Help 4 Forgotten Allies - Burma Hill Tribes

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Jedburgh22, Oct 9, 2015.

  1. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Earlier this week I was privileged to attend a presentation at the Army & navy Club on the work of a small charity that helps the Burmese Tribes people who loyally served the British cause during the Second World War - many serving alongside the Chindits and with SOE.

    The charity provides assistance to some 400 veterans who exist in very poor circumstances in both Burma and in refugee camps in Thailand.

    To quote from H4FA leaflet

    "H4FA has no staff, nor any ambition to compete with other larger charities. Our engagement is simple and practical and based on face to face meetings with those in need. The office is a laptop, all travel and other costs are covered privately by the Trustees, and how donations are spent is meticulously documented, with accounts overseen by out treasurer, checked by an independent examiner and available to the public via the Charity Commission website.
    100% of all donations go to the welfare grants and to our projects. Funds for H4FA and PSRB projects are kept separately.
    We now have six trustees and make visits annually"

    You can see more on the website

    I would urge forum members with an interest in Burma to look at the website and give whatever you can to help

    DParks, PackRat, Owen and 1 other person like this.
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for this information Steven. I was interested to see mention of Lieut-Col. Peacock and of course Hugh Seagrim on the site. I will place a link on my website alongside the Gurkha Welfare Trust. Good to see help and recognition for these groups, who have suffered greatly under the military governments of Burma since independence in 1948.
    DParks and Rothy like this.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thanks for the heads up.
    An aspect of the war that gets overlooked .
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Some updates from H4FA, including an article about Major HP. Seagrim's new memorial plaque at Yangon Anglican Cathedral. The Chindit Society is hoping to forge closer links with H4FA in the near future.

    Attached Files:

    DParks likes this.
  5. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    It was good to discover this, Steven. I've added a link from my website also.

  6. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    What a great charity. Not sure if many photographs of these allies were taken, but the war artist Anthony Gross made some sketches and watercolours of some groups in his 1943 "Battle of Arakan" series:


    Chins at War: Captain Braund and his Levies from the Kamhau Tribe

    Object description

    A bearded and uniformed Captain Braund stands on a hillside facing the viewer, holding a machine gun. Around him sit and stand the Levies, armed with rifles. Behind them are hills and mountains.

    Captain Braund was a senior officer in the Burma Frontier Force unit formed quickly in late January 1942 to assist in guarding the oil facilities of Burma. After the refineries were demolished in March, his part of the force joined the Levy operations in the Chin Hills, Myanmar. In 1943, Gross travelled from Arakan in Burma via Chittagong and Assam to the Naga Hills. As his party marched up the mountains on foot, they met the Chin Levies, 'dressed in uniforms of their own fancy - odds and ends of army equipment spread out through an entire village platoon, for the rest turbans and blankets of their own design, the whole capped with a feather, the sign of the levies.' ('India in Action', National Gallery, 1943)​

    More available at the IWM collection.
    DParks, Rothy and bamboo43 like this.
  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Great link Packrat. I have Braund's book, Distinctly I Remember. It is a good account of his time with the Chin Hill Levies.

    Braund H. copy.jpeg
    PackRat likes this.
  8. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the recommendation, Bamboo, that looks like a great read. My local library had a copy so I have picked it up to read over the weekend. Braund's dedication of the book seems appropriate to this thread:

    "To the peoples of Burma who gave me these years; and to comrades who did not survive"
    bamboo43 likes this.
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Let me know what you think of the book.
    PackRat likes this.
  10. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    Braund's Burma Frontier Force unit was F.F.7. After the demolitions in March 1942, Braund's column from F.F.7 was evacuated by sea to Calcutta. He subsequently took the Chins from this column to join the Chin Levies. Part of F.F.7 remained in Burma and joined the withdrawal from Rangoon.

