Major Richard Arthur Roberts. O.C. 8th (Indian) H.A.A. R.A.

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by High Wood, Dec 30, 2017.

  1. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    that is brilliant and gives me lots to follow up on. Many thanks for taking the time to look it up for me.

  2. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    Here is an amended version of what I put up earlier - this makes a few small amendments/corrections.


    8th Indian Heavy Antiaircraft Battery, Indian Artillery

    The Battery was formed as part of the 2nd Indian Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, which was raised on 1st April 1941. The Regiment moved to Calcutta in October 1941. During the first Burma campaign, the Battery was commanded by Major R.A. Roberts.[1]

    The story of the 8th Indian H.A.A. Battery, Indian Artillery is often confused with that of the British 8th Heavy Antiaircraft Battery, Royal Artillery which also served during the first Burma campaign. [2]

    On 23rd December 1941, Rangoon suffered its first bombing raid and its first civilian casualties. The Japanese raid was met by anti-aircraft fire from the four 3.7-inch guns of the 1st H.A.A. Battery, Burma Auxiliary Force, and the 8 40mm guns of the 3rd Light Antiaircraft Battery, Burma Auxiliary Force. Three enemy aircraft were claimed shot down but the at the cost of two 3.7-inch and one 40mm guns. Reinforcements were despatched from India and the 8th Indian H.A.A and the 3rd Indian L.A.A. Batteries arrived at Rangoon on 31st December 1941. The 8th Indian Battery was allocated to the defence of Rangoon and surrounding military and air force installations.

    By 20th January 1942, the Battery had deployed to Moulmein where it took up defence of the airfield and came under the command of the 17th Indian Infantry Division. On 30th January 1942, at the height of the Japanese attack on Moulmein, the Battery was evacuated across the river to Martaban. Around 19th or 21st February 1942, the Battery was ordered to withdraw across the Sittang to defend the bridge from the west bank of the river. After the Sittang Bridge disaster on 23rd February, the Battery withdrew to Pegu where it protected the Headquarters of the 17th Indian Infantry Division. On 7th March 1942, as the Rangoon Garrison evacuated the city, the 8th Indian Battery moved to Hlegu, where it claimed two out of six Japanese aircraft attempting to attack the withdrawing troops. It later withdrew to Tharrawaddy during 9th and 10th March and from where it later joined the other anti-aircraft units in defending Shwedaung, Prome, Allanmyo and Magwe. By the time the 1st Burma Corps or ‘Burcorps’ came into being on 19th March 1942, the 8th Indian H.A.A. Battery was assigned as Lines of Communication Troops.

    By early April, the Battery was defending Magwe when it was ordered to load the guns onto barges and sail north up the Irrawaddy River 250 miles to Sagaing, near Mandalay. The motor transport followed by road. Towards the end of April, the Battery was ordered along with a detachment of light anti-aircraft guns to Shwebo to protect a nearby airfield. The Battery then withdrew towards Kalewa but was forced to destroy the guns en route at Yeu. With all guns, transport and equipment destroyed, the unit joined in the withdrawal from Shwegyin and Kalewa on 10th May, crossing the Chindwin River.

    By 15th September 1942, the 8th Indian H.A.A Battery was in the General Reserve of G.H.Q., India, refitting. On 1st April 1943, the Battery rejoined the 2nd Indian H.A.A. Regiment, equipped with four 3.7-inch guns. It served with the Regiment for the duration of the war.

    31 December 2017

    [1] Richard Arthur Roberts, born Devonshire, 1907. Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, No. 3 (Bombay) Fortress Company, Royal Engineers, Auxiliary Force, India, 17th December 1938. Promoted to Major, 25th May 1940. As Major, serving with No.3 (Bombay) Fortress Company, Royal Engineers, Auxiliary Force, India, July 1941. As Major (38245), Commanding Officer, 8th (Indian) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery, 1941-42. Died of cerebral malaria after the Burma Campaign, in Assam, 7th June 1942 ( Newspaper Index Cards; Commonwealth War Graves; FindMyPast; Indian Army List October 1939, July 1941)

    [2] The sources for this article were: “History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, The Far East Theatre, 1941-46”, Farndale M., The Royal Artillery Institution (2000); “Indian Armed Forces in World War II, The Retreat from Burma, 1941-42”, Prasad Bishewar (ed), Orient Longmans (1959); “The War Against Japan, Volume 1 – India’s Most Dangerous Hour”, Woodburn Kirby S., HMSO (1958).
  3. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member


    once again I am in your debt. Many thanks and have a Happy and prosperous New Year.

  4. Rothy

    Rothy Well-Known Member

    Simon - you are very welcome. All best wishes to you also.

  5. JulieSausage

    JulieSausage Member

    Hi all
    just found this post while researching my Grandfather .....Bertram Harold Barber..... that is his signature on the tankard!!! I never met him as he died before I was born...and have little info on him. My mother was his younger daughter born in 39. You have filled in many blanks. I have his campaign desk....would this have gone to Burma with him ?? seems unlikely reading the conditions and it is quite big. Looking at evidence etc is PTSD a likely thing to suffer after Burma ....i think he may have had this before his death. Look forward to hearing back Julie
  6. JulieSausage

    JulieSausage Member

    this is from the campaign desk that I have, that was Bertram Barbers in Burma ...Is this the symbol for the RA ? also there is a wax the goat thing related to the army or just his personal choice ?

