3 Cdo Bde report Ops Nov 1944-Jan 45
INTERIM REPORT OPS - 3 CDO BDE NOV 1944 - JAN 1945
Author: Major D.B. Drysdale, BM, 3 Cdo Bde
Copy of original document supplied by: John Mewett
Transcribed by: Jennie Barlow
1. MAYU PENINSULA
On 9 Nov. a small Bde HQ, 1 and 42 Cdos came under comd 25 Ind Div and took over a sec of the line SOUTH of MAUNGDAW. Extensive patrolling ops were carried out, details of which have already been forwarded in "Local News Bulletins". During this period two raids of a tp str were also carried out. One on ELIZABETH ISLAND by 42 (RM) Cdo and one on RAMREE by 5 Cdo. Eight recce raids were also planned by the Bde and carried out by the SBS who were under comd at the time.
As a result of these ops the following ranks in the Bde were decorated:
92411 Capt. John GARNER-JONES, WELCH, 1 Cdo awarded MC
5884633 Gnr. E.W. RABBITT, RA(S/L), 1 Cdo awarded MM
3133581 L/Sgt J. CROWE, SEAFORTHS, 1 Cdo awarded MM
6286823 Pte L.C.R. OLVER, BUFFS, 1 Cdo awarded MM
Ex 3182 Cpl ALBERT SMITH, 42 Cdo awarded Certificate of Gallantry
Ch/X 1885 Cpl Robert COX, 42 Cdo awarded Certificate of Gallantry
On 13 Dec the Bde was again conc at TEKNAF and came under comd 26 Ind Div to start trg for the assault on AKYAB which was, at that time, planned to take place on 19 Feb.
By the middle of Dec it became apparent that the enemy were withdrawing rapidly. By 29 Dec 74 Bde of 25 Div had reach FOUL PT. On 29 Dec the Bde Comd was ordered to report to HQ 15 Ind Corps. It was now almost certain that AKYAB Island itself was only lightly held and, acting on this infm, the Corps Comd decided to attack as soon as possible. The plan was for 3 Cdo Bde to be placed under comd 25 Div and carry out the assault on the Northern beaches of the island followed up immediately by 74 Bde which would be ferried across from FOUL PT in ldg craft returning from the assault. D Day was fixed as 3 Jan H Hr 1230 hrs. The op was to be mounted from TEKNAF. This allowed four days for planning and mounting! Early on the morning of 3 Jan when the force was at sea, a message was recieved stating that the bombardment had been cancelled as the natives had reported that the enemy had evac the island. This was confirmed by an RAF recce plane which landed on the airfield.
Apart from this the ldg was carried out according to plan. No mines or booby traps were encountered and the Bde advanced inland and occupied all objectives by nightfall. 3 Tp RM Engr Cdo did very good work on the beaches acting in the capacity of a skeleton Beach Gp.
The following morning 74 Bde passed through and occupied AKYAB town.
On 6 Jan the Bde concentrated in the area of the town. From there small recce patrols were sent in LCAs to the BARONGA ISLANDS and to the area of PAUKTAW. It was here that a patrol from 5 Cdo surprised a small party of the enemy and killed one offr and three OR without loss to themselves.
A recce of the area was carried out on the early morning of 10 Jan by a party in an ML. This party was fired on by an enemy gun in the area of the beach. It also disclosed a beach obstacle in the shape of a line of thick coconut stakes about 300 yds from the shore and just above low water mark. In the light of this infm it was decided to send in a COPP party on the night D - 1/D Day to place delayed action charges on the stakes timed to go off just before H Hr.
The COPP party returned on board the parent ship in the early hrs of the morning having successfully placed their charges. The preliminary naval and air bombardment went according to plan and appeared to be very effective, and the demolition charges succeeded in blowing a 25 yd gap in the stakes, As the first wave of ldg craft approached the beach they were met by desultory and, on the whole, ineffective arty fire. 42 (RM) Cdo landed on time under cover of an air smoke screen. The beach was found to be muddy below high water mark which made ldg difficult. Cas were also suffered from anti personnel mines which had been laid on the firm sand above the high water mark. This was the first time the beach mines had been encountered in this theatre. However, the unit pushed on and the first objectives and beach head area were quickly secured with little opposition. The tks then attempted to land but the first one out of the craft got hopelessly bogged and the attempt was abandoned. 5 Cdo then landed and passed through 42 Cdo. They met little opposition until they reached the ROSE feature where they were held up by hy MG and also to send a search party to DOG Island where there was a suspected enemy gun posn. A suspicion which eventually proved to be unfounded. As it was now almost low tide it was decided to direct 44 Cdo to DOG Beach where ldg was easier. However, due to a misunderstanding, this did not occur. As a result the unit had to struggle ashore for a distance of 300 yds through waist deep mud. This took them 3 hrs and neither men nor weapons were in a fighting state by the time they reached the beach. It was then decided to try and land the tks on BAKER Beach, but this attempt was met by shell fire and only one tk succeeded in getting ashore. The LCTs were then directed to EASY Beach. Here the tks were able to get ashore but could not get round the pt on to CHARLIE RED until a rd had been cleared through the boulders by the Engr Tp. By this time it was apparent that no further adv could be made until ROSE feature had been captured and that this would involve a full scale attack. It was too late to lay it on that day therefore disposns as shown on the map att were taken up for the night and plans were made for an attack by 5 Cdo supported by tks to take place the next morning. The attack was to be proceeded by an air strike and naval bombardment.
