Devonshire regiment in India post WW2 query

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by autumnmiss, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. autumnmiss

    autumnmiss Junior Member

    I have a question for all you lovely knowledgable folk. My father served with the Devonshire Regment in WW2 from 1943 - 1946. He spent 6 months in India bit it was after the war had ended from November 1945 until May 1946. What would they have been doing in that time, was that the end of what was known as the Raj and just before Indian independence?
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi autumnmiss,

    I'm not sure what the Devons involvement was in India after the war, but you could ask the curators at the regimental museum here:

    Home - The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset

    The 1st Battalion were in India for the whole of WW2, it could be that your father was attached to another regiment whilst in India, this happened to many men who travelled over as reinforcements. You a right in thinking that this was close to the end of British control of the sub-continent, with full independence and the partitioning of India and newly created Pakistan in August 1947.
  3. autumnmiss

    autumnmiss Junior Member

    Thank you for information and the link ill take a look
  4. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Oh....Another thread on same subject :)
  6. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

  7. reddevon

    reddevon Member

    In November 1945 the Battalion moved from Burma to Visapur in India to form part of the British 2nd Division, the CO was Lt.Col.B.Doughty-Wylie. On December 13th the Battalion sailed from Bombay bound for Singapore on board M.S.Sibajak.

    I hope this helps.
  8. Ivon

    Ivon Slopjockey

    Hi all,
    I'm new here and my name is Ivon
    I'm trying to find more infomation on my grandfather who served with the Devons from 2nd sept 1939 -45, I know he was in India with the 1 Devons and I belive he was wounded there, but I would like to know where he actually served in India or Burma. According to his service records he was also with 8 Devons also G company 30 Devons, these 2 battailions I can't find any info on. If any of you Knowlegable and wise good people out there could help I would be truely grateful.
    Thanks very much for you help.
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Ivon,

    Your post reminded me that I had written a shortish article about the exploits of the 1 Devons a couple of years ago, here it is, maybe it might give you some idea of what they went through during WW2. Of course it is difficult to know when or where your grandfather served with the battalion and whether he was involved in any of the actions described below:

    1st Devon’s in India and Burma. The Bold and Battered Battalion

    In the early years of WW2 the 1st Devon’s were in training and service on the NWF of India. By early 1942 the battalion was in administrative turmoil as numerous Army drafts took away many of their youngest and brightest officers. Added to this, the unit’s emphasis was suddenly changed from setting up for the North Africa campaign, to facing the ever-growing threat of Japan’s westward thrust.

    The battalion, after being inspected by Chaing Kai Shek no less, was due to enter the Burma theatre via Rangoon, however, the Japanese got there first.
    Instead they headed for Ceylon, where they joined the 20th Indian Division and settled into jungle training with the specific aim of learning how to counter and engage the Japanese. Their task was to learn how to react to all new criteria with speed and adaptability and to forget the fixed lines and routines of the traditional British Infantry.

    The 1st Devon’s formed part of 80th Brigade in the 20th Indian Division and in April 1944 found itself defending the Shenam Ridge on the Tamu/Palel road in Assam. These were the approaches to the now famous Indian towns of Imphal and Kohima and the scene of one of the most bloody and horrific battles of WW2.

    The ridge was made up of a sequence of hills that ran along the twisting and turning roadside. As the Japanese 15th Division advance was slowly countered it was reinforced by another battalion led by a Major Takemura. This unit had previously been attempting to dislodge a Chindit Brigade from a Burmese town called Mawlu, known locally by the British as ‘White City’.

    On April 11th, the 1st Devon’s led by Lieutenant-Colonel G.A. Harvester were ordered to attack and take ‘Nippon Hill’, one of the hills of the Shenam Ridge. As usual the Japanese forces had dug themselves into the hillside, with a labyrinth of trenches and tunnels, all well supported by accurate and powerful artillery covering fire.

    Using RAF Hurri-bombers (Hurricanes adapted with shell and canon fire capabilities), the hill was heavily bombarded in an attempt to soften up the enemy positions. Indian artillery also came down upon the Japanese trenches. Then C and D companies of the Devon’s put in the first attack and after a severe action took the crest of the hill, wiping away the Japanese force. Devon casualties were high that day with over 80 men killed and every officer and NCO wounded at the very best.

