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

    I did research him some time back and I seem to remember that he served with the Royal Indian Navy and was stationed in Rangoon. I will have to locate my notes.
  2. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    I've placed te RAF Museum's PC71/19/16666/2 - north of the other two shots. I can't place that image from Cameron's Liberator. Some of the info in the margin concerns me, too. No time to comment on that now.

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  3. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    I am surprised to have found the location of the bomb strike photo from 215 Sqn Liberator "S", skippered by WO Cameron. Some of the minor pathways from 1945 are now roads, so I lucked into having enough then-vs-now landmark comparison features. Here are the results. Look closely, and you will see numerous common lines between then and now.

    There is an altitude discrepancy between the photo's margin info and the 215 Squadron's post-operational flight's sortie report.. The ORB says Cameron's "S" bombed at 1154 (which is precisely a number on the photo) from an altitude of 10,900 feet. Yet the margin says that the altitude was, gasp, 4,700 feet lower, at 6,200 feet! I can't explain that huge difference.

    The bomb load info in the margin is exactly what the ORB says. Cameron was, indeed, the skipper of "S". The simple bomb aiming note in the records says "Large building north of the target", but I can't see what the bomb aimer focused on. The bombing results for "S" state: "Bursts claimed down centre of target area", but if you study where these bombs fell, compared to other bomb strike photos, you'll see that explosions are seen in separate areas. I don't know precisely where their target was situated.

    Claims by the crews versus actual bomb strike analyses were often different -- and this is well illustrated by the Butt Report, completed 18 Aug 1941, which studied Bomber Command bomb strike photos. It was found that although usually the best crews in a squadron were given the cameras, only one in four of the crews claiming to have hit the target were within five miles of the target! Yes, these were night attacks over Europe, and the 25 Feb '45 attack was in daylight over Burma, but the relevant point is that the perception of the truth versus truth itself could vary tremendously...and sometimes there were a few fibs told to save face, I'd guess.

    So here is where "S" bombed.

  4. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    I forgot to comment on those golf awards, Simon. Really nice purchases! Thanks for posting.
  5. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    No problem, my obsession with all things Burma related knows no bounds. The rule of thumb is that if it is evocative or re-searchable, or preferably both, I will buy it, income permitting.

    Thank you for your brilliant matching of these photographs, I have struggled with these Taunggyi photographs for some time and you have solved the mystery. Well done.
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  6. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Careful...don't call my work brilliant or it might go to my head. No, too late. It already has. Address me as Sir Matthew from now on. Nah, we all have our unique talents (which grow out of our obsessions, for many), I'd say, and I tend to be decent (most of the time) at matching then to now geospatially (a word created a few years ago by my former boss, Gen. James Clapper, later Director of National Intelligence under Obama. "Geospatial" became part of the new title of the place from which I retired in 2016 -- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency).

    Honestly, when I first focused upon those Taunggyi bomb strike images you posted, Simon, I thought it wouldn't be possible to match them to modern satellite imagery. Thankfully, the "Taunggyi" scribble on the back of one (both?) of your two photos was accurate, so I just stuck with it, and I succeeded. Then you had the nerve to post the other RAF Museum photo and the Cameron photo, both linked to Taunggyi and 25 Feb '45, and I had to save face by finding where they matched up to modern satellite imagery. Had I failed, I might have shied away from coming out from under my rock ever again to log on to

    Here's one last graphic -- all four of the 215 Sqn bombing photos dropped into place. I can vouch for each photo's relatively accurate placement, but precision is elusive. Simon's first two photos are almost atop one another, and one covers up the other, but you can just see a little of the one labelled with the orange "7" sticking out from behind the one on top labelled with the orange #8.

    Are there more 215 images from 25 Feb '45? I hope not...because I have this fear-of-failure monster sitting on my shoulder and just waiting to rear its ugly head and mock me. Just because I pinpointed four of the 25 Feb images doesn't mean I can match a fifth, or sixth... No, I just had a beer to bolster my confidence...and the Wizard of Oz just gave me a medal for, are there more 215 Sqn bomb strike images? BRING 'EM ON! (Note to self: Sir Matthew, be careful what you ask for.)

