Bullocks in Burma

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by ElaineRM, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. ElaineRM

    ElaineRM Member

    Hallo everyone. This is the first time I have posted, although I have been reading all your wonderful info on this forum for the past year.
    I am researching the war experiences of my father, Capt. Arthur John Mills RASC No 198915. He joined the Territorial Army in Aug 1940,by April 41 posted to 202 OCTU, Commissioned 2nd Lieut July 41. Eventually sent on Draft RHHYO Oct 42 to Takoradi West Africa to join 7 WA Gen Tp Coy. Posted to 81 WA Div Tp Coy WAASC in July 43. They went to India, leaving from Takoradi on 6th Aug 43 and he was posted to X(V)D List 81WA Div Bullock Troop in Dec 43. He became a Captain and OC WA Div Pack Bullock Coy also in Dec 43.
    I have his military records from the MOD, along with his medals the 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal and War Medal, as well as his 14th Army Badge, his Chindits badge, and his 81 WA Div Spider Badge.
    I know from my research that he must have been in "Op Thursday" and was probably with 6th, 7th or 12th Bn Nigeria Regt, but I am anxious to find out where he actually went. I know they flew in with their white bullocks, dyed green! in a Dakota, he and his company never having flown before (nor had the bullocks, I imagine!) He wrote an article for the RIASC Journal No 2 in Nov 44 describing this, which we have a copy of.
    I have a photo of him with Maj Gen F J Loftus Tottenham with his company of men, and one in Sholinghur, Madras with Brigadier P M Hughes where they were after the Chindit operation. He finally returned to the UK in Feb 46 and was released from the Army in Aug 46. (I was born in April 47!) Like so many Chindits he did not speak of his war years, the most obvious legacy of which was ill-health from Malaria for many years after. How I wish I had asked him about his experiences.
    So my question is: Does anyone know where he might have been during "Operation Thursday"? Are there any records of his company? I have the book "War Bush" by John Hamilton, but bullocks are hardly mentioned.
    Thanks for reading all this. Looking forward to some answers from all you knowledgeable people. Elaine.
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  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hopefully Bamboo will be along and help out but in the meantime

    The Chindits - Operation Thursday - The Chindit Society
    The Chindits - Operation Thursday - The Chindit Society
    The Chindits - Operation Thursday - The Chindit Society
    The Chindits - Operation Thursday - The Chindit Society
    The Chindits - Operation Thursday - The Chindit Society

    There is also a book
    Spidermen: Nigerian Chindits and Wingate’s Operation Thursday Burma 1943 – 1944 Paperback – October 5, 2018
    by John Igbino (Author)

    Possible War Diaries search results
    Search results: nigerian regt | The National Archives


    Fighting with the Fourteenth Army in Burma


    From Bamboo's web site - Chindits with Four Legs
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hello Elaine,

    Very interested to read your post. I will have a look through my records this evening when I get home from work.

  4. ElaineRM

    ElaineRM Member

    Thank you, TD, for such a speedy reply. I had ordered the John Igbino book and it has arrived today. It looks to be quite a challenge, but one I shall enjoy attempting. It certainly seems as if it will give a different slant on the importance of the Nigerians, which may have been ignored by some. I shall also look at all the other sources of info that you suggest. Bamboo is also going to be on the case for me! Elaine.
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Elaine,

    I've had a quick look through the war diaries for the 6, 7 and 12th Nigerians this evening, but sadly your father does not appear in the officer's returns as far as I could see. The 12th Nigerians were commanded by PM. Hughes and in the 1945 diary it mentions a visit by Loftus-Tottenham in November. My best guess is that your father was attached to the 12th Nigerians, but there is nothing concrete in the diaries to confirm this.

    Some of the pages in the diaries are written in free hand and are difficult to read, so it could be that he is mentioned, but I did not pick this up. Please see attached the officers listing for 12 Nigerians in 1944 and the previously mentioned visit by Loftus-Tottenham.

    Sorry I could not be more helpful at this point. It would be great to see some of the photographs you mention and learn more about your father. I am a member of the Chindit Society and I know that we would like very much to learn more about Captain AJ. Mills.


    November 45.JPG 12 Nigerians Officers.JPG
  6. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    I have some photos of maps that show approximate movements of the 3rd West African Brigade (code name "Thunder"), that was the covering name for the 6th, 7th and 12th Nigerian Regiments... pm me an email address if you'd like copies of them... Not one of my areas of study but aware they were often used as support and guarding duties around some of the fall back areas...
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    HC - you may have to send Elaine a PM with details as I think a new member needs to have a certain number of posts [to ensure they are sticking around] before they can PM [or conversation as they are now called]

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  8. ElaineRM

    ElaineRM Member

    Thank you, Bamboo, TD and HC for your replies. I have just started to read "Spidermen" by John Igbino Pub 2018 and am feeling saddened. He believes that people writing Chindit History in the past, including the British Cabinet's Official Historical Publication, have managed to "anonymise,forget,omit,denigrate and relegate Nigerian Chindits to the margins of the History of Operation Thursday"-- these are his words I am quoting.
    This is dismaying as it will make finding accurate records of what happened to the Nigerian battalians, including my father's even more obscure company, very hard, even impossible to find. And why was my father, a London suburban young man,sent to West Africa and to be in charge of Bullocks!! A quirk of the British Army, I suppose!
    I will try to post the photos I have on this forum, when I can get my head round the technology. And I have just joined the Chindit Society.
    Thanks for your help. Elaine.
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  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron


    I have recently been in contact with a couple of other Chindit families with 12 Nigerian's connections. John Igbino's book as certainly caused quite a stir with his viewpoint. Having researched the Chindit campaigns fairly in depth (although mostly the first, it has to be said), there has been very little written about the West African contribution it is true. However, almost without fail, the British officers view of their men after hostilities ceased was one of pride, admiration and in the right sense, love.

