Burma-India and the ‘forgotten’ Victoria Crosses

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by airlana, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. airlana

    airlana Member

    Question: “In which country were the most Victoria Crosses won during WW2”?

    ‘Country’ means, geographical area in which the VC was awarded, and not the nationality of the recipient.

    Many would probably say France, Germany, Italy, or Greece.

    However the correct answer may surprise.

    Of the 182 Victoria Crosses awarded in WW2 (actually 181 Medals + one Bar) no less than 26 were awarded in Burma, followed by Italy 22, Germany 20, France 18.

    Here’s the breakdown of all 182 VC’s

    Burma …………….26
    India ………………..3
    Malaya…………….. 4
    Singapore…………. 2
    Borneo …………….2
    Japan……………… 1
    Hong Kong……….. 1
    New Guinea ……….8
    Solomons …………2
    Asia-Pacific …….49 total


    England………….. 3
    Atlantic………….. 4
    France………….. 18
    Germany ………..20
    Belgium…………. 7
    Holland………….. 9
    Norway………….. 6
    Greece………….. 3
    Italy …………….22
    Crete……………. 4
    Sicily……………. 1
    Mediterranean…... 1
    Europe …………98 total

    Egypt ……………8
    Tunisia ………....11
    Libya ……………9
    Abyssinia …….….2
    Algeria …….…….I
    Syria………….… I
    Somalia ……....…1
    Lebanon...….…... 1
    Eritrea ……….…1
    Middle East
    & Africa ….… 35 total


    Field Marshall William “Bill” Slim once said to those in the Burma-India theatre of World War Two.

    “When you go home, don’t worry about what to tell your loved ones and friends about service in Asia. No one will know where you were, or where it is if you do. You are and will remain, “The Forgotten Army”

    There’s no shortage of books on the subject, covering the operations and battles of the region – the long retreat from Burma to India in 1942, the Wingate Operations, The Arakan, Imphal and Kohima, and the retaking of Burma from the Japanese in 1945.

    All but one of the 26 VCs awarded in Burma and 3 in India, were for actions in the 1944/1945 period. Yet by comparison with other campaigns of WW2, there’s not exactly a lot written, or even known by many, about these Victoria Cross awards.

    “The Forgotten War”, “The Forgotten Army”, “The Forgotten Air Force”, have all been used before, and rightly so, to describe the war in India & Burma.

    Perhaps we could add to that list “The Forgotten Victoria Crosses”

    What do our readers think?

    Ash
     
    sol and wtid45 like this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Nice post...What was ya source out of curiosity :)

    I wonder how the ratings would stand for the GC - My money would be on Great Britain.

    Thanks again,
    Andy
     
  3. izzy

    izzy Senior Member

    Who won the V.C in Japan ?
     
  4. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

  5. airlana

    airlana Member

    Nice post...What was ya source out of curiosity :)

    Thanks again,
    Andy

    Hi Andy

    Pretty simple really and no one single source. Combination of books, google and even wikipedia. Just went through all 182 awards and entered into an Excel spreadsheet and sorted from there.

    And yes, even I was surprised with the result. I knew of quite a few VCs in Burma but had no idea there was 26 in all.

    regards
    Ash
     
  6. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

    Good stuff Ash really interesting information. The one that stuck out for me was the VC awarded in Somalia any more info on that one?
     
  7. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Burma …………….26
    India ………………..3


    There was more VCs awarded in India then those 3. Many location are wrongly placed in Burma instead in India. For example in Sergeant Hanson Victor Turner's citation stays "In Burma, at Ningthoukong ...", while Ningthoukong is in India. You have same thing for Sudabar Netrabahadur Thapa, Naik Agansing Rai, Rifleman Ganju Lama and Lieutenant Alec George Horwood.
     
  8. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

  9. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

  10. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the quick reply Sol. The East African campaign is one I have very little knowledge of and should probably rectify that.

    Well if you wont to learn more you can start with this one:

    HyperWar: United Kingdom London Gazette Despatches

    No. 37594 Somaliland: despatch on operations in the Protectorate 1939-1940, by General Sir Archibald P. Wavell, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East
    It's short but give really detailed account of Italian invasion of the British Somaliland.

