1st Battalion, Essex Regiment - Burma 44th & 56th Columns

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Fitzgeraldr, May 27, 2014.

  1. Luke Parker.

    Luke Parker. New Member

    A couple of corrections now I've been able to have a good look at the lists.
    Pte Alfred Wilkinson was killed on 12th may 1944.
    Pte James Peter Hayes was killed on 12th may 1944
    Pte Frank Philip Block was killed on 5th may 1944
    Sergeant Charles Adelbert Churan, Reconnaissance.
    As a private soldier in the 1st Essex Regiment, Churan won the Military Medal on 24th Feb 1942 during the Middle East, Libya campaign.
  2. Lloyd St John

    Lloyd St John New Member

    Hi everyone, just thought I'd chim in about my Grandfather, Douglas St John, was with the chindits and was assigned to Column 44. He was, from what I can find, 1 of the 8 Australian pilots chosen from volunteers to serve in this force as an airforce liaison.
    I’m not sure where he ended up as the RAAF apparently lost him and didn’t know where he was during this time.
    What I can find out from his record is that he flew 12 sorties for 27 hours but I don’t know what the aircraft is. The report has ‘LS’ as they type. In addition to this it has that he marched 466 miles during this time as well.

    I know from my father that he marched in and didn’t fly in and he served along side alot of Gurkhas that he was very fond of. I know he also helped drag his good friend out at the end as he was in a bad way.
    I have a couple of photos from prior to him leaving but nothing from the operation.

    He suffered greatly from this and didn’t talk much about it. He got ceribal malaria and from accounts, swapped position with another in the column that not long later was shot that wore on him.
    My aunty also said that when he got home he essentially didn’t talk to anyone for a year.

    Everything I’m reading is hard stories from a hard time. If anyone has more information about him it would be much appreciated. All the Australian records are free to access and I've paid to have his record digitised so anyone can look it up.

    Thanks for all your hard work on finding out this history.

  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Lloyd,

    All I can add to your information, is that your grandfather appears in an Officer's Returns list in the 23rd Brigade HQ War Diary for 1944 (no date shown). It states that he was no longer with Head Quarters and had been attached (as you already know) to 1st Essex. What the listing does tell you, is the rest of the RAF and RAAF personnel present with the Brigade.

    Please find list below:

    DSC06066 copy.JPG
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  4. Lloyd St John

    Lloyd St John New Member

    Hi Bamboo,

    Thank you so much sharing this. I talked to my father again and had some of my facts wrong. Apparently when he go malaria he was going to be left in a village and by a huge effort from his "adjutant" who was another Australian but I'm guessing his NCO, carried him out.
    I have a couple of photos of Doug and Jeff Furmage (on the returns list). The last two I'm not sure who is in it but looks like could be from that period that some others might be interested in. I have more but some I am not sure if they are from his time at 146 SQN in 1943.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing the history of columns 44 and 56.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  5. veronicad

    veronicad Well-Known Member

    Photograph 3 has got to be a Naga family.
    Thanks for sharing. Veronica.
  6. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Not my field, but I've just checked a few books I have on this kind of thing and some of you chaps have my sympathy: 23 Brigade seems to be in everybody's peripheral vision, but nobody has taken the time to turn and get a full look: found several reference to the brigade and Perowne, but none runs to more that a couple of lines about where-ish they were. I was sure that something more substantial would turn up in one of these

    15618664679.jpg md22556089014.jpg s-l300.jpg

    ...but we have nothing but fleeting asides.

    Most frustrating.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Thanks for posting the photos Lloyd, they are wonderful to see.

  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi CF, as you say, not much written about 23rd Brigade at all, apart from Chindit Column 76, by WA. Wilcox. Very frustrating, as I'm sure Veronica will agree.
  9. Bennie boy

    Bennie boy Member

    Hi there,

    I was hoping someone on this site will take pity on me and lend me some help. I've just received my late Grandfather's Second World War service record and I'm hoping to find out more about what he did but I'm not sure where to start. He was a private man who never really spoke about what he did so I'm starting from scratch really. I'm struggling to make sense of what I'm reading, but it seems to show him arriving in India with the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment on the 22nd April 1945 and leaving on 25th December 1945 for the UK.

    Is anyone able to point me in the right direction of how to find out what he may have done?

    Apologies if this has been asked lots of times before but any help would be greatly appreciated.


