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Thread: Chindit 1943 Air Liaison officers.

  1. #21
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    Many thanks for this information Hugh, very much appreciated. From your notes today I have pieced together some more detail on Wood, Young and Mills, so thanks for that.

    In regard to Ken Wheatley, I know two pieces of info: One is that he was one of the few Chindits to be able to swim across the Shweli River around 04/04/1943. The rivers in Burma were huge and costly obstacles for the men of that year. It was no mean feat to swim that river back then, bit I am guessing that he became separated from the rest of column 8 soon afterwards?

    The other piece of info known by anecdotal evidence is that Wheatley was lost and reported missing while out searching for fire wood one morning. He never came back to the group. Perhaps this was when he was finally captured? There was also a suggestion that he was threatened with execution when first captured, but this cannot be confirmed.

    While in Rangoon Jail it is widely reported that he tended the sick and wounded in the improvised 'hospital'. He is stated as tending to a dying Chindit officer with great care and devotion. He was with the large group of so called fit POW's who were marched out of the jail by the Japanese in late April 1945. The intension being to take the group through into Thailand. This never happened and the 450 or so men were left to fend for themselves in a village near Pegu a few days later. Most were liberated from here.

    That is about all I know.

    Steve.

  2. #22
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    Further to this, photographed a document (telegram) in Wheatley's file which I have now transcribed, viz:

    TO: AM KWY (R) DECHIEF (R) ROYCANAIRF LONDON (R) GLOS RECORDS (R) AHQ BOMBAY

    FROM: PERSONNEL BOMBAY

    RECEIVED: A.M.C.S. 0158A HRS 19th SEPTEMBER 1943

    BPO/CAS 1570 18 SEPT SECRET

    MY BPO CAS 847 17 JULY AND BPO CAS 1342 7 SEPT B.C.

    FOLLOWING RECEIVED FROM ARMY AUTHORITIES (WITNESSES)
    1414386 LAC A/SGT HAMMOND DG PARTY OF 4 WHO LEFT COLUMN APPROX. 1 APRIL WEST BANK SHEWLI RIVER OPPOSITE DOCHAUNG TO CUT BAMBOO. COLUMN REMAINED FOR 2 DAYS PARTY FAILED TO RETURN, PRESUMED LOST AND ATTEMPTED RETURN INDIA ON THEIR OWN. P/J15781 P/O A/SLDR K.M. WHEATLEY (RCAF) TAKEN PRISONER LATER ESCAPED. RECAPTURED IN MOUNTAINS APPROX. APRIL 27 WEST MOHNYIN, LATER TAKEN MOHNYIN HANDS BOUND, NO FURTHER NEWS. 88508 P/O A/S/LDR G.J. LONGMORE, MEMBER PARTY ATTEMPTING CORSS [sic, “Cross” ?] IRRAWADDY NIGHT 18 APRIL, FIRED ON. BOAST CAPSIZED, OFFICER LAST SEEN HANGING ON TO BOAT AND ANSWERING TO CALL FROM PARTY WHO MADE UNAVAILING SEARCH NEXT DAY. OCCURRENCE FEW MILES DOWNSTREAM FROM VILLAGE OF (KMNTHA) 1292048 LAC A/SGT WOOD MEMBER PARTY CROSSING SHWELI RIVER AT POINT NEAR TOKKIN VILLAGE EARLY HOURS 1 APRIL. PARTY CROSSED HALF WAY TO SAND BANK BY BOAT WADING REMAINING 50 YARDS TO OPPOSITE BANK. AIRMAN LAST SEEN LEFT BEHIND ON SANDBANK. 591733 CPL A/SGT MILD D.L.L. ATTACHED BRIGADE H.Q. WHICH SPLIT GIVE DISPERSAL GROUPS 30 MARCH EAST BANK OF IRRAWADDY. AIRMAN ACCOMPANIED ONE OF THESE GROUPS, NO FURTHER NEWS. 636351 CPL A/SGT COPELAND PREVIOUSLY REPORTED MISSING PARTICULARS UNKNOWN, REPORTED SAFE 15 JUNE, ARRIVED CHINA 5 JUNE, ARRIVED INDIA BY AIR 15 JUNE. ADMITTED 53 OR 43 CPT I.G.H. SAME DAY, DISCHARGED 18 JULY, REPORTED CONVALESCENT DEPOT SHILLONG 21 JULY REQUEST NEXT OF KIN BE ADVISED THIS AIRMAN INTERVIEWED PERSONALLY THIS OFFICE, FIT AND WELL. ARMY STATEMENTS BEING DESPATCHED FAST AIR.

  3. #23
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    In his book "Mohawks over Burma" Gerry Beauchamp mentions a R McLauchlan RNZAF (not McLauchlin) first as F/Sgt then W/Off. Possibly not the same guy?

