Help Deciphering Great-grandad's Service Records

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by George Pritchard, Jul 26, 2018.

  1. Hello, I recently received my great-grandfather's service records. He fought in Burma but spent much of his time before in India awaiting the Japanese invasion that never came.

    I'd like to know when exactly he entered Burma with his unit (the 1st Medium Regiment -Royal Artillery) but I can't seem to find this information in the documents, though I suspect it may be 'Entered Concessional Area - 22.2.44' Is this right?

    On a separate note and slightly off topic (sorry) I'd like to find out the movements of his regiment while in Burma, it seems war diaries are the place to look but would prefer to double check with some more seasoned WWII enthusiasts such as yourselves so I'm not on the wrong track,

    Many thanks in advance!
  2. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Welcome to the forum.

    My past experience on the forum (and other members) is that it is always best to post the original documents when seeking interpretation of a service record entry as on previous occasions the OP often misinterprets an entry.

    Several members on the forum (drew5233 & arcre website) offer a look up and copying service for War Diaries and other records at the National Archives.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  4. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Hi George,

    I can help a bit here as I've been looking into 1 Medium Regiment around that exact time. They happened to be dug in close to my grandfather's regiment during a particularly rough incident, during which the 1 Med Regt gun line was hit by a Japanese infiltration party.

    On the 22nd Feb an advance party of 1 Med Regt disembarked at Chittagong, having sailed up from Calcutta. Your great-grandfather's records suggest, I would say, that he was part of the advance party - the rest of the regiment arrived on the 25th.

    On the 29th they moved up to Bawli Bazaar, and on 2nd March came under temporary command of 36 Division HQRA (my grandfather's regiment, 130 Assault Fd Regt, was part of this arty group too). A concentration of firepower was being built up for Operation Markhur (an attack on the Razabil 'Fortress' position).

    On the night of the 4th, 1/3 Battery moved into action at Wabyn, with 5/22 Battery about 5 miles away. They were now involved the Second Arakan Campaign: look into the Japanese 'Ha-Go' Offensive and the Battle of the Admin Box for more on what was going on in that area of the Arakan at this time.

    On the night of the 5th, after only one day in position (which was spent on comparative shoots and registering targets), 5/22 Battery was stormed by an enemy raiding party. 1 Medium Regiment’s War Diary (6 March 1944) reports the events of that night as follows:

    5/22 Bty were attacked during the night 5/6. A raiding party, strength approx 30, rushed the position; with magnetic grenades they put two guns out of action and caused casualties by grenades and S.A. [Small Arms] fire – three killed, two wounded.
    130 Fd Regt's Diary is a lot more detailed on what happened [my annotations in square brackets]:

    0045 The Japs attempted what can be described as “Counter Battery Tactics” in so far as two Bty positions were attacked during the night by a party of about 30 Japs while there was a separate attack made later on 29 Bde H.Q.

    The first position to be attacked was 516 Bty at KWELA BINGA. An officer returning to “F” Troop C.P. from 516 Bty H.Q. hearing shots and explosions ordered “Stand To”. Five minutes later No.1 gun of “F” Troop was attacked by eight Japanese. While the detachment was moving to the “Stand To” position they were shot and bayoneted, losing one killed and two wounded. This gun was damaged by the Japs who put a charge into the breech and detonated it. Two of the enemy were killed by fire from an adjacent gun pit. Another det of the enemy attempted to rush the Command Post but two including an officer were killed before they could reach it. They then made for the officers’ lines bayoneting and throwing grenades as they went killing 3 and wounding 2. “E” Troop position was attacked simultaneously and here the enemy lost 2 including a W.O [Warrant Officer]. 2 B.O.Rs. [British Other Ranks] were killed by bayonet in this attack.

    Shortly after this attack the 5/22 Med Bty position was attacked by the enemy using similar tactics: throwing grenades and MOLOTOV cocktails into the gun pits which caused one gun to be put out of action. One B.O.R. was killed and several wounded in this attack. In approaching this position the enemy passed through the lines of main H.Q. 130 Field Regt and sought to confuse the issue by shouting “Thaik Hai” [a greeting in Hindi, which would be familiar to British troops serving in India] and “Jeldi” [“Hurry Up” in Hindi, again a familiar word, and one that was picked up and commonly used by British troops in jest]. The situation was extremely confused and the enemy had obviously taken some care in the planning of the attack and appeared to know the territory well.

    0130 H.Q. 29 Bde was attacked. The enemy had apparently infiltrated in small numbers during the previous day. The first intimation of the attack was when the cookhouse of “D” Coy 2 Manch [‘D’ Company, 2nd Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, 36 Division’s machine-gun company] was overrun and set alight. The enemy then approached Tac H.Q. of 29 Bde and were met by bursts of automatic fire which killed five of them. The enemy evidently expected to find tanks in the area as they were carrying large bundles of gelignite with fuze attached but all they damaged was a small number of vehicles.

    While the attack on Bde H.Q. was going on another party of 15 Japs skirted the main Bde area via the Chaung at 372475 and, passing by Tac H.Q. of the Regt, ran into the carrier patrol of 2 R.W.F. who accounted for two possibly three. This patrol would have killed more of the enemy had they not been confused by the fact that shortly before the enemy arrived, a B.O.R. from Bde had been halted and challenged at this spot, and when the enemy came on the scene they too were challenged and were thus given time to lie down before fire was opened on them.

    0900 G.O.C. 36 Indian Division attended the burial service of those killed in the KWELA BINGA attack and took away for interrogation an Indian who had been found hanging about the cookhouse on the day before. This Indian was subsequently found to be a Fifth Columnist and was committed for trial.

    1100 Two 155mm guns shelled 516 and 5/22 Bty positions. No damage or casualties. 315 Bty position was also shelled but this Bty was occupying another position in order to fire a timed programme at 2030 hrs in support of 7 Div attack.

    The commanding officer appears to have been held responsible for the loss of the guns due to slack defence and relieved of his position. 1 Med Regt's Diary on the 11th says:

    Lt.Col. D.G. LEAN left the Regt after being in comd since Dec 42.

    The CO getting canned for the incident is backed up by an audio interview I happened to find with a man of 1 Med Regt who was present that night. It's about ten minutes into Reel 16 of this interview, but other parts of it might be of interest to you too:

    Wilkes, James Douglas (Oral history)

    Hope this is helpful. War Diaries are indeed the way to go - here are a couple of the pages of 1 Med Regt's Diary I have (I only copied a small section as I was specifically researching the night of 5th March).

    Image00003.jpg Image00001.jpg Image00002.jpg
    Tullybrone, bofors and Rich Payne like this.

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