2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, India 1945

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by High Wood, Sep 6, 2020.

  1. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Can anyone please tell me which Brigade and Division the 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment were allocated to after the Chindits disbanded? I would specifically like to know who they were allocated to during their time in Bombay in 1945.
    Leicesters 015.JPG
     
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  2. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is the service summary of the 2nd Leicesters:

    2nd Battalion, The Leicestershire Regiment

    16th Infantry Brigade – 3 September 1939 to 12 May 1941

    At Acre at the start of war the battalion had only 475 all ranks. ‘A’ Company had been disbanded and the Band and Drums were formed into two rifle platoons. ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies had only two platoons and ‘D’ Company had only one platoon. ‘D’ Company had a detachment at Ar Rama. Three hundred three reservists arrived on September 17th and the battalion was reorganised on September 19th, 1939. In January 1940 the battalion moved with the brigade to a camp near Jericho and then to a tented camp at Latrun with the brigade in March 1940. On April 14th, 1940 the battalion received small drafts from the Rhodesia Regiment and in June 1940 it moved with the brigade to Gedera, where it remained until it left for the Western Desert. It entrained at Rehovath on September 8th, 1940 and arrived at Sidi Hameish Station on September 9th. On arrival the brigade joined the 4th Indian Infantry Division in the Baqqush Box. It remained there until moving to the escarpment on December 5th, 1940 in preparation for the Sidi Barrani battle. After the battle it moved to Bardia as a reserve on January 2nd, 1941 and then to Wadi Home inside Bardia perimeter on January 6th. It left for Tahag Camp in Egypt on February 11th and arrived there on February 13th, 1941. On April 9th, 1941 the battalion entrained at Geneifa and moved to Mersa Matruh under the brigade. It went back into the Baqqush Box on April 23rd. After a few weeks it returned to Egypt.


    GHQ Middle East Force – 12 May 1941 to 16 May 1941

    The battalion embarked for Crete on May 14th, 1941 and arrived on the 16th.


    14th Infantry Brigade – 16 May 1941 to 29 May 1941

    The 2nd Leicesters served with the brigade on Crete. It left Crete and the brigade on May 29th.


    16th Infantry Brigade – 30 May 1941 to 14 October 1944

    The battalion returned to the command of the 16th Brigade on its return from Crete and remained in Egypt with the brigade through June 12th, 1941. It moved to Syria on the 12th for operations against the Vichy French and arrived on the 17th. It fought with the brigade in Syria and remained for occupation duties after the campaing ended in July. The brigade left Syria on September 19th by sea and arrived in Tobruk two days later. The brigade remained in Tobruk for the rest of the siege and was involved in the breakout in November and early December. The brigade returned to Egypt on December 20th, 1941. It remained there until February 4th then travelled to Syria, where it arrived on the 8th. It was only in Syria a few weeks before being sent back to Egypt on February 22nd. It arrived in Egypt on the 24th and embarked for Ceylon on March 6th.

    The 16th Brigade arrived in Ceylon on March 15th, 1942 and served as a garrison unit for nearly a year. It crossed to India on February 1st, 1943 and arrived the following day. The battalion was organised into Long Range Penetration columns from September 1943 to October 1944 as 17th and 71st Columns. The brigade left India on January 27th, 1944 and moved into Burma. It served there under Special Force until May 7th, when it was evacuated back to India.


    111th Indian Infantry Brigade – 12 October 1944 to 13 May 1945

    The battalion came under the command of the 111th Indian Infantry Brigade on October 12th, 1944 in Banaglore. It moved to Shangarh on October 18th, 1944. It left the brigade on May 13th for service as the defence battalion of the 36th British Infantry Division.


    India Command – 13 May 1945 to 20 May 1945

    The battalion was in transit from the 111th Indian Infantry Brigade to the 36th Infantry Division.


    36th Infantry Division – 20 May 1945 to 31 August 1945

    It finished the war under 36th Infantry Division in India as a defence battalion.
     
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  3. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Many thanks for your comprehensive reply. It was the confirmation of their time with the 36th Infantry Division that I was looking for but could find nothing on line.

