Burma map 93 A/15 and 93 A

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Matt Poole, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Hi, folks.

    Our friend Steve (Bamboo43) recently found an on-line 1:250,000 US Army Map Service topo map showing the place name LONSA -- and a village by this name is where his grandfather was captured in April 1943. You can see a piece of this map on Steve's website at:


    You will find LONSA on a ridgeline which has a SW-NE alignment, and the text for LONSA is just northwest of the text for SHWELI RIVER. The other villages in the immediate area are:

    LWEWEIN and

    Steve says that this is definitely the correct geographic area.

    At this point, however, we don't know, for certain, that this map's LONSA is the village where the capture took place. I'm trying to help Steve pin this down.

    I have consulted the very detailed old Burma names gazetteer covering this part of Burma, but this LONSA is not found. Disappointment!

    But...because the name appears on the mid-1950s US 1:250,000 map, it is highly likely that LONSA was taken from a smaller scale source map used to compile the 1:250,000. There are two main choices, both Survey of India maps which would have been used by British forces during the war:

    93 A/15 (scale of 1:63,360)
    93 A (scale of 1:126,720, I believe).

    MIGHT SOMEONE HAVE A COPY OF EITHER??? If yes, then would you look on the area corresponding to the LONSA place name found on the 1:250,000? Does the LONSA village name appear here?

    Because LONSA appears in the old records Steve has found, it is logical to conclude that they referred to the original 93 A/15 or 93 A maps.

    Well, enough for now...first thing is to find the maps. I do know that the British Library might hold this map, so I'll be checking with them, but I'm hoping someone can post a scan or digital image of the LONSA place name, so that I can pinpoint the site more accurately before searching for wartime air photo images.

    Keeping fingers crossed,

    dbf and bamboo43 like this.
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for posting this request on my behalf, much appreciated. I am fairly confident that this is the village, the intention was to try for the Chinese borders, many men from Column 7 achieved this aim and were eventually looked after by Chinese troops and taken to Kunming, before flying back to India.

  3. Our bill

    Our bill Well-Known Member

    Hi, matt. Wow l followed your link spent hours reading some great stuff then found my dad on a photo . Unbelievable ,trouble is its thrown more questions than answers . So thanks for the link
  4. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    Congratulations Steve. A great website. What a tremendous amount of research you seem to have done.

    I don’t know if this is the area you are looking at, but there is a Lonsa (alternative Loncha) mentioned at the bottom of page 74 "Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States" (1901). Archive.org

    bamboo43 likes this.
  5. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Maureen, excellent work on your part.

    A couple of days ago I found that same on-line names gazetteer with LONCHA / LONSA in it. This particular volume was missing from the library of gazetteers at my place of employment, but it's great that an Internet version exists. I didn't have time earlier in the day to note the details of this LONCHA / LONSA, and then you beat me to the punch by posting the link.

    I am guessing that it is just too far to the northeast to be the correct place.

    From the gazetteer (1901):

    LONCHA or LONSA. -- A Kachin village in Track No. 9, Bhamo district, situated in 24 deg 19' north latitude and 97 deg 26' east longitude. In 1892 it contained thirty houses with a population of 104. The headman of the village has no others subordinate to him. The inhabitants are of the Lepai tribe and Kaori sub-tribe, and own three bullocks and two buffaloes.

    In Google Earth I measure that lat/long to be about 67 or 68 miles northeast of the LONSA found on the 1:250,000. Yes, men were moving in that direction, and LONCHA / LONSA is very close to the China border, but it doesn't make sense to me regarding Steve's grandfather, based on other info Steve has sent me.

    See the Google Earth example, with a 68 mile-long line between the LONSA Steve believes must be where his grandfather was captured and the LONCHA / LONSA found in the gazetteer. By the way, LONCHA / LONSA does not appear on the adjoining 1:250,000 map (where that lat/long plots).

    Also attached is a zoom on Steve's LONSA, just north of the SHWELI RIVER.

