1. Land Operations.

In June, 1943, we were in contact with the Japanese on four fronts:—in Arakan; on the Chindwin; in the Chin Hills; and in North Burma.

2. The Arakan Front.

In Arakan, after the evacuation of Buthidaung and Maungdaw (in the final stages of our retirement from the Mayu Peninsula in the early part of the year) the 26th Indian Division took up positions covering Cox's Bazar. Our forward areas extended in the coastal region from the Teknaf Nhila to Bawli Bazar (held by one infantry brigade group), while inland across the Mayu ridge another brigade group held the area Taung Bazar—Goppe Bazar.

After following up our retirement in the first instance, the enemy had himself withdrawn to positions covering the Maungdaw—Buthidaung road, and both sides had settled into the above positions for the monsoon period.

Generally speaking, other than patrol activity, nothing of any significance occurred on this front during the period of this Despatch.

Patrols, however, were used by us not only to get information and keep touch with the enemy , but also to build up the confidence of our troops in the forward areas. This, it must be admitted, had been somewhat shaken by the experiences of the previous Arakan campaign, and it was hoped by constant and energetic patrolling to accustom the troops in the forward areas to work in the jungle, and gradually to acquire a moral ascendency over the enemy.

To this end the troops worked splendidly under difficult conditions, and much success was achieved. In numerous brushes and encounters during this period of static warfare our patrols inflicted many more casualties on the enemy than they suffered themselves, and in spite of depressing 'monsoon conditions there was a general rise in morale.

Noteworthy among such minor affairs on the Arakan was a raid on Maungdaw (to obtain identifications) carried out between the 5th and 7th July. Two companies of a British battalion (1st Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment) with a M G. section and a 3" mortar detachment penetrated to Maungdaw and completely occupied it.

The main raiding party of one company landed by sampans from a river steamer in the Pyinbu Ghaung (four miles N.N.W. of Maungdaw). Stiff enemy opposition was encountered and overcome, an enemy M.G. post being stormed and six Japanese killed. Our troops withdrew according to plan after the raid, having killed twenty-one Japanese and wounded at least seven. Our casualties were seven Jailed (including one Viceroy's commissioned officer) and eight wounded.. The capture of a mail bag in Maungdaw secured the required identifications. The total enemy strength engaged was estimated to be two companies. A further raid by another British battalion (1st Battalion The North Staffordshire Regiment) ten days later to establish road blocks on the Maungdaw—Buthidaung road resulted in one Japanese officer and twenty other ranks being killed and forty others (estimated) killed or wounded, at a cost to ourselves of one British officer wounded and missing, and two British other ranks killed.

The 26th Indian Division held the forward area in Arakan throughout the monsoon, until at the beginning of October, the 7th Indian Division relieved it, the 5th Indian Division also moving into the area-. H Q. 15 Corps (Lt.-Gen. W. J. Slim), moved to Chittagong and became responsible for operations south of (exclusive) Chirtagong from the ist November, 1943.

The enemy forces in Arakan opposing us during the period were the 55th Japanese Division with H Q. at Akyab. This Division had only two regiments in this area, the third having gone to New Guinea. Possibly a (battalion of the 33rd Regiment was also in Arakan at the end of October, 1943.

Such then was the position in Arakan when operational responsibility was assumed by the South East Asia Command.

3. 4th-Corps Front.

The 4th-Corps (Lt.-Gen. G. A. P. Scoones) has been responsible for the front east and south of Manipu'r since 1942. Its Headquarters were at Imphal and its front which extended from the Chindwin east of the Kabaw Valley to the Chin Hills south of Tiddim, was held by the 17th Indian Light Division and the 23rd Indian Division. The 4th Corps was in fact responsible for the whole front up to the Chinese Yunnan frontier, excluding the portion held by the Chinese American Task Force.

When the Army in Burma withdrew in June 1942, it passed through rearguard positions on the high ground about Shenam between Palel and Tamu. The enemy did not pursue across the Chmdwin, and we moved forward again later to our present positions;. During the monsoon, in order to avoid malaria, our forces were held back on the high ground about Shenam.