    Cheers
    Enes
     
  11. airlana

    airlana Member

    There was more VCs awarded in India then those 3. Many location are wrongly placed in Burma instead in India. For example in Sergeant Hanson Victor Turner's citation stays "In Burma, at Ningthoukong ...", while Ningthoukong is in India. You have same thing for Sudabar Netrabahadur Thapa, Naik Agansing Rai, Rifleman Ganju Lama and Lieutenant Alec George Horwood.

    Thanks for pointing this out. Could be an error in some of the sources I used or maybe when I did the sorting. I'll recheck my information and see how we go. It is important to have it correct.

    Ash
     
  12. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    After addition check I'm not sure about Lieutenant Alec George Horwood, but for other four from my post I'm absolutely sure that they were awarded with VC for actions in India.

    Cheers
    Enes
     
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Lieutenant Alec George Horwood VC DCM.

    Monuments to Courage states: Mortally wounded during his VC action, leading an attack on a ridge near Kyauchaw, Burma.
     
  14. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Lieutenant Alec George Horwood VC DCM.

    Monuments to Courage states: Mortally wounded during his VC action, leading an attack on a ridge near Kyauchaw, Burma.

    Thanks Andy. So there were 7 VC awarded in India.

    In London Gazette citations for four members of 17th Indian Division I mentioned earlier stay that they were awarded with VC for actions in Burma but in fact in was in India. Here is a touristic map of Manipur State in India:

    Manipur Map

    and you can find Ningthoukong just south of Bishnupur (place were Turner and Lama earned their VCs). Thapa and Rai were awarded with their VCs for actions in hills west of Bishnupur near the Silchar Track.
     
  15. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Sol,

    The concept that Ash has done with the locations of where they were earned isn't one I have ever considered but I do like the idea and it does make for interesting analysis.

    Andy
     
  16. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Sol,

    The concept that Ash has done with the locations of where they were earned isn't one I have ever considered but I do like the idea and it does make for interesting analysis.

    Andy

    I absolutely agree with you. It is very interesting and no doubt that Ash had done a great job.

    Cheers
    Enes
     
  17. airlana

    airlana Member

    Thanks for all the replies. I've gone back through my original files and see now how it's got a bit confusing. My information was based on the citations. As we all know, military matters are not always straight forward and can easily be misinterpreted. That's what has happened here.

    Take for example the case of William Basil Turner. The citation reads "In Burma, at Ningthoukong........" and I showed this as Burma in my list. As sol correctly points out, Ningthoukong is in India, just south of Bishenpur on the Imphal-Tiddim road.

    In the case of John Pennington Harman the citation reads "In Burma at Kohima.......", but knowing Kohima is in India, I listed the award as India.

    The confusion stems from, I believe, the British Military classifying Assam in India and Bengal in India (now Bangladesh) as part of Burma for the purpose of the campaign and accordingly, awards were often credited as being won in Burma.

    Like the Burma Star, many were awarded to those who never set foot in Burma, but their service in either Assam or Bengal, still qualified them for the Star.

    At this stage I think we can agree to say that all 29 awards I listed (3 India and 26 Burma) were all won in the Burma Campaign but not necessarilly in Burma in the geographic sense.

    I'll go through the list in the next day or so and show exactly where each of the awards was won. Stay tuned.

    regards and thanks to all

    Ash
     
  18. airlana

    airlana Member

    After addition check I'm not sure about Lieutenant Alec George Horwood, but for other four from my post I'm absolutely sure that they were awarded with VC for actions in India.

    Cheers
    Enes

    Yes sol, quite correct.

    Alec George Horwood won his VC at Kyauchaw which is on the Kaladan River about 40 miles north of Akyab in Arakan, Burma.

    I redoing the list - see post #17

    Ash
     
  19. airlana

    airlana Member

    Sol,

    The concept that Ash has done with the locations of where they were earned isn't one I have ever considered but I do like the idea and it does make for interesting analysis.

    Andy

    Andy, I'm redoing the list - see post #17

    I've always felt the location adds so much more to the 'story' which is the reason for the project.

    Just found your great thread on the Victoria Cross last night (note to self - use search box more often :)). Full marks to you on completing such a huge task.

    regards
    Ash
     
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Ash,

    One of the joys of being out of work along with Jeremy Kyle :D

    Andy
     

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