Burma refugee letters.

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by High Wood, Apr 14, 2024.

  1. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    I have recently acquired a large amount of letters sent between a young women and her British officer fiance. At the outbreak of war the young lady was living in Maymyo where her father worked for the Burma Posts and Telegraphs. Her fiance was serving with the Indian Army Ordnance Corps attached to the 2nd Burma Division. The young lady was flown out of northern Burma with other officer's wives, mainly from the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The young lady was sent to Clifden in the Murree Hills with her family and other wives. The officer travelled to India the hard way and was later reunited with his fiance.

    Whilst many of the letters comprise a lot of romantic chit chat, most of which is unsuitable for publication on a family website, there are some usefull insights into the resettlement in India of British refugees from Burma. Quite a lot is everyday stuff concerning housing, money and lost relatives but there are a few things that can be verified from other records.

    One in particular has puzzled me as it may be hearsay, as the casualty lists give an alternative outcome.

    Letter 22/7/1942.

    I received another letter from Reenie last evening and she happened to mention that poor Ken Salmon is not dead but very much alive; but is completely useless as he has lost both his legs, and I don’t know what else. Poor, poor Ken. My heart goes out to him. I like him very much. I think he is in Simla. Write to him darling.

    The casualty list identifies Ken Salmon as 5182237 T/Sub.Conducter K.C. Salmon of the 1st battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, who was reported as Wounded and Missing on the 19th April 1942.

    K C Salmon wounded.jpg

    In 1945 the casualty list is updated to the effect that K.C. Salmon is now presumed to have died from his wounds.

    K C Salmon death presumed.jpg

    This information appears to be accepted as fact as the C.W.G.C. has the following details.

    Service Number: 5182237
    Regiment & Unit/Ship Gloucestershire Regiment. 1st Bn. Date of Death. Died 19 April 1942. Age 27 years old. Buried or commemorated at. RANGOON MEMORIAL. Face 12. Myanmar
    • Country of Service. United Kingdom
    • Additional Info. Foster son of Mrs. A. Salmon, of Finchley, Middlesex. Also served as W.O.I (Sub-Condr.), Burma Army Corps of Clerks.
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  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    High Wood,

    Given the scale of the defeat and retreat into India, is it possible Pvt. Salmon was simply lost - assuming he got to Simla - hence the CWGC data?
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    It's Pte not Pvt, he was British not an American.

    edit. 1st Glosters war diary for 19th April 42 on here.

    Tom Lewis KIA Burma March 1942 | WW2Talk
    I'll try & find the disc with the rest of it on.
    edit: found disc , tried to make an album , it failed to upload so not going to bother again, sorry.
  4. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    It is certainly possible that he was reported wounded and missing during the retreat, but if he was so badly wounded that he lost both legs he must have had help to get back to India and I cannot imagine that his admitance to casualty clearing stations and hospitals as well as his arrival in India went unrecorded. The 'death presumed' notification in the casualty list dates from 1945 and it seems that no one informed the CWGC that he had returned to India. It could have been a clerical mistake during the aftermath of the retreat with the medical services being unaware that he had been reported missing.

    On the other hand, the only evidence that we have that he did indeed survive is a casual comment in a private letter.
  5. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Another snippett mentions a couple that did not survive the trek out of Burma.

    Letter 18/7/1942.

    Did I tell you that I heard that poor old Norman D’Cruze – (Sybil’s brother, who used to work in Maymyo), is dead, both he and his wife, but I dare not tell Sybil yet; he was so fond of us. Which reminds me. I received a letter from Sybil and has asked to be remembered to you. She is so happy as her husband is getting more leave.

    The Anglo Burmese Library has the following entry on their databse.

    De Cruz. Mr and Mrs and son. Death presumed. Seen on 16th June 1942 at NAMYUNG river. Son was abandoned, a day’s journey the other side of Namyung village. No further news of this family.
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  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    From the WO361 series, four mentions of Salmon, but with no real definitive explanation of his fate I'm afraid:

    Attached Files:

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  7. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much for posting the information from the Missing enquiries.
  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    No worries HW.
  9. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Some of the early envelopes are interesting. These first few were sent late 1941 and early 1942. Marguerite Mahony is living in Maymyo, being housed in the Telegraph Quarters which were presumably owned by the Burma Posts and Telegraphs and let out to their workers. Her father was employed by the B.P. & T. but also served in an as yet unidentified Auxiliary Battalion. Marguerite would have known many of the regimental wives of both the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infanty and of the Gloucestershire Regiment, who were stationed in the town whilst their husbands were away fighting. Many of these wives and their children were flown out of Burma to India.




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  10. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Marguerite Mahony's fiance was Sub-Conductor Edward Richard Charles Collett of the Indian Army Ordnance Corps. His early letters were posted from Moulmein and Tavoy in Southern Burma.


    The femail members of the Mahony family arrived in India on 25th March 1942. Their entry on the Anglo Burma Library evacuees database lists them as 'Mrs Dorothy Mahony and six children'. Presumably Marguerite being just 18 was classed as a child. Their normal place of residence was given as Maymyo. Their intended place of residence was given as 32/2 Clifden, Murree Hills.

    Rudolph James Mahony, the father of the family, arrived in India on the 21st June 1942, nearly three months after his family. His ABL entry gives the following details regarding his place of residence, his employer and his intended address in India. 'Mr. Rudolph James Mahony. Maymyo. Burma Post and Telegraphs. To 32/2 Clifden, Murree Hills'.

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  11. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    By the 23rd May 1942 Sub Conducter Edward Collett was safely back in India. He sent this letter from the B.M.H. (British Military Hospital?} at Dinapore where he was recuperating after the fighting retreat from Burma.

  12. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    Edward Collett began his military career by enlisting into the Royal Artillery.

    Collett Edward Richard Charles.jpg

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