In the dry season 1942-43, the 23rd Indian Division with Headquarters at Tamu patrolled across the Chindwin to the east, and the 17th Indian Light Division was fifty miles down the Tiddim road. The latter was watching the enemy in the Kalemyo area, and maintaining contact with our levies in the Chin Hills. This Division, during the summer, had one brigade forward in the Tiddim area. The rest of the Division was kept at Shillong carrying out training.

The course of events on this front was similar up to early November to that in Arakan, i.e., nothing of importance was attempted by either side beyond patrol activity. In early November, however, the enemy showed signs of moving, and there was evidence of Japanese reinforcements reaching this area.

On the 5th November the enemy advanced into the Chin Hills with between five and nine companies of infantry. Our Irregulars after a gallant resistance were driven out of Falam, and the Japanese occupied that place and Haka, twelve miles south of it. A week later the enemy advanced from the Dolluang area, and on the 13th November drove back our weak detachments on the road to the north of Fort White, thereby isolating the latter post. The enemy strength in this area was two to three battalions with some field artillery. Our forces consisted of one Indian battalion, much below strength, with one company of a Gurkha battalion under its command; also one section of a mountain battery (3.7" howitzers).

They were holding very extended positions, and the enemy attack came from the north west after an encircling movement successfully hidden from us. It was clear that the Japanese had detailed knowledge of our positions, and so were able to advance from a direction least exposed to the fire of our troops.

During the fighting which ensued the enemy suffered heavily while our losses were light. We evacuated the Fort, which lying in the valley 'bottom was of little tactical or strategic value, and retired to positions on Kennedy Peak.

4. The Chin Hills.

Between the 4th Corps front and Arakan, lie the Chin Hills This 'area was very thinly held by the Chin Hills Battalion and the Chin Levies. The Chin Hills Battalion was a part of the Burma Army and stayed in the Chin Hills after we evacuated Burma. Its officers were British, and it had one company of Chins; and three companies of Gurkhas or Kumaoms. The Chin Levies were irregular troops with a small number of British officers, and one of the reasons for keeping regular troops as far south as Tiddim was the desirability of providing support and backing for these irregulars.

The strategic value of the Chin Hills area was that it covered tracks leading through Lungleh to Chittagong and to Aijal. It also lay on the flank of the enemy line of communications through Gangaw to Kalemyo. Communications, however, in the area were bad. Except for the road south from Imphal, which was being built and was often blocked during the monsoon, there was only a porter track leading into the area from the west. Supply of troops in the area had therefore to be carried out to a great extent by air.*

Except patrol activities and the Japanese advance to Falam and Haka in early November there were no operations of importance in this area.

5. Chinese Forces and the U.S.A. Task Force in India.

Earlier Despatches from the India Command have described how Chinese Forces first came tb India in 1942. Their training was carried out here by the United States Army. A road from Ledo in Assam to connect eventually with the Burma-China Road, was also commenced by us and earned on by the U.S. Forces.

The two enterprises have since become closely allied, since two of the Chinese Divisions (22nd and 38th) moved to Ledo, and the construction of the road has Ibeen protected by the 38th Chinese Division. Part of one regiment of this Division was located in advance of roadhead and was maintained by air. The 22nd Chinese Division completed its move from Ramgarh to Ledo in October, and was available to support the 38th Chinese Division if required. A third Division (30th) was in process of arriving from China by air in November.

During the monsoon progress on the Ledo Road was slow. Nearly all the engineering effort was absorbed in repairing washouts and adding extra shingling to the surface of the road already built. By the 15th November the road had been surveyed up to 99 miles from Ledo, bull-dozers were working at the 79th mile, and 48 miles of metalling had been completed.

As soon as more rapid progress at roadhead became possible, the Chinese 38th Division advanced southwards towards the upper reaches of the Chindwin. Some minor clashes occurred with weak Japanese detachments in the Hukawng Valley, but up to the 15th November no serious opposition had been offered to the advance. By then the advanced elements of the 38th Chinese Division had reached the Tarung Hka about Ningbyen and the Tanai Hka south and south-east of Shinbwiyang.

There were signs that the enemy was strengthening his forces in this area.

6. North Burma.

On the left flank of the Chinese American Task Force, based on Ledo, we held the country lip to the Salween River with a very small number of troops based on Fort Hertz. This area was not controlled by the U.S. Forces.