The air strike and bombardment on ROSE went according to plan and at 0830 hrs 5 Cdo supported by a squadron of 19 L attacked the feature. The attack was speedily successful and many enemy dead were found. At 1100 hrs 42 Cdo were ordered to pass through 5 Cdo and, supported by tks, to capture MYEBON and CABBAGE feature. 1 Cdo were ordered to move on ONION. 44 Cdo were relieved in the beach head area by a bn from 74 Bde and were moved up to the foot of ROSE and held in res. 42 Cdo cleared MYEBON village with little trouble but bumped by enemy opposition on CABBAGE. An attack was put in which was eventually successful although cas were suffered, incl the CO. [view]. In the meantime 1 Cdo had succeeded in capturing ONION where they met little opposition. 44 Cdo were then moved up to the area of MYEBON in direct sp of 42 Cdo and disposns for the night were adopted.
1 Cdo were ordered to patrol fwd as far as BASS and WORTHINGTON. No opposition was met and by 1100 hrs they were established on WORTHINGTON. 42 Cdo patrolled as far as WHISKY where they came under hy and accurate MMG fire from the area of Pt 200. It was now apparent that the features stretching from BUGLE to Pt 200 were strongly held and that their capture would involve a Bde attack with full sp. Consequently 5 and 44 Cdos were order to move fwd and concentrate in the area of ONION preparatory to a Bde attack on the following day.
The plan for the attack was planned to take place in three phases:
(a) The capture of Pt 200 by 1 Cdo.
(b) The capture of Pt 163 by 44 Cdo passing through 1 Cdo.
(c) The capture of BUGLE by 5 Cdo passing through 44 Cdo.
42 Cdo to remain in res.
The attack was to be preceded by air and naval bombardment of all features. The air bombardment failed to materialise but the attack went in according to plan. 1 Cdo met some determined resistance on Pt 200 but after some sharp fighting, supported by tks, the feature was secured.
44 Cdo then passed through and secured Pt 163 without opposition.
During this time the tks had worked fwd to the WEST of BUGLE and were engaging enemy gun and MG posns on the feature. Three tks got within 30 yds of the KANTHA Chaung where they inflicted hy cas on a party of the enemy who were trying to withdraw NORTH. Unfortunately one of those got bogged and it was decided to send a tp from 42 Cdo wide round the left flank to attempt to reach it and protect its rec. Unfortunately this tp came under hy MG fire while crossing the open paddy and was unable to reach its objective. The tk was not recovered until after dark when BUGLE was finally captured.
In the meantime 5 Cdo had assaulted BUGLE where by inf and MG opposition was met and overcome. By nightfall BUGLE was in our hands and 5 & 42 Cdos consolidated on the feature.
Patrols from 1, 5 and 44 Cdo were pushed fwd to the line of the KANTHA Chaung. A few enemy stragglers were mopped up and much material was captured.
During the course of the day a bn from 74 Bde passed through and formed a br head across the chaung. This unit was followed by the Engr Tp whose task was to rebuild the br at KANTHA. This they succeeded in doing although under shell fire. The Bde was now given the task of holding the line of the KANTHA Chaung while 74 Bde passed through and exploited northwards.
Patrols from 1 Cdo were sent to BRANDY Island and from 44 Cdo to the high ground to the EAST overlooking the MYEBON River. In each case the areas were reported clear.
The Bde concentrated in the beach area preparatory to embarking for the KANGAW op.
COPP recces were carried out on the nights of 19/20 and 20/21 Jan to find suitable beaches and release posns. On the night 21 Jan the Bde embarked.
The force sailed for DAINGBON Chaung and landed according to plan. No enemy opposition was met in the beach area although there was some shelling of the chaung to the SOUTH of the beaches. This caused no cas to craft or personnel.
