View Full Version : Attacks on Japanese tanks

6th October 2010, 02:49
My awards data base includes the following:

ANDERSON, F/O John Andrew Joseph Carruthers (J19611) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.20 Squadron - Award effective 25 September 1945 as per London Gazette dated 2 October 1945 and AFRO 1822/45 dated 7 December 1945. Born December 1920. Home in Montreal. Enlisted in Montreal, 22 September 1941 and posted to No.1 Manning Depot.. To “H”, 25 October 1941. To No.3 ITS, 23 November 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 17 January 1942 but not posted to No.4 EFTS until 1 February 1942; graduated 6 June 1942 when posted to No.13 SFTS; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 23 October 1942. To “Y” Depot, 6 November 1942; to RAF overseas, 19 November 1942. Promoted Flight Sergeant, 23 April 1943. Promoted WO2, 23 October 1943. Commissioned 21 December 1943. Promoted Flying Officer, 21 June 1944. Repatriated 17 October 1945. Retired 24 November 1945. Photo PL-44619 shows at his wedding, June 1945, in Britain.

"Flying Officer Anderson has shown outstanding keenness to participate in operational flying over the Arakan, the Imphal and Burma fronts. He has destroyed a large number of Japanese stores and motor transport and, on one occasion, his skill and ability in locating and destroying the first tank, culminating in the destruction of most of the tank force opposing our ground forces at the Wyinmu Bridgehead. His determination and cheerfulness have always been outstanding."

NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/9132 has recommendation (undated initially but cleared by No.221 Group on 2 June 1945) stating he had joined squadron in September 1943, commencing operations in December 1943. Credited with 227 hours 50 minutes of operational time. Much of his achievements had been in first three months of 1945; had destroyed first tank claimed by the unit that year and had since destroyed another.

PROBLEM: I have been unable to identify the "Wyinmu Bridgehead" in Burma and I am convinced this is a typographical error. Lacking the correct name of the action, I am having difficulty in tying down the date. Are there any experts in this field out there ?

6th October 2010, 03:14
How about Myinmu, Hugh?

New Foothold Near Mandalay

March 8, 1945 BURMA - British 14th Army troops of the Second Division have established a new bridgehead in the Mandalay area, this time in the vicinity of Ngazun, 31 miles west of Mandalay.
This bridgehead is the nearest one to the city and is just eight miles east of the Myinmu bridgehead of the 20th Indian Division.
The british now have five bridgeheads across the Irrawaddy and are continuing their pincer movement on the city. The Nips threw in strong counter-attacks in the Myinmu-Talingon area during the week, which were repulsed. The British are pushing south and east from their Singu bridgehead.
During the week B-25's of the 12th Bombardment Group, EAC, gave Mandalay a severe shellacking, marking the first raid on the Burma city by this veteran American bomber group.
Other 14th Army units pushed 85 miles eastward from their Pakokku bridgehead to capture to Meiktila airfields. Airborne forces followed up by landing on the fields. Fighting is continuing in the area.


6th October 2010, 11:46
You make it look so easy !

Although I have yet to locate a contemporary account mentioning Japanese tanks, I have amended the award entry to include the following, based on your lead, a Burma Star site and a No.20 Squadron site, viz:

The reference to the “Wyinmu Bridgehead” appears to be a typing error and should read “Myinmu Bridgehead.” The area of Myinmu was reported taken on 23 January 1945 by the 20th Indian Division. On 12 February 1945, 33 Corps began advancing across the Irrawaddy including the 20th Indian Division opposite Myinmu, with the bridgehead established by the 13th. An on-line history of No.20 Squadron states:

"From December 1944, by then equipped with both IID and Mk.IV Hurricanes, the Squadron was engaged mainly in Offensive Recce (OR) operations, operating in fours with Spitfire escort and searching for enemy transport, armour and stores dumps. After moving to Thazi on 16 January 1945 the squadron began flying close support tasks for the Army but had to discontinue Hurricane IV operations on 25 January because its stocks of rocket projectiles (RP) were exhausted. These were resumed at the end of the month and the Squadron undertook "Cab rank" standing patrols, responding to support requests from ground observation posts.

"On 19 February 1945 the squadron was successful in attacking a concentration of Japanese armour with both IID and Mk.IV rocket equipped aircraft operating in pairs throughout the engagement, claiming 12 medium and light tanks destroyed and one probable."

