20th Division 1945

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by zahonado, Jun 11, 2014.

  1. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Thank you very much for the OoB. I think your conclusion that the Div CO could redeploy BN to give exhausted units some time off, makes a great deal of sense. I would have thought Div HQ Bn would be 'quietest', I mean Recce units would expect to be in contact fairly frequently, wouldn't they?

    Also if units are being internally transferred, would the Div Recce Bn conform to a standard Inf Bn scale OR would units simply 'take over' existing kit from each other, and adopt the role ToE?

    Might that depend on events/Commanding Officer?

    Laochra Beag
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2021
  2. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    I have updated Post #38 on Royal Navy units initially committed to support Op Masterdom. Hope it's helpful.

  3. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I think the interchange of equipment, at least where it differs, makes some sense regarding interchange of HQ and Recce Battalions with regular battalions. The HQ duty would be easiest since companies were split with one per HQ (Div and Bde). I have come across a number of regimental histories that mention the reason for the interchange was to rest a battalion. Though, in some case, HQ battalions would be assembled to act as an extra infantry battalion.
    Laochra Beag likes this.
  4. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    No upset whatsoever.

    The internet is a marvelous place if used wisely.

    One of the wonders of this website is the depth of knowledge of some of the members. A depth of knowledge derived from spending huge amounts of time, effort and often money in research, collating information and analysis.

    The following is not addressed at you personally John but a general comment.

    Members of this site are always willing to help others. But there is a line between a willingness to help and being taken for granted by those who mistakingly think they are entitled to a free research service.
    Laochra Beag likes this.
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Trying to help a member's research on one of the attached infantry units, 9/12 FFR, I found an odd image (below), which shows an unidentified soldier with a rifle, with two Staurt light tanks on what appears to be a highway. The image is from Daniel Marston's article 'The Indian Army in French Indo-China and the Netherlands East Indies 1945–1946' in the book 'The Indian Army and the End of the Raj', published 2015.
    Via: The Indian Army in French Indo-China and the Netherlands East Indies 1945–1946 (Chapter 4) - The Indian Army and the End of the Raj

    Although I have read Marston's work before I do not recall any mention of tanks in the French Indo-China intervention. I have not read this particular article (behind a paywall).

    We know the 16th Light Cavalry were deployed with the 20th Division, but with armoured cars. Wiki states at least one squadron in Burma had Daimler and Humber armoured cars. See: 16th Light Cavalry - Wikipedia

    In 1946, at Malacca, Malaya there was a formal parade and theere is a film clip at the IWM. The lightly edited text states:
    From: 16TH LIGHT CAVALRY PARADE AT MALACCA | colonialfilm

    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021
    Laochra Beag likes this.
  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    According to my notes on the 16th Light Cavalry: "At the end of the war, the regiment was designated to accompany the 20th Indian Division in the occupation of French Indo-China and was equipped with two squadrons of Humber/Daimler Armoured Cars and one squadron of Stuarts. ‘B’ Squadron sailed in early October 1945 and was followed by the rest of the regiment on October 19th, 1945. "
    Laochra Beag and davidbfpo like this.
  7. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Thanks for that answer. I was wary that the photo was accurate. I will PM Laochra Beag to have a look.
    Laochra Beag likes this.
  8. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Thanks davidbfpo

    As is often the case one source says X another Y. So having ploughed (more skimmed, honestly) Dunn's thesis there was a comment about Stuart Light Tanks on strength on 16th L/Cav. This had caused some confusion as I thought it was solely A/C regt with some scout car, truck mounted infantry and possibly some 3"mortars.

    Anyway I did a quick search and on P287, in footnote 11 he says '...16th Light Cavalry substituting armored cars for their Stuart tanks, joined the Division for the move to Saigon...' nb use of US spelling in text. I am fairly certain that he and other sources between them mentions all three Sabre Sqdns (A, B & C) as well as Regt HQ during narrative, C being last to leave IIRC. There are mentions of the A/C using 37mm fire against VM positions, suggesting they had MkIV Humbers.

    Rather implies they had Stuarts but not in Indochina. dryan67 I didn't know of that organisation, very useful to have, thanks.