    Steve

  4. #24
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    Steve (Bamboo) and all,

    I'd seen your original query but missed the name Doug MILLS until now. Doug corresponded with me in the early 1990s regarding my RAF Liberator/Rangoon Jail investigations. Snooping through my files, I found that he had sent me a two-part memoir printed in the Dec '90 and Feb '91 issues of AUSSIE DEKHO!, the newsletter of the Burma Star Association's New South Wales branch. Had completely forgotten about this little gem, so thanks for the spark that led me to rediscover it.

    Though it's a bit long, I thought I'd copy Doug's full recollection, written with a healthy sense of humor (except for the ending's serious tone). I'm not sure if he was an Aussie in the RAF or had emigrated to Australia post-war. A wonderful bloke -- as one can guess from his writing -- he passed away in the last five years or so.

    Doug is referenced in Hugh's 20 April posting (591733 Corporal and A/Provisional Sergeant D.L.L. Mills, 30 March 1943), and also in Hugh's 22 April posting (591733 CPL A/SGT MILD D.L.L. ATTACHED BRIGADE H.Q.).

    Cheers,

    Matt
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Memoir of RAF 591733 Sergeant Douglas Lionel Leonard Mills

    A Royal Air Force Chindit
    Doug Mills

    I should start by giving a bit of background as to how I, a member of the Royal Air Force, came to be in the ranks of the Chindits. I had been in the R.A.F. since early 1939, and by the middle of 1942 I was a sergeant involved with Coastal Defence from out of Karachi. (I don't know how many people can remember our bi-planes, Wapiti's with Lewis gun firing through the prop, more like 1919 than 1941.) Anyway at this time I was recuperating in Bombay from an accident and had nothing official to do except report daily to the Base Personnel Office in Sir Phirosha Meta Road, just in case I was required. One morning I saw in Routine Orders an item calling for volunteers for a special mission. This did surprise me somewhat as I had always been given to understand that, unlike Hollywood, the forces rarely called for volunteers, they just detailed you to any job or duty they thought fit! Anyway,something (curiosity I think) impelled me to follow it up and see the C.O., who asked a number of questions, but oddly enough did not query my sanity, eventually telling me that I would be sent to Delhi for interview.

    Having arrived in Delhi, which after Bombay I found to be quite cold at night, I was taken by a Flying Officer somebody or other to be interviewed by Air Vice Marshal Williams and Air Commodore Darvell. I was ushered into their presence and actually asked to sit down, presumably to make it easier for me to withstand any shocks. I was questioned at length but was not given a great deal of detail as to what I was to do, just that I would find out when I arrived, if I went! I was also told that I would have no better | than a fifty fifty chance of getting back in one piece, plus a casual aside that as far as was known the Japs were not keen on taking prisoners! The A.V.M. finished up by telling me that nothing less would be thought of me if, as it were, I declined to take up the contract, and walked out. I was so scared of showing that I was scared that I indicated my willingness to go, at which he grabbed a scrap of paper, wrote a few words and passed me back to his aide. On the paper were the words "Send him to Saugor."

    Well off I went to Saugor by train, where from memory the station consisted of a couple of wooden planks on piles on either side of the line, all in the middle of absolutely nowhere. I was met by an M.P. sergeant with a small truck who told me that my destination was '42nd milestone'. Thus enlightened, I settled back to the most bumpy vehicle ride that I can ever remember. The training camp was at the said milestone, where I was handed over to an army major who took me to be given the once-over by a most impressive person, the then-Brigadier Wingate. At the time I was nearly nineteen, just over six feet tall and weighed thirteen and a half stone.

    From here on, remember I was an Airman who had to prove myself. I settled down to a rigorous program of intensive training, living rough, heavy pack inarching, lots of running, learning to construct a bed from odd bits of wood. No problem really, I'd been a Wolf Cub! I was also taught to ride a horse, to which I would like to give a bit of a mention.

    This horse riding business was really quite entertaining, particularly to the instructor, a Captain Carey-Foster. I learned that the first thing to master was to be able to clamber on the horse, stay put in the saddle and face the same direction as the horse’s head was pointing, which, after a little difficulty, I managed to achieve. There would have been close to a dozen of us under instruction, formed into a circle with the instructor in the middle. Well, we were first told how to make the horse walk, after which came the trot, which is the bit I found uncomfortable. The best part came whilst we were in a circle, trotting around and around and the instructor bawled out, "You might at least have the decency to smile and look as if you are enjoying it!" However, I did make progress and it wasn't long before I was one of the fittest men in all of India!

    After a few months and having shifted to Jhansi, we entrained and finished up some days later at the Manipur rail-head, where we made camp for a few days before moving over very hairy roads through the mountains to Imphal. This was to be our last stop before moving into Burma, and I can remember being paraded and told that anyone who didn't want to continue on this sight-seeing tour should speak up now. I was once again too scared to take up the offer.