    I won't be satisfied until I see 93 A/15, or just 93 A, as I just have a hunch that the 1:250 map used one or both of these as sources. I can probably get the help at the British Library to pull the map sheet or sheets and tell me if LONSA is printed on either sheet in an area corresponding to where it appears on the 1:250,000. Will send an e-mail this weekend, and they're usually pretty fast in replying. They were a few months ago, I should say, in the one other request I've made of them.

    Steve, I hope the jet lag will not keep you off-kilter for too long! Welcome back to cooler climes.

    The on-line volumes of "Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States" from 1901, I think, will serve Burma researchers very, very well. I don't have time to cite the urls of all the volumes of the Upper Burma/Shan works right now, however.



    Attached Files:

  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    Thanks so much for the very informative link to the Gazette. Matt has helped me many times over the last few years, so when I found the village name on the first map I was elated. I will of course never be totally sure that this is the place where Granddad was captured, but at least I have some locations to look over now.

    The potential location of the village from the Burma Gazette is interesting because it too could be a possibility. The men were in an exhausted and malnourished condition at the beginning of April 1943 and struggled to cross the fast flowing Shweli River. The group had broken up into parties of 20-30 men, and most looked north east toward the Yunnan Province for their sanctuary. So both village locations sit roughly in that area. I wonder if Lonsa 1901 could have moved several times during the following 40+ years and end up somewhere close to Lonsa 1944? 60 odd miles is not so far in that time scale.

  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Matt,

    Yes, all recovered thanks. Maureen's additional information is a fantastic bonus and as you say the Gazette link is a tremendous resource. Thanks again for all your help and advice.

  8. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

  9. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    Not seen anything better than the CIA maps, first hand... a gentleman by the name of Mike Nolan was kind enough to supply me a catalogue list (for British Library, or Bodleian, Ox., IWM, IWM Duxford and an Indian Library ref) for Chindit 2 and they are all prefixed "92", in 1:250000, 1:63360 or 1:25000 flavours... Contacting one of the bigger "major" libraries, as listed, may be able to assist - copies are cost prohibitive, from what I've heard...

    Villages often moved about (read enough of that) as areas became played out from a crops perspective...
    Pete.818 likes this.
  10. Charpoy Chindit

    Charpoy Chindit Junior Member

    On reading your post I was fairly sure that I had both of those maps, but it has taken me a couple of days to find the one-inch. The quarter-inch is still eluding me. However, I can confirm that there was a village called Lonsa, just North of the Shweli, at map square SN7311. I hope this helps.

    I don't know about the British Library, but the National Army Museum has a pretty good selection of Burma one-inch maps, about 80% of the 1016 if I remember correctly, donated by the RE. I'm don’t know if they have any Indian ones. In the old days they would photocopy them for you, but the last time I asked they refused. That's when I started collecting my own set!
    bamboo43 likes this.
  11. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    Hi Charpoy, Mike Nolan is a retired military surveyor with the Defence Surveyors Association, but not having been there yet I can only take his word on it... I think map copies start at around £10 each but don't quote me... :biggrin:

    Now if your collection includes the detailed maps for the Indawgyi through to Namkwin and can scan them you might just be my new best friend... ;)
  12. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Thanks for your info Maureen and the two Chindits (Charpoy and Hebridean). The grid reference, SN7311, is enlightening, as it ties into the mid-1950's US Army Map Service 1:250,000's printed grid. It may be a slightly different grid datum (these things change), but at least the grid zone designation is in the ballpark.

    Well, my hunch is confirmed, that LONSA was printed on the wartime Survey of India map and almost certainly was the source of the name on the 1:250,000.

    Charpoy Chindit, I always think in terms of scale, so your one inch map would be the1:63,360 scale Sheet 93 A/15, which equates to 1 = 1 mile. This is the map I was hoping for -- brilliant that you have taken the time to track it down.

    If you have a digital camera, might you take a close-up photo or two of the LONSA area and post it for us on this board? At least the way the ww2talk.com site displays on my computer, I have to hit the More Reply Options button below the box I'm now typing my message within, in order to be able to attach an image. Just thought I'd mention that.

