sharp stick in the Japanese gut...

    LRP was geared up for "hit-and-run" but Blackpool was, quite frankly, a disaster; it was the best of a bad situation though... too close to easily mobile troops, too close to the monsoon season, and then, no way of supplying them, and by rights the Japanese should have finished them off...

    No one really knows why they let them go...

    You're so right HC, the best of a bad situation.....too far from the railway to be effective and horribly overlooked on both sides by Japanese artillery.

    Why the Japanese didn't attempt to chase them down? I think they were as exhausted as the Chindits by then and had one eye on what was happening across the border in Assam.
     
  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    After some reading (less than you have done, admittedly), my general impression is that the Chindits on THURSDAY were neither fish nor fowl, a mix of guerrilla, commando, and conventional infantry without the invisibility of the first, the mobility of the second, or the heavy weapons and durability of the third. They did some fine work nonetheless, but I think that Calvert was damned lucky (as well as good) at White City. The Japs learned from that fight, as their use of artillery at Blackpool showed. For a lightly equipped and tenuously supplied force like the Chindits to sit in a stronghold was asking for it, and poor Masters and 111 Bde reaped the penalty of a flawed concept. As you say, LRP was best at 'hit and run' and the further they moved away from that the worse things got.

    Hi TTH,

    The biggest influence on how the Chindits of 1944 were used was Wingate's death. It is to be assumed that he would not of allowed Stilwell to use them in an open infantry-like way, as seen at places like Mogaung. But who can be sure?
     
  9. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    The use of artillery by the Japanese was not (easily) possible at "White City" as the distance from the front was significantly far to make it prohibitive to use - the 77th's "floaters" would have been able to make inroads if they were dropped down from the front, or brought up from the rear, as they (the 77th) straddled the line...
    "Blackpool"/Namkwin was close enough to transport their equipment, set it up, have their sport, and be home in time for afternoon tea-ceremony; they even brought in anti-aircraft guns and aimed straight in for the sheer heck of it...

    Calvert's comments on the failings of "Blackpool" are pertinent (page 162 "Prisoners Of Hope") ...

    "... Another reason, I think, for the failure at Blackpool was its too close proximity to the enemy’s front. Immediately behind a front there is the divisional and corps artillery. Behind that are the reserves of infantry and artillery and much ammunition close at hand. Then there is a gap in which for many hundreds of miles, perhaps, there are practically no troops at all. This is the same in all theatres of war, and it is quite obvious to anyone driving up to the front from the rear. Now that gap is the best area for attacking the enemy’s line of com­munication. If you get closer to the front you meet his reserves, who without much movement and inconvenience can be set upon you..."

    Now here I'll point out that he may have continued with a deliberate barbed jap and "Uncle" Joe... ;)
    Calvert continues from page 162...

    "... Ground commanders who have a limited vision are always trying to get guerrilla or airborne or penetration forces mixed up just behind the enemy’s front. This does no good as they are then easily destroyed. At Blackpool, the artillery was already present, and had hardly to make any move to start its bombardment - whereas at White City, which was about the right distance behind the lines, the enemy had to form a base, build up his artillery, and generally redeploy new forces, all the time being harassed and weakened by our lighter forces..."

    ... And here he concludes it perfectly...

    "... On a long single line of communications it does not matter where one breaks it any more than where one breaks an oil pipeline or railway line. In fact, the further away from his main centres one breaks it, the better. Any railwayman would much prefer to mend a bridge close to a large junction where he has his engineers, his material, his reconnaissance parties, etc., and where he does not have to make new administrative arrangements for the feeding of his labour force..."

    "Clydeside" was doomed, like it's original name, from the outset, and Stillwell decided to make the "Limeys" lives a misery; was he just getting back at the Brits because he could, whereas he could not push the Chinese forces so easily; whereas he had allowed his own forces to be decimated... views I'm still working on...
     
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I can't defend Stilwell's conduct towards Special Force and I don't want to, but I don't think it was motivated by pure spite or active, conscious malice. He drove GALAHAD to extinction too, and they were American troops. If anything, GALAHAD was worse off because of that; Lentaigne could at least appeal to Slim and Mountbatten, but poor Hunter and the 5307th were absolutely stuck. What Stilwell did to that outfit was a crime, right down there with Clark's abuse of his infantry in Italy and MacArthur's flogging of the 32nd Division at Buna.

    To give him his due, Stilwell wanted desperately to take Mytkyina and he felt he needed Chindit help to do it--though of course he would rather have had US troops and resented being beholden to the British. He was focusing on an important objective, but he had tunnel vision and didn't see or care what he was doing to both his British and American troops. Disgracefully, he did not go forward to check--as he did so often on the Chinese. Apparently he simply assumed that the Chindits and GALAHAD were whiners and their complaints unworthy of serious investigation. His staff made things much worse. They kept information from him and were apparently a lot more anti-British than Stilwell was himself.