    I have photograph albums from two separate 2nd battalion Leicestershire Regiment soldiers that date from 1945 and centre around their time in Bombay. I suspect that one of them started out in the 7th battalion before transferring to the 2nd battalion. The other seems to have spent all his time with the 2nd battalion. Very few of the photographs show formation signs being worn, but those that do seem to that worn by the 36th Division.

    leics 001.JPG

    I am not sure what the pagri flash indicates. This first photograph is from the first set of albums that belonged to a Shropshire man who may have served with the 7th Battalion.
     
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  4. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    This photograph is from the second set of albums that belonged to a soldier from Warwickshire. The photograph is deceptive as the second (red) circle of the formation sign is not visible and it looks to be that of the 29th Infantry Brigade, but I am sure that it is not.

    Leicesters 004.JPG

    Leicesters 005.JPG
     
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  5. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    In the majority of the photographs, no formation signs are being worn.
    leics 002.JPG

    leics 003.JPG
     
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  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Here is the section from the regimental history on the 2nd Battalion's time with 36th Division. 2ndLeic01.jpg 2ndLeic02.jpg
     
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  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Here is the reorganisiation of Chindit Brigades as mentioned in the 16th Brigade war diary from October 1944:

    Chindit brigades re organisation copy.JPG
     
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  8. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Many thanks to you both for posting the regimental history and war diary extracts. It is appreciated.
     
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  9. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    This somewhat relaxed soldier is one of the few in the second set of albums wearing a slouch hat.


    Leicesters 028.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  10. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Closer inspection reveals that he has a circular, dark coloured badge on his pagri. If you look very carefully, you can just make out a lighter outline on the badge.

    Leicesters 029.JPG
     
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  11. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The same soldier appears wearing the slouch hat in three other photographs. Unfortunately, the dark coloured, circular badge is not visible in these photographs. However, in one photograph, the other side of the hat with the brim turned down is visible and appears to show a 36th Division formation sign.

    Leicesters 030.JPG

    Leicesters 031.JPG

    Leicesters 032.JPG
     
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  12. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The 36th Division Formation Sign in colour.

    div 36.jpg
     
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  13. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The last one for now, as I intend to knock this thread into some kind of shape. This soldier is one of the few amongst the many in the photographs that has visible shoulder titles. They are of the tropical issue, machine embroidered type.

    Leicesters 034.JPG
     
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  14. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    It would seem that an evening at the pictures was a big part of being stationed in Bombay in 1945. As this extract from the Welcome To Bombay leaflet, given to newly arrived soldiers or soldiers on leave, shows there were many to chose from.

    Milner 004.JPG

    Milner 007.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
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  15. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The owner of the photograph albums seems to have visited several several of them and was interested enough to photograph them.

    Here is the Eros Cinema near Churchgate Station.

    Leicesters 017.JPG
     
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  16. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Here is The Strand on Arthur Bunder Road on the Coloba Causeway. This week's offering is The Corn is Green, starring Bette Davis. Sadly, the cinema is now derelict.

    Leicesters 018.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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  17. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The Regal near the Prince of Wales's India Museum.

    Leicesters 019.JPG
     
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  18. PackRat

    PackRat Well-Known Member

    A couple of files from the diary of 36 Division HQ ('G' Branch) for May 1945 that might help confirm what you already know.

    First is an admin note from the appendices regarding the reconstitution of the Division, dated 19th May, which puts 2 Leicester in Uruli with 29 Brigade.

    Second is a page from the main diary which states that by 26th May 36 Div had completed its concentration in Poona, and that 2 Leicester was allocated as the Division's Defence Battalion.

    Image00001.jpg Image00002.jpg
     
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  19. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the useful downloads. Is there by any chance a list of names or even a Defence Medal Roll for the 2nd Btn. Leicestershire Regiment in the file?

    I have a few names in one of the sets of albums and none in the other set. None of the albums are annotated or give any locations, but I am able to identify various locations. There are more cinema photographs but they may not be in Bombay.
     
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  20. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The West End Cinema, the West end of where I have not yet been able to ascertain.

    Leicesters 022.JPG
     
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