    For a history of F.F.7 please see: F.F.7, Burma Frontier Force
    PackRat likes this.
  11. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    What a story! That's a superb book, thanks again for the recommendation. This passage about the demolition of the refineries particularly struck me:

    The outcome of events was obvious, and hastily imported experts were preparing the refineries for demolition. Our time was spent in constant patrolling, but the Japs were exercising too strong a pressure in their drive on and round Rangoon to bother about pre-occupied units being left behind on their flanks. I still think it surprising, however, that an air-drop on the refineries did not form part of their strategy. They would have been a tremendous prize, and opposition would have been nominal, as can be gauged from what I wrote to my father many months later: can be giving away no secrets now to say that when I was sent into the front line with my column we had a Tommy gun per section, but not a single round of ammunition for them. Likewise I and my G.O.C.s had not a single round for our revolvers. We had no compasses and the only pair of binoculars in the column was my bird-watching pair. We had no tin hats, anti-gas equipment or medical supplies (not even First Field Dressings), and to start with I was the only man with a map. Do you wonder that the Far East was the walkover it was?

    I omitted to mention, I see now, that we had no bombs for our mortars. Staff Colleges and historians of the Burma campaign please copy!

    The time came when we were ordered to fall back in close defence of the refineries for the period that remained before the 'blow'. One evening on patrol, I mapped a course that brought me back via I.B.P.'s refinery at Seikkyi. Through the tank farm I entered the residential area. The whole place was spick and span but practically deserted. I found my way to the Work Manager's bungalow and there had the shock of my life. Seated round a garden table with a newly laundered cloth on it, themselves bathed and changed into the usual evening garb of white shirt and trousers, were Charlie Haggarty and Bill Chalmers, respectively the Works Manager and Chief Chemist, and Andy Armit, who had been ordered up to join them after he had helped to scuttle the Dredge at Yamone. In attendance was a lugalay with a whisky decanter and cold sodas! Talk about 'the show must go on' - it was magnificent! And for me, needless to say, it was a case of 'I don't mind if I do'!​
    DParks, Rothy and bamboo43 like this.
  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Glad you enjoyed it. I am always interested in learning about the exploits of these men. It has always seemed to me an incredible job, to voyage to Burma after leaving school/university and take up a role in the Forestry, Oil or Steel industries, living in isolated areas with no shared language etc. Intrepid explorer types all of them.
    PackRat and Rothy like this.
  13. Luke Radcliff

    Luke Radcliff New Member

    Over the past 2 years Grammar Productions has been following Help for Forgotten Allies (H4FA) and travelling half way round the world to record the experiences of WW2 veterans who fought for the British in the Burma Campaign. Our film ‘Forgotten Allies’ will tell the story of these incredible men.

    While British soldiers who served in Burma were known as ‘The Forgotten Army’, local soldiers’ incredible stories were barely even heard of in Britain. They served side by side with British officers, in a brutal war against the Japanese, in extremely difficult conditions.

    Like David Daniel, a 93 year old man who joined the Royal Artillery aged just 17 – his Yangon house still proudly covered in Union Jack flags and portraits of the Queen. In near perfect English, he recounted the shock of Japanese aerial bombardment and the horror of his 700-mile evacuation to India by foot, through dense malarial jungles. Or Saw Berny, just one of thousands of local men recruited into S.O.E to conduct incredibly dangerous missions hundreds of miles behind enemy lines.

    After the war, Burmese veterans like them became the only Commonwealth veterans to be denied official post-war support. The country closed in on itself and slipped into what would become ‘the longest running armed-conflict in the world’.

    That's is why we’ve been on a mission to document these phenomenal stories of bravery before it’s too late. Our journey has taken us to the remotest corners of Burma and we’ve met and interviewed amazing people along the way – some of whom are already sadly no longer with us.

    Now we want to share these stories with you. But we need your help.

    Read more about the project and support our crowd-funding campaign here.

    Or join us for a special evening in London on June 21st, ‘Remembering World War Two in Burma’ with star speaker James Holland. More information and tickets can be found here.

    Or simply help us spread the word about the project as far and wide as you can.

    Thanks! And if you have any questions please do get in touch.

    Luke Radcliff


    Grammar Productions
    DParks likes this.
  14. DParks

    DParks Member

    Luke just a suggestion but have you shared this with a fantastic Facebook page called WW2 BURMA RESEARCH? It is a closed group that you will have to apply to join and answer a few questions explaining your interest in the Burma theatre of war. I know that my fellow members would be very interested in this work.

    Kind regards

Share This Page