Two companies of the Burma Army were based on Fort Hertz, and were supplied by air. In addition, there were some seven hundred and fifty Kachin Levies —irregulars with a few British officers. The Kachins were loyal and hated the Japanese intensely. They had much success in patrols and in laying traps for Japanese troops.

As a reserve in case of emergency one Indian battalion was kept in North East Assam at call. The need for it did not arise, which perhaps was fortunate because it could only have been taken to Fort Hertz by air, and then only if the necessary aircraft could have been spared from other operations.

Dispositions of the levies have varied somewhat from time to time, but generally speaking they held as far south as Sumprabum, and a few detachments were east of the Mali Hka.

A complication in North East Burma was the presence there of certain Chinese whose arrival was first reported early in July. They appeared to be weak irregular armed forces, who were apparently expected to live on the country. The Kachin country however is extremely poor, and can barely produce enough for the Kachins themselves to live on. The presence of the Chinese was embarrassing. Indeed, the Kachins were nearly as hostile to them as they were to the Japanese. Urgent steps were therefore taken to secure their withdrawal by representation to Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek through H.B.M.'s Ambassador in Chungking. Eventually, except for a few" small detachments, they left the area and went back across the Salween to China early in September.

Subsequently, at the request of General Cheng Po, the Commander of Chinese Guerilla Forces, an operational boundary was fixed between the British and Chinese Forces in North East Burma. This was done in order to define the area in which the British and Chinese were respectively responsible for preventing Japanese infiltration. The boundary runs roughly in a north and south direction near the Burma-Yunnan border, and the arrangement made was that our Forces would be responsible to the west, and the Chinese to the east of this line.

7. Ceylon Army Command.

There were no active land operations in the Ceylon- Army Command during the period under review. The Japanese, however, carried out several air reconnaissances, and two of their aircraft were destroyed.

The arrival of the 11th East African Division was completed, and intensive training was carried out by this formation.

In August a new defence scheme for Ceylon was approved as a result of a re-appreciation of the role of the Army in that Command. It included the reorganisation of the garrison on the arrival of the East African .Troops.

On the 10th September the Italian warship Eritrea, acting on the orders of Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, put into Colombo.

On the 1st September the shore organisation of the Eastern Fleet arrived in Colombo, and on the same date also, the Rear Admiral, Naval Air Stations, Indian Ocean, set up his Headquarters there.

In the Maldive Islands, a new flying boat base was established during the period at Kalai. Intensive constructional work at Addu Atoll continued.

The Japanese about once a month made air reconnaissances of Cocos Island.

8. Operations of the Royal Indian Navy.

H.M.I. Ships " Jumna " and " Sutlej " operated in the Mediterranean with the Royal Navy dunng the period. Otherwise, normal escorts were provided for convoys to and from Aden, the Persian Gulf, Colombo and along the coasts of India. In the course of these escort duties a number of depth charge attacks were made on enemy submarines with unknown results.



9. General.

The monsoon inevitably curtailed operations in the air, but not to the same extent as on land. From time to time all-weather runways were flooded, and throughout the period fair weather strips were unusable. Administration was also hampered by breaking of rail and road communications and the rupture of signal channels.

Nevertheless, unlike the Japanese who practically discontinued air operations during the rainy season, we continued to be active in the air as far as conditions allowed, and we prepared for the dry weather by training and equipping squadrons, and building up reserves of supplies.

An important development was the improvement in meteorological services. It was found possible to establish what can and cannot be done from the air over North East India and Burma during the monsoon. In particular, monsoon conditions were found not so very bad over central Burma, and it was generally possible to locate targets on enemy lines of communications. Moreover, given reliable route forecasts of weather over enemy territory, night bombing was practicable over a wide area In fact, unless all-weather airfields are actually flooded, large scale air operations can be undertaken safely even at the height of the monsoon.

The extent of our air effort during the period under review is given under the appropriate headings in the paragraphs which follow, and the training and administrative side of it is dealt with in Part III of this Despatch.

10. Aircraft Flow and its Effect on Operations.

There was a great increase of aircraft held in the Command, and obsolescent types were largely replaced by modern aircraft. In all there were in India the following aircraft of all types, 2,453 on 25th June, and 3,699 on 17th November, 1943.

