John Ritchie Gardiner

Discussion in 'SOE & OSS' started by bamboo43, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi All,

    I have just finished reading the book 'Flight By Elephant', by Andrew Martin. A very good book about the exploits of an Assam Tea Planter and his endeavour to rescue stranded refugees, as they attempt to walk out of Burma in 1942 through the hellish Chaukan Pass.

    One of the main threads throughout the book is the fate of a group of Commandos who become entangled with the main party of refugees, as they too attempt to use the Pass as their escape route to India.

    One of these men is John Fraser who later on would take part in Chindit 1 with Bernard Fergusson's Column 5. Fraser experiences a lucky escape when he is nearly drowned in one of the rapidly flowing rivers on the journey, his rescuer was John Ritchie Gardiner.

    Gardiner was awarded the George Medal for this action and then went on to be a big player in SOE/Force 136.

    I would like some more info on Gardiner, especially his obituary and most importantly a photograph of him. I already have some good material on his SOE career, thanks to Jedburgh22 and a copy of his George medal citation.

    Any help always appreciated as I try and build Fraser's story for my website.


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  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Just a cheeky little bump. ;)
  3. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    John Ritchie Gardiner was a science student at the University of Glasgow in the 1920s. He first matriculated in 1920-1, when he took Geology I, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and Chemistry Laboratory. In his second year he studied Engineering Drawing. In 1923-4 he studied Mining I II III, Miming IV, Geology II and Electrical Engineering I. In his final year he took Engineering I II, Metallurgy, Metallurgy Laboratory and Engineering Laboratory. He graduated with a BSc in 1925. After graduation he became a mining engineer in Dalry, Ayshire. In c1930 he moved to Faskine, Troon, Ayrshire. In c1952 he received an O.B.E. The Registers of General Council Members shows that by the time he retired to Mill Stanford, West Kilbride, Ayrshire, he had reached the rank of Lt. Col..,%20john%20ritchie

    Seem that TNA holds some of his papers
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  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  5. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

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  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Cheers Gents,

    I have his SOE file down on my list for the next Archives visit, I'm pretty confident there will be a photo within. Probably the frontal and side view mug shots sort of thing. Here is his recommendation for the George Medal.

    Gardiner GM.jpg
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  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    A fine result for me with this request, thanks to the kindness of a forum member.

    Gardiner JR. JPG.JPG
  8. vivr08

    vivr08 vivr08

    Adding to what SOL said about John Richie Gardiner:
    He joined the the British forestry firm of McGregor & Co. that had extensive interest in timber extraction, timber milling and export facilities in Burma to 1947.
    I don't know when he joined McGregor & Co but by 1938, he was the Manager in Rangoon. Burma.
    In 1938 he was one of two elected "European Representatives" on the Municipal Council of Rangoon and quite possibly the Mayor of Rangoon in 1940/1941.
    In those capacities he would have developed significant relationships with the "Raj" in Burma, Burmese politicians like U Ba Maw, etc, but better still with the senior employees of large British companies in Rangoon like Steel Brothers (the owners of the Burma Oil Company), the Bombay Burma Trading Corp (BBTCL).
    He was commissioned into the Army in Burma Reserve of Officers (No. 624) on 7/4/1942 as a 2nd Lt.
    On relinquishment of command in 1946 he was Lt. Colonel (temp), ABRO. 624.
    When he became Commander, Force 136 (Burma Section) about 1943, it was from Steels and BBTCL that he drew the first groups of Force 136 operatives, that had language skills and geographical knowledge of Burma.
    He must have been a very adapt man to have retained his position after about early 1945 when Force 136 (Burma Section) got more politicised.
    Louis Allen ("Burma the longest war 1941-1945") wrote, that by early 1945 " Partly for political, partly for racial reasons Force 136 (Burma Section) had two divisions, The Burmese Section worked chiefly on the west bank of the Sittang (sic. River) in liaison with the AFO (sic General Aungsan's Burmese Army).... on the east bank (sic Sittang River), the other division was involved with the Karens in Karenni (a district of Burma)".
    - George Cross was awarded in 11/3/1943 for saving the lives of colleges on the retreat from Burma in 1941.
    - OBE (Military Division) for gallant and distinguished service (Special Operations SEA) on 29/11/1946.
    It's a pity that he did not write his memoirs, that would have given us insights to the policy decisions and higher command of Force 136 (Burma Section).
    Had he been an ICS "Raj" man in Burma he would surely got an MBE!!
    Cheers to all recording the exploits of individuals in Force 136 (Burma Section) and US Detachment 101.
    bamboo43 likes this.
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Thanks for the extra info. :)

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