Aerial photographs of Allied bombing raids on Japanese occupied Burma.

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by High Wood, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Rangoon bombing 002.JPG I have been having some fun attempting to find the actual locations of some aerial photographs of the Allied bombing of Burma. Given that all you need is a photograph and the right map, it should be easy, but therein lies the problem. The original photographs were obviously taken by the aircrew and developed and printed after the raid. These photographs would have had the date, the Squadron number, the photograph number and shutter speed and aperture details at the very minimum and often, the name of the person taking the photograph and the location. Once these photographs were scrutinised for intelligence purposes, they were often censored and released to the press with only a very brief description of date and location. It is fairly easy to find the press versions of these photographs but the actual squadron photographs are much rarer.

    I will start with a photograph from the Imperial War Museum, (IWM C5004), that has the caption: Part of a vertical photograph showing bombs exploding on a Japanese supply dump in Rangoon during a daylight raid by Consolidated Liberators of No 231 Group.

    The photograph was likely to have been taken by 355 Sqn, who were one half of 184 Wing, 231 Group, 356 Sqn being the other half.

    The same photograph is held by the RAF Museum RAF as: PC71/19/1668, with the caption, Japanese Dump at Rangoon bombed by Liberators of 355 Squadron, 11th February 1945.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  2. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    rang 005.JPG The photograph is of the North part of Rangoon, about 3.5 miles South of Mingaladon and was the location of the Rangoon Mental Hospital. Link Road is clearly visible at the bottom left of the photograph and Kokine Road is visible to the right of centre.
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  3. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Taken from 215 Squadron's Operational Records Book. (215 Sqn made up 1/3rd of 185 Wing 231 Group.

    11th February 1945. 09.24 - 18.02 hours. Rangoon Dumps

    12 aircraft participated in the heaviest bombing attack to date of the Burma War, against the enemy supply dumps north of Lake Victoria, Rangoon. Other Liberators and B-24's of Strategic Air Force participated, together with U.S.A.A.F. Superfortresses. An escort of Thunderbolts and high cover by P-38s over the target was provided. The target, already burning fiercely, was attacked simultaneously with aircraft of 99 Squadron, in Wing Formation. Most sticks fell across the northern part of the Dump Area, with some to the north and north-west across the grounds and buildings of the Mental Hospital, reputed to be used as an ammunition and petrol store. Dense black smoke rose to 10,000 feet after the attack, and a new, intense group of fires broke out in the Mental Hospital. Moderate H.A.A. was experienced over the target, and four aircraft received slight damage. Three Tonys and one possible Oscar were sighted in the neighbourhood of the target; one Tony, which flew under and to the rear of the formation to gain position for a beam attack was destroyed by concentrated fire from our gunners, before any attack developed, the pilot being seen to bail out.
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  4. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Not having the skills, or more accurately, the correct app, to overlay the photographs I have annotated the photograph. Rangoon bombing Annotated.JPG
  5. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Another Imperial War Museum photograph possibly taken on the same raid. IWM C5159 whose caption reads: A Consolidated Liberator of No. 231 Group flying above the target area, which is largely obscured by smoke from earlier bomb explosions, during a combined daylight attack by RAF and USAAF aircraft on Japanese stores areas in Rangoon, Burma.

    rang raid.jpg

    A second photograph, probably taken from the same viewpoint moments after the first one.

    Rangoon 06.JPG
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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  6. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Clearly visible in the photograph are the Panhlaing and Hlaing Rivers that converge just above the Kemmendine area of Rangoon. Victoria Lake is visible at the bottom left of the photograph. rangoon raid.jpg
  7. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Rang annotated.jpg The black dotted line on the map, yes, I know superb use of the latest available software, is the approximate line of travel of the Liberator. The number 1 indicates the corner of Victoria Lake and 2 and 3 are the positions of the roads seen in the bottom right corner of the photograph. This area is very close to the Mental Hospital marked with a red square.
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  8. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    You have faaaar to much time on your hands Steve... :D

    (Excellent detective work, dear boy)
  9. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Ignore HC, the Scots air is clearly no good for him at all. Brilliant work on these images Simon.

  10. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Keith, thank you for your kind words. I would like both more time and more maps.
  11. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    These are going to be posted quite randomly and I hope that that is O.K. This one is also No 231 Group but now over Mandalay instead of Rangoon. The photograph is again from the Imperial War Museum collection, photograph no (C4917). They show the photograph wrongly orientated, but here it is the right way, with North at the top.

