View Full Version : 113 Squadron Palel

13th April 2012, 16:13
My particular interest is 113 Squadron October 1943 to December 1944. I have read everything on the 113 squadron website (many tines) and have the ORBs and the appendix covering 1939 to 1945. My questions are about the time at Palel and the siege. On the Burma Star website LAC Joe Hunter refers to 300 men of 113 being at Palel, do we think that this would be all the men of the squadron? and he refers to 15 men committing suicide- I know it was very tough times but any comments about this suicide rate?

13th April 2012, 20:12
I can only say I did a little research on a PILOT FROM THIS SQUADRON and at no time was there any mention of pilots taking their own lives.

13th April 2012, 21:41

Would you be kind enough to tell me where you compiled your figures from. I am trying hard to understand the situation for the men at Palel (my father was one of them). LAC Hunter's account broadly bears out what I had understood the situation for the men to be but recently I have been sent extracts from his uncle's letters home to his wife (his uncle was a Captain in army intelligence) which refer to letters received from my father and a less severe picture is painted (this of course may have been so as not to cause concern at home). Like a lot, my father never talked about his wartime experiences but would answer direct questions (one had to know what questions to ask) he did mention hand to hand fighting with the Japanese and certainly his medical condition was very poor when he was evacuated from Palel to hospital in Bangalore just after the siege was broken.
Thank you, David Brasier

13th April 2012, 23:00

The figures you mention (which l deleted), were compiled from various sources and directly related to RAAF casualties on No.113 Sqn. My research on 113 Sqn losses, other than RAAF, is incomplete and needs more work.

Basically, No.113 Sqn sustained the following personnel losses in the Far East:

7-1-1942 - End of War.

31 - RAF
16 - RAAF
01 - RNZAF
07 - RCAF
02 - SAAF
57 - Total

The non-RAAF losses need a lot more work


14th April 2012, 06:31
Thank you. Please understand that I am not seeking a debate about accurate numbers, from my point of view I am only interested in the scale/magnitude of personnel losses. Whilst I can accept that LAC Hunter's figure of losses in one period is an exaggeration I think the figure of 57 for 42-45 is equally a big understatement. I wonder if the 57 figure is for aircrew lost in air action.
I can only speak as I find and having dug around this for 15 months now I have to say that 113's record keeping was poor-understandably sometimes (eg the retreat from Rangoon and Palel) and not so understandably sometimes (eg when based at Asansol); this not helped by some records being lost in a flood at one point. From what I have seen I doubt anybody could come up with an accurate figure of personnel losses for 113 which is why I am focussing on the scale of losses.
As you will see from my original post I am also focussing on LAC Hunter's report of 15 suicides at Palel to help build a picture of life in 113 at that time.
I know building a picture after all this time is going to be difficult but at this moment I am at the stage where I am confused with no firm conclusions - to give you two examples of my confusion a) there are reports of living in bashas (not ideal but not too bad) but there is also a picture held by the IWM of an RAF officer at Palel living in a hole dug out of the ground covered with canvas (looks very bad) and b) there is a picture built by others of intense air operations and intense ground fighting (by RAF personnel, not just RAF regiment but 113 people as well) but also evidence of quite a high degree of, shall we say, fraternisation with the Burmese which if the former was as bad as portrayed then I am surprised that they had the time or opportunity to do.
Any comments by anybody would be appreciated

14th April 2012, 07:44

The air party of No.113 Sqn arrived at Mingaladon, Rangoon, on 7th January, 1942. They undertook their first operation the following day raiding the docks at Bangkok, Siam. The figure of 57 deaths on No.113 Sqn, is the figure recorded on the CWGC for all members of that unit who lost their lives in the Far East, and who are mentioned as such. There is a need of a slight adjustment for a member who D.O.W.O.I.O.A.S., (and is buried in Moascar War Cemetery, Egypt) and one airmen on attachment to another unit (No.45 Sqn.). That is the information that was provided to the CWGC by the RAF.

You either accept their figures, or provide them with proof that there were more No.113 Sqn deaths. I for one, would be interested in seeing that proof myself!


14th April 2012, 10:04
I will take your word for it as unless you can point me in the right direction the CWGC website appears not to be searchable by squadron.
As you mention the initial action in Rangoon I do wonder if 57 is the lives lost there and then plus possibly in the retreat.
As you probably know the CWGC figures attempt to include all service deaths including non war related so there can also be an "upside" to them in terms of death due to conflict. I have no reason to believe that there is not also under recording.
As to records my own father's record is blank between 6.10.1942 at Asansol and arriving back at 1 PHU in the UK 31.3.1945 so how anyone above squadron level knew where he was or what he was doing (or alive or dead?) I do not know, presumably this went for most of the others as well.
If LAC Hunter's figures are so very wrong, bearing in mind he says 100 at Palel/Imphal alone, I am surprised they have not been challenged until now.

14th April 2012, 11:11
Oh Dear!