    Attached Files:

  7. JulieSausage

    JulieSausage Member

    Also family legend has it Bertram had a terrible time on the Burma railway..... does this fit with your research, Sorry for all the questions. Thanks.
  8. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    I cannot find Bertram Barber listed as a POW nor does being a POW tie in with him being Mentioned in Dispatches for gallant and distinguished service in Burma 1945 (High Wood #5). Suspect family error in transferring his terrible time fighting in Burma to the more commonly known terrible conditions on the Burma Railway.

  9. JulieSausage

    JulieSausage Member

    Thank you so much for your assistance It is very much appreciated. Yes I thought it didn't seem likely, and possibly may have been used by the family to 'explain' his drinking on his return.....using the well know terrible railway as a bit of a cover up in those times.
    Thanks again.
  10. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review... Patron

    They all had a crappy time over there, Julie, so drink as a form of release was one way some dealt with it, and as for your mention of PTSD... no such thing in WW2... they were all told to get on with it... :rolleyes:
    Took over 50 years before my dad opened up about what he went through in 44, then he could not discuss it with us, so wrote it down and "gifted" us with it... He still had reccurrent bouts of malaria decades after the War...
    Family tend to bury bad news and guilt back then...
    A common question to ask round here is, "Have you applied for his records yet...?"
    That may answer more of your family questions...
    timuk likes this.
  11. JulieSausage

    JulieSausage Member

    Thanks Kenny This sounds very similar I dont think he ever really spoke about it since he returned. So sad. 50 years is a long time hey and to still be suffering Maria effects for so long ..... what sacrifices they made !
    A silly question ...but can you apply for copies of records...I had no idea ??
    Thanks so much

  12. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Yes you can obtain his Service Records. You need name, date of birth, copy of death certificate (you can get this online if you don't already have access to it) and £30 admin charge.
    Details and application form here:
    Request records of deceased service personnel

    They sometimes take some time depending on how busy they are. Once you have the records you can post them on this site and forum members will help with interpretation.
  13. wibs12

    wibs12 Well-Known Member

    As per pm chat with Julie, and picking up on High Wood's caution re "cannot be sure that he served with 8 HAA", need to have element of care to make sure got the right Lt Barber....... there are two Bertram Harold Barber's in various ancestry / FMP records with similar--ish info..... (Julie's is b.1907, the other is b.1901).

    If the Lt Barber RA on the tankard is 153641 then here's various bits that may or may not all have the service number on them but definitely feel connected to the same guy...... and the final item has details of potential posting in Adjutant General's office in India, location that fits various posts above about HAA:
    • a gazzette notice of posting as (temp) Captain from 1945
    • copy of the FMP notes re the MiD
    • possible Royal Artillery attestation (good chance same as 153641 as noted 'Commissioned' which fits)
    • commission details 1942 showing Emergency Commissions (with dates)
    • commission details 1945 showing temp posting to Captain in India HQ, Directorate of POW's, Deputy Asst Adjutant General
    As I said in the pm, take the cracking advice from timuk above and get sent off asap for his MoD service records..... shout up if you need any help with that. May take a while to come back but we'll all still be here waiting to help.


    Gazzette notice of posting as (temp) Captain from 1945:
    Screenshot 2020-01-04 at 17.34.56.png

    Screenshot 2020-01-04 at 17.35.07.png

    Copy of the FMP notes re the MiD:
    First name(s) Bertram Harold
    Last name Barber
    Service number 153641
    Rank T/Captain
    Service Royal Artillery
    Event year 1945
    Gazette date 19 Jul 1945
    Award Mentioned in Dispatches
    Recommended by Burma 5 Despatch
    Theatre Burma
    Country Great Britain
    File number 68/Gen/8027

    Possible Royal Artillery attestation (good chance same as 153641 as noted 'Commissioned' which fits):
    Screenshot 2020-01-04 at 17.38.17.png

    Commission details 1942 showing Emergency Commissions (with dates):
    Screenshot 2020-01-04 at 17.39.21.png

    Screenshot 2020-01-04 at 17.39.38.png

    Commission details 1945 showing temp posting to Captain in India HQ, Directorate of POW's, Deputy Asst Adjutant General
    Screenshot 2020-01-04 at 17.41.41.png
    timuk likes this.
  14. JulieSausage

    JulieSausage Member

    Thanks so much I had no idea. I will do this. And for his brother David who was awarded a Military Cross.
    This is really helpful and much appreciated. Julie
  15. JulieSausage

    JulieSausage Member

    Thanks Paul Fabulous info !! I am astounded how much info you have found. This is a wonderful website....keeoing history alive!! totally appreciate everyones help and advice. Julie
  16. beckilancaster

    beckilancaster New Member

    I've just stumbled across this thread while trying to figure out some family photos, many of which are of my great great uncle, Dick Roberts (Maj Richard Arthur Roberts). I'm really interested to know where you found the tankard and the marriage and death notices? If anyone has any further details about him or his brother, my great grandfather, Brigadier Michael Rookhurst Roberts I'd be really interested to hear them!
  17. shees

    shees Member

    Hi Simon. 2/Lt Ram Dass was commissioned in 2nd H.A.A Regiment, Indian Army. He was posted to 8 H.A.A Battery, Indian Army.
    High Wood likes this.
  18. shees

    shees Member

    Hi Sir. Can you show us few pics of Maj R.A Roberts?
  19. beckilancaster

    beckilancaster New Member

    Hi, I'll try to get my mum to send some over to me - unfortunately I can't go round to her's because of the lockdown.
  20. shees

    shees Member

    1. Captain P. Whitehead
    2. Lt Barber
    3. Lt Blenkinsopp
    4. 2/Lt Ram Dass
    High Wood likes this.

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