OSS Detachment 101 - Clandestine Ops in Burma (1943) - the forgotten.

Discussion in 'SOE & OSS' started by vivr08, Jul 22, 2018.

  1. vivr08

    vivr08 vivr08

    In 1943, the now American CIA [then known as OSS Detachment 101) recruited men from the evacuee camps in India for clandestine operations in Burma. These incursions led to disaster because all these men were captured and executed by the enemy. So secrete was the nature of these operations that the names of these men are not recorded in any Commonwealth Graves Commission memorials. They are the forgotten.

    Below is the name list of these brave men.
    W Group (OSS Detachment 101 Operations about 8 Mach 1943)
    Deployed at Kyaukphu, Arakan, Burma.

    Harry Ballard Team Leader Captured and Executed by JIA.
    John Clarke Captured and Executed by JIA.
    Vicrap Pillay Captured and Executed by JIA.
    Lionel Cornelius Captured and Executed by JIA.
    Kenneth Murray Captured and Executed by JIA.
    Cyril Goodwin Captured and Executed by JIA.

    Charles Morell Team Leader Killed in Action (1943).
    John Sheridan Killed in Action (1943)
    John Aikman Captured and Executed by JIA, 24/3/1943.
    Alex D’Attadies Captured and Executed by JIA, April 1943
    Geoffery Willson Captured and Executed by JIA , April 1943

    Operation BALLS and BALLS 1 (OSS Detachment 101 Operations about 24 February 1943).
    Deployed at Tavoy, Burma.

    Joseph Rodrigues, Code name - Mellie Captured and Executed by JIA, about Mach 1945. Maung Ba Tu Code name – Sabu Captured and Executed by JIA, about March 1945
    Sonny Peters Code name – Sunny Captured and Executed by JIA, about March 1945.
    Vincent Darlington Captured and Executed by JIA,about March 1945
    Saw Wallace Captured and Executed by JIA,about March 1945
    Un known Code name – Ryk Captured and Executed by JIA,about March 1945

    My purpose:
    * get together a small team to collaborate and discover the background and history of these men.
    * interested researchers should have the ability to access army records in the United States.
    * advance a case for the names of these men to be recorded at the CWGC Memorials in Myanmar.

    REFERENCE:The OSS in Burma: Jungle War against the Japanese (Modern War Studies (Paperback)) – July 3, 2014 by Troy J. Sacquety (Author)
    Peers, William R. and Dean Brelis. Behind the Burma Road: The Story of America’s Most Successful Guerrilla Force. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1963.

    I look forward to correspond with the interested.

    Vivian Rodrigues,
    Perth Western Australia.
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Vivian,

    I applaud your efforts and intentions with this project. For sure you are going to need the assistance of researchers who can delve into the NARA files. It is incredible that the men listed above have more or less vanished from documentation currently available to the researching public. I flicked through Eifler's book: The Deadliest Colonel (OSS).

    I am going to re-read this book during the week, but at first glance there is no mention of any covert operations in the Arakan and none of the men listed feature in the OSS Roll of Honour in the rear pages of the book. Good luck going forward, I for one will be interested to see what can be found.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  3. vivr08

    vivr08 vivr08

    All of my comments come from:
    "The OSS in Burma: Jungle War against the Japanese (Modern War Studies (Paperback)) – July 3, 2014 by Troy J. Sacquety (Author)"
    Indeed, in his foot notes are the NARA references to OSS post ops reports.
    I will look them up and post to you next week.
    Vivian Rodrigues
  4. vivr08

    vivr08 vivr08

    Steve, the attached photos from "The OSS in Burma: Jungle War against the Japanese (Modern War Studies (Paperback)) – July 3, 2014 by Troy J. Sacquety (Author)" show the NARA References.
    I trust this meets immediate requirements for you or others interested in the subject.
    Vivian Rodrigues
    WP_20180722_19_38_53_Pro.jpg WP_20180722_19_39_09_Pro.jpg

    Attached Files:

  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks Vivian. Great that you have the actual NARA references. Now you just need some kind soul from the US to take a look.
  6. Traceyjenkins13

