Mission 204 - Special Service Detachment 2

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Alanlweeks, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Hi all - for some background info on the training in Burma for Mission 204 there are a bunch of photos online at www.awm.gov.au

    Some officers and men are referred to by their name, rank and regiment but in other photos it's just their names.


    Probably Maymyo, Burma, 1941-12-25. Group portrait of three members of British Military Mission 204 to China, on a cold Christmas morning. Left to right: Captain Fenton Braund, 2/19th Battalion, 2nd AIF; Captain Dennis ("Haggis") Ford, 2nd Battalion, Black Watch Regiment; Captain David C. MacDougal, 2/20th Battalion, 2nd AIF. (Donor D. MacDougal)
    bamboo43 likes this.
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    Although the list of Dukes was contained within the SSD2 file at the National Archives, I don't think many, if any of these men took part in the mission. Sorry, if I have misled you.

  3. veronicad

    veronicad Well-Known Member

    Hi Steve, it is not you that is misleading, it is me! Because I simply do not understand why a list
    of Dukes men(Missing)were within the file of SSD NO2.I found several names with the same army numbers
    within, the 2ND Battalion Dukes war diary.All were listed as having taken part in the Sittang Bridge
    disaster,Feb 1942.Can you explain what I am missing? Thank you.Veronica.
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Veronica,

    I must say that all the contributors to this thread, especially Alan (the originator of the thread) and I found the inclusion of the DWR roll a mystery. My only thoughts, when I first saw the roll, were that they had been part of a draft of men considered for training at the Bush Warfare (Commando) School at Maymyo. But, with the benefit of hindsight, I'm not so sure.

    It could just be that the page has been added to the file in error during the process of bringing the WO361 series into the public domain. Perhaps it should have been placed in WO361/205 the file for the MIA from the Dukes in Burma:


    Apologies for not being able to help more.

  5. veronicad

    veronicad Well-Known Member

    Steve, now a little more clear.I sat until 3am trying to work out my confusion.Not tonight though,I
    shall order the file you mention.MSA,The Dukes.Drew did a stirling job previously.Also,I shall read
    the books you suggested.Thank you again,for your replies.Veronica.
  6. RWMH

    RWMH Member

    I cannot add anything about the Duke of Wellington's but I would add Charles Messenger: "Middle East Commando" to your reading list about SSD2, Maymo and 204MM. This gives some information on where the men of 204MM came from- mainly from disbandment of 7, 8 and 52 Commndos (Layforce) in Egypt. There is some account of what SSD1 got up to on their trek to Kunming but not a lot about the fate of SSD2.
  7. veronicad

    veronicad Well-Known Member

    Thank you Richard,the more information the better.Thank goodness the mobile library visits my village.
    Amazing service.I have had out of print books etc.I can then decide if I want to make a purchase else
    where. Otherwise, I would be bankrupt.Veronica.
  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I agree Veronica, libraries are still wonderful resources for us researcher types. :)
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I would certainly second Richard's suggestion, an excellent book.
  10. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    I am doing some general wrap around reading at the moment and am half way through 'Desperate Journey' by Francis Clifford (real name Arthur Bell Thompson). The author made his way out of Burma via the Kachin Hills with a party of Burma Rifles in 1942. Along the way he crossed paths with Brocklehurst and some of the other SSD2 breakaway groups. He also had Pte. Leonard Lacey (SSD2) with him for a long period on the march out.

    Quite remarkable to bump into another book that touches on SSD2 in this way.
  11. Daniel Hayes

    Daniel Hayes New Member

    Hi Richard

    I know this post is now very old, but I was wondering if you could help me?

    I have recently discovered that my Grandfather joined SSD1 in March 1942 (possibly on convoy WS14) as a 'specialist', part of the RAMC. He is not in the group photograph of SSD1 in Taunngyi taken on the 3/2/1942, but I do have a photo of him with 'Jumbo' Newman and Col John Milman at the start of their trek. I have also found c.50 other of my grandads photos that were taken during this mission, but I am struggling to place them.

    From the information I have gathered to date, I understand they travelled from the Bush Welfare School in Maymo, to Taunngyi, then on to Kengtung and were finally flown out of Kunming in China. However I have read that group retreated to India before being evacuated from China, this would also match my grandads account he gave before he passed away. Do you know their exact route?

    There appears to be a lot of information on SSD2 which was obviously a perilous mission (I have read the excellent book ?no surrender in Burma? by Peter Goode), but I am struggling to find an information on SSD1 other than short paragraphs ? any help would be much appreciated. Do you have copies of the Laycock papers mentioned above?