    The caption reads: Smoke rises thousands of feet from the target area during a daylight raid by Consolidated Liberators of No 231 Group on Japanese positions and supply dumps in Mandalay, Burma.

    From 215 Squadron's Operational Records.

    13th January 1945. 10.07 – 17.00 hours. Mandalay

    8 aircraft were detailed to attack a tactical target at Mandalay, consisting of a concentration of Japanese Troops and supplies in the area of the Police Lines area Training School, the Courts of Justice, and the football ground, just south-east of Fort Dufferin. The weather was good generally, with some haze, probably due to dust, over the target area. Bomb-bursts were concentrated squarely on the target, and three groups of fires, giving off dark smoke, were seen after the attack. Japanese casualties from this attack, and others in the Mandalay area were subsequently estimated at 1,000 dead by a ground source. Meagre but accurate H.A.A. and Bofors-type fire was encountered from positions at Sagaing and Mandalay on the run-in, and from the guns at Myitnge, on turning away from the target. No damage was sustained by our aircraft, largely due to energetic strafing of the A/A positions by Thunderbolt aircraft before and during the bombers’ attack.

    Mandalay bombed.jpg
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
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  12. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Mandalay -Bombed- 93 C-1.JPG .

    Whilst it is a photograph of only a relative small area of the city, it was relatively easy to find as Mandalay is built on a grid system. The diagonal line on the photograph is the railway track and the very distinctive curve is easy to find. The area is very close to the South East corner of Fort Dufferin.

    Many thanks to Steve Rothwell for supplying a copy of the map.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
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  13. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    You keep on mate great work it really gives a perspective
  14. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    215 Squadron.

    25th January 1945. 0930 - 1607 hours. Amarapura near Mandalay.

    12 aircraft were detailed for a Day Bombing Attack on Railhead and Industrial Installations at Amarapura, near Mandalay. The weather was good and the attack was made as planned, in formation, by four vics of three aircraft each. Bombing was well concentrated the north and north-westerly portions of the target area being well covered with bursts. Three large fires were observed after bombing, and subsequent photographic information revealed heavy damage to barrack-buildings, storage sheds and numerous residential-type buildings. Moderate inaccurate anti-aircraft fire was encountered during the run up from Myitnge and Sagaing and from positions at Mandalay, after bombing. None of our aircraft was hit. No fighter escort was provided.

    This was a much photographed raid, probably not more than others, but there appear to have been more photographs released to the press or which have survived than other raids It appears that both 184 and 185 wings of 231 Group took part in the raid. Surprisingly the raid does not warrant a mention in Christopher Shore's Air War for Burma.

    The first picture was taken by S/Ldr W. Brighouse of 356 Squadron based at Salbani and is one of the original gun camera photographs rather than a censored for press release photograph. I have annotated it. Note the number of Liberators in the distance.

    Amarapura annotated.jpg
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  15. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The approximate area of the photograph is marked by the yellow square on the map. Note the two large white pagodas.

    mand 002.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
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  16. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    This photograph of the same raid was taken by Warrant Officer Temple-Smith of 215 Squadron based at Digbi in India. The area marked by the red circle corresponds to the yellow circle on the map.

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
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  17. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The photograph is not perfectly aligned with the map which has the main roads marked in red and therefore appear much more prominently.

    mand 004.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
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  18. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Imperial War Museum photograph C4949: Two Consolidated Liberator B Mark VIs of No. 356 Squadron RAF based at Salbani, India, leave the smoke-covered target area after bombing a Japanese supply base and communications link at Amarapura near Mandalay, Burma. This is clearly an enlargement of a gun camera photograph which has been enlarged for press release. It still shows the censors's pencil marks. Note the two white pagodas at bottom right. Also note the similarity to the photograph in post 14 which was almost certainly taken moments after this one.

    Amarapura 356 Sqn. IWM 4949.jpg

    The lower photograph was also taken on the same raid. It is in the Australian War Memorial collection, (SUK 13755). Their caption reads: Armapura (SIC), Burma. C. 1945-02. The target area at Armapura, near Mandalay, enveloped in smoke and flames after it had been attacked by RAF Liberator aircraft of the Strategic Air Force, Eastern Air Command. A Liberator can be seen leaving the target area.

    Amara lake.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
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  19. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Amara.JPG This is the same photograph as released to the press with its caption.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
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  20. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Like it!! :)

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