3 Commando Brigade, Burma Operations

Date commenced: 
Saturday, January 1, 1944
The reports at the foot of this page relate to the operations of the Commando Units attached to 3 Commando Brigade that took place after the 1st January 1944.
 
Link of interest
There were a large number of casualties in the Burma Campaigns, both battle and illness.
Lieutenant Colonel R. Wigglesworth, M.B., B.S. Lond., Royal Army Medical Corps, wrote an excellent article titled
"The Burma Campaigns - 1942-1945. A History Of Casualty Evacuation" which was published in the British Medical Journal. It can be viewed on this link  https://jramc.bmj.com/content/jramc/91/3/101.full.pdf

 

1 Commando, Report on the Maungdaw Hill Patrol 20th Nov'44

Units: 
 
No. 1 Commando - Patrol Report No.10
Maungdaw Hills Sheet 3:   20 Nov 44
Author: Cpl. H. Winch, No. 1 Cdo, No. 2 Troop
 
(Original document supplied by:  John Mewett via Harry Winch)
(Transcribed by:  Jennie Barlow)
 
Unit:                No. 1 Commando.
 

Patrol:            20 Nov 44.

Type:               Recce and observation.

Strength:        1 NCO 6 ORs.

Object:            To recce areas 394353 - 394343 to ascertain whether there were any enemy

                          or recent traces of them in the vicinity.

Route Out:      Proceeded along chaung 405352 to 403360

                           thence in a Northerly direction chaung 403352 - westwards down stream

                           to pt 400354 proceeded along chaung to 399354 then climbed hill 398354.

Route In:         Headed to pt approx 398347 - crosses hills to 392351 -

                           back across country to hill NORTH of camp.

Time Out:        0800 hrs.

Time In:           1730 hrs.

Details:            We found three distinct footprints at 400354, with separate toe on boot which appeared to be of recent origin.  We followed them up the south side of the bank but lost trace of the track.  Although we searched around we were unable to find any trace of anyone so we climbed hill 398354 where we found that the hills southward of our objective (a very prominent white tree) were in three ridges.  We followed the centre ridge keeping watch on the valleys on both sides.

At paddy field 392351 we kept this and a small chaung under observation from 1100 hrs.  At 1146 we heard a shot fired which appeared to come from the paddy field area.  We however saw no sign of life.

Some prints of bare feet found in paddy field.

During the entire journey we didn't find any traces of either JAPS or our own posn either on the hills or in the valleys, although we found places where apparently someone had slept, but they did not appear to have been used recently.

21 Nov 44

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 [view].

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 [view]

5884633 Gnr. E.W. RABBITT, RA(S/L), 1 Cdo awarded MM [view]

3133581 L/Sgt J. CROWE, SEAFORTHS, 1 Cdo awarded MM [view]

6286823 Pte L.C.R. OLVER, BUFFS, 1 Cdo awarded MM  [view]

Ex 3182 Cpl ALBERT SMITH, 42 Cdo awarded Certificate of Gallantry [view]

Ch/X 1885 Cpl Robert COX, 42 Cdo awarded Certificate of Gallantry [view]

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.

2.   AKYAB

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.

3.   MYEBON

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.

12 Jan

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.

13 Jan

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.

14 Jan

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.

15 Jan

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.

16 Jan

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.

18 Jan

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.

20 Jan

The Bde concentrated in the beach area preparatory to embarking for the KANGAW op.

4.  KANGAW

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.

22 Jan

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.

23 Jan

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.

24 Jan

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.

25 Jan

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.

26 Jan

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.

27 Jan

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.

28 Jan

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.

29 Jan

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.

30 Jan

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.

31 Jan

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.

1 Feb

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.

2 Feb

44 Cdo returned to MYEBON.

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'RM Eng. Commando - Burma Report 1945'

Extract from ADM 202/30 re No 1 (RM) Engineer Commando

3 Troop RM Engineer Commando

Report on Operations at AKYAB, MYEBON & KANGAW

Period 3 Jan – 2 Feb 45


AKYAB
At very short notice, plan being formed overnight, AKYAB Op was begun. 3 Cdo Brigade sailed from location at TEKNAF 2 Jan 45; made initial assault on West Coast AKYAB Island 12.30hrs 3 Jan 45. The Op was a complete dummy run and within a very short time of landing it was found that the enemy had vacated AKYAB Island completely a few days before. Had this not been the case the excellent open beach commanded by the bunkers and M.G. posts would probably have been quite a problem.
 
Tp tasks were:-
(i) Providing Flamethrower teams for first wave.
(ii) Mine clearance of beach and exits.
(iii) Construction of beach and development of exits.
(iv) Acting as beach party for 3 Cdo Bde and 74 Inf Bde.
 
Flamethrowers
3 teams of 1 JNCO and 1 Mne each with Flamethrowers and spares went with assaulting waves at H and reverted to command Tp when no longer required. It proved very difficult and exhausting for them to carry a loaded Lifebuoy as well as their rations at Cdo marching speed for any distance. In subsequent Ops it was arranged for them to move with Cdo HQ`s and be given assistance in carrying thrower until it is actually required.
 
Beach
CC Tp landed at H +15 with recce party of QMSI, draughtsman and MOA for initial recce of beach, erection of mines signs ,laying of tapes etc. 2 NCCs landed for similar purposes at same time at the other end of the beach with Major Aubrey RE 25 Div rep; both parties had specific recces to do under direction of Lt Col Eyre 15 Ind Corps Beach rep.
 
Main body of Tp landed H + 30 in sections, men pre-loaded with pioneer tools, tapes, signs, mine detectors, and other tools and equipment, to commence work on beach before main bulk of RE and Tp stores arrived. These arrived about H + 40 and beach laterals and exits were laid as minesweepers advanced.
 
Sommerfeld track and Coir matting and Bamboo pailing were used on sand and road bulldozed through thick scrub out onto the existing cart track. In addition to this work, Tp landed all stores, vehs, and beach personnel of 3 Cdo Bde, and 74 Bde came in a few hrs later. OC Tp joined Main HQ and moved up from beach 2 days later and Bde finally concentrated in the ruins of AKYAB.
 
Before concentrating AKYAB, a small party was sent there to make a beach entrance ramp from the esplanade for embarkation of Cdo units for the exploration of the BARONGA Islands and PYAUTAW. Bunkers were demolished and timber used to make a decked ramp estimated Class 5. Steel mesh from a nearby hothouse was used in lieu of Sommerfeld on the sand.
 