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  7. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Be careful what you wish for, there must be at least six other photographs in the Cameron sequence and assuming that all the aircraft that took part in the raid took photographs, there could be dozens more. I have just got to find them first.

    I do have about 16 large overlapping photographs of an area of the Arakan around Aungzeya taken by 681 Squadron on 28th January 1943 and another dozen or so smaller ones taken on the same day if you want to keep your hand in. There is a nice stretch of bendy river to look out for. Not strictly bombing more tactical reconnaissance.
  8. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Simon, the 215 Sqn ORB's sortie report does state that 99 Squadron (also on the op, written up in the same post-op sortie report) took "72 photographs of excellent quality" of their target, identified as "area A". Then the report says that 215 Squadron, attacking "area B", obtained "71 excellent photographs".

    I bet a bunch of them are sitting in photo albums mouldering away in attics or shoved into drawers, having fallen into the hands of children...if they weren't heaved into the trash after the old man passed away. And then some of them are in the hands of collectors who saved them from being thrown away. Who knows, some of them might show up on the Internet in the next five years.

    The larger the photo, the more difficult it is to fit atop Google Earth, due to the science of geodesy, and camera lens warp. Simon, I must admit that time spent on stuff like studying/fitting the Taunggyi images is time away from other projects, so I can't promise anything! (I still intend to provide an oblique "now" image to go along with the wartime image you posted in reply #135...before hell freezes over.)
  9. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    absolutely no problem. You need to get on with your new book and I have to get some furniture restoration finished as I have several ongoing projects to complete.

    I haven't had the time to look too closely at the photographs but I have got the Squadron operation book out and the description of the area is very vague. If I end up being confined to the house because of the viral apocalypse going on in the real world, I will get them out and play around with them.

  10. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member


    Phew! You're still ALIVE! I thought everyone from Italy northward on your side of the Atlantic was in dire straits. Oh? Just listening to Dire Straits? So much for media hype. Don't forget to wipe down the cans of wood stain, as they may have been handled by a tainted humanoid. I joke, but it's obviously a serious and worrisome time.
  11. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    I'm trying to figure out the names of the satellite airfields around Meiktila, Burma. Meiktila was the main one. Another to the northeast was Thedaw. The confusion is with either one or two others which begin with "K". I believe one of them was Kyaunggon, and maybe the other was Kangaung. At this point, I do believe there were two.

    On 18 January 1945, Meiktila and its satellite airfields were bombed by 12 Liberators each from 99, 215, 355, and 356 Squadrons, plus 27 B-24s (as the Americans liked to refer to the Lib).

    Does anyone - SIMON, ESPECIALLY - have any wartime maps showing Meiktila's satellite airfields? I think the person I'm helping on this issue could find the answer at The National Archives, but a certain virus has brought about a shutdown there, indefinitely. Ditto the National Archives here in nearby College Park, Maryland. I could find them on wartime imagery, but it isn't gonna happen now...

    I should add that the 1:250,000 map from the Univ. of Texas map library does not solve the question. My guess is that only the Meiktila airfield survived post-war, and the others are long gone.

    The modern runway at Meiktila is parallel to the main wartime runway, but about 145 feet to the east. The 13 Feb 1943 imagery I found at the US Nat'l Archives is not of great quality, and the comparison to modern satellite imagery isn't so stunning.

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  12. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    I do have some maps of this area including 84 P/13 which covers Meiktila. I have found all four landing grounds one of which has two runways. It is difficult to be sure of the exact name of each landing area as, by their very nature, they are large geographical features which often have several adjacent villages.

    The largest, with two runways, is due east of Meiktila and the nearest village is Letpakaung. This is the one that is now the modern Meiktila airfield.

    North east of this airfield is another landing ground which probably goes by the name Nyaunggan but could conceivably be Thedaw.

    The third landing ground is north west of central Meiktila and may be named after the nearby town of Kangaung or, more likely, Seywa. It is north of the Meiktila - Mahlaing road.

    The fourth landing ground is south east of the Meiktila - Mahlaing road but could equally be known as Kangaung.

