Royal Scots Fusiliers, Pinwe, Burma

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by dave500, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. dave500

    dave500 Senior Member


    Tonight I downloaded the U.S. Army Signal Corps film I ordered from a vendor who digitized the
    original motion picture film for me from our National Archives II, College Park, Maryland.

    Approximately one third consisted of the Royal Scots Fusiliers at Pinwe, Burma, in November 1944.

    I trimmed that from the video and created my very first You Tube video a few minutes ago.

    Here is a screenshot and the Index card for the film from the NARA.

    Scots Fusilers Screenshot.jpg

    ADC 2915-3 RS.jpg

    And here is the link to the video on You Tube:

    It appears that the Colonial Film Office has this Signal Corps film as well.


    I surmise those are Aussie engineers building the bridge.


    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    If you are going by their hats , then No.
    British troops were issued slouch hats in Burma.
    PackRat likes this.
  3. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Superb film, thanks very much for sharing it Dave. 36 Division in North Burma is my pet research project, so this is one of many clips from Colonial Film I'd been wishing to see if only I had deeper pockets!

    No Aussies at all in Northern Combat Area Command as far as I know. The lads rebuilding the bridge are probably from 236 Field Coy RE as they were the sappers supporting 29 Brigade and moved into Pinwe with 1 RSF. Possibly the bridge they're working on in the film is the one mentioned in their war diary for 30th November:

    236 Fd.jpg

    Their diary had many excellent technical plans in the appendices - I posted some of them in this thread:

    Booby traps and bridges - Stunning tech plans from 236 Fd Coy on the Rangoon Road

    I think the tall chap on the left (with the carbine sloped over his shoulder) in your screenshot/first shot of the film is Maj-Gen Frank Festing, commander of 36 Division. He was in Pinwe on 30th November according to the Div HQ diary:


    That carbine never left his side - it appears in every photo of him I've seen. He put it into action at least once (from 36 Div HQ 'G' war diary again, see entry for 17th August):


    The piper is allegedly John McLean, leading 1 RSF's 'D' Coy into Pinwe, combining a little victory parade with the celebration of St. Andrew's Day. Photo from IWM:


    Caption: Led by Piper John McLean, men of "D" Company, 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers march alongside a railway to celebrate both St Andrew's Day and the ending of the Japanese occupation of Pinwe in North Burma, 30 November 1944. (SE 521)

    It's great to see the 'behind the scenes' view of that photo. One little detail: the men standing by the railway flats as the RSF march past appear in the film to spit and shout something at them - if only it had sound!

    An interesting thing about these scenes is that while Pinwe was one of 36 Division's toughest battles, 29 Brigade walked into the place without firing a shot. 72 Brigade - the Division's other infantry brigade (it only had two at his point, 26 Brigade joined later) - had been involved in brutal jungle fighting immediately ahead of Pinwe and at Gyobin Chaung. They were held up by bunker positions, with the full weight of the Div arty trying to knock them out with little success: the jungle was so thick here that most shells burst in the trees and left the bunkers untouched.

    72 Brigade was exhausted and had taken heavy casualties so Frank Festing pulled them back, pushed up 29 Brigade and had the arty fire a programme of harassing fire to cover the change-over, which took about three days. When 29 Brigade began probing forward, it found the bunkers abandoned and Pinwe empty: the Japanese had quit the place and retreated while the two brigades were busy swapping places, having delayed 36 Div's advance for over two weeks. So in this particular battle, 72 Brigade did most of the bleeding and 29 Brigade were the ones filmed marching in victoriously.

    A single POW was taken at Pinwe. Here's the interrogation report on him from the Intelligence Officer of 130 (Assault) Field Regiment RA, 29 Brigade's arty support:

  4. dave500

    dave500 Senior Member

    Thanks, Owen. I did not know that.

  5. dave500

    dave500 Senior Member

    Really splendid research. I can see that you spent a lot of time at Kew.

  6. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    The Royal Scots Fusiliers were able to march into Pinwe, I understand without firing a shot. This was after a terrible struggle by other units to take it from the Japanese. The fighting involved 9th Btn, Royal Sussex who lost many men in the area, the battle raging for days. The 9th never actually set foot in Pinwe, although they were awarded battle honours for their role there. Seeing the name on the railway station is poignant.

Share This Page