Number of UK troops in Burma

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by RobM, Oct 4, 2020.

  1. RobM

    RobM Active Member

    Overall, roughly how many British personnel were deployed and served in Burma in WW2 ?
    I do mean not British empire as a whole. thanks Rob
  2. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    No idea. Not anywhere near as many in the European Theatre for sure. Somebody must have calculated this but the numbers must have fluctuated. Also, many were held in India until they went into action. RAF would have been stationed there and would not count in your tally despite flying over Burma itself.
    One reason the Forgotten Army was so called was because the numbers of troops there were far fewer than elsewhere.
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  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    In the book, Forgotten Voices of Burma, author Julian Thompson suggests:

    340,000 Indian personnel including Gurkha troops

    100,000 British personnel

    90,000 African personnel

    Plus RAF personnel as Shiny 9th points out in her post.

    I have no idea where he got these numbers from, or whether they hold any credibility?
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  4. RobertBerry99

    RobertBerry99 Member

    I suppose best way to confirm would be the number of Burma Star medals awarded. But would they be issued posthumously?
  5. RobM

    RobM Active Member

    They had to be applied for and not everyone applied but that would give an estimate for sure. They are issued posthumously to NoK but you need to apply to MOD. I'm thinking the 100k number above seems about right.
  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    The Burma Star Association placed all its membership forms on line a while back. There were over 56,000 records held by head office, but of course not every veteran joined the Association.
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  7. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    I've seen a figure as high as 1,000,000 personnel, total... not GB... over the entire period... 1942 through 1945...
    The problem, much like one that was given an answer of "42", is that it is possibly impossible to truly give an answer without defining the question more accurately...
    Problem is, there is no master list of how many and who...
    And how long would it take to figure it out...?
    It's all about a thing called the Law of Diminishing Returns... the more you put in, the less you get out... It's an exam trick... you will get most of the questions answered, approx 75%, in the 1st hour of a 2 hour exam... the next 25% will take you the remainder of the time...
    Among numerous others...
    B43 has specialised in Longcloth (1943; approx 3K) and has spent an inordinately large proportion of time just figuring them out... If he keeps taking the meds he should make a full recovery... :D
    High Wood has slipped past the event horizon with the 1st Kings Liverpool and is well into that 25%; not sure about his recovery status... :ninja:
    My research with 111th and 230 Sqn has files in excess of 50gb of data and I have steadfastly declined to figure out the names of those involved... I'm in remission at present... o_O
    We have several gaps in the specialist researchers here, but we do our best...
    Chindits... If you go by the Columns of approx 400 men, then that's a figure circa 20,000 men and about 1/4 of those were Nigerian or Ghurka...
    So Brit Chindits numbered approx 15K... but that was only 1943 through to August 1944, when they were disbanded...
    Now, if you're volunteering... :moose:

    And re the Burma Star... RAF, Navy and MN personnel also earnt those... my grandfather sailed out of Singapore 3 days before the fall... never set foot in Burma but got the Star...
    My dad never joined the Burma Star Assoc... He went in...
  8. RobM

    RobM Active Member

    Yes as you say many in the navy qualified by having the 1939-45 star abs being in the qualifying area at sea.
    My grandad was in Burma and never claimed any of his medals himself.
    I’d have thought the easiest logical thought is that they all had to be returned home in the year or so after the war ended. Those that survived. Hence there should be rough estimates. 100k sounds ballpark
  9. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    I have some figures for manpower requirements for British Army personnel in India and South East Asia Commands for 1st February 1945. There's no breakdown for Burma but the total gives some idea of the 'Far East' commitments.

    The 'Grand Total' comes to 289,848.

    The figure was apparently arrived at by totalling the requirements as laid down by the war establishments for each unit type and multiplying by the number of units - simples! The figure includes British Army personnel in British, Indian and East and West African units and includes a holding for reinforcements.

    The breakdown on the second page is by arm of service.

    There is no reference as to any shortfall from these numbers.

    The data were found in the file 'India & SEAC', dated 1st May 1945, TNA reference WO 212/376.



    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
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