The most important development, however, was the extensive modernisation of. our fighter defence. Hurricanes rose from 677 to 1,088. Spitfires increased from 13 to 153. They had a most decisive effect on operations, though this did not fully develop till later. Spitfires went into action in November for the first time, and not being supplied with long range tanks could only operate over our own territory thus having no chance to meet large enemy an forces. Prior to this the enemy had been able to carry out reconnaissance flights with impunity by flying at great heights and out-distancing the Hurricanes. The first three reconnaissance aircraft the enemy sent over after the Spitfires arrived were all destroyed, and the enemy did not again attempt a reconnaissance or a raid in the area where the Spitfires were located.

So important was the success of the Spitfires that my Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief asked the Chief of Air Staff urgently for the flow to be increased as far as possible, and the great successes later against large enemy formations fully justified the request.

11. Expansion of Squadrons and their Distribution on the 15th November, 1943.

Although a considerable inflow of aircraft had occurred, our actual front line air strength had not increased very greatly by November.

The target for the end of 1943 was 76 squadrons. In detailed planning, however, targets agreed on from time to time with the Air Ministry have been substituted. Forward administrative planning and organisation was finally based on the 146 squadron target, which is what has been promised on conclusion of the war with Germany.

12. The 10th U.S.A.A.F.

While dealing with the developing strength of air power in this theatre, it is appropriate to mention the American Air Forces. My R.A.F. Headquarters have been in constant touch with the U.S. Air Force, and there has been perfect co-ordination of air operations between the two. In general, the 10th U.S.A.A.F. attacked distant objectives over Burma by day; R.A.F. medium and heavy bombers operated by night; and R.A.F. fighters and light bombers attacked by day objectives within 250 miles of the forward airfields. The introduction of Mustangs (A.36’s and 51's) to augment our attacks on enemy communications in forward areas was notable, and the American fighter strength was employed to protect their airfields in Assam and sometimes to escort day bombers and supply dropping aircraft.

The air ferry to Kunming carried an increasing tonnage to China. In June the total was 3,100 tons, and in October 8,632 tons.

13. Enemy Air Effort.

I have already remarked that the enemy practically ceased operations in the air during the monsoon period. A few intercept sorties in Burma and some reconnaissance flights were all that were undertaken. Presumably the bulk of enemy squadrons were withdrawn for rest or training.

There was, however, an increase in October and November and raids were earned out on Chittagong, Agartala, Fenny, Palel, Imphal, Khuimlbhirgram, and Tiddim.

Reconnaissance aircraft appeared a few times also over the Madras coast and Ceylon. Two of these were shot down in October and November by our Beaufighters. The enemy fighter defences and warning system in the Andamans, Nicobars and over Northern Sumatra (were fairly efficient, and in each of these areas we lost Liberators shot down while engaged in photographic reconnaissances.


14. The Bengal Command.

In June, 1943, dispositions of squadrons were as follows: —

    In forward airfields

          5 Hurricane Squadrons.

          1 Beaufighter Squadron

          1 Blenheim Squadron.

          1 Bisley Squadron.


    At Cox's Bazar

          1 Hurricane Squadron (detachment).


    In Assam

          1 Bisley Squadron.

          1 Mohawk Squadron.


    In second line airfields (in Jessore and round Calcutta)

          3 Bomber Squadrons.

          5 Fighter Squadrons.

          3 Photo Reconnaissance Squadron.

          1 Transport Aircraft Squadron.


    Training at Dign and Salbani

          3 Vengeance Squadrons.


Until the weather improved at the end of September this distribution remained substantially unchanged.

The policy regarding the employment of these forces during the monsoon had been laid down as follows: —

    To maintain a forward fighter offensive policy.

    To ensure the continuance of local air superiority,

    To protect our costal shipping southwards from Chittagong.

    To attack enemy occupied airfields wherever possible.

    To attack enemy lines of communications and shipping in the enemy forward areas.

Actually, while the maintenance of air superiority remained a primary task, medium and heavy bomber effort was concentrated on attacking L. of C. targets.

15. Strategic Bombing.

In June/July heavy and medium bomber operations were much handicapped by bad weather and shortage of spares. Nevertheless, the high percentage of successful sorties under difficult weather conditions during this period reflects great credit on the crews concerned.

