White City visit, March 2014

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Eric Vogel, Oct 18, 2014.

  1. Eric Vogel

    Eric Vogel Junior Member


    My first post on this forum but i am happy to share it.

    Last March during my visit to northern Burma i was able to visit the White City area.In 2012,a permit to travel here was cancelled due to hostilities in this area,but this time it was no problem.Starting from Katha, the road conditions are terrible, on some points not driving faster than 10 km/h.
    Finally around noon we reached the area.After all those years,Mawlu has expend all the way to Pagoda Hill.
    It was more than a surprise to stop the car suddenly underneath Pagoda hill..

    The first encounter on Pagoda hill was with the Burmese army, having an outpost in the Pagoda.They were very friendly and one of them showed the area.
    The trenches are still there,clearly visible around the Pagoda:

    Afbeelding 017.jpg

    Afbeelding 002.jpg

    Afbeelding 001.jpg

    View from Pagoda hill towards the airstrip, railway to the left:

    Afbeelding 010.jpg

    Then it was time to visit the former airstrip, these days in use by the local farmers.My guide acted as an interpreter and the farmers are well known with the history here.It is still scarcely visited,the last visit they had was 4 years ago.I was able to show them some black and white pictures on my tablet and it was for the first time in their lifes they saw the situation back in 1944.

    The airstrip:

    Afbeelding 021.jpg

    Afbeelding 018.jpg

    A bit of comparision,

    March 1944


    11th March 2014

    Afbeelding 020.jpg

    Walking into the area away from the airstrip was a bit slow, mainly due to the thick bushes and the incredible temperature.According to the farmers there are still remains of some constructions made by the soldiers but we were not able to find them.On most hilltops,the traces of the trenches are still visible,as a small depression on the surface.

    Care has to be taken while walking here:
    Afbeelding 008.jpg

    Unfortunately we had to leave this area, we had to continue the cardrive to lake Indawgyi for the next 3 hours.
    Sleeping in Mawlu is not possible on the moment.

    Last March a visit to the Broadway area was not possible,due to the tense situation.During my visit i spend an other 6 days on the Chindwin river.It is in these small rivertowns that you can find the famous CWT trucks,still driving.
    Most of them are modified with a diesel engine,but still going strong after 70 years.

    Afbeelding 229.jpg

    I hope to visit Burma in the near future again.

    Best regards,

    Rich Payne, Owen, sol and 3 others like this.
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Eric, thanks for posting and it is great to see the photographs you posted. White City looks just the same as when I visited in 2008. We were not allowed as far into the former block as you ventured, for that I am extremely jealous.

    Coincidently, I have just started a thread in relation to the Chindit 2 Strongholds and Landing Bases. There must be something in the air.

    Best wishes

  3. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    thank you for posting
  4. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Great photos, thanks for sharing.
  5. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    You are blessed with good fortune...
  6. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Yes fascinating to see these, thank you for posting them. So interesting to see the place where my dad and many others fought. Can you tell us any more about your trip? Did you go to Mogaung? And what is your connection to this part of Burma?
  7. mikky

    mikky Member

    Excellent photographs. Do you have any more? I was wondering-the trenches in post #1 Are they British trenches, as in part of the White City defences, or Japanese trenches dug before the 17th of March encounter?

  8. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Nice to see this post again as I will be going there in December...hope the roads might have improved ! Because of elections I guess the situation could change but hoping to go here, Hopin and Mogaung. Any tips on what to look out for gratefully received...especially old shells of course! BHamo and Kawkwe also by boat.
  9. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    So jealous... ;)
  10. mikky

    mikky Member

    Found this online. Can't understand a word but may be of interest.


  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Mike. Thanks for placing this video up on the forum. This is about the unveiling of the new Chindit Memorial which is situated on O.P. Hill (opposite Pagoda Hill) at the site of the White City stronghold. This has been arranged after an idea from Chris and Diana Hoare for a permanent memorial to the Chindits, after their visit in 2014. Diana's father was, Lt-Colonel Pat Hughes who commanded the 12th Nigerian Regiment during the campaign.

    There is now a strong connection with the new 77th Brigade (Cyber Chindits) and their commander, Brigadier Alastair Aitken is the man shown in the video at the unveiling. There is a hope to fund not just the upkeep of the memorial, but to also support a local museum displaying Chindit artefacts and photographs, as a way of encouraging more visits to the site.

    The Chindit Society and the new 77 Brigade are looking to form a strong partnership in upholding the legacy of their WW2 predecessors and this ceremony was part of this process.

    There has clearly been another shift in the viewpoint of the Burmese government in relation to such memorials and attention given to places of historical interest. When we visited White City in March 2008 our guide informed me that, apart from the upkeep of the three CWGC cemeteries, the Burmese government had no interest in such places, or encouraging any focus upon them.

    Eric Vogel likes this.
  12. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    How interesting to see the memorial and museum, There was no sign when we visited last year...I wish that the museum had been open. I wonder if the army are still installed on both hills.
  13. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    There is a good four page article about the opening in the latest edition of Dekho! I might upload it on this thread in a few weeks time.
  14. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    I wish somebody would digitise - or simply photograph - a collection of Dekho! and put it online.
    Such a resource could do a lot to spark interest in the Burma Campaign if professionally done.
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I think that is a very good idea CF. I have used the magazine in my research quite a bit, especially in tracing Chindit 1 families who may have made appeals for information about their loved ones, say 15-20 years ago and received no reply back then. The magazine back issues also contain some very informative articles, especially since the periodical changed to the A4 format.
  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    We have already discussed CF's suggestion elsewhere on the forum. But for those who might come to this thread late, the Burma Star Association have now placed a digital archive of Dekho! magazine on line. Here is the link:

    DEKHO! The Journal of The Burma Star Association - Burma Star Memorial Fund
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  17. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    And, I might add, this is not a slap-dash job. They're high-quality scans with a proper navigational index.

    Many thanks to all those responsible; it must have been a significant piece of work.
    Hebridean Chindit likes this.

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