    It was now about February 1943 when we upped sticks and marched to the Chindwin River, which, after being crossed, put us into enemy territory. I was with Brigade Head Quarters Column, which of course included Wingate. We were now in Burma.

    Many much better scribes than me have written of the Chindit expeditions, so I will keep to my own personal tales and won't attempt to describe the campaigns. My duties included cypher and radio work, calling in supplies at dropping zones. We were able to receive mail but of course couldn't send any out. It was dropped by parachute with the other supplies. On one occasion I recollect it included a new monocle for the then-Major Bernard Ferguson. I got the odd letter from my dear parents which usually contained a postal order. Cash-wise this was utterly useless as we were quite unable to locate a post-office in the middle of the jungle! Of course there was nowhere to spend any cash. However, I never tore up the orders or threw them out, although not as soft as Kleenex they did a turn.

    We have all at some time or another heard jokes about the words "military intelligence" being a contradiction in terms. I often feel that this could have arisen from one of the Intelligence Officers in our group. He had found an unexploded Jap mortar bomb which he stashed in a yakdan, presumably for future inspection. A yakdan, by the way, is the name given to a sort of overgrown suitcase, one of which is slung over each side of a mule in order to let the mule know that he wasn't just going for a stroll. As we made our way along a dry chaung, not the kind that the M.L.s fought in over in the Arakan, the mule with the mortar must have somehow stumbled and up went the bomb, causing a great deal of consternation and a few other things I couldn't possibly now get my tongue around. When the smoke cleared we were minus one mule and two yakdans. Fortunately, to my knowledge, no further such bombs were located by anyone.

    The time came when we had to make an attempt to get back to India. One could write a whole book on the varied happenings in such an Exercise, but I will restrict myself to the final independent part of the expedition as far as it affected me. I finished up on an island in the middle of the Irrawaddy, thinking I had reached the west bank of that river and not realising I was wrong until, when moving off in a westerly direction, I was confronted by more water. Well, it didn't take long for the Nips to discover that the island was occupied by the unwanted; that is where and how I came to be captured. Having been flung to the ground and securely tied up, a guard, possibly as he was a really big fellow he could have been a Korean, decided to have a bit of fun by lunging at me with his fixed bayonet, all the while screaming "you want this?" Naturally I considered it prudent to keep my trap shut under these extreme circumstances and he eventually tired of the game, which is just as well, or I wouldn't now be telling this story.

    Next day I was taken to a village on the west bank of the river and incarcerated in a large room in a house along with about a dozen other chaps who had been nabbed. While we were here we were comparatively well fed and the Jap commander, who spoke pretty good English, came and gave us the once over. As far as Japs are concerned he was the nearest thing to a human being I ever came across. He advised that as we would be moved in stages to Rangoon our treatment wouldn't be so good. He was dead right.

    We were shifted by truck, first to a place called Wuntho, then on to Maymyo, where there were many more prisoners. We were kept in a small room, only large enough for us to squat on our haunches. We nearly choked to death at night through clouds of stinking smoke from a mixture of wood and leaves which were used to keep down the mossies. Eventually we moved on to Rangoon by rail. It wasn't the Orient Express; in fact the cattle trucks had no creature comforts of any kind.

    At Rangoon we were taken to the Central Jail, which was to be my home for the next couple of years. I finished up in No. 6 compound, which was predominantly occupied by Britishers plus quite a few Americans and others from around the Commonwealth. Orders were given in Japanese, the basics of which we soon learned on pain of being belted up if we didn't.

    You will no doubt be fully aware that the vast majority of members of the armed forces are born linguists. In fact in a very short time they acquire a good knowledge of an alternative form of the English language which would undoubtedly be frowned upon if used in the drawing room at home, probably to the degree where one would immediately be thrown out on one's ear and cut off without a cent. I have to admit that I was no exception. This alternative language usually consisted of sentences interspersed with words of no more than four letters. Anyway, I would like to tell you of an incident which occurred at this time, hopefully without causing offence.

    As time passed it became obvious to us, due mainly to the almost daily bombing raids, that we were indeed on the winning side. We were able to dig some primitive slit trenches in order to obtain a bit of protection. It so happened that at about this time I had volunteered to become the Char Wallah. We had two or three vats, about three feet in diameter, in which the food, such as it was, was cooked. The vats sat on bricks and fires were lit underneath to do the necessary. My slit trench was close to the cookhouse and whilst a number of us were huddled in it a bomb dropped pretty close, shaking the ground as if there was an earthquake. I, on hearing a clanging noise from the direction of the said cookhouse, yelled "There goes my f———g tea urn", which caused the rest of the blokes to forget the fact that we were in the middle of a raid and laugh their heads off; at least it eased the tension.