Bde billets in AKYAB were searched for possible booby traps but none found. Later on, 2 – 150 kg bombs rigged as demolition charges on the air strip were de-loused by Capt Hawdon, Capt Woodhouse and QMSI Hubbard and carried back in triumph to the midst of Bde HQ where their presence caused great consternation so they were transported with a large red flag on the jeep to 25 Div and presented to the CRE`s department.
 
After the beach work was completed there was really no Engr work at all. After a short rest preparations were begun for the next Op which was –
 
MYEBON
On this Op – Tp had the same role as before except Tp was to operate by itself as a beach party. In order to know in exactly which craft everything would be Tp with assistance of GHURKA porters and Ind Pioneers loaded all Bde flights of craft D – 1.
 
Bde sailed from AKYAB for MYEBON Peninsular p.m 11 Jan 45 and landed on it`s southern tip 12 Jan 45. Tp landed as follows:- OC, QMSI, draughtsmen and MDA initial recce party H+15. Sections carrying tools as before 10mins later, stores and bulldozer, tracking and road making stores were to be landed with Tp reps to supervise at H +45.
 
The fleet stood into shore under cover of considerable bombing and shelling from aircraft and RIN sloops and under fire from Jap guns and MGs ashore. Beach was known to be defended by a row of tall stakes about 10 inch in diameter about 200yds from high water mark. A gap had been cut through these by COP (COPP) the previous night enabling craft to approach near the beach.
 
Tp was in LCM`s and came under fire from small island off the tip of the Peninsular as they came in. Unfortunately owing to some hitch No.1 Section`s LCM failed to appear alongside parent sloop and they boarded an ML, thence transferred to an LCP with the Admiral aboard and was nicely peppered scurrying up and down the beach; they then transferred to a LCM from which they landed. The landing was very bad. LCAM grounded just inside the stakes about 200yds from watersedge. Water was chest high with knee deep soft thick mud and consequently with heavy packs and tools the Tp was quite exhausted by the time it struggled ashore.
 
Beach was mined with two staggered rows of anti-boat mines about 15 yds apart.
Sgt Pirie [more....] and a party were immediately set to work to tape personnel exits between explode mines, tape laterally the whole field and then begin detecting and lifting mines, some of whose horns could be seen poking up above the mud and sand. Initial recce inland from this beach was fruitless and useless and it was quickly decided that this beach (CHARLIE) was impossible for landing anything, recce was therefore made on the other side of the tip of the Peninsular and the rocks between the Peninsular and Island (DOG BEACH) for personnel landing. The rocks were impossible for this but a recce revealed a first class firm sand beach on the other side of tip at foot of a ridge, with plenty of trees and plenty of space for all departments of BMA.
 
This beach (EASY) was separated from CHARLIE, and therefore from paddy fields across which road could be made to join existing track inland, by the southern toe of the ridge mentioned which came down to the sea in a jumbled mass of sharp rocks and large boulders. It was imperative to make a road out of the rocks.
 
As heavily loaded stores LCM`s could not get within 300 yds of CHARLIE, only tools at Tp disposal were those carried on the men about 3 shovels, 4 picks, and 4 sledge hammers. By breaking large rocks and putting the pieces into crevices and filling in with smaller lumps and a good deal of manual humping and dumping, the road was open in 4 hrs and the first tanks and DUKW`s crossed it by dark. Road was improved the next day when further tools and explosives became available. The making of it was rather important in the campaign. Normal Somerfeld laterals and dump loops were laid and Tp became beach party for 3 Cdo Bde.
 
Small parties were engaged during the first few days finishing the mines on CHARLIE and marking those in the paddy nearby and sweeping the proposed road inland. As soon as practicable traffic road was bulldozed and some scarlet gorgettes attracted some 37mm shelling on a certain corner but the only blood drawn from OC`s party was from scratches caused by diving into the dense matted undergrowth.
 
As the advance progressed up the peninsular Tp moved up and was engaged on the road, which was an absolute necessity for getting supplies up and in investigating some mines and demolition equipment, booby traps etc, which were found stored and lying about on captured features.
 
Bde`s task finished at the Chaung which marks the northern end of the peninsular and it sat for 2 days on the features it occupied; 74 Bde took over the advance and crossed the Chaung at KANTHA Bridge. To assist this advance the Tp was engaged for a day and a half with 93 Fld Coy R.E. for bridging the Chaung for tanks and Tpt. This was done by making a causeway of rolls of Somerfeld with a timber ramp and corduroy road on the approaches on both sides of the mud banks.
 
Tp came under considerable sniper fire and shelling from overlooking features while working and gained the mysterious name of the Bde`s “Glamour Boy's ” but were in far greater danger from the numerous shorts from 74 Bde`s mortars and the tank Brownings. The day after this was finished we returned to the beach and after a few days rest began gathering stores and loading for the next operation which was -
 
KANGAW
Bde sailed for KANGAW 21 Jan 45 by way of DIANGBON Chaung. Tp sailed No. 1 Section in LCT with stores, No. 2 Section in LCM with stores and three recce parties with leading flight. There were three possible beaches, the bank of the DAINGBON Chaung between two smaller Chaungs and places on these two Chaungs that ran inland from the DIANGBON Chaung forming three sides of a rectangle with a narrow bottleneck of land, half-way along it`s length between the two Chaungs.
 
OC, QMSI, and MOA, were responsible for the southern Chaung (FOX); Beach Comd (Maj Hunter 41 Beach Op) and Sgt Pirie the Diangbon (GEORGE) A/Beach Comd, and Beach Master (RIN) the northern chaung (ITEM) Tp and stores were to follow at H+60 or lie off until called in.
 
GEORGE beach which Inf waves landed consisted of a soft mud bank about 4 ft high almost vertical with a strip of mangrove swamp and thick undergrowth about 15 yds wide immediately behind it. Further inland it was open thin scrub but the ground was covered with the spikes of mangrove roots about 9inches high and too close to put a foot between them. The ground was also very marshy with a maze of stream beds which were about a foot or more of soft thick mud; the whole area was entirely saturated and had been underwater 2 days before when the Bde Comd made his recce. GEORGE was therefore no use until, if ever, it dried out.
 
Recce of FOX was therefore made about a mile inland and FOX was found to be suitable. A bend in the chaung provided a fairly firm bank clear of undergrowth which gave onto rather firmer paddy suitable for a road after a few days of drying out.
 
