Burma '44: The Battle That Turned Britain's War In The East
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'A thrilling blow-by-blow account' The Times
In February 1944, a rag-tag collection of clerks, drivers, doctors, muleteers, and other base troops, stiffened by a few dogged Yorkshiremen and a handful of tank crews managed to hold out against some of the finest infantry in the Japanese Army, and then defeat them in what was one of the most astonishing battles of the Second World War.
What became know as The Defence of the Admin Box, fought amongst the paddy fields and jungle of Northern Arakan over a fifteen-day period, turned the battle for Burma. Not only was it the first decisive victory for British troops against the Japanese, more significantly, it demonstrated how the Japanese could be defeated. The lessons learned in this tiny and otherwise insignificant corner of the Far East, set up the campaign in Burma that would follow, as General Slim’s Fourteenth Army finally turned defeat into victory.
Burma '44 is a tale of incredible drama. As gripping as the story of Rorke's drift, as momentous as the battle for the Ardennes, the Admin Box was a triumph of human grit and heroism and remains one of the most significant yet undervalued conflicts of World War Two.
Engineer Battalion Bowdler, Norman – 25th Dragoons Braithwaite, Cecil – 62 Squadron Case, Ronald – 2nd Survey Regiment, RA Cree, Gerald – 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment Foster, Henry – 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment Gledhill, Dick – 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment Gormley, Albert – 4th Field Regiment, RA Hoskin, Ernie – 6/1st Punjab Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment Marshall, Michael – 4/5th Gurkha Rifles Pasterfield, Philip – 1st Somerset Light Infantry Wilkins, Albert – 24th Anti-Tank Regiment
following night, after a day of acclimatizing, the Monopoly board was nowhere to be seen but Colonel Twiss invited him to play bridge instead. Gilmore’s heart sank, but a day or so later, just as he was beginning to despair, he was told he was to take command of the battalion MT Platoon, so at last he had something to do other than amuse the CO. The MT Platoon was made up from twenty or so vehicles, drivers and Madrassi mechanics, or fitters as they were known, and included a handful of trucks,
while heavy bombers could pack a bigger punch than the smaller twin-engine bombers in the Tactical Air Force, what they gained in ordnance they lost in accuracy. They struggled to identify targets and, because they would be operating directly over the front, that was a problem; the risk was they would stray too far and hit their own troops. Smyth pointed this out to Christison, but the corps commander chose to go against his air advisor and accept the offer of Eastern Air Command; the pressure
captain found himself looking after the division’s Medical Officer – an irony not lost on him, as he had no medical training himself at all. The colonel was in a bad way, barely conscious and still wearing pyjama bottoms and only one boot. The other foot was bare with the flesh of the heel hanging loose as though it had been sliced by a sword. Ascham cleaned the wound as best he could and bandaged it, while another of his men brought tea. Lorries were then organized to take the still fit and
breakfast. It had been a massacre, and in a neat mirror of Blood Nullah, Lowry had heard there had been as many as a hundred casualties. Although C Company, the battalion reserve, had been sent to help out and to protect the sixteen mortars and stocks of some three thousand mortar bombs, they had been unable to dislodge the enemy from the slopes round about. It was estimated there were as many as three hundred Japanese overlooking the position. Nonetheless, Lowry and Kingshott safely made their