Nunshigum 13.4.1944

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by sol, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Some miles to the north-east of Imphal town lies the detached massif of Nunshigum, towering 1,000 feet over the Plain and dominating several road junctions as well as the principal 4 Corps airstrip, into which vital supplies poured daily. If Nunshigum was to fall into Japanese hands, the future course of the battle might be open to debate.

    After several days of vicious fighting, Nunshigum fell on 10 April. An attempt to recapture the feature failed the following day, and further attack was planned for the 13th employing the 1/17th Dogras and the Carabiniers' 'B' Squadron. It was appreciated that having been in possession of the hill for three days, the Japanese, with their customary skill in field engineering, would have constructed bunkers on the crest, and that the Lees would have to suppress them on the summit itself.

    A heavy artillery and air support programme was in effect as the Dogras and Carabiniers began their long climb at about 1030hrs. Lieutenant H.N. Neale's No.5 Troop led up the south-western spur, followed by Maj. E.A. Sanford's SHQ Troop and the tank of the artillery's Forward Observation Officer, supporting the Dogras' 'A' Company, while on the south-eastern spur 'B' Company were accompanied by Lt. C.T.V. FitzHerbert's No.4 Troop. Meanwhile Nos.6 and 7 Troops remained on the plain below, providing overhead fire support during the climb.

    Nunshigum is 7,000 yards long, and its summit consist of a number of features connected by narrow hogs'-backs. The summit is covered with open jungle, but the slopes are clothed in long grass and shrubs. It took the tanks more than an hour to complete the climb, but by 1115hrs they were converging on the first feature, known as the Pyramid. This was captured without difficulty, and the squadron proceeded along the crest towards the next feature, the Twin Bumps, which was also secured. Watchers below could see the tiny figures of the enemy running north along the ridge.

    The way forward now lay along a narrow spine connecting the Twin Bumps with the Northern Bump, and along this the tanks could only proceed in single file with the commanders' heads out so that they could properly control their drivers' movements. The infantry were deployed on either side, and the speed of advance as they approached the final objective was about 1mph. Neale's troop was leading, followed by SQH Troop, then FitzHerbert's troop, with the FOO bringing up the rear. As the squadron closed in, the artillery support lifted and the Japanese counter-attacked immediately, making a special effort to kill the tank commanders, who used pistols, tommy guns and grenades to defend themselves. Neale was killed almost immediately, and Sanford was mortally wounded shortly afterwards.

    Down at HQ 123 Brigade, the Dogras' parent formations, Col. Younger was in contact with tanks by radio, and he ordered FitzHerbert to assume command and to continue the attack, simultaneously despatching a further troop up to the Pyramid in case a withdrawal became necessary.

    Meanwhile, Sergeant Doe, commanding the leading vehicle of Neale's troop, was killed, and when a member of the crew, Corporal Hubbard, scrambled into the cupola, he too was shot dead. Before FitzHerbert could attack, the tanks of Neale, Sanford and Doe had to be painfully reversed off the only route ahead. This took time, but eventually he set off along the knife edge again, with SQMS Branstone leading and Sgt. Hannam behind, arriving in front of three bunkers built into the Northern Bump. One again the Japanese rushed the tanks, firing from close range. Branstone was killed, as was his gunner, Trooper Hopkins, who tried to take his place. FitzHerbert was killed about the same time, and command of the remaining tanks devolved upon SSM Craddock.

    Younger had only one order for Craddock - to continue the attack. It was not going to be easy, for the Dogras had suffered badly as well; both their company commanders were down, and the men were now commanded by two VCOs, Subadar Ranbir Singh and Subadar Tiru Ram. Craddock conferred with the senior of the two, Ranbir Singh, and was agreed that the tanks should stifle the bunkers while the Dogras went in with the bayonet. However, the route would have to be painstakingly cleared again. In FitzHerbert's tank the gunner's telescope had been smashed, but the driver, Trp. Smith, was observing through his open visor, and passing back corrections. When he received Craddock's order to reverse, he found that the starter motor was jammed, but jumped out and secured a tow rope under heavy, close-range fire, and then scrambled back on board.

    The attack stalled within yards of the bunkers. Craddock conferred with Ranbir Singh again, and they agreed to try once more. This time they succeeded, Sgt. Hannam performing a very steep climb to the top of the Northern Bump, the center of the bunker complex, while Craddock subdued more bunkers on the right. When the Dogras closed in they left not a man of the enemy alive. Nunshigum remained firmly in Allied hands thereafter. Craddock received the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Ranbir Singh the Indian Order of Merit, and Hannam and Smith the Millitary Medal. On the anniversary of the battle, the Carabiniers' 'B' Squadron paraded therafter without officers as a tribute to Craddock and his NCOs, the tradition being maintained to this day by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, formed from the amalgamation of the Carabiniers with the Royal Scots Greys.