    Traceyjenkins13 New Member

    My name is Tracey Jenkins and Kenneth Murray was my Uncle (my Mum's Brother). Kenneth was born in Rangoon and lived his whole life in Burma and therefore will not appear in American records other than those held by the OSS. He joined them in 1943 after his parents, grandfather and 5 of his siblings died in 1942 on the trek to India, and I have a copy of a letter from the OSS advising his remaining 2 siblings (my Mum and her oldest brother) of his fate. I have the book The OSS in Burma and was pleased to see that Ken is mentioned in it. Any mention of him however brief, is much appreciated as I'm sure you will understand that the very nature of his and the rest of the family's deaths means there is no known final resting place or even a firm date of death for any of them. To have him commemorated in Burma would be a fitting tribute to him and indeed the whole family from our perspective.
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  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    Thank you for your post. I hope that Vivian's research does ultimately culminate in your Uncle and the other OSS operatives being remembered in some way in Myanmar. A number of years back, 2010 I think, a listing was created recording some of the civilian casualties lost during the trek out of Burma and into India. Are you aware of this document? I'm sure that you must be.

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  8. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    I have checked for the names of the fallen in the "Dead Victims" card index in WO356 and none of them appear. This is not surprising since this index was created from information recorded on "Q" forms completed by returning British POWs. The index was based in the offices of the Judge Advocate General in London ( just south of Trafalgar Square.) It was a long shot. In the meantime the main United Nations war crimes investigation organisation was based at the Law Courts in the Strand, less than a mile away. The main focus was on Europe. In fact, investigations in Burma are notably the area which produces few results.

    In the "Far East" investigations into war crimes in Burma were handled by a number of investigators from the UK, Australia, America, Dutch, Burmese. The list goes on. Singapore based lawyers tended to be serving with the Indian Army, so there must be sources in India.There was a shortage of lawyers.There were co-ordination meetings between the nations. A few files of investigations into atrocities originally opened in the Far East, mainly in Singapore, rather than in London, have emerged at the National Archives at Kew in WO325. These tend to focus on the Burma end of the railway. However, WO325 is a series which is "still accruing" so there may be more to come. It is remarkable that US investigators had a large input into investigations about the Burma/Siam, as it was then known, or Burma/Thailand railway, in early 1946. They departed in mid-1946 but they had plenty of lawyers.

    A very good account of investigations in Burma can be found in the book I give details of below. I was privileged to have corresponded, all too briefly, with the late Colonel Spooner. The book is widely available.

    On a personal note I am struck by the fact that Vivian is based in Perth. That makes three Perth people I have come across who investigate, sometimes at Kew. A long time mate of mine is currently in Thailand, for the ninth time I believe, investigating the railway with help from Rod Beattie. He published a book on the 5th Beds & Herts this year. He has a facebook page " Beds & Herts in the Far East." It's been raining, so Martyn is hoping the sun comes out. I also came across a commercial lawyer from Perth at Kew in 2017 delving into WO 361 ( Casualty/POW records) whose name I have forgotten but I know someone who remembers. Perhaps you should all meet up and compare notes about Kew. It's only 26 hours away by plane these days, non-stop, to Heathrow.

    Anyway, for general background on the UK war crimes investigations teams in Burma start with Colonel Spooner's book. Some of his papers are at IWM but I have not seen them.

    Good hunting, John

    "A Talent for Adventure: The Remarkable Wartime Exploits" of Lt Col Pat Spooner MBE

    Pat Spooner

    Published by Pen and Sword Military (2012)
    ISBN 10: 1848848102 ISBN 13: 9781848848108
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  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Just for interest checked Ancestry and a 'louise ballard' has a family tree

    Harry William Ballard
    BIRTH 22 AUGUST 1900 • Burma
    DEATH 5 MARCH 1943 • Burma

    Have you thought of going down this route to see what still exists in the families of those named above??

