Tanks Ramree

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by JamesDrury, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    Hi All

    Have been looking into my Grandfathers time in the 146th RAC in Burma. haven't been able to find too many pictures, a couple of possible ones at the IWM then cam across one on a Canadian web site.

    Moore, Joseph Lorne - Photos | Canadian Letters

    I know that a Squadron of tanks of he 146th were involved in the Ramree Island landings and just wondered if any anyone knew of any other RAC/RTR units that were involved, it would narrow down the possibilities of the tanks in this picture been of the 146th.

    They are Lee/Grants ? which the 146th had there ( I'm still learning .... )

    Thanks for any opinions.


    Attached Files:

    sol, Ewen Scott, Chris C and 5 others like this.
  2. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member


    A fantastic album of photos on that link. It might help that the M3 tanks in the photo are Grants not Lees. Essentially the same vehicle as the Lee but with the British designed turret.

    I'm not near my files to check which units had Grants


    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    146 RAC did indeed have Grants in the Arakan, and there are several photographs easily available not least in the regimental history 'THE HISTORY OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON'S REGIMENT 1919-1952' by CN Barclay. Also some photos in George Forty's 'XIV Army At War'.
    Rothy likes this.
  4. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The Ramree Island assault was carried out by 71st Indian Infantry Brigade as shown below. It was the only armored unit in the assault.

    71st Indian Infantry Brigade - Ramree Island Assault - 21 January 1945

    1st Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment
    5/1st Punjab Regiment
    1/18th Royal Garhwal Rifles
    'A' Squadron, 146th Regiment, RAC
    160th Field Regiment, RA (Less 1 Battery)
    12th Frontier Force Regiment M-G (Less 2 Companies)
    Chris C likes this.
  5. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is a link to download the section of "The History of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment 1919-1952" on 146th Regiment, RAC's operations on Ramree Island.

    Rothy likes this.
  6. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    I have an unaccredited note regarding 146th RAC and Grant tanks and Ramree as follows:

    "all were Lee except for Grants in 146 and 149 RAC. In the 146 case they were finally given 'runners' in October 44 - Grant in A and B, Lee in C. He confirms that Grants were used at Ramree with the 26th Division. On the 149 RAC Grant tanks in A and B Squadrons, fighting at Kohima."

    The regimental history referred to above identifies that it was 'A' Squadron, 146th RAC (9th Battalion, DoW Regt) that supported the operation on Ramree.

  7. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    Thanks all :)
  8. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    might be a silly question but what is the difference between a Lee and a Grant ?
  9. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    The design of the turret was different. Per Wikipedia:

    "The British desired modifications for the tank they were purchasing. A bustle rack was to be made at the back of the turret to house the Wireless Set No. 19. The turret was to be given thicker armor plate than in the original U.S. design, and the machine gun cupola was to be replaced with a simple hatch. Extended space within the turret of the new M3 also allowed the use of a smoke bomb launcher, although the addition of the radio would take the space for storage of fifty 37 mm rounds, reducing the ammunition capacity to 128 rounds."
    Rothy likes this.
  10. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    There is another difference The Lee had six crew positions and the Grant five as the gunner also acted as radio operator. Later models of the Lee followed suit
    Rothy and Chris C like this.
  11. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    Thanks all - took the advice and found a couple of nice pictures showing 146th in the Ramree campaign :)

    Attached Files:

    Chris C and Rothy like this.
  12. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    Hope you all don't mind if i pick brains once again.

    My Grandfather apparently spoke very little about the war - just a few stories my father can remember, mostly just shot episodes and mostly non action related.

    One that he remembers was that my grandfather said was his most 'scared' moment, him being 'in-charge' of a tank, the lead tank, and having to order the driver down a tunnel with a Japanese gun at the end of it, my father remembers rails being mentioned, either the gun was on rails or it was a rail tunnel he can't say. when the peached the end of the tunnel the fine pin had been removed ..

    just wondering if anyone has any suggestions of where this might have been --- a very very long shot I know but its the only bit of info i have at the moment that might place him somewhere so thought worth asking.

    form what i read the 146th RAC had limited action and locations being mainly on the west coast of Burma.

    Any tips very much appreciated, thank you all.

  13. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    This would possibly be in the Arakan in early 1944. 146th RAC were rushed in with 36th Infantry Division to help counter the Japanese Ha-Go offensive and relieve the 'Admin Box'. 36 Div & Co. were in reserve for a later planned amphibious landing elsewhere in the Arakan, but that was all abandoned when the Japanese attack hit 7 Div.

    There were tunnels on the Maungdaw to Buthidaung road, which was about the only decent route cutting through the Mayu Range. They were built as part of a railway line, which had fallen into disuse and been torn up before the war, so although they now carried a road they were formerly 'railway tunnels'. After their victory in 1943, the Japanese set to turning the ‘Tunnels Area’ into a fortress, buttressed by two strong positions at Razabil (about four miles from Maungdaw) and Letwedet (about four miles from Buthidaung).

    After Ha-Go was halted, the Japanese troops at the Razabil 'fortress' and the tunnels were mopped up in Operation Markhur. Tanks were involved, but I don't know which regiment. A couple of war diary entries from 36 Div units that line up with your grandfather's story, though:

    [130 Assault Field Regiment RA] 27th March
    During night a large party of Japs operating EAST of NGAKYEDAUK PASS were attacked and sustained heavy casualties (2/300 killed). This would appear to have removed the threat of infiltration to the WEST via this pass.