Go to Geoff's Search Engine, here:


In the Ship or Unit text box - enter 113 Sqdn

Then select - Royal Air Force - from the pull down menu in the Regiment/Corps box

Click on search.

You should get 97 entries for No.113 Sqn.

Click on - Click here to view search results

Take a look at this lot first, then l will tell you how to access the other Air Forces (RNZAF, RCAF and SAAF), later. The RAAF needs to treated separately, more on this later as well.

Give it go, Mate.


14th April 2012, 13:00

Thank you for that. I am not sure what to make of it. I realise I have only looked at RAF deaths but for the whole period 1942 to 1945 I could only find out of the total of 97, 2no AC2, 1no LAC, 2 Corporals, nil AC1. For the battle of Imphal period I could only find 2no Flying Officers and 1no Flight Sergeant in total no other ranks at all. I cannot prove anything but based on everything I've read seems wrong to me. I do not now know where I found this quote some time ago
"Within the besieged area were six airstrips. Air Vice-Marshal Stanley Vincent, AOC 221 Group, ruled that every officer, NCO and airman be armed and defend the self-supporting ‘boxes’. Aircrews and ground staff shared the guard duties with the RAF Regiment all night, and by day the fighters struck hard at the encircling Japanese"
but it does make me wonder if some 113 deaths are recorded as RAF Regiment or "unknown".

14th April 2012, 13:18

Lets have a look at the other Air Forces first.

Go back to the Geoff's Search Engine page.

Once again enter 113 Sqn in the Ship or Unit box.

Now select Royal New Zealand Air Force from the drop down menu in the Regiment/Corps box

Click on Search.

Click on - Click here to view search results.

There should be 3 RNZAF entries.

To get the losses for the Royal Canadian Air Force* (11 entries), and the South African Air Force (3 entries), simply select those terms from the drop down menu in the Regiment/Corps box.

Search etc.

I'll let you know about the Royal Australian Air Force losses shortly.

Let's see how you get on with that lot first.

* l'll have a bit more to say on the RCAF losses later.


14th April 2012, 15:35
okay despite starting with your instructions then various other options my searches for RNZAF all came back 0

For RCAF my search came back with 4 (not11) my four Johnson/McDonald/McPherson/Scholey

For SAAF I had 3 same as your figure of which 2 in India/Burma

No Corporals/LACs/AC1s/AC2s amongst any of these gentlemen.

Very interested in Australians, please let me know, thanks

14th April 2012, 16:13

Bear with me on this!

For RNZAF (3 entries) enter 113 in the Ship or Unit box. Likewise for the RCAF (12 entries)


14th April 2012, 17:32

okay with your figures now. Still no more below the rank of sergeant though.

Any luck with the Australians? I admit jumping the gun and trying all sorts of options based on what you have told me but all came up with nil results.


15th April 2012, 01:49

To save you the bother of individually checking each RAAF casualty on No.113 Sqn, here they are in chronological order (l have omitted the "AUS" prefix from their service numbers):

09-08-1941 - 404047 Sgt Gordon Burrows WOODROFFE
20-10-1941 - 402085 Sgt Kenneth Isaac DUFFIN
12-12-1941 - 406104 F/O John Anthony GALVIN
12-12-1941 - 404081 Sgt Leonard Lucas PURVES
19-04-1942 - 406139 F/Sgt Edgar Edwin Mackenzie CAMPBELL
19-04-1942 - 406527 F/O Max Milton HICKEY
19-04-1942 - 407276 F/O Ronald Llewellyn ROGERS
23-05-1942 - 407362 F/Sgt Joseph Francis GERMEIN
23-05-1942 - 406382 F/O Colin Davies GRIGG
23-05-1942 - 406490 F/O Eric Francis Kennedy PEARSE
18-06-1942 - 401266 F/O Leonard Anthony Lasseter BEAUCHAMP
18-06-1942 - 406040 F/Sgt Harold James KEVAN
09-09-1942 - 404464 F/Sgt Robin Edgell BARNARD
09-09-1942 - 402184 F/Sgt Thomas BELL
09-09-1942 - 402514 F/O Owen Lawrence LOANE
11-10-1942 - 406168 W/O Bowyer Frederick PEARCE
20-12-1942 - 406033 F/Sgt Francis James O'NEILL
20-12-1942 - 400263 F/Sgt Walter John Henry THOMPSON
15-03-1943 - 407177 F/L Sidney Francis LEE
25-05-1943 - 407180 W/O Arthur George Myers NOURSE

Thus, making 20 RAAF fatalities on No.113 Sqn.

Due to various reasons, the revised totals for deaths on No.113 Sqn are:

96 - RAF (527339 T A R CROWE was killed on 08-03-1942 with 53 OTU, not 113 Sqn).
20 - RAAF
03 - RNZAF
08 - RCAF (The 4 Canadians named earlier by you were No.113 (BR) Sqn RCAF, not 113 Sqn RAF)
04 - SAAF
131- Total

Make what you will of the figures.