Recce of ITEM had been done and recce party had walked through village of TAUNGMWS before returning and found a hard sand beach near there. All recce parties eagerly went on a visit to this but encountered a Jap MG half way there which had not been in position before, and so ITEM had to be excluded from further investigations.
 
No vehs or stores could be landed that day as it was near dark and Tp remained afloat that night landing next day.Tp then constructed FOX beach by ramping down the bank and laying Somerfeld and Coir, laid corduroy and matting road for the guns to land at GEORGE and dug ammo dump during the next 2 days. As advance proceeded past Hill 170, Milford and Pinner Tp built road through rocks and wet ground round 170 again attracting, the appearance of a bulldozer and men with shovels, the attentions of 75mm and 105mm guns.
 
By night the Japanese dragged guns close up to Pinner, took captured ammo from the dumps at the foot of then feature and fired point blank into 44 who were sitting on top of the feature. Next day Tp disposed of these shell dumps in chaungs and laid booby traps on the approaches to where the dumps had been. Homemade Bangalores and Grenades on trip wires were used and 5 Japs were killed the first night and two more by other traps laid next day and next night.
 
General work on the beach – re-building etc went on meanwhile, and also disposing of U/X shells. Shelling was continuous and heavy, 800 shells coming over on one day and about 400 being the normal amount. Mne Wilson was hit the first day and evacuated, wounded in the leg.
 
53 Bde came in and gradually took over the advance from Pinner. Tp helped them by making a stretcher bearer path from out of a large paddy bung across a tidal marsh and bridging chaung at end of it. This was done undercover of some trees on the enemy side of Pinner about 500yds from the Jap; Tp worked very silently for once. The footbridge was made of large duckboards made from the timber of the village huts supported on piers of 3” mortar Ammo boxes filled with mud and wired and staked together.  
 
At dawn on 31 Jan 45 there was a large counter-attack on Hill 170 which eventually after 24 hrs fighting resulted in 370 Jap dead. Tp was in an unenviable position by itself some 800 yds away on the beach-head, but as it was not attacked the enemy after 10 days could still not have known where our beach-head was. The Tp came out that afternoon and Bde concentrated MYEBON for a rest period.
 

3 Cdo Bde Map of the Kangaw Blockade Jan 1945

Type: Files
Author: John Mewett
Year of Publishing: 2015
Keywords: Kangaw Blockade Map

Map of the Kangaw Blockade of 3 Commando Brigade January/Febuary 1945 with coded areas marked.

3 Cdo Bde Map of Myebon and Kangaw Jan/Feb 1945

Type: Files
Author: John Mewett
Year of Publishing: 2015
Keywords: Map: Myebon and Kangaw January /Febuary 1945

This is a map showing a general view of all the key areas of 3 Commando Brigades action in the Myebon and Kangaw area of Burma during January and Febuary 1945

3 Cdo Bde, timeline of the Hill 170 battle

Account of the action fought by Nos. 1 and  5 Army Commandos and 42 RM Commando on Hill 170 on the 31st January 1945. 

National Archives Document number WO218/81
Copy of Original document:  John Mewett
Transcribed by:  Jennie Barlow
Ref. Map Sheet BURMA 84 [? over 8] 1" to 1 mile.

The narrative has been kept true to the original with abbreviations etc.


SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

PHASE I
(a)   0545 hrs.     4 Tp 1 Cdo attacked by Japs.
(b)   0930 hrs.     P1 'W' 42 RM Cdo and P1 3 Tp 1 Cdo counter-attack.
PHASE II
(c)   1230 hrs.      "X" Troop 42 RM Cdo counter-attack.
(d)   1400 hrs.      6 Tp 1 Cdo counter-attack.
PHASE III
(e)   1530 hrs.      Arrival of 4 Tp and 1 Tp 5 Cdo.
(f)    1730 hrs.      Disposns for night 31 Jan/1 Feb 45.
PHASE IV
(g)   1930 hrs.     Relief of 1 Cdo forward Tps by 2 Tp 5 Cdo.
LIST OF APPENDICES
Appendix 1        Orders for counter-attack at 12.30 hours.
Appendix 2        Account of Am Sups.
Appendix 3        Account of medical arrangements.
Appendix 4        Sp. Arms.
Appendix 5        Jap tactics and deceptions.

NARRATIVE

PHASE I
(a)  Attack on 4 Tp 1 Cdo posn.
0545 hrs.    Jap started shelling area NORTH BRIGHTON (514497) heavily until 0605 hours.
0610 hrs.    Green verey light fired NW of BRIGHTON which was taken to be 42 RM Cdo recognition signal.  .
0615 hrs.    Intense M.G. fire and grenade discharger shells on 4 Tp posn. possibly mortars as well.  Lt. Semple, O.C. 4 Tp. had ordered 'Stand to' and now gave instructions that fire was to be held until targets could be clearly seen.
0630 hrs.    Enemy had apparently some old Bren gun pits of 12 Tp 1 Cdo on extreme N slope of BRIGHTON.  With intense M.G. fire an attack was launched on 4 Tp posn from N.  This attack was beaten off by forward P1 of 4 Tp Comd. Lt. Knowland.  A number of casualties was suffered and Lt. Knowland asked for more amn and men.  These were then sent up from the rear P1 (Lt. Wight).  Lt. Semple went forward to see the situation for himself.  Enemy next heard digging vigorously on extreme N slope of BRIGHTON, and 4Tp was then subject to MMG fire which, it was estimated came from W.finger (512505).
Thereafter the enemy made repeated attacks in mass on N. BRIGHTON.  These were again and again beaten off and heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy.
An attempt was made to assault the W flank of 4 Tp but this too was beaten off successfully.
0830 hrs.    4 Tp was by now suffering a number of casualties, and was running low and there were scarcely any grenades left.  Lt. Semple asked for help.
The forward Sect was partly over-run and fought on until every man was either killed or wounded.  Lt. Knowland [view] who was with the forward Sect was last seen firing the 2 inch mortar from the hip at point blank range at the oncoming enemy.  The F.O.O. who was also forward with his party was badly wounded and subsequently died, and his wireless set put out of action.  One of his gunners was also wounded in the legs but insisted on staying.  He was found next day still alive though his trench had been occupied by Japs.
Fire orders for Arty were subsequently relayed by voice control to the Tp HQ set.
(b)  P1 (W(Tp 42 RM Cdo and P1 3 Tp 1 Cdo counter-attack
0930 hrs.    C.O. arrived in 4 Tpposn.
P1. of (W)Tp 42 RM Cdo arrived  to help 4 Tp 1 Cdo, one Sect of 5 Tp 1 Cdo under L/Sgt. Perry came up to thicken up the posns vacated by (W)Tp 42 RM Cdo and protect the E. flank of 4 Tp which was subject to heavy and accurate sniping by the enemy.  Tanks were asked to protect the left flank against infiltration by the enemy.
The Sect of 5 Tp remained in posn all day until relieved by 5 Cdo in the evening, accounting during its stay for a party of six Japs and one MMG.   Gnr. Baker of this Sect. after killing two Jap snipers was himself killed.
P1. (W) Tp. 42 RM Cdo with Capt. Smith, who readily placed himself under command of Lt. Semple, then took over  some of 4 Tps posns with one Sect, where there had been casualties.  The remaining two Sections under Capt. Smith were ordered to clear the slope W. and N. of enemy.  After moving about 20 yards along the slope the party which was 12 strong came under MMG fire and suffered 6 casualties.  Capt. Smith decided to withdraw and reported to Lt. Semple.  It was agreed then that the remainder of P1. (W)Tp should occupy some of 4 Tps posns on the NW and to stay and hold the posn.

