"Gert and Daisy" - the Sunderlands in Burma

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Hebridean Chindit, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    HI HC,

    I've sent you an email already, but I thought that this story from the Summer 2014 edition of Dekho magazine belonged on this thread.


    Cam.1.jpeg Cam.2 copy.jpeg
     
  2. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Discussed via a pm...
     
  3. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Is the guy who wrote about his evacuation in Dekho still alive, Steve? Amazing to survive at all given what happened there. So the flying boat was already damaged ...?
     
  4. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    I'll pm you about that, Za... Steve's on RnR... short answer is yes and no...
     
  5. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Bit of a quandary here...
    A significant article (supplied via Barbara Lane, nee Rand) that I have not posted here yet, which forms part of the structural integrity of my book on this subject, was published in December 1945 and written by Major John Knapp - I have references within the 230 Squadron diaries that there was a Lieutenant-Colonel John Knapp carrying out this role... Now, temporary ranks were common-place, so is this the same person...?

    The reason for asking this follows...

    http://lib.militaryarchive.co.uk/library/WWII/library/Wykehamist-War-Service-Record-and-Roll-of-Honour-1939-1945/HTML/files/assets/basic-html/page163.html

    JOHN KNAPP (Major, temp. Lieut.-Colonel, R.A.)
    (F, 1925-30), born May 25, 1912, son of Brigadier-General K. K. Knapp, C.B., C.M.G., came to Southgate House in May 1925 from Bramcote. He did very well at Winchester, becoming a Co. Prae. in 1930, playing in XV's two years and one year in VI's: in the match against Commoners he excelled himself, and one experienced judge called him the best player on the field. He was also a good long distance runner, and a useful Soccer player and cricketer. He was a sergeant in the O.T.C., and helped to win Drill Cup for his House. He was that rare type of man who when called upon in a crisis can put forth not merely his full strength, but something above it. Above all this, he was marked by a simplicity and depth of character and a brightness of personality that set him apart. In 1930 he left for the R.M.A. Commissioned to the R.A. in 1932, he became a Captain in 1940. Meanwhile he had gone to Esthonia in 1937 to study Russian, and qualified next year as an Interpreter, 1st Class. In 1939 he was sent to India and saw active service in Waziristan. In 1940, with the acting rank of Major, he took an Anti-Tank Battery to Iraq. He passed the Staff College at Quetta in 1943, and became Staff Officer R.A. in Ceylon. Next year he joined the Staff of the Chindit Division with the temporary rank of Lieut.-Colone1. He served on the Arakan front in Burma, and was killed on March 13, 1945, when his command post received a direct hit. He was a good linguist, proficient in Urdu and Pushtu as well as Russian. He was a fine horseman, a good squash racquets player, distinguished in Army competitions. His Brigadier writes of the tact and power of mind which made him a first-rate Staff Officer. "I know," he says, “that he achieved his ambition as a soldier when he went to serve in Arakan. I know too that he did his job faultlessly until the end, and willingly gave up his life." His Colonel writes that when they landed at Ru-Ywa they were somewhat stale from previous operations. "By sheer personality John infused into the regiment new life, vigour and will to win. He, and he alone, maintained this spirit throughout the advance by his never-failing cheerfulness and courage." Both at Winchester and in the Army he was loved and admired. He was not merely, in the hackneyed phrase, "one of the best," he was one of the finest men Winchester has produced in recent years-or any school could produce.

    A bit of an Ockham's Razor with this one - his involvement with this story is that Major Knapp organised and controlled ground ops at Dibrugarh and was key in getting the Sunderland's there in the first place, so he is pivotal to this story... It is possible that this is one and the same person - what is the possibility of two men with essentially the same name being in the same place at the same time, being directly involved with controlling Op's...? This man deserves a much greater recognition re this story than has been previously recorded...
     
  6. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Google Earth... If you use the latitude and longitude details below you will find yourself almost directly in the centre of the "Blackpool" Block...

    25.0519731082, 96.5702349845

    If you back out a bit, and look slightly south and just above the lower river and off to the east where the rivers join, this area of relative flat-land is where the strip was...
    Namkwin is slightly up and to the east. The road and railway line is pretty much as it was, route-wise, at the time...

    All the various maps and drawings of the area that I've found are being merged into this as a template for as accurate a location plan as I can construct for the book...

    A bit of playing with Google Earth and you can alter your perspective and view-point to get a better idea of the location...
    Back out a bit further and to the north-west, beyond the mountain range, which I believe peaks at 3144m, you will find Lake Indawgyi...
    "Plymouth" was at the lower south-east corner and "Dawlish" was a few miles south on the eastern shores of the lake...
    Use their search-engine for Dibrugarh and that is roughly where the Sunderland's flew to-and-from...

    If you have a compatible joystick, and the capability to fly with one, you can do just that and get as true a perspective of how difficult the terrain between Indawgyi and Dibrugarh is; then you will have a better understanding of what risks were taken by the crews of Gert and Daisy...
     
