Mission 204 letter from IWM

Transcript (by Elaine Southworth-Davies) of part of a reply dated 23 January 1985 from the Imperial War Museum (ref CJVH/ES/074472)  to Kevin O'Marah in response to his enquiry about the war service of his father WO1 Andrew O'Marah.

"Dear Mr O'Marah

Thank you for for your recent letter, your father appears to have had an eventful war career.

Mission 204 was the designation given to the British Military Mission to China as can be seen from the extract below:

" In discussing the forces available for the defence of Burma, mention has been made only of the troops actually in the country, but arrangements existed for military assistance from China in the event of a Japanese attack. Shortly after Far East Command had been set up in November 1940, Major-General L.E. Dennys was appointed Military Attache in Chungking with a view to his becoming the head of a British military mission in China  (known as 204 Mission) should war break out.

Largely owing to his work and that of Wing Commander J. Warburton (Air Attache), British relations with the Chinese were satisfactory, and considerable progress was made in plans for mutual co-operation. These included a visit in April 1941 by a Chinese military mission to Burma and Singapore.

British assistance took the form of aid in the preparation of airfield sites in the Kunming area for the protection of the Burma Road and the despatch of stocks of explosives, aviation petrol bombs and other material to China. In addition, special squads of British and Indian personnel were put under training in Burma for eventual attachment to the fifteen Chinese guerrilla companies which were being formed in China. It was proposed ultimately to double the number of these companies and consequently, that of the special squads. The Chinese on their part promised to send troops into Burma if required, and to to threaten the Japanese northern flank should they advance against Burma by way of Chiengrai."

which was taken from The War Against Japan, Volume 2, India's Most Dangerous Hour​, by Major General S. Woodburn-Kirby (London HMSO 1958). A further extract relates to the outcome of the idea of the joint British Chinese commando units:

"Major-General Dennys, who commanded the mission at the outbreak of war had been killed in an air crash on the 14th March 1942. His place was taken by Major-General J. G. Bruce. The latter recommended the withdrawal of the small British contingents in China since they were not being properly used by the Chinese. They were withdrawn by October 1942 and in November General Bruce handed over the command of the mission to Major-General Grimsdale, who was at that time British Military Attache in Chungking."

​Follow this link to view our Images of Mission 204 and the Special Service Detachments. 

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