    Perhaps one of the coldest acts of courage on this day was that of the driver who, after the battle, was compelled for technical reasons to reverse his tank the 1,000 feet to the plain below.


    Text and maps are taken from Osprey's The Lee-Grant Tanks in British Service.

    Some other interesting links:

    Nunshigum on the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards site:

    Scots DG, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Scots DG Museum, Battle of waterloo - Nunshigum

    In the Antony Brett-James "Ball of Fire":

    Anthony Brett-James. Ball of Fire. Fifth Indian Division in the Second World War. 1951. Chapter 24.

    Photo gallery of Nunshigum hill, taken during the visit of delegation from the RSDG:

    Nunshigum | The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

    Photo gallery of headstones of all 39 members of the 3rd Carabiniers buried on the Imphal War Cemetery and one from the Kohima War Cemetery. Also there you have a pdf with additional photos of Nunshigum area, just like some photos of north-west India and Dinapur-Kohima-Imphal road. In pdf you have account of battle for Nunshigum from the Regimental History of the 3rd Carabiniers.

    Julian Pilcher
  2. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    The Distinguished Conduct Medal

    Warrant Officer II William James CRADDOCK, (399758)
    3rd Carabiniers (The Prince of Wales's Dragoon Guards), Royal Armoured Corps.


    On 13 April '44 this Warrant Officer was Squadron Sgt. Major of the tanks of 3 D.G. supporting the infantry on to a strongly held hill feature. On reaching their objective, the troops came under heavy fire from further positions and all infantry and tank officers were killed or wounded.

    Sgt.-Major CRADDOCK at once took control of the tanks; and in conjunction with the infantry officer set about the re-organisation of a confused situation, made more confused by the lack of a mutual language. He very quickly reorganised his communications; and was observed moving about dismounted, seeking out centres of resistance and leading his tanks to position from which they could more effectively engage targets.

    The coolness, determination, and personal gallantry shown by this W.O. has been the subject of discussion amongst all ranks, British and Indian, of this Bn. The success of the operation was largely due to his magnificent conduct.

    RSM W.J. Craddock DSM
  3. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    How versatile those M3's were... Even though outclassed in the west, they still were the war chariots in Burma, where the front was a lot of times no wider than a tank facing an MG nest, or a cleverly concealed pillbox.

    By the way, interesting jobs both those books; I´ve been lucky enough to read them.
  4. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Recommendation for the Military Medal

    Lance-Sarjeant Sydney Arthur Charles HANNAM
    3rd Carabiniers

    This N.C.O. was a tank commander in the attack on Nungchigum feature, near Imphal, on 13.4.1944. Before the objective was reached his Troop Sarjeant was killed, and his Troop Leader was killed soon afterwards. In addition the turrets and guns on these tanks suffered damage so that his was the only serviceable tank in the Troop. In company with SSM. W.Craddock he led the attack which resulted in the final capture of the feature, and his excellent fire control and positioning of his tank played a large part in getting the Infantry on to the summit. During the next two hours, he remained on the summit, generally under fire, and only withdrew for a few minutes under orders when the undergrowth near his tank caught fire. Throughout the action this N.C.O., who never closed his turret flaps, showed a complete disregard for his own safety, and in company with SSM. Craddock was largely responsible for the capture of the position.
  5. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Recommendation for the Military Medal

    Trooper Frederick Stephan SMITH
    3rd Carabiniers

    This man drive of a tank in the attack on the Nungchigum feature, near Imphal, on 13.4.1944. As his tank, which was a leading one, reached the objective, it came under very heavy fire, and the commander and 37 mm Gunner were both killed, while the tank was imobilised through the starter motor becoming jammed. This tank was on the summit of the ridge for 3 hours, generally under heavy fire, and all vision slits and periscopes were soon destroyed. For the greater part of this time, Tpr. Smith, though in full view of the enemy, who were within 100 yards of the tank, found targets for the 75 mm gun by opening his own visor and giving directions to the Gunner. The fire thus produced had much to do with the repulse of three determined enemy counter attacks. Later, he dismounted under fire, to attack a tow rope to his tank, so that it could be moved and the starter motor freed. Throughout the action his coolness and courage under very trying conditions were beyond praise.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    From A Roll Of Honour The Story Of The Indian Army 1939-1945 by Maj-Gen JG Elliott.