At the same time as 42 RM Cdos counter-attack on the W. flank No. 1 P1 of 3 Tp (Lt. Crewe) had arrived and was ordered by Lt. Semple to clear the E. slope of the posn. Lt.
Crewe and two sections moved across the E. slope leaving P1. HQ and the third Sect. under command of Sgt. Lander to reinforce 4 Tps E. flank and shoot N. along the crest. The attacking Sects. moved with L/Sgt. Sincup's Sect. leading in extended order on the slope, and Cpl. Edman's Sect. behind.  Lt. Crewe was on the left of Sgt. Sincup's Sect.
At the bottom of the hill L/Bdr. Toft saw 4 Japs in trenches, and the Sect. advanced after Sgt. Sincup [view] had thrown a grenade and killed 3 Japs.  7 Japs then bolted from a dug-out and 6 of them were killed, the seventh running away into some bushes in the paddy.  Cpl. Hobbs was then shot in the jaw and went back alone.  Lt. Crewe came down the hill to Sgt. Sincup and said he had been wounded in the leg.  The P1 continued to  advance over the bodies of the dead Japs and in one trench two made up demolition charges each of about 7 to 10 lbs. together with a Jap sword were seen.  After advancing about another 30 yards the Sect. came under M.G. fire and grenades were thrown down on them from the top of the hill.  Lt. Crewe was hit in the foot and Sgt. Sincup took over the two Sects.  At this stage Gnr Beaney who had gone off to contact Sgt.Lander was wounded.
As the P1 was suffering casualties Sgt.Sincup decided to draw back until he was in line with the remainder of the force on top of the hill.  On the way back Gnr.Beaney was found wounded.  Attempts to rescue him were unsuccessful as he was covered by snipers.  The     Sects then took up posns protecting the E. flank of 4 Tp where they remained until evening when they were ordered by the C.O. to come under comd of Capt. Evill.
Immediately after the counter-attack by (W(Tp and 3 Tp the C.O. after discussing the situation with Lt. Semple went back to report to the Brig.
1015 hrs.    The Brig came fwd with the C.O. and saw the situation.  It was decided to clear the feature with a (Blitz) counter-attack by (X)Tp 42 RM Cdo.  This was to take place at 1230 hrs. supported on the left flank by one tank of 19 L.  Capt. Smith of (W)Tp was ordered to go in the tank to direct the shooting on to the NW. slope.
The C.O. remained fwd.
From now on the enemy continued to attack furiously but with little success, though the posn was subject to further intense and accurate grenade discharger fire.  The situation was kept well in hand and by now then amn was arriving steadily and the evacuation of casualties continued throughout.
The first amn party to arrive came from 5 Tp 1 Cdo, who also helped to prime grenades, fill magazines, and distribute amn forward.
PHASE II
(c)  (X)Tp 42 RM Cdo counter-attack.
1230 hrs.    The counter-attack went in as planned (see Appendix 1 for detailed orders).  Very heavy casualties were suffered by the leading P1 from intense MMG fire (the enemy now had three MMG on the ridge).  The second P1 which was to have gone through was pinned by fire on top of the posn and was ordered to remain, occupying trenches where 4 Tp had suffered casualties.  These Tps then remained in posn for the rest of the day until ordered withdraw by Lt. Col. Trevor.
(d)  6 Tp 1 Cdo counter-attack.
1300 hrs.    6 Tp comd Capt. Evill was ordered fwd from their posn to 4 Tp area where Capt. Evill was given instructions to thicken up 4 Tp posn with a view to holding the feature. However after (X)Tps counter-attack there was a brief lull in the battle and it was decided to put in an immediate counter-attack with one P1 to regain 4 Tps fwd posns.
1400 hrs.    Lt. Palmer now brought up his P1 and after a recce with Sec Comds the attack went round the R. flank, with two 2 inch mortars and all available Brens in support on the crest.
After working round the E. flank for some 30 yards the leading Sect. came under intense MG fire and showers of grenades flung down from above.  The P1 suffered about 50% casualties as a result of this heavy fire and the C.O. ordered it to withdraw.  Lt. Palmer [view], Sgt. Morris MM [view] and Fus. Andrews [view] were then reported missing.
At this moment Lt. Larcher's P1 (6 Tp) arrived.  They were ordered to send all Bren teams fwd to thicken up 4 Tp posns and replace casualties, the remainder maning posns in 4 Tp area on the E. Flank.  Several men helped to evacuate casualties and with the amn supply.  As men in the fwd posns became casualties so others were called fwd to take their place on the Bren guns. 6 Tp remained in posn until finally relieved by 5 Cdo.
During this time the call for amn and grenades from the fwd posns put a constant strain on the resources.  The filling of mags, priming of grenades and the distribution of all types of amn was very smoothly and efficiently organised by Lt. Wight, Lt. Larcher and Sgt. Evans.  Together they kept a constant stream of all types of ammunition going forward, and handled the constant trickle of casualties who were coming back
1500 hrs.    The Brigadier ordered that no further counter-attacks were to take place before nightfall, and every effort was to be made to hold the position as it was.  Col. Trevor asked Bde for reinforcements.
PHASE III
(e)  The arrival of 4 Troop and 1 Troop 5 Commando.
1530 hrs.    Lt. Col. Pollitt, MC [view] Comd 5 Commando and Capt. Burr Comd 4 Troop 5 Commando came forward with 4 Troop 5 Commando to see Col. Trevor.  Col. Trevor asked to have this Troop made available as close as possible for immediate action.
Bren Groups of 4 Troop (5 Commando) were sent forward to reinforce the front of 4 Troop 1 Commando.  The remainder of the Troop was employed in carrying casualties and  ammunition.  Sgt. Flatley and 6 men of 4 Troop 5 Commando were sent forward on the EAST slope to deal with enemy snipers who were active on the flank.  Casualties were inflicted on the enemy.
1 Troop 5 Commando moving up behind 4 Troop 5 Commando was ordered by the Brigadier to send one platoon onto the EAST spur on the flank of 4 Troop 5 Commando.  The other Platoon of 1 Troop 5 Commando was engaged at the foot of the EAST slope, where further casualties were inflicted on the enemy.
1630 hrs.    Col. Pollitt was wounded when returning from 4 Troop 1 Commando position.
(f)  Dispositions for night 31 Jan/1 Feb 45.
1700 hrs.    Major Stuart 5 Commando who had taken over from Col. Pollitt came forward to see  Col. Trevor, and received orders to (box) 4 Troop (5 Commando) on the EAST flank of 4 Troop (1 Commando).  4 Troop 5 Commando then commenced digging in.
At this stage the enemy's furious attacks had ceased and only a few snipers remained active.  Col. Trevor then set about re-organising the elements of 3, 4 & 6 Troop (1 Commando) who were still in that area.  The personnel of (X) and (W) Troops 42 Commando were withdrawn under command of Capt. Smith and ordered by Col. Trevor to report to Major Davies 1 Commando.  The Section of 5 Troop 1 Commando was relieved by 1 Troop 5 Commando and rejoined its Troop.
The composite force of 3, 4 & 6 Troops 1 Commando which occupied 4 Troop's position came under command of Col. Trevor himself, and the Brigadier ordered that the position should be thus held during the night.
Col. Trevor then handed over temporarily to Capt. Evill and left the position to find the Brigadier.