    As time passed there was a change in camp commander, the new one being less inhumane than his predecessor. Somewhere along the line, I really don't know how it came about, he gave permission for the prisoners putting on a concert party. At one end of the compound was a very large hut in which the show was held. We had no music or instruments but a group of the boys were able to make a decent sound by humming and blowing into their hands. Where I came into all of this was that I was drafted into the part of Carmen Miranda. Anyway, to cut a long story sideways, the lads were packed into the hut along with some Jap officers. The various artists did their bit and then my turn came to face the audience, including the Nips. I gave a somewhat distorted rendition of "I,I,I,I like you very much, ....", which amused everyone except me. Regardless to the words of my song, I still do not like the Japs at all, never mind "very much".

    Well, enough is enough. I must point out that there was a much more dark and sinister aspect, which I have studiously avoided recording, in the overall story of our imprisonment in Rangoon Jail, described by Picture Post as a notorious living hell. In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute to those who never made it back to freedom and their loved ones. I salute them and may God bless them and keep them.

    Doug Mills.
    LEST WE FORGET.
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 23rd April 2011 at 15:17.

  5. #25
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    Thanks Hugh, Steve and my good friend Matt.

    It is a karma day today, I have just received info on another Chindit 1 participant who also sadly died in Rangoon Jail. He was a signalman and was lost with non other than Sgt Hammond out looking for firewood!!!

    Douglas Mills was born in Folkestone, Kent and I have only just picked up his Japanese index card at the National Archives in the last couple of visits. So here we have an example of 3 researchers pulling together in one of those magical moments when things drop into place. Just brilliant!

    I know Matt will want Doug's JIC, but if you would like any of the other paperwork Hugh, Matt, just let me know.

    Steve.

  6. #26
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    Hi, Steve,

    Yep, it's a blast when sharing of our kind rebuilds history.

    I was lazy when I posted my last one...I've since studied a version of the Rangoon Jail Excel POW list that you've masterminded, and I see that there was a mention of Doug's Japanese Index Card and that he was from Folkestone. Now you actually have a copy of the JIC, and, yes, I'd very much appreciate a copy.

    About to send this reply, and before I could, you've emailed me the JIC. Thanks for those images, Steve.

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    Default Air Liason Officers

    CAn you tell me what an air liason officer did? My uncle Kenneth M Wheatley was part of the first Chindit operation in 1943, captured on retreat by the Japanese and a POW for 2 years. I am seacrhing for more information about him.

    EWG

    Quote Originally Posted by bamboo43 View Post
    Hi All,

    First time back on the forum for a while. I have been lucky enough to collect together some more names of the Air liaison officers who took part on the first Chindit operation in 1943, operation 'Longcloth'. Apart from the very small amount of information about their time in the Burmese jungle, I know next to nothing about these fellows.

    I wondered if anyone recognised any of the following names?

    880358 Squadron Leader Cecil Longmore. POW.

    1414386 Sergeant David Glynn Hammond. POW.

    591733 Sergeant Douglas Mills. POW.

    Radio operator George Morris

    41952 Flight Lieutenant John Redman (possibly 257 Squadron). POW.

    Flight Sergeant Alan Fiddler.

    559510 Sergeant Richard A. Southgate. POW.

    Flight Lieutenant Albert Tooth.

    J15781 Pilot Officer Kenneth M. Wheatley (Canadian). POW.

    Sergeant Arthur Willshaw.

    1292048 Sergeant Richard Norman Wood. POW.

    570840 Kenneth Renwick Wyse. POW.

    Sergeant Clifford Davies (Australian).

    Also anything on Flight Officer R.R.A. McLauchlin who was said to have escorted Air supply drops?

    Any help at all would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Steve.

  8. #28
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    Hi EWG,

    I have a fair bit of information on your Uncle Kenneth. I have researched the 1943 Chindits extensively over the last 5 years, your Uncle was a liaison officer in column 8 in 1943.

    Air liaison refers to the Airmen who were co-opted into the special force in both 1943 and 1944. Their job was to organize the taking of supply drops in Burmese jungle locations in those years, that being communication with the aircraft, organisation of the drop zone and co-ordinates for the rear base.

    Wingate rightly decided that, who better to take care of the air supply for the Chindit forces on the ground than experienced RAF, RCAF etc personnel. Most of the volunteers for this task never knew what it was they had volunteered for before they had arrived at the training locations.

    My very recent website www.chinditslongcloth1943.com will give you more information.

    I will send you a pm shortly as I would be very interested in swapping information about Kenneth with you.

    Steve
    The boldest measures are the safest.

    http://www.chinditslongcloth1943.com/index.html

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