    Attached Files:

  7. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Recommendation for the Indian Order of Merit

    Subedar Ranbir SINGH
    1st Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment

    On 13 April Subedar Ranbir Singh was second in command of one of the leading companies ordered to attack a heavily defended enemy position on the top of a steep hill feature. This company had one troop of tanks under command and was ordered to attack position in conjunction with another coy on the right.

    When contact was made with enemy the Coy Commander moved forward to the leading platoon and was later badly wounded in the leg and unable to move. Subedar Ranbir Singh under very heavy small arms and grenade fire moved up to his Coy Commander and with complete calm moved about from the tanks to the platoons and put into execution his Coy Comd's instructions.

    At a later stage of the battle the Coy Commander was again badly wounded in the chest and was unable to command. Sub. Ranbir Singh took command of the Coy and from the same exposed position directed the operations. The attack was held up and other Coy arrived - the Coy Comd of the next coy was very soon afterwards wounded in the lung and unable to move. Sub. Ranbir Singh assumed command of both Coys and together with a Sgt-Major of
    the 3 D.G. - all british officers having been killed or wounded, made and executed a plan which succeeded in capturing a very strongly defended enemy position from which 97 Japanese bodies and a considerable amount of equipment was later recovered.

    Throughout this operation Sub. Ranbir Singh displayed courage, skill and initiative of the highest order. The example that he set was an inspiration to all who took part in this operation.
    Owen likes this.
  8. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Recommendation for the Military Cross

    Captain (temporary Major) Leonard Allsworth JONES
    1st Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment

    Thanks to G Jones for correction of text.
  9. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Recommendation for the Military Cross

    W.S.Subedar Tiru RAM
    1st Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment

    On 13 April 44 Sub. Tiru Ram was second-in-Command of one of the forward companies detailed to attack a strongly held enemy hill position.

    His company arrived near the objective about 15 min later than the other forward company. The Coy Commander then moved forward to contact the leading elements and was wounded through the lung and there after unable to move.

    Subedar Tiru Ram assumed command of the Coy and the supporting tanks and himself moved forward to the leading elements where in conjunction with other V.C.O's and a Sgt-Major of 3 D.G., he assisted in the preparation of a plan for capture of the objective.

    At this critical period the situation was that all British officers of the leading Coys and the tanks were killed or wounded. Subedar Tiru Ram by his personal example of courage and by his undauted determination maintaned complete control of his company and commanded it throughout the day, and again when counter-attacked that night, in a manner which would have been a great credit to any commisioned officers of a very much higher rank.

    A large share of the success of this operation is due to Sub. Tiru Ram.
    Owen likes this.
  10. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Recommendation for the Military Medal

    Sepoy Siri Chand
    1st Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment

    On 13 April Sepoy Siri Chand was in the leading section of an attack on a strongly defended enemy hill position. This section had worked up to an exposed place within 15 yards below an enemy position from which small arms and grenade fire was opened on them. Sepoy Siri Chand was wounded by this firing. The enemy then counter-attacked and forced the section to withdraw some 20 yards down the hill, except for Sepoy Siri Chand who held his ground, armed with a Tommy Gun he succeeded in breaking up the counter-attack, thus enabling his section to reorganise and drive the enemy from their objective.

    This most gallant act of Sepoy Siri Chand undooubtedly contributed to the success of the days operation.
  11. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Finally succeeded to identify both commanders of companies from 1/17th Dogra Regiment which took part in the battle on 13th April. 'A' Company was led by Major Jones while 'B' company was Commanded by Captain Alden.

    Recommendation for the Military Cross

    Captain (W.S.) Hugh William ALDEN
    1st Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment

    Operations - ARAKAN and IMPHAL PLAIN from 16.Nov.43. to 15.May 44.

    This Officer has commanded a rifle Coy in all the actions in which his Bn. has been involved during two campaigns in the Arakan and in the operations in the Imphal Plain. He has throughout displayed leadership and determination of a very high order. He was always shown a complete disregard for personal safety and a will to achieve his object which tolerated no obstacle.

    When Bn. arrived in the Arakan in Nov.43 it was Capt. Alden's Coy that withstood four attacks on consecutive nights. It was Capt. Alden's personal example and leadership which encouraged and instilled confidence and a feeling of complete and lasting superiority over the enemy amongst the men of his Coy which was then composed very largely of young and inexperienced soldiers.

    On 4th Jan.44 Capt. Alden was ordered to capture Left & Centre Knobs. He succeeded in capturing these places and held them against three hard pressed counter attacks. He remained on these positions isolated from the Bn., living on a reduced scale of hard scale rations, unable to evacuate casualties owing to torrential rain and on the fifth day, having been relieved, he led his Coy in a spirited attack against Right Knob.