PHASE IV
(g)  Relief of 1 Commando forward Troops by 2 Troop 5 Commando.
1830 hrs.    Col. P. Young, DSC, MC [view] came forward to see the position, when he met Col. Trevor [view] who was on his way back.  After holding a conference with Col. Trevor and Major Stuart, the latter readily agreed to bring up a fresh Troop to relieve 1 Commando who had had no rest that day.
1945 hrs.    2 Troop 5 Commando Comd Capt. Beard arrived to relieve 1 Commando forward Troops, who were withdrawn to old positions for the night.  The responsibility for the defence of NORTH BRIGHTON then passed to 5 Commando.


APPENDIX 1

ORDERS FOR COUNTER ATTACK OF (X( TROOP 42 COMMANDO
AT 1230 HOURS 31ST JANUARY 45
by Lt. Colonel K.R.S. Trevor, Commanding, No. 1 Commando

1    Own Troops in position     EAST flank    ?   Platoon 3 Troop 1 Commando centre    ? 4 Troop 1 Commando
      WEST flank   ?   Platoon (W) Troop 42 Commando.
2    Intention.  To clear NORTH BRIGHTON of enemy.
3    (X) Troop 42 Commando Comd Capt. Jones to move forward with one Platoon forward and one Platoon back, with track as dividing line between leading sections.
4    H ? 5 to H ? 2" Mortars to put down smoke.
5    Tanks at call to fire uphill from ?hour under direction of Capt. Smith.
6    All Brens to move forward to 4 Troop 1 Commando to fire on the following programme:
      H ? 5 to H ? 2    slow rate
      H ? 2 to H        rapid
7    Start Line ? Rear of 4 Troop 1 Commando positions.
8    H hour 1230 hrs.

APPENDIX 2

ACCOUNT OF AMMUNITION SUPPLIES ON 31ST JANUARY 1945
At approx 0830 hrs. 4 Troop 1 Commando asked for ammunition of all types.  5 Troop 1 Commando sent forward their reserves of grenades and other types.
At approx 0945 hrs. mortar platoon asked for more H.E. as they had already expended 80 bombs.  Cpl. Young Mortar Platoon with a small party of men made three attempts to reach the bomb dump but this was under enemy machine gun fire and they were driven back.  In the last attempt Cpl. Young [view] was hit and subsequently died of his wounds.  Pte.Boyes attempted to reach Cpl. Young but was unable to do so owing to the heavy fire.  It was impossible to get ammunition from this source to the 3" mortars.
At approx 1100 hours. ammunition of all types was again called for.  The only personnel available to carry ammunition to the forward Troops were No. 1 Platoon of 12 Troop 1 Commando.  This was a dangerous mission as the ammunition party was continuously under fire enemy snipers.
It is impossible to assess the ammunition expenditure but some idea of the amount can be judged by the fact that each Troop had a reserve of 3,000 rounds 303, 1,000 rounds 300, 2,000 45 and 72  36 grenades and by 1200 hrs. the Brigade dump was unable to continue the supply of types required.
Fortunately RSM Powell was able to contact Capt. Gardner 1 Commando A.O. who immediately set about the task of ferrying ammunition from the beach.  This ammunition arrived in time to supply the forward troops with everything they required.  The supply was effectively maintained by the untiring efforts of 12 Troop 1 Commando who not only carried forward the ammunition but evacuated casualties on the return journey when there were not sufficient stretcher bearers available.  It must here be mentioned that only 6 ORs of 12 Troop could be used at any one time as their position still had to be manned.
At 1500 hrs. as the ammunition party was busy evacuating casualties to the M.D.S. it was found necessary to get more men to carry ammunition.  RSM Powell contacted a party of Indian Engineers who willingly supplied 12I ORs as ammunition carriers.
Towards evening the men from 12 Troop who had been working all day then volunteered to take as much water as they could carry to the forward Troops, in addition to the normal ammunition supplies.
At no time were the forward troops desperately short of ammunition.