    The Western Tunnel attack had succeeded: 6 S.W.B. were established on top. A tank fired 75 m.m. H.E. into the tunnel from West end to clear up any enemy there might be inside.

    Night of 27/28 was rather a disturbed one as far as the 315 Bty O.P. at 418418 was concerned, as a good deal of S.A. fire and mortaring was directed on to the area from the chaung south of HAMBONE. Gnr. GORRINGE, an O.P. signaller, was slightly wounded and was evacuated.

    [36 Infantry Division HQ] 28th March
    The WESTERN TUNNEL is cleared during the day by 6 SWB supported by RE who swept the whole tunnel for mines before it was traversed. JAP 150mm gun found inside wrecked as well as large quantities of stores and amn.

    According to the loading docket below for the move up from Poona to Calcutta in Jan 44, at least part of your grandfather's regiment still had Valentines at that point. I'm sure I read somewhere that it was Shermans that fired into the tunnel, though.

    146RAC.jpg 18.jpg Western Tunnel.JPG
    Chris C likes this.
  14. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    Wow ! thank you - so much info :) .... I gather that HQ and B Squadron were sent but B squadron return without being used. The HQ and Recon remained and had some part to play the area but not too sure what and how.

    I know A SQ was engaged later, in 1945 in Ramree and then towards Taungup and wondered if this might be an alternative possibility.

    I will keep exploring. I have sent for His service records which may help eventually.

    Thank you so much once again.
  15. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    C Sq of 149 RAC were also involved i think and they had Shermans so may be it was them.
  16. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian researcher

    Wow, that's brilliant, PackRat - I didn't think "tunnels" would be enough to go on...
  17. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    Could well be. The diaries I have show elements of 146 RAC and 149 RAC moving through the area, but exactly which went where after that gets very fuzzy (entries from 36 Div HQ below).146 RAC's own war diary would probably make it a lot clearer and reveal if they might have passed through the tunnels at any point, unfortunately the only section of it I have is Jan - Feb 1943 (when the detachment from C Sq got into trouble at Donbaik).

  18. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    Amazing - thank you for the time taken to reply. I did have a quick look at the war diaries but couldn't find anything specific to suggest tunnels anywhere. Maybe just one of those stories that isn't possible to place, not part of any action but a recon or something, always worth a try though :)
    thank you all :)
  19. RobG64

    RobG64 Well-Known Member

    Hi, I "think" I'm correct is saying that "B" Squadron, 146th Regiment RAC was attached to 29th British Infantry Brigade from mid-1943 equipped with Valentine tanks (some of which were DD tanks or at least they trained on DD tanks). Regimental H.Q. and "C" Squadron were attached to H.Q. 36th Indian Division, whilst "A" Squadron was attached to 72nd Indian Infantry Brigade. As noted above Regimental H.Q. and "B" Squadron embarked for the Arakan on 8th February 1944 (date?) along with "C" Squadron 149th Regiment RAC equipped with Sherman tanks. They returned to Nira Camp, Poona in March 1944 where "B" Squadron 146th Regiment RAC re-equipped with Lee tanks

    Someone will correct me if I am wrong!

  20. JamesDrury

    JamesDrury Active Member

    Yes that's all correct I think. I have a copy of the regiment history which I am working my way through :)

    I sent for his service records at the end of July but I know its upto 6 months for them to arrive.

    In the mean time I am trying to match the few stories he passed on to my father to any info in the regimental history or diary to place him, ideally in a squadron as they saw limited action and never as a full regiment but thats a long shot I know.

    Based on what I have looked at so far I have a slight feeling he might have been in A Squadron but this could be and is probably totally wrong.

    He arrived in India after the rest of the regiment and in the regimental history the commander of A Squadron notes officers and NCO's still undergoing conversion training in the UK, arriving in India several months after the rest of the regiment.

    He told a story of driving a tank with around 20 soldiers on it down to the beach, when they arrived they were all looking 'squeamish' ... the back of cow had swung into the path of the tank which rode over it ...
    A SQ did some amphibious training for some time on Mahd Island, near Bombay ..
    ... may be a possible link, though there were many times the regiment were near beaches.

    He told of operating 'behind Jap lines' at one point - the only time I think I can find this is A SQ landing at Leptan after being on Ramree Island for the advance on Taungup to block the Japanese heading to cantal Burma ?
    ... though I'm not sure this was behind enemy lines.

    He told a story of being on guard and a tiger being sighted on the edge of the camp but after a hunt and it being shot it turned out to be a Hyena with Huge Jaws
    ...In the regimental diary it mentions 24.7.42 – Major Bucknell (A SQ) hunting party for tiger that turned out to be a Hyena.

    On his tracer card he is transferred back to the RAC depot/UK 18th May 1945.
    The rest of the regiment remained in india.
    In notes in the regimental history Mj Bucknell A SQ notes that once the Akran campaign was near a close A SQ returned to India to join the rest of the regiment, two thirds of the Squadron were due for home service and after fond farewells left.

    This is all guess work but you never know .....

    Thanks for all the help and fantastic info ... I'm learning all the time.

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