    I also have some large aeronautical maps that show airfields so I will check these as well.

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2020
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  13. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Meiktila main airfield.
    Meiktila 004.JPG
  14. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Nyaungyan - Thedaw landing ground.

    Meiktila 003.JPG
  15. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Seywa and Kangaung landing grounds.

    M2 001.JPG
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  16. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Fantastic work, Simon! I think this map pinpoints 1) the main MEIKTILA airfield (2 runways); 2) the one called THEDAW by the Allies; 3) the one nearest KANGAUNG settlement.

    I feel very confident that KYAUNGGON was a real name of a Meiktila-area airfield and am frustrated that it hasn't shown up on the map. No doubt the landing ground was named after a nearby settlement -- that's the way every airfield was named.

    And why on 18 January 1945 wasn't SEYWA specifically mentioned? A possible answer is that KANGAUNG was known to be two landing grounds, and two were bombed, and there wasn't a SEYWA-named LG. Or the LG nearest Seywa was the one which was bombed, and the one on the other side of the Meiktila-Mahlaing Road was passed over. Another possibility is that the SEYWA LG wasn't operational on 18 Jan '45, so the Allies only targeted the one on the south side of the M-M Road. Or the

    I have found the sites of the ones seen on the maps. The MEIKTILA one is the modern airfield on the same site. At NYAUNGGAN/THEDAW, there is a modern facility whose extended runway has the same N-S alignment as the much smaller wartime landing ground. The Yangon-Mandalay Expressway cuts right through the former site of the SEYWA landing ground, and the area of the KANGAUNG landing ground is just agriculture.

    Simon, could you clarify this one small confusion about KANGAUNG? You wrote:

    The third landing ground is north west of central Meiktila and may be named after the nearby town of Kangaung or, more likely, Seywa. It is north of the Meiktila - Mahlaing road.

    The fourth landing ground is south east of the Meiktila - Mahlaing road but could equally be known as Kangaung.

    I can safely assume that this fourth landing ground is the one seen in the same map excerpt showing Seywa. It's just that I was confused by your last sentence. It's south east of the Seywa landing ground and south of the Meiktila-Mahlaing Road, right?


  17. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Mad rush before getting to something else. Simon, would you look for a KYAUNGGON landing ground to the northeast, east of 96 deg E and north of 21 deg N? There is a KYAUNGGON place name on 1:250,000 sheet NF 47-9, and I just wonder if you have a wartime map covering this. It's a shot in the dark. The "Thedaw" on this map is not the one where there was a landing ground. Thanks.

  18. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    I should have been more precise. I meant the small section of the Mahlaing -Meiktila road that is visible in the section of the map of Kangaung. Both landing grounds are in close proximity of Kangaung and might have been known as Kangaung 1 and Kangaung 2, or, Kangaung main and Kangaung overflow or whatever. Presumably the longer landing ground was main one.

    Kyaunggon should be on map 84 O/16 which I don't have but I will check to see if it is on 84 P/13. I have all the other surrounding maps within red squares.

    M2 007.JPG
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2020
  19. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Thanks for the further explanation, Simon.

    I noticed one thing on the bottom of 1:250,000 map NF 46-12 -- the word "Airfield" on the south edge. There is no clear place name associated with this word - I don't think. There's "YEGAMO", or something like that. I worked with mapmakers for years, and a poorly-placed piece of text is not uncommon; it very well may be that there was a Yegamo airfield or landing ground.. Hmm...On the other hand, I wondered if that place name appeared at the top of the adjoining sheet, map NF 46-16, so here is a comparison at the point where the two maps meet (21 degrees north latitude). COULD IT BE THAT THIS AIRFIELD IS YWATHIT? I know I've come across that word before.

    I know you don't have map 84 O/16, but is there anything at the very top of map 84 P/13 to indicate a place name "YWATHIT"?

    YwathitAFmaybe,NF46-12,NF 46-16.JPG
  20. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    The Ywathit Airfield is at the bottom right 84 O/12 and the top right of 84 P/9.

    lg 001.JPG
    lg 003.JPG

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