    With conditions now resembling the Somme in WW1, the enemy attempted to re-take the hill. They put in three ferocious attacks on the mount, but all were successfully repelled by the Devon’s who left piles of dead Japanese on the perimeter wire. After a few days these bodies began to putrefy in the hot and humid weather conditions, the smell became unbearable.

    With a devastated and shattered landscape all around and the monsoon now broken, the Devonshire men now lay in continuously wet uniforms, but always on full alert. Conditions were utterly appalling.

    The battalion were finally relieved on the 15th April by the 9/12 Frontier Force Regiment, which also formed part of 80th Brigade. Sadly, the 9/12 FFR lost control of the hill the very next day after an overwhelming attack by the enemy. The morale of the British Brigade was shattered by the news.

    Without knowing about the other side’s condition, both local commanders, Lieutenant Ito from the Japanese 15th Division and Lieut. Col. Harvester knew their men were all but done in. Both attempted to protect their units from further abuse, but failed under pressure from their superior officers and the commands from above. They were both to pay a heavy price.

    The relationship between Harvester and his command (Brigadier Greaves) had seriously deteriorated. It was felt that Harvester had become over protective of his men from the West Country, who he felt had been used time and time again to do the dirty work of the Brigade.

    The 9/12 FFR were a young and inexperienced Indian unit and although not lacking in spirit or endeavour, had to be consistently bailed out by both the Devons and the 3/1 Gurkha Rifles. The arduous fight for the ridge continued well into May.

    After a short break the Brigade were set the task of cutting the supply lines of the Japanese forces along the Ukhrul Road. They set off across country on a wide arc to avoid enemy positions and to eventually surprise the enemy in it’s rear. Once again the Devons got the shortest straw and were used as flank and rearguard on this difficult journey. The few casualties incurred on the trip came from the ranks of the battalion, depleting its numbers still further.

    In late June the Devons were in harbour enjoying a well earned rest. But even here the unit were to receive two days less recuperation than the other two battalions, being asked to mop up a group of enemy snipers who had infiltrated the Brigades perimeter.

    As things began to go wrong for the Japanese offensive in Assam, the 80th Brigade was used to destroy the retreating enemy force as it straggled back toward the Chindwin River. The Devon’s were eventually relieved and went into rest and refit on the15th July 1944.

    20th Division were also to play a vital role in General Slim’s plans to defeat the Japanese Army in Burma in Spring 1945. Around the Mandalay delta of the Irrawaddy River the Allied forces unexpectedly crossed in strength in two main thrusts, one near Mandalay, the other at Meiktila. As the remnants of the Japanese forces moved southward from Mandalay, they were funnelled into a killing zone around Meiktila, here, what was left of 80th Brigade and the 1st Devons destroyed over 3000 enemy personnel.
    Below is a transcription of the Gallantry award recommendation (citation) for 14207964 Private (Acting Lance-Corporal) Robert Brown of the 1st Battalion the Devonshire Regiment.

    The award was put forward by Lieutenant Colonel C. Jones in April 1945. His original recommendation of an immediate Military Medal was eventually down graded to Mention in Despatches on 20/09/1945 and approved by G.O.C. Bill Slim.

    It was awarded for his efforts during the actions on the retreating Japanese forces while part of the 80th Indian Infantry Brigade/20th Indian Division. The other soldier mentioned 5615835 Private Charles Day also received the same award.

    For gallantry in action

    At Gyo on the 10th March 1945, during the attack on that village, the platoon of which Lance-Corporal Brown was a member came under very heavy Light machine gun fire from an enemy post. Having located the enemy Light machine gun, Lance-Corporal Brown together with Private Day and without hesitation rushed across some 50 yards of very exposed ground, firing his rifle as he went and throwing grenades. Having reached the enemy post, he and Private Day killed the crew of the Light machine gun and captured the gun.

    By his quick action, dash and daring, Lance-Corporal Brown speedily eliminated an enemy post and greatly contributed to the capture of the objective.

    Recommended by Lieut. Col. C. Jones O.C. 1st Bn. The Devonshire Regt. April 1945.

    Recommended for the Immediate Award of the MM by Lieut. Gen. Stopford C.O. 33rd Indian Corps on 20/04/1945.