    Is there any chance that those Stuarts are ex-16th Cav in NEI? Or from lower Burma operations in 45? Or is Dunn wrong?
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021
  9. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I will soon via email ask Daniel Marston whether he can confirm the photo is in French Indo-China, although it could be the publisher's choice. Standby, being a professor in the USA he will be busy.

    Email sent 23/9/21.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2021
    Laochra Beag likes this.
  10. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Its wiki but.... M3 Stuart - Wikipedia Reference to British M3A3 fighting in NEI, none to usage in FIC.
  11. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    However and fairly definitively (only first 3.15mins relevant to this topic) this newsreel shows M3A1, M3A3 Stuarts & Humber IV in 32nd Brigade: 32ND INDIAN INFANTRY BRIGADE LEAVING SAIGON [Allocated Title] Thanks to dryan67 for lead on this, also Mark Bevis mentions it

    The AoS sign 44 on horizontally split square appears in Stuart by driver's hatch (2.41) and right mudguard of a Humber shortly after. The M3A1 has 'A' Sqdn marking and the Humbers have 'B' and 'C'. The M3A3 are French I believe. Also I wonder if the senior British Officer is, in fact, C H B Rodham OC 100 Bde. A large man who reputedly had his jeep specially fitted out because he couldn't fit in normal front seat.

    and these replies from Mark Bevis via TOE.io group.

    New information to hand since I wrote my books, the 16th Light Cavalry Regiment in 1945 had become an Armoured Recce Regiment: (haven't got time to check it's history in 1944)​
    RHQ Squadron with
    1 mortar Troop: 6x 3" mortars, 3 trucks
    1 HQ Troop with 2x Humber IV armoured cars
    A, B, C Squadrons@ SHQ: 2x Humber IV
    4 Troops@ 3x Daimler II
    2 Troops@ 1(5 man) THQ with PIAT, Bren LMG, 1 truck; 4(10 man) rifle sections each with 2 Bren LMG and each in 2 trucks
    The British Armies in WW2 an Organisational History, volume 10, The Indian Part 3, David Hughes, David Ryan, Steve Rothwell.

    then also from Mark

    As a follow up to my last reply, the 16th Light Cavalry was an armoured car regiment from 1940, serving on the frontier in NW Army until mid June 1942 with a mix of Vickers light tanks and Crossley armoured cars. It then transferred to 32nd Armoured Division's 255th Armoured Brigade, with half a regiment's worth of armoured cars, to become an Armoured Regiment. Not clear if it actually received any tanks at this point. But it left the division in October 1942 to become an armoured car regiment, serving on the NW Frontier unitl the end of 1944, when it served as a Corps armoured car regiment supporting the advance on Rangoon.
    The regiment then received Stuarts in June 1945 when it was assigned to the 255th Armoured Brigade permanently, presumably again to become a full Armoured Regiment.​

    If 16th Cav went through these changes it may well have had A/C, collected tanks, handed them back (some anyway) and picked up a different set of A/C. It's the beginning of a coherent timeline. I know there are many things not seen on parade and they may only have sent SHQ vehicles but there are no Daimler A/C in sight but I believe other still photos of them exist.

    Additionally interesting is the small group of Sikhs - there are no Sikh units on 20 Div strength. Wonder who they are?

    Thanks all

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
    davidbfpo likes this.

    JITTER PARTY Well-Known Member

    I hope you realize that Sikhs didn't just serve in the (11) Sikh Regiment; there would have been Sikh companies in the Punjab regiments and the Frontier Force Regiment and Rifles. Conversely some (11) Sikh Regiment battalions would have had companies of other races/classes.
    Laochra Beag likes this.
  13. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Yes I understood such cross-posting was quite frequent. Simply wondering who was their parent unit.
  14. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Laochra Beag likes this.
  15. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The class composition for the 14th Punjab Regiment battalions was one company each of Pathans, Punjabi Mohammedans, Sikhs, and Dogras. For example, the 5/14th Punjab Regiment had the following organization: ‘A’ (Pathan), ‘B’ (Sikh), ‘C’ (Punjabi Mussalmen), and ‘D’ (Dogra) Companies. The 9/14th Punjab Regiment of 32nd Indian Infantry Brigade had 'A' Company with Sikhs, and 'D' Company with Pathans. I am not sure which of 'B' and 'C' were Pathan and Dogra.