    In lieu of posting the bit of the map, perhaps you can photocopy a portion of it and mail it to Steve (Bamboo43) north of London?

    We're getting there, Steve...

    Earlier this year I sent an enquiry to the British Library Maps & Manuscripts Reference Team, via a web request form. A staffer replied within a couple of days, after he'd pulled the requested Burma 1:63,360, and he confirmed a name for me. However, it is outrageously expensive to obtain a copy -- one can only acquire a full digital copy in the mail, not the much cheaper photocopy, and the cost is an painful 53.80 pounds!! In a visit to the BL, no digital photography of the map is allowed, either. That's a stinker!

    But the BL holds the Survey of India maps. Maybe not a complete set, but it's worth asking.

    Charpoy Chindit, did you specifically contact the British Library yet, or was it another archive?

    Steve -- I went to the US Nat'l Archives yesterday to photograph the photo recon frames covering the LONSA area, from the two cans of 1944 imagery I'd ordered the previous Saturday. It was a wasted trip, as I'd forgotten that I had to first call them during the week to make sure they moved the film into the holding pen for Saturday viewing. Damn bureaucracy, and I've had trouble during the week getting someone to answer the phone in the main map research room. The bottom line is that there was no film to look at yesterday, and the Saturday help didn't know how to go into the other room to retrieve what probably arrived from underground storage mid-week! But at least there is an opportunity to view such film. Labor intensive just to order the film, then wait for it to be retrieved from underground storage in the central USA, then HOPE that they found it, then view it in the Nat'l Archives in College Park, Maryland.

    Hopefully next Saturday I'll accomplish this first bit of photography for you. No guarantees that anything much will come of this, but I'll give it a go. I'd only had time to order the first two cans of film, but there are other potential photo recon flights covering the area, too. One step at a time.

    Here's a piece of a 1:500,000 Defense Mapping Agency Tactical Pilotage Chart from the 1980s, I think, covering LONSA. The village isn't named here, but based upon the 1:250,000, it is on the ridgeline just below the 23 deg 30' text at upper right. These TPC's are available as scans on-line in the holdings of the Univ. of Texas map library -- same archive where Steve discovered the 1:250,000 where he first saw LONSA on a map. Wonderful archive!

    Again, thanks all for your efforts.


    Attached Files:

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  13. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for that brilliant input Charpoy. :)
  14. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for all your efforts here everyone. Matt, sorry you ended up making a wasted journey on my behalf, I owe you one yet again.

    So are we thinking that the original location of the village on the 1:25,000 map is now favourite here, and that this is the location confirmed by Charpoy on the 1 inch map from the WW2 period.
  15. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Almost, Steve. We are thinking that the location of LONSA on the 1:250,000 map (not 1:25,000) corresponds to the LONSA location on the wartime 1:63,360 map (93 A/15) seen by Charpoy Chindit.
  16. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    I have had great difficulty in plotting places from WW2 maps on present day satellite images (Google Earth). Modern place names may have changed and do not always correspond with those on earlier maps. You must remember that some of these "villages" were no more than half a dozen bashas or less, and when anything happened such as famine or fire then the locals just moved off and built some more bashas elsewhere and started again with same name. Or it just disappeared altogether.
  17. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Oooops, missed out a pesky zero and just invented a new scale of map altogether. :lol:
  18. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks Lionboxer,

    It is very true what you say. To be honest I was just so glad to finally find the name, nevermind the location. This is simply something to explore and juggle with, I will add it to my research and website nevertheless, maps always seem to enhance a story. :)
  19. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    (sputtering through a mouthful of coffee and picking ones-self off the floor)

    How much...!?!?

    Hmm... might but that project off indefinitely...
  20. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Yep, that's the outrageous price to have a scan of a map mailed to you. By mail they only offer this service -- no photocopying. I don't know how much a photocopy is in-person, or if they offer a color copy option.

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