Best of luck with your researches.


15th April 2012, 08:06

Real thanks for this. As you seem to know about such things I would be very interested to know what you and others make of this.

For my part, at this moment in time, I think a lot of deaths are missing. I cannot see from the accounts of the retreat from Rangoon (air, motor vehicle, walking 900 miles and sea with reports on the 113 website of yellow fever on the ships and burials at sea), the battle of Imphal (with LAC Hunter's account of 100 dead with 15 suicides here alone), then chasing the Japanese back down Burma, tropical diseases etc to say nothing of everything else which went on that only 2no AC2, 1no LAC, 2 Corporals, nil AC1 are recorded dead in the whole period 1942 - 1945.
My own thoughts are going along the lines of
a) my father did tell me that all men at Palel who were below the rank of sergeant were given that rank in case of capture by the Japanese because it was believed they would get better(!) treatment. I had dismissed this long ago as a "tale" because I could find no evidence of this happening or of the logic for it being true and certainly they were not allowed to keep the rank. He also told my mother that he had been demoted - one of the main reasons I got his service records to see what I could find out about this (answer was nothing - no demotion recorded and with 6 excellent character/trade references recorded between 1939 and 1945).
So was it in fact true and deaths were recorded as their "temporary" rank?
b) as many of them thought, nobody cared much about other ranks and this coupled with the whole "forgotten army" thing resulted in deaths of other ranks not being recorded fully and/or not being included in the report to the CWGC?
and/or (to be controversial)
c) Particularly in reference to LAC Hunter's reference to 15 suicides was there a "cover up" going on?

Thanks again, David

16th April 2012, 07:43
Investigating a bit more a read that the ground crew of 113 were, in late 44, put in a new squadron numbered 7113.
I can think of various scenarios whereby this could have resulted in none or under reporting of ground crew losses by the RAF (covering the whole conflict) post war to CWGC and indeed searches on CWGC using all sorts of options revolving around 7113 or 7113SE bring nil results.
Any comments please?

16th April 2012, 12:56

I hope other forumites will be able to confirm, but from my experience on the subject, the Servicing Echelons are usually not quoted by the CWGC. They usually give only Squadron numbers, but not other units such as O.T.U. or flights, hence the threads started by Henk Welting to link a specific airman to a unit and cause of death.

I have several ground crews buried in my area (northern France) with no unit given, and I have to ask the Air Historical Branch to get some details. In one case, the AHB replied the airman belonged to No. 6193 S.E. and was killed in a road accident. Nothing more but at least it helped me a little.

I think you should ask the AHB for your specific query. Either they reply or not is another matter, but you should at least ask them.

My two pence worth


16th April 2012, 13:40
CWGC records for RAF men largely, again, largely, only record units where the unit was a squadron, as you point out above OTU references, (O)AFU, SFTS, MU, SE's and the whole raft of other units rarely get a mention. A sad decision if it was a decision that was made.

The General Register Office list of RAF overseas war deaths does list the unit however but I dare say at times for these ground crew that it might only say F E or something less concrete than 7113 or 113 Squadron.

Would Palel have a nearby CWGC cemetery or are burials likely to be concentrated elsewhere post war? With a few sample names we could check them against the GRO lists. The GRO lists are too long to do a full manual search on and too blotchy to do proper Adobe text recognition on.

16th April 2012, 13:56
A small sample of the 23 RAF RAVR men in Imphal Cemetry who have no unit listed against them, and their unit listed in GRO lists:

surname forename date_of_death rank regiment unit servicenumberExport
BROWN LEONARD 07/06/1943 Corporal Royal Air Force 'Imphal' '640754'
BARLOW HAROLD 10/05/1944 Corporal Royal Air Force '4430 AA Flt' '626384'
PACK LAWRENCE ERNEST 17/10/1944 Sergeant Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve '2960 Squadron' '1455095'
LAST FREDERICK WILLIAM JOHN 12/03/1944 Squadron Leader Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 'HQ (U) 221 Grp' '68967'
MASON TERENCE HENRY 17/09/1944 Leading Aircraftman Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve '25 AASC' '1194268'
MOORE ANDREW 12/11/1943 Leading Aircraftman Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve '19 WU' '1793079'
PITT WILFRED HENRY 26/03/1944 Leading Aircraftman Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve '1418 Flt, difficult to read however' ''1420298'
AITKEN JOHN WATSON 23/11/1944 Leading Aircraftman Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 'Palel' '989415'
BINT WALTER JOHN 17/07/1944 Aircraftman 2nd Class Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve '9 Ops Room' '1168391'
COPSON KENNETH 19/12/1944 Leading Aircraftman Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve '7042 SE' '1178442'

Its a whole mishmash of units. I've put the units inside the ' '.

I have to have lunch now.

16th April 2012, 19:54
Thank you for the last three posts, very informative.