APPENDIX 3

ACCOUNT OF MEDICAL ARRANGEMENTS ON HILL 170 ? JANUARY 1945
At about 0700 hrs. 1 Commando R.A.P. moved to 4 Troop 1 Commando H.Q. and there treated some 15 casualties which had occurred during the enemy's initial assault.  They were evacuated satisfactorily by Indian stretcher bearers.
The R.A.P. stayed in this area until 1030 hrs. when Troops moving in and the intensity of the enemy's fire made it necessary to clear all wounded from the position as rapidly as possible.  The R.A.P. therefore withdrew to the area of 42 Commando H.Q., leaving the Medical Sgt. forward who supervised essential first aid.
However at 1200 hrs. as casualties were increasing in number and as the M.D.S. was close at hand, the R.A.P. moved forward again to the saddle at the rear of 4 Troop 1 Commando.  Here it was able to supervise essential first aid and to organise evacuation from 4 Troop in front, and the Troops on the flanks.  From 1200 hrs. to  1500 hrs. during the counter attacks put in by 42 Commando and 6 Troop 1 Commando, 42 Commando came up to augment 1 Commando R.A.P., assisting at the time of the intensest flow of casualties.
The Indian bearers worked well until midday.  After this time only about 4 parties were seen at the R.A.P. and most of the bearing was done by 12 Troop 1 Commando.  The Indian bearers were difficult to marshal owing to the language obstacle.
Troop orderlies worked forward with the defending or counter-attacking Troops and did excellent medical work under difficult conditions.  Casualties in the medical section were killed 1 L/Cpl, and wounded 1 Sgt.  The former had gone forward to the front trenches early in the battle and having dressed four men who were wounded manned one of the Brens but was killed when his position was overrun.

APPENDIX 4

1    Arty (25 pdr& Med)
      Tanks
      Aircraft
2    Artillery:    The Arty was used throughout the day (a) to neutralise enemy supporting fire on FINGERS, (b) as harassing fire on THAMES CHAUNG.  This was controlled by F.O.O. from the forward position until about 1600 hrs. when fire control was directed from MILFORD, whence whence reports had come of enemy movement across the chaung.  (c) On NORTH end of BRIGHTON 300 yards in front of enemy position, later reduced to 150 yards.
The F.O.O. on BRIGHTON was seriously wounded at 0800 hrs. and his set was put out of action.  His place was taken by the battery commander who sent his orders back on the Command net.  The battery commander was wounded twice and his place was taken by another F.O.O. in the afternoon.
3    Tanks:    Of the 3 tanks on the bridgehead 1 was destroyed by enemy action at 0600 hrs. and a second partially disabled at the same time.  The third took part in the action throughout the day.
At 0830 hrs. the tank was asked to give support on WEST flank of 4 Troop 1 Commando who were at that time hard pressed.  At 12.30 hrs. the same tank was used to supplement the fire power for (X( Troops counter-attack.  It had one periscope shot away.  At 1330 hrs. the tank withdrew to replenish ammunition and POL returning at 1430 hrs.  It continued to fire ME effectively with three bursts on NORTH end of BRIGHTON.  Shells were ranged to burst 50 yards in front of 4 Troops 1 Commando position.  This was undoubtedly extremely effective in countering Jap infiltration on the left flank.
4    Aircraft:    These were not used in direct support until the culminating point of the battle when a heavy strike was made by Thunderbolts at 1700 hrs on FINGER.  This caused heavy casualties among the retiring enemy.
5    Navy:    At 0700?hrs. 1 LCA with 13 Brens went up THAMES CHAUNG to clear the banks.  This was followed by an M.L. at about 1030 hrs. which opened fire on fingers and the banks of the chaung.

APPENDIX 5

JAPANESE DECEPTIONS
Many of the usual tricks of the enemy were employed, such as shouting names of officers and senior NCOs.  Further to these during the day were:
(a)    Shouts of 'withdraw Commandos' and 'cease fire'.
(b)    Six Japanese were seen wearing Green Berets, and one dead Jap was subsequently found wearing a Green Beret.
(c)    Fire crackers were used to give the impression of heavier fire power.
(d)    Cries of 'I am wounded'. 'Help' and 'Come and get me out', etc.

1 Commando, War Diary of Hill 170

Date commenced: 
Wednesday, January 31, 1945

Source: 
War Diaries of No 1 Cdo.  ref.  National Archives WO 203/ 1792. Transcribed with the help of  John Mewett and Elaine Southworth-Davies from a copy typed on a ribbon type writer which was very hard to decipher.  ***** refers to a word that could not be made out.

Report by Lt. Col Peter Young on the Battle of Hill 170

At about 0545 hrs. I was in my dugout on the reverse slopes of 170.

The Japanese indulged in a fairly prolonged barrage which didn’t compare to badly with a Bosche effort. This was followed by musketry from the N end of 170. I got up and got dressed and went along to see Lt Col Trevor and found him in his HQ. It was daylight when we arrived. On the way I told various sections I passed what information I had gathered from Bde.HQ. This was to the effect that a party of about 20 Japs had rushed our 3 tanks that one was believed to have been set on fire, and that 4 troop of No1 commando was surrounded by snipers but the situation was well in hand.

I found Lt Col Trevor and some of his HQ sniping at a diversion party down in the bushes and paddy in rear of his HQ. I borrowed a Garand rifle and both Cpl Christopher and myself had a few pot shots with no obvious results, but Col Trevor knocked one over and so did some of his signallers. An officer and three other Japs were found later in the target area. Capt. Cotton of 42 Cdo rushed out and got his sword.  He was shortly afterwards wounded in the thigh by a shell I think.

One of the Japs down in the field was lying on his back moving his arm from time to time.  We hoped to get him as a prisoner, but he killed himself with a grenade.

The Brigadier came along and so I went back to Bde and had my breakfast.

Later presumably after 0930hrs I went back to see Col Trevor again. By this time he had gone up and joined 4 Troop.  I visited him there, there was a good deal of fire at the time, but Col. Trevor didn’t seem to think there were very many Japs in front of him.  As I went forward to see Col.Trevor  I met Lt. Crewe being carried back along the ridge, sitting up on a stretcher.  He had been wounded in the foot and leg.  Capt. Smith of 42 was already with Col.Trevor by this time.

I went down the gully to where the tanks had been laagered. I found that one had indeed been burnt out. There was a good many bodies about. None of them had been moved so I proceeded to inspect them. The first was an officer.  He had got right inside the tank and set it on fire.  About six of his men were dead behind him within 20 yards or so.  They had pole charges (round charges on the end of bamboo poles). One of them had gone off prematurely and killed its owner very thoroughly. He was covered in a sort of powder the colour of mepacrine. In the paddy were four riflemen who seemed to have been giving covering fire at close quarters. One had died with his forefinger in the loop of a 36 grenade.  Taking a look at the other party, we found one of them breathing.  His right forearm shattered, but some SBS soon whisked to the MDS. He is still alive.