6th October 2010, 12:37

you maybe interested in some of the details from page 354 onwards



7th October 2010, 09:53
Following the above link, I was slightly shaken to see the credit for the first tank kill being given to pilots other than Anderson (whose DFC recommendation had specifically mentioned it). More by good fortune than good management, I was shown excerpts from the squadron ORB which indicated that Anderson had indeed scored the first such kill - three days before the action of 19 February 1945 - but that he had been a mere participant in the larger action of the 19th.

On 3 February 1945 Anderson was credited with hitting a “possible AFV [armoured fighting vehicle]. On the 16th, six Hurricane IID aircraft and pilots (Anderson among them) pounced on a tank and destroyed it. Since his DFC recommendation subsequently described him as “locating and destroying the first tank”, which seems to fit this incident.

The search continued. Sorties on the 18th proved disappointing; “The Japs certainly have the art of concealment practiced to a fine art”, the squadron diarist noted. They hit pay dirt on the 19th, and the unit was triumphant as the following excerpt shows:

"Duty: Search for and Destroy Japanese Tanks in Area PK965522 in support of 20 Division’s Trans-Irrawaddy Bridgehead Near Myinmu...

"Flying 29 sorties, in sections of two aircraft, the squadron today scored its biggest single success during this war. By the end of the day, the squadron had destroyed twelve Jap Medium tanks, probably destroyed a thirteenth, and destroyed one three tonner M.T. [motor transport]. Seven Hurricane IID 40-mm tank busters and five Hurricane IV rocket aircraft were available during the day with 23 pilots to fly them. Every pilot flew at least once during the day and several flew twice.

"The first pair to cover the area - P/O [L.C.] Hallett and Warrant Officer [D.J.] Birch - searched in vain for tanks, although numerous tracks were seen. Under V.C.P. they strafed bashas in Sinbyugon PE 965522. The second pair, F/O’s [J.M.] Farquharson and R.J. Ballard, were the first to spot the tanks. They found five, all in the area LF0048 near Paunggadaw, a mile or so south of the indicated area. They destroyed two, damaging a third. F/O [R.W.] Parr and P/O [R.G.] Lee followed up [and] destroyed these. Four Rocket IVs arrived in the area at this time and after a search, F/O [J.] Horrocks found tank No.5 in the same area. This was destroyed, the rockets and 40-mm’s participating. Between 1345 and 1740 hours, 19 further sorties were flown, seven more tanks were discovered and systematically destroyed. The “finds” were made by F/L Fockler, F/O Farquaharson (again), F/O Anderson, S/L [A.P.] Miller, and P/O Thompson. One section discovered possible 105-mm gun flashes south of Paunggadaw. This section later led a formation of Hurribombers of 60 Squadron to deal with these. Tank No.13 was discovered at approximately 1630 hours and damaged. An American pilot of a Thunderbolt P-47 obligingly finished this one off for the squadron.

"All the tanks were stationary in an area less than a mile square. They were hidden in the soil eroded gulleys and dry stream beds abundant in the area and each and every one of them was camouflaged with all the cunningness well known of the Jap. The 40-mm AP/HE/I/T ammunition carried by the IID’s easily dealt with the tanks as they were revealed one by one after a patient search. Nearly all of them caught fire and burnt out, with incidental explosions, apart from the actual damage inflicted by the all-purpose 40-mm shells."

It is a measure of the diversity of the squadron that pilots taking part included one Jamaican, four Canadians, three Australians, and one South African. No.20 Squadron received thanks and congratulations from 33 Corps, 20 Division, No.221 Group Headquarters and No.909 Wing Headquarters. The message from 33 Corps read, in part, “It must fully compensate for long periods of waiting for suitable targets.” The Division struck a lighter note: “Nippon Ironware Corporation has gone bust ! Nice work 20 Squadron. ‘Tanks’ repeat ‘Tanks’ a million !”

From my limited knowledge of tanks, I note that Japanese armoured fighting vehicles were much lighter than their Allied counterparts and were more vulnerable to Hurricane IID 40-mm fire than corresponding German tanks.

7th October 2010, 18:05
Hello Hugh
off topic but anyway, Vickers 40mm S gun used by Hurricane IID was powerful enough to be able to penetrate also the armour of all other German tanks but that of Tiger. In Panther's case only side and rear armour were vulnerable to it.


7th October 2010, 18:32
Hi Hugh,

I have a copy of a log to a 20 Squadron pilot, W/O. A. Lee and his entry for 16th Feb 1945 is 'Hurricane HW364 Cab Rank-Irrawaddy(VCP) 1.55 Wizzard Trip, pranged a tank, first this season'.

By all means if you want a copy of the page just pm me.