    On my website dedicated to the men of Chindit 1, I have written about the senior Bullock Transport officer, who probably like your father, came to his role rather by accident:

    Lieutenant James Vernon Crispin Molesworth
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  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Just found these that may be of interest

    81 West African Division: W.A.A.S.C. Bullock Coy. | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 172/6600
    81 West African Division: W.A.A.S.C. Bullock Coy.
    Date: 1944 Feb.- Dec.
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

    81 West African Division: C.W.A.A.S.C. Bullock Coy. | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 172/9555
    81 West African Division: C.W.A.A.S.C. Bullock Coy.
    Date: 1945 Jan., Feb.
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

    If you need we have members of this site who are regulars at TNA Kew and offer the service of copying files at very reasonable rates compared to the norm ;)

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  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Great that you have joined the Chindit Society Elaine. I was thinking, there are a couple of other Chindit related books that cover the West African Brigade:

    March Out, by Jesse Shaw

    Chindit Column, by Charles Carfrae

    These might prove interesting informational reading for you and are commonly available on Amazon at reasonable prices.
  12. ElaineRM

    ElaineRM Member

    That is wonderful, TD. Any idea what CWAASC stands for? Central West Africa Army Service Corps? Whatever the two references WO172/6600 and WO172/9555 contain I know I would love to have them and perhaps, just perhaps they might mention my father's company!! How do I go about asking someone to copy the files for me from Kew? And paying for them of course! Thanks so much, this is getting exciting. Elaine.
  13. ElaineRM

    ElaineRM Member

    Thanks so much for your interest, Bamboo. I have noted down these two books. My Burma bookshelf is getting filled! Elaine.
  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Just found this as well, not sure how you obtain a copy perhaps others can help out there

    Private Papers of Captain F C W Davies

    Content description
    Two interesting ms diaries, November 1944 - April 1946, and an ts memoir (133pp) recording his career with the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) and West African ASC, March 1939 - April 1946, including: service as a driver with the 27th AA Brigade Company RASC TA in Wimbledon from March 1939 and after mobilisation, September 1939, in France, October 1940 - January 1940; RASC Course No 30, OCTU, Bulford, January - April 1940, when he was commissioned; No 1 Company RASC General Base Depot, St Nazaire, April - June 1940, when he was evacuated; No 29 Company RASC, T Group Traffic Control, Worcester and Kidderminster, June 1940 - December 1941; No 70 GT Company RASC, Carcrofts, Nottinghamshire, January - May 1942, when he embarked for Nigeria; No 10 GT Company WAASC, Kaduna and Maiduguri, May 1942 - November 1943; recuperative leave, UK, November 1943 - January 1944; RTO, Bukuru, February - March 1944; WAASC Vehicle Holding Company, 82nd (West African) Division, Nigeria, April - June 1944; OC 1st (West African) Field Ambulance MT Company, 1st (West African), Field Ambulance, 1st West African Brigade, 82nd (West African) Division in Nigeria (June 1944), India (July - September 1944), and Burma (the Arakan, September 1944 - February 1946); 1785th (West African) Composite Platoon WAASC, Arakan, February - March 1946, when he was repatriated; and demobilisation, April 1946. Also included are miscellaneous documents relating to his WAASC career, including 3 ms letters (20pp) written to his parents from the UK and SEAC, March 1942 - March 1946; 10 ms letters written by his father to his mother (32pp), October 1917, describing his convalescence from his wound received while serving with the Household Battalion in a Base Hospital in France and in the 2nd London General Hospital in Chelsea; and 2 ms letters from his brother, serving overseas with the 137th and 30th Companies Pioneer Corps in North West Europe, August - December 1945 (5pp).

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  16. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    PM'd Elaine Tricky... :D
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  17. ElaineRM

    ElaineRM Member

    Thanks again TD I have contacted one of these, following your help. It will be exciting to see what is in the War Diaries, as I've never seen one. Elaine.

    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    I've just finished reading 'The Army Veterinary And Remount Services In The 1939-45 War; one of the Army 'red book' series. It includes this handy little table;
    No wish to rain on any parades, but this clearly states no bullocks with 3 WA Bde during Chindit II. This is in accord with my previous understanding that 81 WA Pack Bullock Company served with the division in the Kaladan, including a period attached to Hubforce (which existed from 03/44-06/44). They were certainly at Chiringa in 10/44.
    As usual, I'm a bit confused. It would be useful to see a copy of his RIASC Journal article, which I'm sure would clarify things.
  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thats because they painted the bullocks green - post 1 -

  20. ElaineRM

    ElaineRM Member

    Well,JP, that is an interesting Table! If he were not there with Special Force, why would he have a Chindit Badge?
    I have just sent off for someone to copy the 81WA Pack Bullock Coy War Diaries for me, so that might help a bit. How do you know about their serving in the Kaladan, as well as with Hubforce? Where did you find that out? His RIASC article says".......the sleek camouflaged bullocks, waiting in lorries to be emplaned in the huge Dakota DC3's, whose dim outline could just be seen in the cool darkness of 0400hrs, at a forward aerodrome on the Arakan Front. This was zero hour for the West African Pack Bullock Coy of the West African Army Service Corps" This was written when he was still a Lieut., he was made A/Capt in 12.12.43 according to his Army Record.

    So now I have more questions than before! Could he have done something else, to be with the Chindits on Operation Thursday? I shall press on, trying to find out the truth!! Thanks for this new info! Elaine.

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