1 Cdo advanced inland and reported HOVE clear without opposition. They were then ordered to press on to BRIGHTON - here they succeeded in clearing the whole of the SOUTHERN end of the feature but were held up by a small pocket of enemy established on the extreme NORTH tip. 5 Cdo was then ordered to follow up behind 1 Cdo and consolidate on BRIGHTON. 42 Cdo were ordered to hold HOVE and a posn on the WEST bank of the DAINGBON Chaung. 44 Cdo moved up to the WEST of BRIGHTON preparatory to carrying out a night attack on MILFORD. This attack was put in at 1930 hrs and met no opposition. During the night the enemy on the NORTH tip of BRIGHTON counter attacked 1 Cdo fiercely and hand to hand fighting ensued.
At first light 1 Cdo put in an attack, with arty sp, and cleared the end of the feature. 44 Cdo were then ordered fwd to PINNER. During the day the 8 HYDERABADS landed and took over def of the beach area, relieving 42 Cdo who were then moved fwd on to MILFORD. There was intermittent enemy shelling of the beach head area during the day. Attempts were made to land the tks but these proved unsuccessful due to the boggy nature of the ground. 44 Cdo sent a patrol to DUNS. They reported that there was a small enemy post just to the NORTH of the feature. During the night the enemy launched a strong counter attack, with hy arty sp, on PINNER. The attack was finally beaten off although 44 Cdo suffered hy cas from tree bursts.
It was decided to withdraw 44 Cdo to the WEST of BRIGHTON and relieve them by two coys of HYDERABADS. Enemy shelling of BRIGHTON, the beach head and L of C increased during the day. A recce was made of the approaches to FINGERS, with the object of establishing a standing patrol in that area. This drew hy small arms and arty fire and it was decided that the capture of the feature would involve a major op.
During the day the Bde received orders to consolidate and not to attempt any further adv.
During the night 1 Cdo sent a patrol to BERWICK which reported NES.
At dawn it became apparent that the enemy had brought up further arty and a hy conc was put down on the BRIGHTON feature. At one period 182 shells landed in the space of half an hr. Harassing fire of this nature continued throughout the day.
51 Bde landed and took over MILFORD and PINNER. 42 Cdo were withdrawn to the beach head area. Two tps of 44 Cdo were moved over to the WEST bank of the DAINGBON Chaung to relieve the HYDERABADS. During the course of the day three tanks were landed and moved to the WEST slope of BRIGHTON. They were unable to get any further fwd than this due to the marshy nature of the ground. Enemy harassing fire continued throughout the day.
44 Cdo started a series of patrols to try and locate parties of enemy stragglers reported to be in the DAINGBON area. During the course of these ops they located and destroyed two abandoned enemy guns but failed to make contact with any stragglers.
5 Cdo came under comd 51 Bde as res and moved up to PINNER at 0800 hrs. Two tps of 42 Cdo relieved 5 Cdo on BRIGHTON. During the morning 51 Bde put in an attack on PERTH and MELROSE. This was preceded by a very hy air strike. The attack on PERTH was held up by a strong enemy resistance on DUNS. It was finally abandoned. The attack on MELROSE was partially successful and by nightfall three quarters of the feature was in our hands. 5 Cdo were not committed and returned to BRIGHTON at dusk.
5 Cdo again moved up to PINNER under comd 51 Bde. The two tps from 42 Cdo had remained in the area of BRIGHTON. Attacks on MELROSE continued and BERWICK was secured. Enemy shelling continued throughout the day although on a much reduced scale. During the night 5 Cdo set an ambush across the rd and patrolled into the village of KANGAW. No enemy were seen and the rd appeared to have been unused by wheeled vehs for at least 4 days.
The Bde had orders to withdraw and arrangements were made to start thinning out on the following day. The PUNJABS were due to arrive on 31 Jan and were to take over BRIGHTON feature. 5 Cdo remained on PINNER under comd 51 Bde.
At 0600 hrs a hy enemy arty concentration was put down on BRIGHTON. At 0620 a determined attack was made on the NORTH end of the feature. The enemy's immediate object appeared to be the destruction of the tks harbouring in that area. By sheer weight of numbers a party of the enemy succeeded in reaching the tks and destroyed one and damaged another. 5 Cdo returned from PINNER about 1400 hrs and the PUNJABS arrived at 1700 hrs. No relief of units from the Bde was attempted during the day.
At 0700 hrs the feature was finally cleared by 5 Cdo. An immense amount of enemy material and 340 corpses were found. Four prisoners were also taken. During the day Bde HQ, 1, 5, and 42 Cdos were withdrawn and returned to MYEBON. 44 Cdo remained in the DAINGBON area and came under comd 51 Bde.
44 Cdo returned to MYEBON.
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