Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Dave55, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

  2. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    The enduring image of the Jeep for those of us of a certain vintage.

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  3. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Do you know the rough dates that Chindits were being evacuated by jeep train, bamboo? I'm wondering if they were using the service put into action by 236 Field Coy RE (36 Division) from August 1944, but not sure how the dates line up. I've done a fair bit of research into 36 Division but I'm still not entirely clear if it was relieving/evacuating the Chindits as its war diaries barely mention them. It reached the White City area around the end of October.

    Loads of references to jeep trains in 36 Div diaries as they pushed down the 'Railway Corridor' running from Myitkyina, through Mogaung and Mawlu, and on to Naba and Indaw. First mentioned in mid-August:

    [236 Field Coy] Sahmaw, 13th August
    Rail wheels were put on a Jeep and two six ton flats taken from the sidings at SAHMAW, a train service between SAHMAW and the Crater at 435224 was put into operation. The craters were 80 diameter, 18 ft. deep, and 46 ft. in diameter, 14 ft. deep respectively.

    [236 Field Coy] Sahmaw, 14th August
    Turntables for the rail Jeep were constructed at SAHMAW and at the Crater.

    [236 Field Coy] Sahmaw, 18th August
    An ‘International’ petrol engine with chain drive for driving a railway truck was dismantled and installed in a six ton flat to act as a locomotive. One British Mk. V A/Tk mine was discovered under the railway line between SAHMAW and LOILAW and was removed.

    [130 Field Regiment, RA] Shillong, 24th August
    0600 2 B.O.Rs. from 494 Bty left by air for the forward area to act as drivers on the jeep train operating between MYITKYINA and TAUNGNI.

    [36 Division HQ, 'G' Branch] 12th September
    First accident on the rly line operated by this formation. An AMERICAN Engr Jeep met the 1100hrs train from MOGAUNG to LOILAW head on. None hurt. Both Jeeps badly damaged.

    From the divisional booklet, 36th Division – The Campaign in North Burma 1944-45 by Geoffry Foster:

    The stretch of country known as the Railway Corridor extends from Myitkyina in the north to Katha, on the Irrawaddy, in the south and covers approximately 145 miles. At its beginning it includes the Mu Valley, long, wide and bounded by ranges of hills on either side. Most of this country is fairly open and cultivated but further south it becomes increasingly wooded, finally ending up in very thick jungle and it continues like this for the remainder of the journey.A road and railroad traverse it throughout; but the road, which at one time must have been well kept up, has been allowed to go into complete disrepair by the Japanese and fades out completely in many places. Except for numerous demolitions at vantage points the line might be described as being moderately intact. There were, of course, no trains and what engines remained had been rendered quite useless. But so long as the line could be repaired lack of engines did not affect our advance as jeeps could be made to serve the purpose.

    By the Grace of God we were able to attach specially designed railway wheels to our own jeeps which, of course, saved no end of trouble. Had it not been so, the difficulty could no doubt have been overcome, but it might have meant structural alterations to the jeeps and, consequently, waste of time which we could ill afford. As it turned out, all that was required was to jack up the jeep, remove its wheels and attach these specially made railway wheels. At the end of the journey, the procedure was reversed and the road wheels replaced.

    To the uninitiated in the peculiarities of jeeps, and the art of driving them, and there is an art, it would seem impossible that a jeep weighing only one ton could draw three full-sized, fully loaded railway trucks at a speed of 30 miles per hour, but this, in fact, is the case...

    All jeeps on arrival at the railhead were fitted with railway wheels and then travelled down the line under their own steam drawing three trucks filled either with men, equipment, or both.
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  4. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Major-General Frank Festing, commanding 36 Division, on a Jeep Train near Hopin, October 1944 (front seat passenger, holding the American carbine that never left his side)

    Jeep Train 2.jpg
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  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Very similar times indeed Packrat. Calvert and the remnants of 77 Brigade were finishing up late July and many were transported up to Shaduzup via the railway. The West African Chindits were last out, roughly second week in August, so it does all match up. Railway corridor refers to the area of Chindit influence during Operation Thursday and Sahmaw ended up being the temporary burial site for Chindit casualties and others.
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