During the morning it was reported at Bde. HQ that an ICA had destroyed a party of Japs crossing the N Chuang (Thames).  I took a patrol to investigate this report.  We found no bodies but saw the imprint in the mud of at least one barefooted man; found 3 clips of Jap rifle ammo in their forming up area and a Bren magazine at the point where I consider they may have landed, for it was opposite to the mouth of the contributory of the ‘Thames’. During all this time there was continuous firing on 170 and we saw several of our own troops advancing among the tree at the top of the hill.  I got the impression that very little of the hill was left to the Japs.

Perhaps it was my next visit to Bde. that a report came in from Col.Trevor that there were still 40 Japs at the end of the feature.  The Brig.turned to Capt.Tripp, the IO and said ‘send that to division tell them there are 20 Japs at the end’.

By this time a steady stream of casualties was moving along the back of 170 to the MDS, and one marine said he saw 61 brought past during the day.  While I was at 1 Cdo’s HQ on one occasion, about 1500hrs, a report arrived that the situation was critical.  However reinforcements from 5 Cdo had begun to arrive from PINNER and the Brig. had ordered Lt Col Pollitt MC to take a troop forward as soon as he had arrived. 1530 Hrs Col Pollitt and Capt.Burr of 4 troop 5 Cdo arrived 1 Cdo HQ.

The next time about 1630hrs I went to see Col Trevor I met Col Pollitt being carried back on a stretcher face downwards. He had been shot through the knee. I also met Lt. Bolitho walking back, shot in the stomach being supported by one man and very angry.

I met the Brigadier who ordered me to arrange for a flanking movement by a Coy of Punjabs to pin down the enemy on the west side of 170 with fire from the paddy; and for the tanks to go into action again.

Only one tank was in action by this time, but as soon as I could get hold of a platoon from 5 Cdo it advanced again. I met Major Stuart, told him Col Pollitt was hit and arranged for this support.

I then found the Col of the Punjabs and arranged for two platoons guided by my servant, to go and engage the enemy from the mangrove where they themselves had originally formed up.

When the Brig returned to his HQ he ordered me to organise the defence of the hill for the night. I went to see Col.Trevor  and met him coming back at about 1630hrs, from his forward post. I had Major Stuart with me and we arranged to reinforce 1 Cdo’s forward troop with a strong fresh troop of 5Cdo and if possible to withdraw the tired troops of 1 Cdo.  As it was getting dark I told Col Trevor it was unlikely that we could do more than reinforce him for the night.

By the time I got back to the area of Bde. HQ with Lt. Nias , 10 of No 1 cdo, I found that enough Punjab’s had arrived to take over from 2 troop No 5 Cdo so I sent Capt.Beard guided by Lt. Niasto report straightaway to Col Trevor.  I got Capt. MacLennan the camp commandant, to show the Punjabs all the posns on the right and returned main HQ No I Cdo, where to my delight (and also surprise) I found that troops of 42 Cdo were already reinforcing the two weakly held features.  We were now able to take out 1 Cdos forward Troops.  I saw Col Trevor and he was satisfied that all was well. I went back to Bde.  It was dark.

The next morning there was more firing. I went again to see Col Trevor and Maj Stuart; we had had four casualties in a weak attack from grenades.  I found him very eager to attack and drive the enemy off the end of 170, once and for all.  Since we were to hand over that day I was in favour of this.

Later I heard that he had succeeded and the hill was covered with dead. I went there and saw a truly incredible scene.  The Japs covered the hill almost like a carpet. They were piled onto those of our our posts which they had swamped. Our soldiers were busy collecting Brens and Jap ******* , and looking for documents and so on.  Several of our own men were in the open where they had fallen in one of the many counter attacks. A lot of Japs had been killed by the shelling and mortaring. Among some bushes on the N side of 170 were 16 dead Japs and two of our own dead. Here we captured another prisoner, who had half his foot blown off and had crawled into the bushes.  He wanted us to shoot him.

There was still a good deal of mopping up to be done in the chaung and in the paddy, but the battle was decided by the clearing of 170.

Except that the Japs hardly used their artillery except in the preliminary barrage –presumibly because of the lack of W/T- and their mortar practice is very poor compared to the Germans, the fighting on 170 could hardly have been more severe. I am convinced that no European troops would have attempted to hang onto their precarious foothold at the end of 170 for as long as these Japs did, in the face of all the arty , 3 “ mortar and small arms fire brought to bear on them.  For 24 hrs the forward troops were within grenade range. On our side a man often became a casualty within a few minutes of taking over a Bren from another who’d been hit.

Had the pimple at the end of 170, divided, as it is, from the rest of the position by a sharp re-entrant been carried, it would have been a major operation to re-take it. Above anything it was the long and stubborn resistance of 4 Troop 1 cdo and the heroism of the officer commanding the forward platoon that prevented this.  According to PW reports, 500 Japs attacked the position of whom 300 were killed.

Myebon 11 /Feb/45                        P. Young Col    D. Command 3 Cdo Brigade.

 

1 Commando, Roll of Wounded Hill 170 Kangaw

Type: Nominal Roll
Author: John Mewett
Year of Publishing: 2015
Keywords: Wounded Roll No1 Commando Hill 170 Kangaw Burma 1945
This document is in the No 1 Commando War Diary held at the National Archives. It contains the names of soldiers wounded in the battle and they are are alloted into their troop numbers. Through research this list has been found to contain omissions but it was the list read out at the service held after the action by the troop leaders.
 
Original document is held in the National Archives.
 
Units: 

3 Cdo Bde. order of the day by Lt.Gen.Sir AF Phillip Christison

Appendix to HQ 3 Cdo Bde War Diary for Feb 45

15 Indian Corps: Special Order of the Day

Field 17 Feb 45

Author: Lieut. Gen. Sir A.F. Philip Christison, KBE, CB, MC,  Comd 15 Indian Corp

Copy of original document supplied by:  John Mewett

Transcribed by:  Jennie Barlow

To:  3 Commando Brigade

Having been placed under command of 15 Indian Corps to lead assaults in particularly hazardous and important amphibious operations, you have successfully completed the tasks which were assigned to you.

Your courage and determination in assault and attack, your tenacity and aggressiveness in defence and counter attack have won the praise and admiration of the Commanders and troops, British, Indian and Gurkha of all other formations engaged in the operations and who fought beside you.  Through your exploits at AKYAB, at MYEBON and at KANGAW and the valuable reconnaissance which you made along the ARAKAN Coast, you have gained a reputation throughout the Corps for indifference to personal danger, for ruthless pursuit in success, for resourceful determination in adversity, which has been a source of inspiration to your comrades in arms.