    Capt. Alden was detailed to attack and capture the Propellor feature after dark on 11th March 44; the initial plan failed and Capt. Alden spent the night reorganising his Coy at a distance of few hundred yards from the enemy. This reoganisation resulted in a bayonet charge which captured the position at 0400 hrs that night. The success of this operation was largely due to
    Capt. Alden.

    Capt. Alden was in Command of one of the leading Coys during the attack in cooperation with tanks on the Nangshigum feature on 13 April. Once more he displayed courage and skill of a very high order. He was severely wounded but continued to command and lead his Coy until he was carried off the battle field, in an exhausted condition.

    By his unfailing cheerful attitude to conditions of hardship and danger and in his tanacious adherence to the path of duty he proved himself a most reliable Company Commander and valuable asset to his Bn.
  12. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    From The Times
    April 14, 1944
    April 17 1944
    April 18, 1944

    Attached Files:

    sol likes this.
  13. G Jones

    G Jones Junior Member

    Recommendation for Military Cross

    Captain (temporary Major) Leonard Allsworth JONES
    1st Battalion 17th Dogra Regiment

    * Text was very hard to read because poor quality of copy on the microfilm, I transcribe the text the best I could but two words, marked in the text with (?), were very hard to determine so I put what I thought that is correct.

    I can confirm the exact wording as follows:
    Captain (temporary Major) Leonard Allsworth Jones
    17th Dogra Regt.

    Commanding a company ordered to seize a hill feature as part of an Batallion attack on 13th April 1944, Major Jones displayed great skill, gallantry, and determination, in carrying out his attack. He directed his forward platoons and supporting tanks onto their objective, and when these were held up and blinded short of the crest by heavy automatic grenade fire he worked his way up under this fire, to the leading sections, from which he directed fire on the centres of the enemy resistance. Here he was severely wounded in the leg, and unable to move, but carried on with the organisation of the fire fight, until again wounded by a grenade which exploded beside him, inflicting serious chest wounds.
    In spite of these two wounds he insisted on remaining in his position, encouraging his men until they carried out their objective.
    The courage, skill and determination shown by Major Jones is the comment of all who watched this operation, the success of which was very largely due to this Officer.
    sol and dbf like this.
  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    G Jones, Welcome to the forum and thank you for posting the correct text.

    By any chance, are you a relative of Major Jones ?
  15. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Hi G Jones and welcome to the forum. Thank you very much for putting the correct text of citation. Copy on the microfilm was very hard to decrypt and I did my best to do it correctly. Sorry for any mistake I made while doing that.
  16. G Jones

    G Jones Junior Member

    Hi G Jones and welcome to the forum. Thank you very much for putting the correct text of citation. Copy on the microfilm was very hard to decrypt and I did my best to do it correctly. Sorry for any mistake I made while doing that.

    Hello and thank you to all for the warm welcome to the forum. No apologies required for the misprint, reading from microfilm is not easy! I am very proud to say that Major Allsworth Jones was my grandfather. I have to say a big thank you for the information available here, it is important that the bravery of all these men is remembered.
  17. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    G Jones, if you maybe wish to share more info about your grandfather you feel free to do that here or you can start a new thread. I think that folks here would like to here it.
  18. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Maj (A/Lieut. Col) Edward Galbraith WOODS, M.B.E.
    730 AI
    1st Battalion, 17th Dogra Regiment

    Awarded with the Distinguished Service Order

    N.E. Imphal Front 4 – 14 April 1944

    At Kameng, near Imphal on 4 Apr '44 a coy of Lieut Col Wood's bn was attacked by approximately 100 Japanese in the early hours of the morning. As soon as it was light Lieut Col Woods personally organised and directed a counter-attack which eventually resulted in 50 Japanese bodies being collected.

    Again at Nungshigum, north-east of Imphal Lieut Col Woods was ordered on the evening of 12 April to capture this very vital feature. With great skill and in a very short time, despite the fact that he had little sleep for three days, Lieut Col Woods organised a difficult attack which took place the following morning. Although only partially successful initially, the determination and dash with which the attack was launched, caused the enemy to evacuate the whole position on 14 April after a number had been killed in a counter-attack during the night of 13/14 April.

    Throughout of these engagements, though frequently tired, Lieut Col Woods has displayed leadership of the highest order. It was largely through his own personal example that his Bn showed such excellent spirit during these two engagements. His handling of the difficult situations is worthy of very high recognition.
  19. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Sol, sorry it took so long but as promised from Imphal A Flower On Lofty Heights,

    hope they can all be read ok.

    Attached Files:

    sol likes this.
  20. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Thank you very much Jason.

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