    Traceyjenkins13 likes this.
  10. vivr08

    vivr08 vivr08

    I have an interest, in obscure issues relating to WW2 in Burma, particularly when I discover forgotten individuals like Kenneth Murray, who gave their lives for a purpose and an outcome they probably did not fully understand, and are not recorded on CWGC Memorials. Unlike Australia, Britain [and even India and Pakistan], those that served for the Allies have been purposely erased in Myanmar.
    I live in Perth, Western Australia and have no direct access to the records at Kew or the US. I rely on internet resources or if some kind sole give me photos or files.I was hoping that some relative of these men could access the US - NARA files and share with me the documents. My purpose would be to establish a case for the CWGC to recognize these men at the Rangoon Memorial.
    Meanwhile, you may be interested in the attached: upload_2018-10-15_18-46-52.png
    Retrieved from: Trek Casualty List
    Please correspond.
    Vivian Rodrigues.
  11. vivr08

    vivr08 vivr08

    Hello Steve,
    You are correct.
    For your readers, the site is: Non Members Area
    The TREK OUT OF BURMA 1942 is free to any one of interest and contains documents that are unpublished elsewhere.
    Vivian R.
  12. vivr08

    vivr08 vivr08

    Thanks for your interest.
    Yes, its a path that I intend to follow as time and costs permits.
    I am an optimist.
    Read above from Tracey. I consider that a hit that may develop.
    Meanwhile, on posting on this site and 2 others, I have had the satisfaction of bringing together two families of brave men who gave up their lives during WW2 in the Burma, but whose decedent in the UK knew not of their kin in South East Asia.
    I would appreciate you tell me if you get hits on Joseph Rodrigues, Code name - Mellie. Captured and Executed by JIA, about Mach 1945. [Operation BALLS and BALLS 1 (OSS Detachment 101 Operations about 24 February 1943).
    Deployed at Tavoy, Burma].

    Thanks for your interest.
    Warm regards.
    Vivian Regards
    Traceyjenkins13 likes this.
  13. vivr08

    vivr08 vivr08

    Thank you for your interest.
    I will endeavor to get a read of Colonel Spoone's book.
    I have 4 observations:
    1. The men I mention, were not British or US citizens, nor what the Burmese would consider their citizens. They fall into a category that is as best described as "forgotten". These men gave their lives for a purpose and an outcome they probably did not fully understand, but none the less are worthy of commemoration on the CWGC memorial at Yangoon.
    2. My reading and understanding is that by late 1945, the British military and civil administration in SE Asia was no longer focused on prosecuting atrocities by low level enemy individuals.
    3. Civilian volunteers from Burma, like Kenneth Murray [see Tracey Jenkin's correspondence] and Joseph Rodrigues [Code name - Mellie], who participated and gave their lives in US OSS sponsored clandestine operation are unlikely to be recorded in British Army or British India Army records.
    4. Some ex- Burma, clandestine operatives with MBE's, MM's etc relocated to Perth Australia and I have been fortunate to know their families.
    If your colleagues who live in Perth, Western Australia, want to share, I will be happy to meet over a coffee.
    Warm regards and do correspond.
    Vivian Rodrigues.
  14. Traceyjenkins13

    Traceyjenkins13 New Member


    Thanks for your reply and information regarding the Trek Casualty List. We only became aware of it in 2015, when my son came across the Anglo Burmese Library online. We knew what had happened to our family, but this was the first time we had seen anything actually in print so that was hard, but also pleasing to see a record of them somewhere. Like you, I hope that Vivian is successful in obtaining some sort of commemoration for all those who lost their lives. I'll certainly lend support if needed. Tom (my son) approached CWGC in 2015 but was not successful. If I can find their response to him I'll post it on here.

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  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Tracey,

    A contact of mine and I were eventually successful in changing information on the CWGC for a soldier who perished in Burma on the first Chindit expedition in 1943. It took a great deal of persuasion and the provision of a number of contemporary documents, before they agreed to amend his details.