    Following the disbandment for SSD1 I understand that my grandad spent time in India before joining the 'Dagger Division' who were involved in the successful recapture of Mandalay.

    Many thanks

  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    Richard has not visited the forum for several months, it might be an idea to send him a private message using the 'conversations' option in your profile. This message will then be sent to the email address he gave on joining the forum.

    As you say, there is not much information around in regards SSD1. Have you read the chapter on 204 Mission, from the book The Middle East Commandos, by Charles Messenger? This has information on the build up to SSD1 and SSD2 and the politics involved during the formation of these units.

    If not, then it forms part of one of my website articles here:

    The Raising of 142 Commando

    Aixman likes this.
  13. Daniel Hayes

    Daniel Hayes New Member

    Hi Steve

    Thank you so much for your response and link - I've been looking for that chapter for weeks!

    There is such a lot of information on your website which I will have to work my way through - fantastic research.

    I will also drop Richard a private massage.

    Many thanks again.

  14. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    No problem Dan, glad to help. Although, as you can see, my main interest is Chindit 1, several of my men have touched on SSD1 and 2 and the other related missions prior to 1943. I also helped Peter Goode a little with his book.

    Please do get back if you manage to contact Richard, as I would be interested to see what you might discover about your grandfather.
  15. Daniel Hayes

    Daniel Hayes New Member

    Hi Steve
    I have managed to get hold of Richard who has given me some really interesting information and details of the Laycock Papers which I now need to visit.
    I you are interested I have attached some of my grandads photos. Any help with people or locations would be much appreciated.
    Especially the location of the bridge!
    Many thanks

    Attached Files:

    Hebridean Chindit, bamboo43 and Rothy like this.
  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for posting the images. I've seen two collections of photographs very similar, if not identical to these before. One set belonged to Peter Goode and were obviously his fathers from his time in China and Burma, the second set belonged to a soldier who went on to serve on the second Chindit operation in 1944.

    Many of these images portrait Captain Gibard-Smith as leader, as does your photo entitled, a holt for the night. I was shown these images by the second family thinking that they were from the first Chindit operation. But have always believed that they were taken on the 204 Military Mission, or similar operation in Yunnan Province around two years beforehand. However, I cannot confirm to you that this is the case.

    Here are some of the photographs I have which show very similar scenes:

    IMG_0005.jpg IMG_0006.jpg IMG_0007.jpg IMG_0008.jpg IMG_0003.jpg IMG_0004.jpg 23.jpg 24.jpg 25.jpg
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
    Hebridean Chindit and Rothy like this.
  17. lee 204

    lee 204 New Member

  18. lee 204

    lee 204 New Member

    I have various original wartime files of LT COL J A R MILMAN OBE..... Rolls of all members of LAYFORCE on Its immediate disbandment . Rolls of the future employment of the Commandos from this force both Officers and Men who volunteered for special duties elsewhere . A list of those who volunteered for special duties Far EAST and elsewhere ....his files concerning his time as senior officer SSD 1 BUSH WARFARE SCHOOL.........along with other files , lists of personnel volunteering for special duties with CHINA MILITARY MISSION 204 . The two schools SSD 1 and SSD 2 were administered by !st BURMA DIV for all but special ops etc which were the considerations of High Command India....The role of Mission 204 Chunking China was the bridge between the China War Cabinet and British High Command India concerning the training of Chinese Personnel in Subversive and Guerrilla activity at SSD schools in BURMA in anticipation of a Japanese occupation of Southern China/Burma .There is no mention in any files as to Chinese in training....I have also read in many books that SSD 1 never came under fire or into contact with Japanese forces nor mounted any operations against the Japanese...Milmans files suggest otherwise..All files concern School SSD1( with many references to School SSD 2 ) its training,movements etc
    Rothy, Aixman and bamboo43 like this.
  19. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Lee 204,

    I was very interested to read your post. I have an interest in the men that came from the Middle East to serve in the Far East, especially those that ended up with the first Chindit expedition in 1943. Many of these men stopped off at the Bush Warfare School st Maymyo before being allocated or volunteering for the Wingate mission. I would very much like to see the rolls/files you mention in regards BWS. Totally understand if this is not possible.

  20. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    Hi Lee 204,

    I would like to echo Steve's post and sentiments regarding viewing parts of your files if at all possible. My main interest is in all aspects of the SSDs and their experiences in Burma against the Japanese. And as per Steve above, all absolutely understood if this is not possible.


Share This Page