    I think Stilwell's destruction of GALAHAD and Special Force was at least partly rooted in the complexities of his personality. He hated the staff duties that took so much of his time. He took pride in his physical toughness (which he overrated), and he had contempt for those who couldn't stand the gaff or "needed to have their hands held." He saw himself as a rough, tough, no-nonsense frontline commander, and that was certainly what he wanted to be. Unfortunately, his hydra-headed appointment wouldn't let him play that role as much as he wanted to, and when he got an opportunity to command in the field he overdid the part. He had to show that he was tougher than anybody (and especially tougher than the Limeys), and so he imposed impossible standards on his British and American troops. Stilwell was a highly intelligent and very able man, but he also had a wide streak of emotional childishness and he indulged it at the expense of his troops and the alliance. (A trait he shared with Wingate, I think.) He spent almost three years in CBI, but he never understood that self-restraint and consideration for the positions of others were vital parts of his mission and essential qualities for any high commander.

    I admire Stilwell in many ways, but his conduct in North Burma was indefensible. A commander who treats his country's allies and his own men like that does not deserve to keep his job.
     
  11. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Stilwell is a fascinating person and I believe he died before he could give his own account of what took place...

    I'm still cross-referencing material and have his diary (essential for cross-referencing with "Popinjay" Mountbatten's) in my "to-do" pile for the OCR; the Barbara Tuchman book is a great biography work too...

    I think it can be said that he was a severely frustrated man and that his dislike of the British "Empire" (and all it stood for) tainted his outlook. I believe the greatest part of his frustration was having to deal with Chiang Kai Shek's persistant looking over his shoulder towards the Communists, and the general malaise that had spread through the Chinese (non :rolleyes:) fighting force having been pushed back so far by the Japanese occupation...
     
  12. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Be careful with Allen's book regarding Chindits, the ORBAT in the annex is wrong, it only lists infantry units as columns whereas there were also two artillery regts operating as infantry, as well as artillery as artillery.
     
  13. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  14. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Ta for that, both of you...

    Wills... I'm presuming (without dipping into it yet) that these are in conjunction with Mountbatten's report, which was also published that year...?

    Maps... the primary reason for heading towards LA's work is his Japanese references, which can be considered to be scarce to non-existant... but the cross-referencing I'm playing with should minimise problems... :rolleyes:

    Presently stalled whilst I complete a project round the house or SWMBO will not be pleased... o_O :D
     
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Ta for that, both of you...

    Wills... I'm presuming (without dipping into it yet) that these are in conjunction with Mountbatten's report, which was also published that year...?

    Maps... the primary reason for heading towards LA's work is his Japanese references, which can be considered to be scarce to non-existant... but the cross-referencing I'm playing with should minimise problems... :rolleyes:

    Presently stalled whilst I complete a project round the house or SWMBO will not be pleased... o_O :D

    You struck oil yet mate?:D
     
  16. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Routine despatches: All general officers have written up despatches, not all have been published yet.
     
  17. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    You struck oil yet mate?:D

    Nope, but I certainly hit paydirt...! Where once was a "ski-slope" there now resides steps and I can say goodbye to the routine, post storm floods with the soakaway reversed... ;)

    Wills... it new ref material for me, thanks...
     
  18. Boldrewood

    Boldrewood Junior Member

    My grandfather was the "Umbrella Man" mentioned in the Chindit Navy article. I would like to know more about his involvement in the "special forces" but I have been unable to find anything about his WW2 service. He was also a veteren of WW1.
     
  19. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Howdy and welcome; nice article...

    F D ? Frederick Duncan...? a couple of early references at TNA...
    This might be a promotion post WWI - found other references to that name there but not a lot else...

    http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/31574/pages/12033/page.pdf

    Not someone I'm specifically familiar with as my research moved on to this area only recently, err, a few years back... :rolleyes:
    I'll see if there is anything more mentioned in what I have...

    What more do you know...?

    Ken
     
  20. Billy65

    Billy65 New Member

    Hi
    I'm new to this online posting stuff so please bear with me.
    My father served with the Cameronians in Burma and like everyone else of his generation he never discussed it in any detail. Near the end of his life (he died in 2001) he talked about the withdrawal from Blackpool (not with me but with a friend of mine who had served with the Royal Marines in the Falklands).
    Down the years though he did talk about the Sunderlands taking off the wounded and how they threw grenades into the lake to scare off the crocodiles, a story that in later life was made up to quench the curiosity of a boy growing up in the 1950's.
    I do have some information although I haven't put in the efforts that you obviously have.
    Billy
     

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