1st Devons, Sgt Harry Jones

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by reddevon, Dec 30, 2020.

  1. reddevon

    reddevon Member

    Hi Everybody, I have been asked if i could find any information about a Sergeant from the 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment.


    Harry Jones

    Service Number: 6098065

    1st Bn., Devonshire Regiment

    Died 08 May 1944 aged 30

    If anybody would have a copy of the war diary for that speciffic date or action reports, i know its a long shot but you never know somebody might have something. I have suggested to them that they could try and apply for his records.

    thanks in aniticipation.

  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    The 1st Battalion The Devonshire Regiment in World War Two - The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset

    By October 1943 the Battalion were in action near Tamu, patrolling the Kabaw Valley and the line of the River Chindwin until the Japanese offensive began in March 1944. During the next two months the Devons played a notable part in defending the hills along the Tamu road, which included the notorious Nippon Hill. The Devons’ part in the successful assault on Nippon Hill cost them 20 killed and 67 wounded.


    At the bottom of the link is the contact details for the museum, they may/should have copies

    The Keep Military Museum
    Barrack Road
    DT1 1RN
    Telephone: +44 (0)1305 264066
    Fax: +44 (0)1305 250373
    Click here to email

  3. reddevon

    reddevon Member

    Thanks TD i will pass on the information.
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Devonshire regiment in India post WW2 query

    Bamboo post

    On April 11th, the 1st Devon’s led by Lieutenant-Colonel G.A. Harvester were ordered to attack and take ‘Nippon Hill’, one of the hills of the Shenam Ridge. As usual the Japanese forces had dug themselves into the hillside, with a labyrinth of trenches and tunnels, all well supported by accurate and powerful artillery covering fire.
    Using RAF Hurri-bombers (Hurricanes adapted with shell and canon fire capabilities), the hill was heavily bombarded in an attempt to soften up the enemy positions. Indian artillery also came down upon the Japanese trenches. Then C and D companies of the Devon’s put in the first attack and after a severe action took the crest of the hill, wiping away the Japanese force. Devon casualties were high that day with over 80 men killed and every officer and NCO wounded at the very best.
    With conditions now resembling the Somme in WW1, the enemy attempted to re-take the hill. They put in three ferocious attacks on the mount, but all were successfully repelled by the Devon’s who left piles of dead Japanese on the perimeter wire. After a few days these bodies began to putrefy in the hot and humid weather conditions, the smell became unbearable.
    With a devastated and shattered landscape all around and the monsoon now broken, the Devonshire men now lay in continuously wet uniforms, but always on full alert. Conditions were utterly appalling.
    The battalion were finally relieved on the 15th April by the 9/12 Frontier Force Regiment, which also formed part of 80th Brigade. Sadly, the 9/12 FFR lost control of the hill the very next day after an overwhelming attack by the enemy. The morale of the British Brigade was shattered by the news.
    Without knowing about the other side’s condition, both local commanders, Lieutenant Ito from the Japanese 15th Division and Lieut. Col. Harvester knew their men were all but done in. Both attempted to protect their units from further abuse, but failed under pressure from their superior officers and the commands from above. They were both to pay a heavy price.
    The relationship between Harvester and his command (Brigadier Greaves) had seriously deteriorated. It was felt that Harvester had become over protective of his men from the West Country, who he felt had been used time and time again to do the dirty work of the Brigade.
    The 9/12 FFR were a young and inexperienced Indian unit and although not lacking in spirit or endeavour, had to be consistently bailed out by both the Devons and the 3/1 Gurkha Rifles. The arduous fight for the ridge continued well into May.

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  5. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    In early May 1944, 1st Devon was engaged in heavy fighting on the Shenam Pass, more precise in struggle for feature named "Crete". On the May 8th, Japanese conducted a heavy attack on "Crete", occupying the western part of the feature ("Crete West"). Both side suffered heavy casualties but one company of 1st Devon held the eastern portion the the "Crete". As feature was considered untenable, 1st Devon was withdrawn from the during the next day, May 9th.

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  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Interesting read:

    Apart from one company of Crete West, following the earlier fighting, the Devons were
    concentrated on Scraggy Hill, with a platoon on a small hill called Lynche‟s Pimple (just to the
    North-West of Umbrella Tree Hill). Still very much on the offensive, Yamamoto attacked again
    on the morning of 07 May 1944, with light tanks and artillery, attempting to force the defenders
    from Crete West. Continuous bombardments by the Devons mortar platoon on Scraggy during
    the day held them off, but the next morning they also stormed the weakly held Lynche‟s Pimple
    and threatening Scraggy from the North East. The Japanese launched another overwhelming
    banzai attack on Crete West on 09 May 1944, supported by heavy artillery bombardments, the
    relentless waves of attacks being beaten back each time.

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  7. PatsyM

    PatsyM Member

    My reply seemed to have disappeared but diaries are above!

    Reddevon Jan 44 now attached.

