Burma WWII Route of new recruits from England

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by squawker, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. squawker

    squawker Member

    Following robert w's response to my thread on Chakdara Fort I am interested to hear if anyone can flesh out his idea that troops were airlifted from probably Egypt via Chakdara to Imphal (or Kohima). It makes sense as the sea route is long and therefore a large risk of attack (not sure if the Japanese subs operated that far into the Indian Ocean but passage through Suez and the Red Sea would surely have attracted the attention of the Italians and Germans).
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Not sure they had enough aircraft to do such long trips and also flying through those mountains may have been exceptionally hazardous, and most 'transport' aircraft where being used to supply troops in Burma or Eastern India.
    The most efficient way to my mind would be to transport large quantities of troops or materials by sea - the Suez Canal and Indian Ocean would not have been accessible to German U Boats or aircraft at that time and also the Japanese .

    Thats only my opinion

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  3. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I would agree with TD apart from the voyage through the Med.Until the victories of 1943,ie the Germans out of North Africa and the Italians out of the war,the Med was a dangerous transit for shipping manpower and supplies.
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  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Yes but prior to 1943 all troops and equipment enroute to India/Burma would have sailed via South Africa, - yes the North Atlantic was still the major problem but the rest would have been safer especially the Indian Ocean section.
    Reading a bit more on the subject - the Japanese seems to only come as far west as the Bay of Bengal, and did not encroach anywhere near Ceylon which was a major British & Allied Naval base at the time

  5. squawker

    squawker Member

    Yes, the sea route via SA did occur to me also. There is a large Naval base at Simonstown, Cape Town, but how would they get from the coast to Chakdara? Even today Google can find no viable road link (perhaps because of political tensions?)
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Pure guess - trains are significant in India to get anywhere - they can also move large quantities close to their end point.

  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    As stated before, the Med was out of the question until 1943. Prior to this the WS series of convoys would transport service personnel to the Far East via the North Atlantic, with a re-fuel and re-stock at Freetown Sierra Leone, followed by a short shore-leave at either Cape Town or Durban. After this troopships would split up into sections travelling to places such as Aden, Bombay, Calcutta and for a while Singapore.

    There were other destinations I'm sure, but I would say that 80% of troops sent to India disembarked at Bombay and took trains to their eventual destination.
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  8. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    My father went to India in October 1942, via troopship,routed to Bahia, Brazil, to avoid Operation Torch troop build up and possibly submarines, ,thence to Durban,South Africa before arriving in Bombay,India. Bombay was known as the gateway to India since so many troops entered India here. Troop movement thereafter was via the railway system and ship, both across Bay Of Bengal, and later on rivers.To move into Burma from India,his Battalion journeyed north via more railway systems, river boats, before being flown over the mountain ranges and into Northern Burma. From here it was a mixture of foot slogging, occasional motor transport and also jeeps mounted on railway tracks. Tyres removed so the wheels fitted on track.
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  9. squawker

    squawker Member

    Now all we need to do is get from Bombay to Chakdara -- my father was definitely there you can see in the gallery and I think Robert-w has a point.

    Well there was an airfield there in WW2 from which C-46 transports flew. So it might simply have been a staging post in an air lift.

    Robert-w, Yesterday at 2:01 PM
    looking at rail maps of 1940's India the route from Bombay to Daktara (near to Lahore) would involve many changes. Over to you :tank: India rail 1940.JPG
  10. 379/101 HAA

    379/101 HAA Ubique

    I tend to agree with what`s being indicated in these responses, i.e., that transport via rail is the most likely option. In the India / Burma theatre air transport was always at a premium and movement of troops in India took place largely by rail and often over vast distances as Shiny 9th indicates. My Grandfather`s regiment is another point in case. It was transported from Nira right across India, up through Calcutta and to the Manipur Road for Burma. This took about three days by rail and the advance party took over a week by road.

    I would have thought the best way to find out would be to obtain the relevant war diary, but forgive me if I have missed this in another posting. Does it not exist?
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  11. squawker

    squawker Member

    Thanks for this, I think this scenario is very likely with a train transfer to Chakdara then C-46 to Imphal (most likely) or Kohima, unless anyone has any more information it more or less wraps up the thread for me.
    Thank you all who contributed.
  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I would have thought they would have all the transports busy flying supplies etc into Imphal & Kohima, they were very short of C-46 aircraft and especially crews, so my guess would be to train them as close as possible to railheads in East of India then truck.