The battle of KANGAW has been the decisive battle of the whole ARAKAN campaign and that it was won was very largely due to your magnificent defence of Hill 170.

I am very proud of you and thank you all for the decisive contribution which you have made to the success of the campaign and the rout of the Jap in this theatre of operations.

I deplore the loss of your gallant comrades, and trust that your wounded may soon be restored to your ranks.

For the future, I wish you all happiness and success.

(To be read out on parade to all ranks.)

3 Cdo Bde. order of the day by Maj.Gen.Wood

Appendix to HQ 3 Cdo Bde War Diary for Feb 45

25 Indian Division: Special Order of the Day

Field 3 Feb 45

Author: Major-General G.N. Wood, OBE, MC, Comd.

 Copy of original document supplied by:  John Mewett

Transcribed by:  Jennie Barlow

On the victorious conclusion of the operations for the capture of the MYEBON peninsula and the cutting of the enemy L of C at KANGAW, I wish, on behalf of 25 Ind Div to express to 3 Cdo Bde the admiration we feel for their speed and fire in attack, and their aggressive and cheerful spirit when defensive actions have been imposed upon them.  3 Cdo Bde has had a stern test for many officers and men their baptism of fire but they have emerged from it with a reputation of which all ranks must always be proud.  Their comrades of 25 Ind Div deplore their losses, among them many who had already become our personal friends, but these losses have been avenged in full.

I count not least among the fruits of our victory the mutual trust and esteem which has been established on the battlefield between the soldiers of 3 Cdo Bde and their British and especially their Indian comrades of 25 Ind Div.

(To be read on parade to all ranks.)

 

1 Commando, Order of the Day by Lt Col Trevor 2nd Feb'45

Units: 

 

Order of the day Serial No 8

2nd February 1945

Author:  Lt.Col. K.R.S. Trevor, Cheshire Regiment

Commanding, No. 1 Commando

Copy of original document supplied by:  John Mewett

Transcribed by:  Jennie Barlow

Gentlemen, I can't say how proud I am of the unit, and honoured to command you.  During the whole time at Hill 170, every man in every Troop and in every department worked and fought magnificently.  There was not a weak link anywhere.  No. 1 was a perfect fighting machine.

On hill 170 I saw more acts of bravery - perseverance and physical endurance that I could imagine possible.  The forward Troops stood firm, never wavering against all attacks.  Troops were always willing to counter attack against unknown odds, and the odds were heavily against us.

We must not forget the gallant part played by W and X Troops of 42 Commando both in their counter attack and defence, also 5 Commando who came to our assistance.  Col. Pollitt, before he was wounded, came and offered ant help her could give.  They gave it us, manning several Bren Gun pits in the forward trenches.  Major Stewart at 1800 hrs. offered and took the risk of replacing our troops on the positions with two of 5 Commando's troops, enabling our men to be pulled back for a well earned respite.  This completed for No. 1 Commando a period of twelve hours continuous close fighting.

Had the enemy succeeded in gaining a foothold on Hill 170 the safety of the whole Brigade and beachhead might have been jeopardised.  Our casualties have been heavy.  We have lost a number of old friends.  We must not forget the part they played in making their supreme sacrifice.

We have had since landing at AKYAB the following casualties:

Killed

  •   2 Officers
  •   2 Sgts
  •   3 L/Sgts
  •   2 Cpls
  •   7 L/Cpls
  • 11 Ptes

Wounded

         3 Officers

  •    1 W.O.
  •    1 Sgt.
  •    5 L/Sgts
  •    6 Cpls
  •  10 L/Cpls
  •  58 Ptes.

These figures speak for themselves.

3 Cdo Bde Third Jungle Book issue 3

Type: Files
Author: Edited by Capt. F.C. Rodger, RAMC 1944, June 1944
Year of Publishing: 2015
Keywords: 3 commando brigade, no 1 commando, no 5 commando, 42rm commando, 44rm commando, jungle book

One of a series of the Magazine of the Third Commando Brigade produced and published between 1944 and 1946 for issue to those serving in the Brigade.  This copy from Nick Collins.

In a No 1 Commando Newsletter dated 27th Feb 1944 it mentions about the new Brigade Magazine being published. It states that "From this unit Lieut. J.R. Turpin is publishing advisor, and Lieut. A.J. Davies is Art Director on the publishing staff."

3 Cdo Bde Third Jungle Book issue 4

Type: Booklet
Author: Editor Captain F.C. Rodger, RAMC
Year of Publishing: 2015
Keywords: 3 commando brigade, no 1 commando, no 5 commando, 42rm commando, 44rm commando, jungle book

One of a series of the Magazine of the Third Commando Brigade produced and published between 1944 and 1946 for issue to those serving in the Brigade.  This copy from Andy Maines.

In a No 1 Commando Newsletter dated 27th Feb 1944 it mentions about the new Brigade Magazine being published. It states that "From this unit Lieut. J.R. Turpin is publishing advisor, and Lieut. A.J. Davies is Art Director on the publishing staff."

3 Cdo Bde Third Jungle Book issue 8

Type: Files
Author: Edited by Capt. I.V. Carrel (RM) September 1945
Year of Publishing: 2015
Keywords: jungle book, commando brigade, no 1 commando, no 5 commando, 42rm commando, 44rm commando

One of a series of the Magazine of the Third Commando Brigade produced and published between 1944 and 1946 for issue to those serving in the Brigade.  This copy from Julie Warren.

In a No 1 Commando Newsletter dated 27th Feb 1944 it mentions about the new Brigade Magazine being published. It states that "From this unit Lieut. J.R. Turpin is publishing advisor, and Lieut. A.J. Davies is Art Director on the publishing staff."

3 Cdo Bde Third Jungle Book issue 9

Type: Booklet
Author: Maj. I.V. Carrell & Lt. G. Sheath (RM)
Year of Publishing: 2015
Keywords: jungle book, 3 commando brigade, no 1 commando, no 5 commando, 42rm commando, 44rm commando

One of a series of the Magazine of the Third Commando Brigade produced and published between 1944 and 1946 for issue to those serving in the Brigade. 

In a No 1 Commando Newsletter dated 27th Feb 1944 it mentions about the new Brigade Magazine being published. It states that "From this unit Lieut. J.R. Turpin is publishing advisor, and Lieut. A.J. Davies is Art Director on the publishing staff."


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