    Finally, recommended for the Gallantry certificate (Mention in Despatches) and approved by W.J. Slim, G.O.C. in Chief 14th Army on 30/04/1945.

    Hope this was of some interest.

  10. Ivon

    Ivon Slopjockey

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for that info, I've found out he arrived in India 14 Feb 44, and posted to GHQ(J) 3RC, not sure what that means, then P.A. (not sure about this as well) to 7 S. Lan. R. at Budni, 2 months later, CTBA (whatever CTBA means) 7 S.Lan.R then 3 weeks later posted to 1 Devons and from there it's all abriviated and numbers which may as be in Russian to me.

    It's a hard road that leads to the heights of greatness.
  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Ivon,

    Sounds like he was a later addition to the battalion.

    PA, not sure, could be Permantly Attached, this is a guess.

    GHQ (J) 3 RC, could be General Head Quarters (Jhansi), 3 Reinforcement Centre.

    CTBA is Ceased to be Attached, so in his case no longer part of the 7 S. Lancs. and joins the 1 Devons.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi all,
    I'm new here and my name is Ivon
    I'm trying to find more infomation on my grandfather who served with the Devons from 2nd sept 1939 -45, I know he was in India with the 1 Devons and I belive he was wounded there, but I would like to know where he actually served in India or Burma. According to his service records he was also with 8 Devons also G company 30 Devons, these 2 battailions I can't find any info on. If any of you Knowlegable and wise good people out there could help I would be truely grateful.
    Thanks very much for you help.

    WO 172/856 1 Devonshire Regiment 1942 Feb. - Dec.

    WO 172/2505 1 Devonshire Regiment 1943 Sept.- Dec.

    WO 172/4874 1 Devonshire Regiment 1944 Jan.- Dec.

    WO 172/7626 1 Devonshire Regiment 1945 Jan.-Dec.

    WO 166/4202 INFANTRY: 8 Devonshire Regiment. 1939 Sept.- 1942 Jan.

    WO 166/8645 8 Devonshire Regiment 1942 Feb.- 1943 Jan.

    WO 166/12514 8 Devonshire Regiment 1943 Feb.-Dec.

    WO 166/15090 8 Devonshire Regiment 1944 Jan.-July
  13. Ivon

    Ivon Slopjockey

    Thanks for the info gents, it's all very much appreciated.
  14. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Have you seen this account: The Devons I

    It has a bit more detail.
  15. reddevon

    reddevon Member

    this may seem like a daft question but how do you open the diaries posted by drew5233
  16. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Firstly, you contact Drew, and secondly, arrange for the transfer of a sum of money in his direction (at very reasonable rates), and then the next time he goes home (otherwise know as TNA Kew) he copies them for you, unless he's already got them in his unfeasably monstrous files... ;)

    It's possible that one of the guys has already done this and they may be available but Drew mostly posts this as a matter of courtesy to the enquirer... his project needs oiling and this is how he funds it... there are a few people on the site that do this as Kew's prices are somewhat high and not that quick a turnaround...
  17. SharonV

    SharonV Member

    Hi all. I'm new here but the topics above are useful for me also. My uncle, William Ernest Lindley, was also with the 8th Devons. I know he also served in Burma and he was there for over 3 years. I couldn't find any information and so I wrote to The Keep. They traced him down to being placed with the 2nd Devons in Burma. Has anyone got any information about the 2nd Devons in Burma please? Everywhere I look it seems to be that the 1st Devons were there and the 2nd Devons were deployed someplace else so I'm getting a little puzzled. :salut:
  18. chrisgrove

    chrisgrove Senior Member

    My experience is that CTBA means 'Continues to be attached' rather than 'Ceases'. Thus he is not transferred to 1 Devons for another three weeks.

  19. reddevon

    reddevon Member

    The 2nd Devons didn't serve in Burma, they served in Malta, Sicily, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
    1st Devons served in India and Burma.
    8th Devons were a reserve battalion in the 45th Infantry Division and was used for replacement training. Maurice Ritchies also served in the 8th Battalion before transferring to the 2nd Battalion in 1943.
  20. SharonV

    SharonV Member

    That's what I thought reddevon. So could it be plausible to say that my uncle trained with the 8th, was moved over to the 2nd then went into the 1st? I can't get hold of his records so without these I'm in the dark a little, especially when The Keep say he was in Burma with the 2nd.

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