    The logistics of flying from Chakdara across the whole of modern day India and Pakistan would have been horrendous, refueling stops etc added to which the cost of fuel .....


    Need to add that most of the C-46 and crews were American so what they did and where was a very tricky political situation, and doing trips from modern day Pakistan to modern day Bangladesh, in a C-46 propeller driven aircraft (with outside loos) just doesnt make sense to me
  13. squawker

    squawker Member

    Yes, I understand the logic of today but there are two important facts:
    1. photos of my father at Chakdara fort ( the number and variation suggest that they were there for a period of time rather than a day or so.) I can't see that they would go to Chakdara and then on to Imphal by rail as the map on post #9 shows a much faster, shorter route direct from Bombay to Imphal.
    2. in one of his speeches/recollections Mountbatten stated that by 1943, 96% of men and materials into Imphal went by air ( he had applied for, and got, a large number of aircraft formerly used to fly 'over the hump' to supply American and Chinese troops. It was a major coup for him and probably what sealed the fate of Imphal, Kohima and the Japanese.)

    p.s. I like - "in a C-46 propeller driven aircraft (with outside loos) ":plane::excl:

  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    But this was all done within 1 or 2 hours (max) flying time of Kohima or Imphal (or there drops points), and when they were not flying into Imphal or Kohima they were supplying Chindits and as if not more importantly they were flying supplies to the Chinese across 'The Hump' - so to move some troops across from the other side of India trains (whatever route they took) would have been much more logical - to me at least and from the books I have read on the Burma campaign


    The Hump - Wikipedia

    C-46/R5C Commando flying boat - troop and cargo transport; glider tug

    * C-46 Commando facts
    Category Transport plane
    Manufacturer Curtiss-Wright Corporation
    Introduced 1941
    Used in
    WWII by
    USs Army Air Forces
    US Marine Corps
    US Navy
    Produced 1940–1945
    Number built 3,181
    Cruising speed 173 mph
    Max. speed 269 mph
    Altitude 27,600 feet service ceiling
    Range 2,950 miles
    Crew 4

    At that cruising speed over the distance between Chakadara and Kohima assuming no headwinds, assuming tailwinds, assuming .......................................
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  15. squawker

    squawker Member

    OK so anyone any idea why the new recruits went to Chakdara Fort, over 1200km off the direct route from Bombay to Imphal ?????
  16. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    To possibly act as reserve for the North West Frontier, the Axis forces where looking to join up, Japan from the East and Germany from the West. Germany at that time was moving down through southern Russia towards the oil fields of Iran/Iraq, and the easiest way to meet up with Japan would be through the NW passage of then India (now Pakistan)
    In late 1944 into 1945 the situation changed a little but so did the political landscape so Britain still had need of troops in that area - hence my partners father in the Somerset Light Infantry ended up there and in Peshawar (all done on trains by the way), all until the Independence of India and Pakistan

    Might be worth looking at the wider history of the area


    Military history of the North-West Frontier - Wikipedia

    India in World War II - Wikipedia
    Collaboration with the Axis powers
    See also: Indian National Army, Indische Legion, and Battaglione Azad Hindoustan
    Several leaders of the radical revolutionary Indian independence movement broke away from the main Congress and went to war against Britain. Subhas Chandra Bose, once a prominent leader of Congress, volunteered to help Germany and Japan; he said Britain's opposition to Nazism and Fascism was "hypocrisy" since it was itself violating human rights and denying individual liberties in India.[17] Moreover, he argued that it was not Germany and Japan but the British Raj which was the enemy, since the British were over-exploiting Indian resources for War purposes.[17] Bose suggested that there was little possibility of India being attacked by any of the Axis powers provided it did not fight the War on Britain's side.[17]
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  17. squawker

    squawker Member

    Just looked at c-46 on Google, Range 3700km, speed 433km/h, Distance Chakdara to Imphal approx 2720km so well within range and if cruising at 270km/h would take 10 hrs - buckets required!
    Just saying :plane::tank:
  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    But they didnt have the aircraft there in the first place, so the calculation is futile


    My last post on this thread
  19. squawker

    squawker Member

    Other scenario is that the unit was in Chakdara after the Burma campaign as he arrived in Ahmednagar 23 Jul 1945 with 28 days leave (he went to Bombay - He kept the travel warrant and train ticket) but didn't leave India until Jan 1947. I thought it was on the way out because of his apparent age in the photos.

  20. squawker

    squawker Member

    We're only discussing this because Robert-w said that they flew c-46 out of Chakdara :D

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