Between June and August the 10th U.S.A.A.F., operating by day inflicted considerable damage on the Thilawa and Syriam oil installations and took toll of-railway rolling stock. The Myitnge Bridge was cut and the Gotteik Viaduct damaged. Enemy vessels off the coast of Burma or near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were also attacked with success.

As a result of continued reconnaissance and attacks on shipping, enemy use of the port of Rangoon practically ceased during the period.

During the whole period U.S.A.A.F. bombers shot down twenty-four enemy aircraft, probably destroyed eighteen and damaged thirty-one.

16. Tactical Bombing.

The 4th Corps was effectively supported by attacks on the Japanese bases at Kalewa, Kalemyo and on other similar targets. In August light bombers co-operated with land forces in raiding operations, thereby obtaining useful experience of co-operation in jungle country. In this it was found that our existing ground to air radio telephony control arrangements were inadequate, and methods such as the use or smoke mortar bombs to indicate enemy targets close to our own troops and positions were developed.

By the middle of September, Vengeances almost entirely replaced Blenheiims for day tactical bombing, and the pilots of these machines rapidly became skilled in the identification and bombing of small camouflaged targets.

17. Fighters and Fighter Bombers employed offensively.

Aircraft were deployed to support both the 4th Corps front from Assam to the Southern , Chin Hills, and the 15th Corps front in the Arakan. Weather conditions, however, restricted land activity; and fighters were confined to answering calls for support from our land patrols, and to attacking enemy forward positions and their lines of communication immediately in rear.

On the 15th Corps front our offensive air operations made the enemy progressively more cautious in the siting of his monsoon quarters Our attacks also considerably reduced his freedom of movement, and often he was only able to move by night or in bad weather.

The enemy reacted strongly to our attacks by placing light anti-aircraft defences at or near all likely targets, and thereafter this type of attack proved more expensive for our own aircraft. The damage inflicted upon the enemy, however, fully justified such losses as we incurred.

18 Maintenance of Air Superiority.

We were ready for the enemy when towards the end of the period he resumed operations in the air. The results, however, of our efforts, to intercept his raids were disappointing because of advantages the enemy aircraft had over the Hurricanes which formed the bulk of our defensive force. Whenever contact was made, however, attacks were carried out with vigour, and losses as high as could be expected were inflicted by the Hurricanes. However, as already mentioned, the first appearance of our Spitfires altered this.

During the whole period our air superiority was definitely unchallenged, and with the expansion and re-equipment that has been carried out it should remain so.

19. Fighter Reconnaissance.

Hurricanes accomplished a particularly satisfactory task in their reconnaissances in support of the 4th and 15th Corps. Their assignments included photographic , reconnaissance of the enemy's forward positions, tactical reconnaissance in tracing enemy movements in the immediate rear of their forward positions, and continual survey of the rearward lines of communication. Bengal Command was also responsible for seaward reconnaissance to a depth of twenty-five miles from the coast along the whole Sunderbans and Arakan coastline, from Calcutta to Pagoda Point. This work, done as it was in the worst part of the monsoon weather, was of great merit.

20. Air Supply.

Isolated radar and Observer Corps posts cut off by the monsoon rains were supplied by air. Also the almost daily service to and from the forward areas transported essential spare parts, the lack of which was keeping operational aircraft on the ground.

The main tasks however, of the squadron engaged on this work were for the Army. It followed up its successful work in supplying the Long Range Penetration Brigade in. its raid during the spring of 1943 'by supply dropping in inaccessible country where, without its aid, land detachments could not have been maintained. It carried out 1,100 sorties, and almost 1,200 tons of supplies were dropped.

21. Air Operations for the Defence of India's Coastline and Ceylon.

Two groups comprising twelve squadrons were allocated to this duty. Operational control of all general reconnaissance in this sphere was vested in the headquarters of one of these groups under the strategical direction of the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, modified from time to time by mutual agreement with the Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet.

Control of operations in the Arabian Sea was also strengthened, land a Naval Air Operations Room established at Bombay.

