Information appreciated

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Robert Wimpenny, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. Robert Wimpenny

    Robert Wimpenny Active Member

    Wasn't sure wether to post here or the REME section ?

    i am searching for Information on a family friend who apparently died in an accident whilst crossing a river in Burma, from info found on Ancestry it says that his mobile workshop was on a boat that capsized and he was drowned, am assuming this info was told to the family at the time - fairly confident whoever put info on Ancestry does not have service records or war diaries, and to them they are a distant reletive by marriage, so probably of little interest to the researcher.

    The person is Staff Serjeant Harold Hill (2089570) from Holmfirth West Yorkshire, he was REME, but Ancestry profile page says Duke of Wellingtons Regiment ? based in Holmfirth ?

    he is buried at Imphal War Cemetery India, but using CWGC it appears he was originally buried at Inbaung, Burma.
    He was 23 years old and died on 23rd March 1945.

    was hoping someone might be able to shed some light onto what REME was doing in and around Inbaung at the time ?
    He appears to have been attached to the Indian 552 Infantry, and the UK Army Roll of Honour lists him has a Staff Corporal ? but listed on CWGC doccuments several times as Staff Serjeant (not Sergeant, i googled it)
    In anticipation of any help, thanks
  2. idler

    idler GeneralList

    It's not impossible that someone originally in DWR transferred to REME but wouldn't be my favourite explanation.

    Infantry battalions would have had a handful of REME personnel attached, e.g. armourers, so that's one possibility. A battalion could also have an attached Light Aid Detachment (LAD), primarily to look after its vehicles.

    There are references to the Indian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers' mobile workshops so he might also have been attached to one of those.

    Or his service could have been a combination of all the above. The only real way to solve the puzzle is to get his service records from the MoD. As a wartime casualty, it's fairly straightforward but it does cost £30.
  3. Robert Wimpenny

    Robert Wimpenny Active Member

    Thanks, are the service records likely to give details of his death or would details be recorded elsewhere ? hoping to find something in the local papers, obituary / memorial but archives "covid" closed for now, not online either * microfische !
  4. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    At the time Inbaung was acting as a nexus for the evacuation of wounded to India and the forwarding of supplies (often by air) to the front line. It would seem likely that his unit was passing through en-route to elsewhere.
  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    If you can pin down who he was actually with, their war diary is the best chance of finding something. I'd say there was a better chance if he was with a workshop than attached to an infantry battalion, though, as casualty-producing events would have been a bit more unusual.
  6. Robert Wimpenny

    Robert Wimpenny Active Member

    thats interesting, i struggled to find out hardly anything about Inbaung at all, eventually found it on a old map, wonder why they moved his remains from Burma to India ? maybe because he was attached to the Indian unit ?
  7. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    A great many CWGC consolidations were simply for utility/economic reasons. You need less people per grave to maintain a large graveyard than lots of small ones. I have a relative who fell in WW1 who has been moved twice as small cemeteries have been consolidated and now rests in a different country to the one in which he was killed. At the time Burma was still part of India so this movement was not so extreme as that.
  8. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Graves were concentrated wherever possible so they could be more easily maintained, especially important in that sort of terrain.
  9. Robert Wimpenny

    Robert Wimpenny Active Member

    thanks, makes sense re casualty numbers

    well explained, i had no idea. From the old map i saw, the cemetery at Imphal and Inbaung are both close to the border line, thank you
  10. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    His Army Number, 2089570 falls into the number block allocated to the Royal Engineers, 1,842,001 - 2,303,000. He therefore first enlisted into the Royal Engineers and kept his number through any subsequent change of regiment.
  11. Robert Wimpenny

    Robert Wimpenny Active Member

    thats very useful to know, i believe he was born in the first quarter of 1922 so would have been alsmost 18 when war broke out, found 1939 register for his family but he is one of the blacked out lines, would have been nice to see if he had a trade that perhaps related to REME.

Share This Page