  7. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Something else that has come up whilst trawling through the 3rd Indian Division papers is a third code-name for what may be another respite location for the casualties at Lake Indawgyi... a reference note that a small group of Commandos were tasked with building a "hospital and flying-boat base" at the northern end of the lake... In another reference, a code name: "AUTUMN".
    Now, I may have just missed this in other reference works but I've not yet looked back through everything to check; the records for 230 Squadron do mention three locations they alighted on the lake...
    The most commonly mentioned names are "PLYMOUTH" which was at the southern end, and "DAWLISH", on the east coast approx ten miles north of "Plymouth", which I've presumed was the location shown in some of the films where a hospital is clearly shown near the lakeside...
    Personnel other than 111th at Lake Indawgyi...
    The other thing is that there were a significant number of personnel from the 14th Infantry Division there, most notably 61 Column, 1st Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, from what I've found noted; I know various members of the 3rd West African Brigade, probably 39/66 Column, 6th Battalion Nigerian Regiment were also flown out from there...
     
  8. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Time for some more stills from those Gert and Daisy IWM films...

    MWY25 runs to circa 7.00 minutes of footage...

    Please remember, as previously stated, these images are copyright IWM and are presented here for research purposes...

    In the first picture is a glimpse of Indawgyi through the clouds...
    Some long shots showing early boat-types used to get the sick and wounded out to DP180/Gert - an outboard motor can be seen on the canoe and in one long-shot buildings can be seen on the shore-line...

    As with previous postings, the picture ID notes the approximate time from within the film...
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    MWY25...
    A sequence of men in the process of boarding and on-board Gert... some fairly clear shots of faces...
     

    Attached Files:

  10. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    MWY25...
    Shots of the crew of DP180, names where I am fairly certain of who they are...

    First picture is Flt Lt Jack Rand in the co-pilot's seat...
    The next (probably) show Navigator FO Noel Verney; I think it is AG Flt Sgt JB Knox just beyond him...
    Two further pictures unconfirmed id's...
    Jack Rand in the pilot's seat...
    The next two may be Radio Operator WO Ray Guertin (RCAF)...
    Last two I'm not sure enough to name; possibly FO Noel Verney in the white overalls...
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    MWY25...

    Some aerial shots showing the northern end of Lake Indawgyi...
    1st pic is Indawgyi through DP180's windows...
    2nd picture shows the outflow point of the Indaw Chaung... the route taken by the Chindit Navy post Operation River... the distinctive point of land towards the top right of the picture is near "Dawlish"...
    3rd picture bottom right is near the last pick-up point occasionally known as "Autumn", but this location also moved up the Indaw Chaung... 4th picture is of the shore-line with what may be buildings and 2 escort planes... Spitfires...?
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    MWY25...
    Images of those flown out making landfall at Dibrugarh...
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    MWY25...
    Six further images at Dibrugarh...
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    MWY25...

    Some imagery at the lakeside showing mostly 3WA and Gurkha troops ...
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    MWY25...

    More lakeside imagery... the tattoo clearly seen in two shots is of the King and Queen...
    The last picture may be a Lieutenant W Mcdonald - name noted against an IWM/AWM image available elsewhere...
    This concludes the most relevant images from this film...

    All 58 stills posted from MWY25 are copyright IWM...

    The film is commercially available by special order from the IWM...
     

    Attached Files:

  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Well done HC. Nice tattoo too. :)
     
  17. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    ABY12 is a group of 3 films entitled "Sunderland Story" available from the IWM, running to approximately 21 minutes length...
    All images are copyright IWM and are presented for research purposes only...
    As per previous images I have presented there is an approximate time stamp as part of the file name...

    ABY12-1
    The first film does not give us any imagery of recovery of sick or wounded but does give us some detail of the difficulties of operating from the Brahmaputra whilst the river was in spate during the monsoon season. It also gives us the only confirmed imagery of JM659/Daisy as the crew are seen re-attaching the port float from the same DUKW that probably damaged it in the first place. This also (probably) dates the images as this occurred the first day she landed at Dibrugarh...! June 4th 1944... on June 5th she was flown back to the BOAC base at Calcutta to have the float replaced...
    This is Daisy's crew (presumed) attaching a working platform (walking the plank...?) to the underside of the port wing...
    In the 5th image you can see the engineer falling off the plank as he attempted to climb on...
    Note the use of a hammer to "adjust" a hard-point on the wing prior to re-attachment of the strut in the 8th image...!
    9th image is a blurry couple of frames between shots - best of them shown - looks like he was taking a break with a cuppa...
    Last image is a crewman polishing his shoes whilst the washing dries... other images show clothing draped on propeller blades, etc... luxury...!
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    ABY12-1
    The next set show river debris... some interesting aerial shots I'm intending to try and identify locations from, one lakeside shot of buildings in the distance, and a village overfly...
    That concludes this film...
     

    Attached Files:

  19. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    ABY12-2

    The first section commences with the unloading of troops from one of the Sunderland's and shows a DUKW struggling to shore under what appears to be full power due to the flow of the Brahmaputra...
     

    Attached Files:

  20. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    ABY12-2

    Unloading sick and wounded troops from the DUKW...
     

    Attached Files:

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