Dunkirk/Burma Veteran's Service Records - Need some help!

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by PackRat, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Found your grandfather!

    He appears on this embarkation list for 494 Battery made when the Regiment was moving from Chittagong to Calcutta, June 43.

    Mine isn't there again, he somehow seems to be evading every list of names I come across. He's either in an advance party or rear party or somewhere else altogether at the time, probably Bombay chasing nurses.

  2. Bazooka Joe

    Bazooka Joe Member

    That's fantastic! Thank you very much indeed for posting it.
  3. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Glad I could find him.

    Also on my last visit I photographed the Col. Nicholson file about First Arakan that you found and it looks excellent, thanks for spotting it. It's a lot longer than expected (171 pages) so I can't load it all up here as planned but I'll stick it on the DVD.

    Unfortunately it's on some strange white-on-black carbon copy paper, some of which is fine but about a third of the pages are almost illegible 70 years on, even in person. I'll try running the pics through photoshop to see if I can make them more readable. The cover letter mentions air recon. photos but they are missing from the file.

    From the small part I've looked at so far it really fills in the blanks from the War Diary. The diary page I posted earlier from the first days of Jan 43 records that the commander of 494 Battery and several others were killed on 5 Jan. What it doesn't say, and Nicholson's account does, was that the losses were caused by their own guns dropping short on their forward OP. This was the first time the Regiment had fired 'in anger' in India/Burma and these were the first combat casualties they suffered, and they were friendly fire casualties from their mates of 494 Battery.

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  4. Bazooka Joe

    Bazooka Joe Member

    That incident is mentioned in Bill Bryden's book too. Here are a couple of pages.

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  5. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    What a well-written account, thanks for posting it. That really does look like a superb book. Was that the event that led to Bill Bryden's shell shock or was he able to keep going?

    Does he mention the events around 6th/7th and 18th/19th/20th Jan by any chance? I'm trying to do some detective work that might let me work out (if I'm very lucky and the timings match up) which Troop my grandfather was with. I've got a newspaper clipping about Parkash Singh's Victoria Cross that he found and kept in his wallet, and he showed it to me maybe 15 years ago, telling me that "I saw that VC being won". Wish I'd asked him loads more questions about it at the time, of course, but sadly it's too late now. Singh carried out two ridiculously heroic carrier rescues under fire, one on the 6th and one on the 19th, so I'm not sure which one he witnessed. The War Diary mentions 494 Battery firing in support of Singh's 5/8 Punjabs on the 6th, but Col. Nicholson in his account mentions Singh's actions explicitly on the 19th. This is Nicholson's account of the two days (I've transcribed it as these two pages are barely legible in my photos):

    * * *​

    6 January: 494 Bty from a gun position near KODINAGAUK fired concentrations onto LAUNGCHAUNG in support of the 5/8 PUNJAB who had at last run into opposition in this area.
    The 1 INNISK had moved over onto the coastal plain handing over the LAUNGCHAUNG front to the 5/8 PUNJAB. Lt. KERR SMITH was sent to the 5/8 PUNJAB to act as F.O.O.
    During the afternoon F Tp moved further SOUTH with 1 INNISK to a position near SHINKALI.

    19 January: A Coy INNISK had difficulty in the jungle being fired on by a M.G. at about 652833. The attack against the VILLAGE never materialised, as a result of this unexpected opposition. The carriers attempted to cooperate again from the beach by attacking the VILLAGE AREA but were heavily shelled by mortars and also by an A.Tk gun which turned out to be a captured 2-pr. One carrier was set on fire and two others received 3 direct hits. These two carriers were very brilliantly withdrawn by towing by HALVIDAR PARKASH SINGH 5/8 PUNJAB, who received the V.C. for this act which was carried out under heavy fire.
    The area in which this A.Tk gun appeared to be was engaged by 494 Bty and no further fire came from this weapon.
    By 1100 hours, no progress had been made by A Coy 1 INNISK who could not deal with the M.Gs holding them up.

    * * *

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  6. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Although confusingly that second action might even have taken place on the 21st. I took a copy of the 5/8 Punjab Regt. diary for Jan 43 too yesterday and it mentions the recommendation on the 21st and not the 19th. Annoyingly, the appendix to the diary which should have contained the message was missing from the file.

    5-8 Punjab.JPG
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  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, Victoria Cross Medals, 1857-2007
    Name: Singh Parkash
    Birth Date: 31 Mar 1913
    Birth Place: Chal 266 Rb Village, Sharikar, Jaranevala Tehsil, Lyallpur District, India
    Death Date: 23 Mar 1991
    Death Place: Old Court Hospital, Ealing, West London

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  8. Bazooka Joe

    Bazooka Joe Member

    He was admitted to hospital shortly after the incident. He mentions that some of their troops were encircled by the Japanese while he was in hospital, and his friend Bob Picken was among the missing (later found to have been captured). He mentions a couple of other incidents afterwards, but unfortunately the dates aren't so precise.

    The next incident he mentions is an attack by Japanese bombers, no date, but before the Japanese counter attack in early April.

    I found some mentions of the regiment in the Arakan campaign in a book about the Indian Mountain Artillery though, but some of the dates aren't very precise:

    Indian Mountain Artillery : Brigadier C A L Graham : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
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  9. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    There's an R. Picken listed as missing in Col. Nicholson's Roll of Honour from the Arakan at the start of his account:

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