The threat of seaborne attack against India and Ceylon receded, and we should get at least two or three months warning of any such enterprise. We relied therefore on our existing strength in coastal areas for immediate air defence, while taking all necessary measures for expansion and reinforcement that did not actually involve the holding of aircraft, e.g., organisation of fighter control, installation of communications, etc.

22. General and Photographic Reconnaissances.

The strengthening of our island bases at Addu Atoll and Diego Garcia and the retention of Cocos Island, extended the range of our general reconnaissances.

Considerable development of photographic reconnaissances also took place. Strategical photographic reconnaissances of enemy occupied territory in Burma, China, Assam and the Andamans were carried out.

The main task, however, was greatly increased intelligence cover of Sumatra, Malaya, the Andamans and Niccjbar Islands.** Mosquitos were only able to cover the Northern Andamans, and it was therefore necessary to use Liberators also, based in Ceylon and on the East coast of India.

23. Air Operations on the North West Frontier.

Modern high speed aircraft were used on the North West Frontier of India for the first time. There were however, no tasks of any importance to carry out.

North West Frontier operations are now purely an Indian Air Force commitment, and the Frontier area has served as a useful training ground for its) squadrons. Intelligence and photographic facilities have been developed, the Kohat runway extended, and organisation undertaken to modernise what has hitherto been a most backward area from the point of view of the air forces.

24. Balloon Barrages.

Subject to weather conditions, balloons were flown continuously at Calcutta for the protection of the Docks area and Howrah Bridge, also at Jamshedpur to defend the Tata Iron and Steel Works, and at Colombo to protect the harbour arid dock installations and certainparts of the city. The barrage at Trincomalee, originally intended for the protection of the oil tanks and consisting of some seventeen balloons only, was extended to include in its scope the whole Naval anchorage at Trincomalee—China Bay. Additional commitments undertaken in November included the defence of the harbour and docks at Chittagong, and balloon protection for merchant shipping and Fleet auxiliaries.

Subsidiary operations have included the flying of balloons at 1,000 feet on patrol ships which go out daily at dawn to guide friendly submarines into harbour. .Captains of these submarines speak highly of the assistance in locating the patrol ship provided by the flying of these balloons. Submarines are frequently well off course, and time is saved and danger averted by this method of homing. Moreover, balloons have been flown for anti-aircraft calibration, radar calibration and meteorological purposes.

In no cases have the areas provided with balloon protection been subjected to low level air attacks. During the monsoon period one new squadron and nine ancillary units were formed.

25. Air Sea Rescue.

Owing to the shortage of Air Sea Rescue aircraft and marine craft, few units had been brought into operation as yet, and the important work of rescuing the survivors of shipwrecked vessels or " ditched " aircraft had devolved on operational squadrons. Twenty-one incidents were recorded, ten of which occurred in the Bay of Bengal, two in the Arabian Sea and eight off Ceylon, involving in all one hundred and eleven persons, of whom sixty-nine were rescued. The credit for most of this work is due to General Reconnaissance Squadrons, but one of the Chittagong Air Sea Rescue units, in its first operational sortie, succeeded in rescuing three out of five members of a Wellington. On a further occasion Lindholme dinghy gear, which has now been distributed, was successfully dropped to a distressed U.S.A.A.F. aircrew.

26. Estimates of Results.

The decision to operate during the monsoon season has been more than justified by the results achieved.

Attacks on shipping by the U.S.A.A.F. and on the port of Rangoon by both U.S.A.A.F. and R.A.F. aircraft more or less prohibited the use of this port to the enemy. Similarly, Akyab was consistently bombed.

The new Burma Siam railway was under construction during the period by the enemy (who used prisoners of war labour for it under conditions of bestial cruelty) and has since been completed. This probably eliminated the port of Rangoon as a link in the enemy line of communication, and reduced its importance as a target for our bombers. At the same time it remained to be seen how far this new railway was itself vulnerable to air attack, in spite of the enemy's duplication of bridges and other measures to preserve it from interruption.

An estimate of the damage to transportation facilities can be gathered from the following table of claims for the period made by the Bengal Air Command: —

Sampans destroyed


Sampans damaged


Power driven water craft and barges destroyed


Power driven water craft and barges damaged


Locomotives destroyed


Locomotives damaged


Rolling stock destroyed


Rolling stock damaged


M.T. destroyed


M.T. damaged


 Much of the material enumerated above cannot easily be renewed.