    Best wishes

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  16. Traceyjenkins13

    Traceyjenkins13 New Member

    First of all, thank you for taking up the case for commemoration in Myanmar (I prefer Burma!!) of all these forgotten men. As mentioned to Steve above, my son Tom approached the CWGC in 2015 for the same purpose but they politely declined. I'm trying to locate their email reply to him as I write this and will post it at the end. I'm not sure how much help I'll be to you but you can certainly rely on my support! Kenneth would have been 21 years and 6 months of age at the time of his death. The immediate family, except my Mum and her brother who were in the army, were wiped out on the trek. To have him mentioned at the Rangoon Memorial would, for me, honour the whole family's memory out there.
    Thanks also for the excerpt from the Trek Casualty List. I really appreciate you taking the trouble to look, however we had come across this information back in 2015. That is indeed my Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts. Betty had only married Mum's brother in December 1941. My Great-grandfather is also listed under Vrasalovich. All so sad.
    If I can be of any help, please let me know. Meanwhile, for your information, here is the email from CWGC to my son Tom back in 2016

    Our Ref: 8851

    Dear Mr Jenkins,

    This email is further to your correspondence with the Enquiries Section at the end of last year and in relation to your great uncle, Kenneth Murray.

    As mentioned by my colleague, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for the commemoration of those members of the Commonwealth armed forces who lost their lives whilst serving in either of the two world wars. For commemoration by the Commission it is the nationality of the service that is the important factor rather than the nationality of the casualty themselves. As Kenneth Murray was serving with the OSS at the time of his death and as the OSS was an American organisation this would unfortunately fall outside of our remit and so we would be unable to commemorate Kenneth Murray. I am sorry to disappoint you in this respect but hope that you can understand how we are bound by our Charter.

    However, as it appears that he was serving with the OSS at the time of his death and to be as helpful as possible, I have been in contact with the organisation that is responsible for the commemoration of American service casualties, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), in the hope that they might be able to assist with the commemoration of Kenneth Murray. They have explained that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have installed a memorial to the OSS within the lobby of their Headquarters and this is dedicated to the members of the OSS who died during operations/service. They have recommended that you might contact this organisation as they may be able to assist further. Their contact details are as follows:

    Corporate Campus
    Address: 1000 Colonial Farm Rd, McLean, VA 22101
    United States of America

    Phone:(703) 482-0623

    It was suggested that if you sent a covering letter, along with the letter from the OSS that was received by your great uncle Leyland Murray, then their staff might be able to research his service with the OSS further and confirm potential eligibility for inclusion on their or other memorials.

    Whilst the Commission is unable to assist with the commemoration of your great uncle, I hope that this information from the ABMC proves helpful and that you are able to arrange a suitable and lasting commemoration of your great uncle with the CIA/ABMC.

    Yours sincerely,

    David Royle

    David Royle
    Commemorations Officer

    Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX, United Kingdom
    Tel: +44 1628 634221 | Ext: 1134 | Direct: +44 1628 507134 | Fax: +44 1628 771208 | Website: www.cwgc.org

    Hope this helps

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  17. Traceyjenkins13

    Traceyjenkins13 New Member

    Hi Steve

    Now that I've re-read their email, it appears the stumbling block to CWGC is that the OSS was an American organisation which they say makes it outside their remit. I don't really understand how it all works however it seems to me that it although it was an American organisation, it was inside a (then) Commonwealth country. Would that/should that make a difference? We never pursued it as I had not long lost my Mum and wasn't ready for a battle then. But I could be now......


  18. 509thPIB

    509thPIB Well-Known Member

    I had the pleasure of knowing Ray Peers, Carl Eifler and many others who served with Detachment 101. I'm glad someone cares. thumbsup.gif thumbsup.gif thumbsup.gif thumbsup.gif


    s-l1600 (27).jpg

  19. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    A previously unknown US Special Forces website has a four and half page article 'Fire-Hardened: OSS in World War II Burma', a subject unknown to me. See: https://www.specialforces78.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/1020-Sentinel-News-min.pdf

    It ends with these references:
    bamboo43 likes this.
  20. Louise Smith

    Louise Smith New Member

    Hi, I am researching my family tree and came across this post re Harry Ballard. He is my great grandfather. My father escaped a Japanese POW camp with his mother and grandmother during the war. I have a letter from Harry to his wife Olive from 8.9.42 saying he had gone to work for the Americans so he could come back to Burma (he had been working for the British but they had pulled him out of Burma). I also have a Determination of death notice from Headquarters Detachment 101, United States Forces Bhamo Burma. Stating he is believed to be dead but no information for reasons of security. We only came across these documents recently and had no idea what had happened to Harry apart from the notice of his death during the war. As with other commentators an acknowledgement and memorial would seem a fitting way to honour the fallen.

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