  10. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    In May 1945, the 1 Essex moved over with two other former Chindit units: 1 Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and 2 Queens Royal Regiment to comprise the 29th Infantry Brigade. Link here: 29th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom) - Wikipedia

    If it is possible for you to scan in the service records and place them on this thread, forum members might be able to help you interpret them. We all know how hard it is to decipher the abbreviations and Army codes etc.
  11. Bennie boy

    Bennie boy Member

    Thanks Bamboo, I'll look into the 29th Infantry Brigade. I've tried taking photos of the service forms but the files are too large. I'll scan them in work and upload them.
  12. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    That's great Tony, it will give everyone the best chance of helping out. I have a digital (jpegs) copy of the battalion war diary for 1945. It is a large document with an unusual amount of details on unit movements and even some nominal rolls which are rare in these documents. If you would like a copy of this, then we can work out a way of passing it over soonish.

    As you might notice from my avatar and footnote hyperlink, I have a strong interest in the Chindits from 1943. This is why I have the war diary, but my knowledge of the Chindits from 1944 and onwards is not so strong.


    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    Have you got the dates right? 1 Essex arrived in India in 1942 and left in 1947, I believe. They had last seen action in mid 1944, so the short answer to your question will be 'training in India/garrison duty in India'.
  14. veronicad

    veronicad Well-Known Member

    23rd Bde action in the field was over approx. 20th July 1944. Half the force went into hospital at Imphal.The months of September/ October were devoted to leave.
  15. Bennie boy

    Bennie boy Member

    Thanks Steve, I would love to have that. Even if it doesn't mention my Grandfather, it would just be nice to get a sense of what it was like at the time. Is there a way to PM you my email address?

    Veronicad, thanks for your reply. I'm happy to take any knowledge of what the 1st Essex were doing at the time.

    Jitter party, thanks for the reply. To your question - no, I'm not sure I've got the dates right! That's what it seems to say but I may be wrong.

    Here's the part of the service record that lists his deployments. Earlier in the document there's a stamp that says he joined on 01/09/1939 with the '16 searchlight Militia Depot R. A. now becomes 216 searchlight Training unit RA W. E. F. 1-91-1939'.

    My Dad seems to think he was at Dunkirk and the deployment list seems to show him going to France in Dec 1940 and being evacuated the end of May 1941.

    I may be wrong in this, but it seems to show he spent the vast majority of the war in the UK. It says 'Lapford' for most of his deployment. I've tried googling this and it's a village in Dorset but I couldn't find anything to do with WW2 bases. Anyway, here's the scan of the records, any knowledge of what it all means is gratefully accepted.

    Attached Files:

  16. Bennie boy

    Bennie boy Member

    ** sorry, that should have said leaving for France in Dec 1939 and being evacuated in May 1940 **
  17. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Tony,

    I will send you a pm shortly with my email details. Send me an email to that address and I'll sort the diary for you. I might leave this until the weekend as I'm going up to my Dad's tomorrow and will not be able to get the diary ready until after my return.

    My advice, having seen Joseph's records, is to set up his own thread with name and the fact that he was Royal Artillery for most of his wartime service and include the records again. There are many RA connected forum members and they may be able to work out his WW2 pathway for you.

    Joseph, like many if not all British service personnel ended up at the Deolali Reinforcement Centre (see his records 31st March 1945). There is a nice thread on here about this camp:

    Base Reinforcement Camp, Deolali.
  18. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi Tony,

    Just to say that the war diary should be with you by now via We Transfer. Enjoy reading through the pages.

  19. James Sullivan

    James Sullivan New Member

    DEFE760C-A013-4A50-8705-8DEBB46BCC20.jpeg E5C62057-A158-4A65-9849-DAF78D9DBBD8.jpeg A1DC582C-2193-4F59-A910-411050704606.jpeg 84F32221-4652-4F52-AB1B-9EBA08E7BC15.jpeg C943D4B3-8D0C-4E57-BD39-4E4579C39AFE.jpeg Hi there, I recently came across some old war documents of my grandfathers who was in Burma. I found a ‘Class A Soldiers Release Book’ and a Testimonial. I’m not very clued up about stuff like this and he passed away back in 2010 but never spoke much about the war. Although we recently found out that he did not claim his war medals so we have tried to claim them now. A couple of things I don’t really understand are his release book is dated April 1946 for 56 days release which was after the war ended, his last enlistment date looks to be 1939 and if the Burma Campaign didn’t start until 1941 does that mean he may have fought elsewhere before then? Also he was in the Essex Regiment but was from Lancashire, North West, is it also possible he was moved to Essex Regt. After being somewhere else? Any help or information greatly appreciated! He was Private James Haskayne, he is bottom right on picture posted.

    I’ve attached a few pictures.
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  20. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi James,

    The Army number 3774654 was from the allocation given over to the King's Regiment (Liverpool) during WW2. It is likely that James was posted to this regiment on enlistment which would make more sense. Might be a good idea to apply for his full Army service records:

    Requests for personal data and service records: a detailed guide

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