    Attached Files:

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  8. reddevon

    reddevon Member

    Thats excellent, thankyou Pat.
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I've attached the reports for men lost on the same day from the battalion, no mention of Sgt. Jones I'm afraid. These are from WO361/663 at the National Archives:

    DSC03672 copy.JPG DSC03679 copy.JPG DSC03680 copy.JPG DSC03685 copy.JPG DSC03664 copy.JPG
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  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    The WD copies above for the 8th May 1944 state that

    “A” Coy. counter attacked LYNCH PIMPLE but held up by strong Jap L.M.G.
    positions. Attack continued for 2 hrs. but eventually called off.
    Japs shelled SCRAGGY almost continuously throughout day.
    Casualties:- 22 BORs killed. Lieut. R WOOD and R.L.SAUNDERS and 48
    BORs wounded. Major J.W.J.S DAY and Lieut. L.F.CLARKE joined Bn.
    2/Lieut. R.M.A.SHERWIN killed in action.

    So 24 (22 OR's + 2 Officers) were killed on that day alone but the loss reports dont seem to match that as they only show 4 killed or am I missing something

  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    It is always a tough one TD. The WO361 files deal often with those lost with no immediate confirmation at the scene. It could be that an officer present was able to identify and confirm the death of some of those killed on the day in question. These casualties would not then need further investigation or eye witness reports against their loss.

    I was hoping that Sgt. Jones, being an NCO might be included in one of the narratives in the file, but to no avail. I would say that something did happen to him on the 8th May and not before, as he is remembered upon the Rangoon Memorial at Taukkyan War Cemetery. This memorial is for those who perished during the Burma campaign, but have no known grave.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2020
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  12. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    I tried to mark some key features from the Shenam Saddle on the Google Earth and this is the best I could do

    Screenshot from 2020-12-31 10-13-10-compressed.jpg

    Some features, like Gibraltar and Malta are easy to recognise ...


    ... (from Imphal to Tamu, hill on the left is Malta, right one, with a road winding around it, is Gibraltar. Source). Scraggy should be, more or less, where it is marked ...


    ... (discarded Japanese equipment on Scraggy Hill, with Malta in the background on the right and Gibraltar visible behind it. Source), but the other three, Lynch Pimple, Crete West and Create East are more a guess based on several maps of the Shenam Saddle I could find. It is a shame that scene of such a heavy fighting was covered so little in the books.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
  13. reddevon

    reddevon Member

    This is brilliant information chaps, keep it coming if possible.
    Looking through the WO361 makes me think that all the names with possible KIA against them, were they ever found? did the Japs take them? are they still out there? . With shells landing on their positions could they have been buried and never found? or were they just completley obliterated? a horrible thought for so many!.
  14. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Two images from the 23rd Indian Division's booklet (unfortunately not the best quality)

    Screenshot_2020-12-31 The 23th Indian Division - Burma, Malaya, Java pdf.png

    Screenshot_2020-12-31 The 23th Indian Division - Burma, Malaya, Java pdf(1).png
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  15. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Gibraltar and Malta taken in 2014

    Attached Files:

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  16. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    A couple of shots looking back towards Scraggy, Malta and Gibraltar from Crete. The trench lines can still be seen on Crete circling the hill.

    Attached Files:

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  17. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Couple of the recommendations for medals, from 1st Devon, for battles on Shenam Saddle in early May, 1944. It could give some idea about fightings

    Temporary Major Leslie Thomas Valentine
    1st Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment
    Recommended for DSO, awarded MC

    Attached Files:

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  18. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Private (Acting Corporal) James McElhatton
    1st Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment
    Recommended for DCM

    Attached Files:

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  19. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Private (Acting Corporal) Thomas William Gubb
    1st Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment
    Recommended for MM

    Attached Files:

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  20. Skoyen89

    Skoyen89 Senior Member

    Red Devon

    Sgt Jones was one of 29 casualties the Devons suffered from 7th to 10th May 1944 according to the CWGC database online. Of these 7 are buried in Imphal. Their graves were found in two locations - A group on Patiala Ridge quite far behind the location of the fighting on Scraggy, Crete and Lynch's Pimple and a second group on the north eastern slopes of Scraggy. The remaining 22 (including Sgt Jones) have no known grave and are commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial. It may be that a number of these are in fact buried in Imphal as there are a small number of unknown soldiers buried next to the seven named Devons soldiers in Imphal War Cemetery and these 'Unknowns' were found at the same locations as the named Devon burials at the two locations.

    One of the factors that influences the number of known/named burials in the Burma campaign was whether the British/Indian troops controlled the battlefield after the battle. If they did, or they were able to recover their dead during the battle, they were able to bury their dead. That still does not guarantee that there is a named burial because many of these field burials were not subsequently recovered for a variety of reasons. In this case the battleground was fought over for a period after the Devons had left the area and the Japanese controlled the battlefields, having taken Crete East and West and Lynch's Pimple. Hence any dead the Devons left on the battlefield are unlikely to have had a burial at the time - neither the Japanese nor the British/Indian troops buried their enemies with any ceremony and often the bodies were simply left unburied.

    As has been said the WO361 'Missing personnel' files record the efforts to find those whose fate was unclear and it seems in this case that it concentrated on those lost on Lynch's Pimple. That suggests that the fate of the others on the Rangoon Memorial was fairly certain.

    It is interesting that on Casualty List #1458, showing those casualties reported in the 24 hours to 29 May 1944, Sgt Jones is shown as being Wounded. However that was corrected in CL #1511 when he was shown as 'Killed In Action'.

    I have attached a plan from a Devons book showing Lynch's Pimple and two documents from the CWGC site which shows where the named burials were located.

    Attached Files:

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