As regards casualties inflicted on the enemy, intelligence reports showed that attacks from the air had great effect. In Arakan where most of such attacks were made, enemy losses were conservatively put at 500 killed and many more wounded from June to September.

Our losses during the period under review were thirty-one aircraft, including four destroyed on the ground at the beginning of November.

27. Morale of Air Personnel.

The strain of maintaining a continuous effort and carrying out operations, in very trying heat and humidity undoubtedly had its effect at times on the morale of the men. This was remedied by maintaining a high standard of training, with the result that the fighting spirit of all was high when the period ended.

I cannot commend too highly the manner in which the men of' ground organisations carried out their duties during very bad monsoon conditions. If any are to be singled out, I would mention the maintenance personnel who never failed to keep the serviceability of operational aircraft at a high standard, and I would also pay particular tribute to the ranks employed at radar units and wireless observer posts. Many of these detachments were completely isolated for long periods, and had to be maintained by air alone.


28. Enemy Situation in Burma on the 15th November, 1943.

Throughout the monsoon Burma was held by the Japanese with four divisions. By the 15th November a fifth Japanese division had arrived in Burma, and the dispositions of Japanese forces in the country were believed to be:


55th Division less one regiment in the South West Pacific.

213th Regiment of 33rd Division.

2nd Battalion 214th Regiment (less one company) of 33rd Division.



Chin Hills and Atwin Yomas ...

33rd Division less detachments in Arakan.



Mawlaik exclusive to Homalm inclusive.

New Division less one regiment.



Hukawng . .


18th Division



Htawgaw ...




56th Division.








29. Up to the 15th November the general picture on the enemy side appeared to be as follows:—

    Arakan. —The Japanese were generally on the defensive, but had reacted somewhat to our advance down the main Mayu range and were attempting with no success to oust us from our forward positions there.

    Chin Hills. —The Japanese had advanced. As already described, they occupied Falam on the 7th November, Haka on the 11th November, and Fort White on the 15th November, but their offensives in Manipur and Arakan were not to develop, till later.

    Chindwin. —The Japanese were moving forward to their pre-monsoon locations, and there were indications that the new Division was taking over more front than had originally been held by the 18th Division. There were then no indications that the Japanese intended to cross the Chindwin in force.

    Hukawng Valley. —After a slow start (probably owing to being upset by the Chinese advance) Japanese reinforcements began to arrive in the Hukawng Valley-about the 7th November.

    Sumprabum Area. —Sumprabum was reinforced by the enemy to a strength of two companies about the loth November, and at the same time the Japanese strength at Ninchangyang in the South Triangle was increased to five hundred.

    Salween. —The likelihood of any large scale Japanese operation across the Salween seemed to have receded by the 1st November. It appeared, however, that contrary to their former practice, the Japanese now intended to hold the area which they had occupied North-East of Tengchung.

30. The Civil Affairs Organisation in re-occupied Territories of Burma.

This service has functioned satisfactorily throughout the period, in those parts of Burma under our control.

The only area where any notable advance and re-occupation by our forces of Burmese territory took place, was in that of the Chinese-American Task Force (C.A.T.F.) described above—i.e., towards the Hukawng Valley. As this became in fact an American zone, the question arose as to how the administration of civil affairs in these re-occupied territories should be organised. A small civil affairs organisation had been functioning hi the American zone for some time, but it became necessary to expand this and put it on a proper basis. A conference therefore was held (before the advance began) between the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Army, the (American) Commanding General of the C.A.T.F. and the (British) Chief Civil Affairs Officer, as a result of which a satisfactory solution was reached.

It was decided that a senior Civil Affairs Officer should be attached to the Headquarters of the C.A.T.F. as a political adviser, co-ordinator, and- liaison officer with junior Civil Affairs officers and the local population. The Civil Affairs Section, which also had been started with the Rear Echelon at Delhi of the headquarters of the American Forces, was also to maintain close touch with my General Headquarters. These arrangements, and the fact that there is little difference between American and British ideas on the functions of Civil Affairs services, rendered the position of our Civil Affairs officers working under the C.A.T.F. perfectly satisfactory, and the work proceeded smoothly as the advance progressed.