    I have attached the 9/14th Punjab Regiment's description of the 32nd Indian Brigade farewell parade that is shown in the video mentioned above. Note the little jab at the French officer! The Jats referred to were most likely Jat Sikhs.

    Screen Shot 2021-09-20 at 3.59.35 PM.png Screen Shot 2021-09-20 at 3.59.51 PM.png
    sol and Laochra Beag like this.
  16. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Indian Sappers units also had mixed composition. I don't know for 92nd Field Company of Bombay Sappers, but 91st Field Company has platoons of Hindu, Sikh and Punjabi Mohammedans. And, if I am not wrong, other units like transport etc. were also established on similar concept.

    Those 25pds in video are from 114th (Sussex) Field Regiment RA as that was the only British unit that was with 20th Indian Division in French Indochina.
    Laochra Beag likes this.
  17. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I have just discovered a 29 mins interview of then-Major Philip Geoffrey Malins, who served in Vietnam. Taken from a WGBH Vietnam War 1982 documentary series: Vietnam: A Television History; Roots of a War; Interview with Philip Geoffrey Malins, 1982

    The summary:
    He led a convoy with Gurkha soldiers, ex-Dutch POWS and several japanese platoons to recover weapons from a depot beyond Saigon to rearm the French and was ambushed. Details in his obituary:
    This is an obituary from The Daily Telegraph (behind a paywall) and found in an Australian newspaper: Leader in one of the most unusual firefights in 1945

    In 1946 he was awarded an OBE and the record shows he had been with the Royal Indian Army Service Corps. See: Recommendation for Award for Malins, Philip Geoffrey Rank: Temporary Captain ... | The National Archives
  18. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Researching Philip Malins I have found a previously unknown book, published by Osprey (UK) in 2020: In Good Faith: A History of the Vietnam War Volume 1: 1945–65, Volume 1 by Sergio Miller. Within are references to several other WGBH (US TV station) interviews of 20th Division officers: Frank White (US journalist) and Doidge Estcourt Taunton (Brigadier). There are other names, I suspect these are Americans. See the footnotes for Chapter One on pgs. 373-378. They are all referred to as WGBH Open Vault, which contains a mountain of Vietnam War interviews etc via: GBH Openvault

    Sergio MIller's book on Osprey: https://ospreypublishing.com/in-good-faith and Amazon reviews: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Faith-history-Vietnam-1945-65-ebook/dp/B07T1HYP7R
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
  19. Laochra Beag

    Laochra Beag Active Member

    Whoa that's sneaky by Osprey. I'd seen that before but, judging by the flying banana on front cover, had assumed it was about early US involvement.

    I'll be picking that up, thanks for tip. Nice lead on other info too.

    Cheers John

    davidbfpo likes this.
  20. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Just checked WGBH and removed John Chancellor, who was there much later (so amended earlier post).

    Frank White is a US veteran and later journalist, who was there in the early years and his interview is summarised as:
    Link: Vietnam: A Television History; Interview with Frank M. White, 1981

    I suspect he was an OSS veteran as he went to the north and met Ho Chi Minh. Limited research confirms he was a Major with the OSS. See: AMERICAN SOLDIERS AND THE FRANCO-VIET MINH STRUGGLE IN INDOCHINA, 1945 on JSTOR and The OSS in Vietnam, 1945: A War of Missed Opportunities by Dixee Bartholomew-Feis | The National WWII Museum | New Orleans

    In 1972 White gave evidence to a Congressional Hearing on Vietnam. He had landed in Saigon in August 1945, then went to Hanoi in November. Alas he says almost nothing on our topic.

    Link: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-92shrg83605/pdf/CHRG-92shrg83605.pdf

    Brigadier Taunton's interview (33 mins) has a large chunk of the death of Col. Dewey, OSS:
    Link: Vietnam: A Television History; Roots of a War; Interview with Doidge Estcourt Taunton, 1982
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
    TijgerB likes this.

Share This Page