31. Internal Conditions in India.

Peaceful conditions have continued throughout India, and there was no renewal during the period of any outbreaks like those of August, 1942. The possibility of disturbances occurring on the anniversary of these outbreaks was however guarded against in those areas where they were thought likely. On the approach of the 9th August, the anniversary of Mr. Gandhi's arrest last year, additional troops were placed at the disposal of the commanders concerned.

In addition, protective measures were taken on all the more important railways in the Central Command from the 7th to the 17th August.

32. The Economic Emergency and Famine in Bengal.

A far more serious internal problem, and one which may become dangerously acute if India's resources are still further taxed, was the economic one.

The causes of this, and the manner in which the problem is linked with military expansion and the support of the forces based on India, has been indicated elsewhere in the paragraphs dealing with long term administrative planning. Other factors in the civil sphere, such as the results of harvests, the loss of the rice imports from Burma, the hoarding of food grains and other commodities, difficulties of civil transportation, etc., have undoubtedly affected the situation in one way or another.

The outcome has been famine in certain parts of the country, notably those where the staple food is rice. In particular, Bengal suffered acutely, and here, at the request of His Excellency the Viceroy for military aid in relief of famine distress in Bengal, I approved, on the 1st November, the following plan for the employment of military resources: —

    (a) An organisation under command Maj.-General A. V. T. Wakely, in the appointment of Director of Movements Civil Supplies, working under the Bengal Government.

    (b) A second organisation under command Maj.-General D. Stuart, Commander 303 L of C Area, reinforced by additional troops to be drafted into the area.

Lt.-General A. G. 0. M. Mayne, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, was appointed Supreme Military Liaison Officer between the Bengal Government and the military authorities.

The duty of Maj.-General Wakely's organisation was to transport food-grains and other supplies from Calcutta and other outside sources to main distribution centres in the distressed areas by the maximum use of all available transportation methods.

Maj.-General Stuart's command reinforced by-

    One Indian motorised brigade.

    Five Indian Infantry battalions.

    One Indian General Hospital.

    Two field ambulances.

    One Casualty Clearing Station.

and certain engineer and supply units assisted the civil organisation in the transportation and distribution of foodstuffs forward of main distribution centres and in medical relief.

By the night of the 15/16th November reinforcements were already operating in the Dacca area, and more were due to arrive on the 19th November and subsequent days, Advanced parties were already on the ground carrying out detailed reconnaissances.

Prior to the arrival of these additional troops, the transportation of food-grains commenced under Maj.-General Stuart's organisation using transport and internal security troops already available in Bengal.

In addition to the provision of units, medical assistance was provided in the form of 101 medical officers, of whom n were specialists in hygiene. These officers commenced to arrive on the 15th November and they were sent immediately to distressed areas.

On the 15th November, within a fortnight of the inception of the project, military aid had already achieved very satisfactory and promising results. The output of relief supplies from Calcutta to the districts had been doubled, public confidence in the efficacy of relief measures had been partially restored and, in consequence, the price of food-grains in the districts had been substantially lowered.

This relief work, both economic and medical, was still in progress at the end of the period, for the emergency in Bengal had by no means ended by then.

33. The North West Frontier of India.

The tribal areas of the North West Frontier continued quiet, and except for occasional acts of kidnapping, sniping, etc., by gangs of bad characters, there was no hostile activity on our side of the international frontier.

As regards the general outlook across the frontier, with the removal of the threat (from the Caucasus) to Persia and the North West Frontier, and the turn in the Allied fortunes in Europe, our policy underwent a change. The role of the land and air forces in North West India was restricted to exercising tribal control. The forces available for this were those normally allocated to Frontier Defence and Frontier Defence Reserve; but- at the same time I warned the Commander of the North Western Army that it might be necessary to draw on them for commitments in the East of India.

With this reservation therefore, I directed that the general policy was to maintain our existing position in the tribal areas, and that action taken in pursuance of it should as far as possible be designed to avoid the creation of situations demanding the employment offorces additional to those at the disposal of the Commander of the North Western Army.


* See also paragraph 20 below which gives details supply dropping carried out by the R.A.F

** See Part I, paragraph 6


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