Source Material for 1st Arakan Campaign

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by dryan67, Apr 14, 2021.

  1. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    I have been revising my Indian Army battalion histories and I am looking for additional sources on the 1st Arakan Campaign from October 1942 to May 1943.

    I have both the Indian and British official histories as well as well as Louis Allen and Slim's general history. I also have the British and Indian regimental histories of the units involved.

    I am looking to confirm brigade and battalion movements and actions.

    I do not have any war diaries for the battalions and brigades involved.

    Are there any other good sources that concentrate on the 1st Arakan campaign?

    Does anyone have any sources they are willing to share information from?
    17thDYRCH likes this.
  2. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    If you have official histories and regimental histories than you already have the best sources for the First Arakan Campaign, beside war diaries. First Arakan is very poorly covered outside official histories, there is no dedicated books for this campaign and very few personal memories covers this period. Patrick Turnbull's "Battle of the Box" is mostly about the Battle of the Admin Box but it gives some overview of all operations in the Arakan during the war, but it is not a big book and I doubt you will find much more there that is not already in the official histories. "Prender's Progress" by J Prendergast is one of the probably very few personal memories that covers First Arakan in any details. Those two books are the only one that came to my mind that could be useful but for some unit references probably not more than the books you already have.
    dryan67 and dbf like this.
  3. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Thanks for the suggestions. I agree that the campaign is under reported, but also fascinating. I remember, back almost thirty years ago, attempting to design a war game for the campaign. The lack of sources then stymied me from completing the project.
  4. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Just one note, Prendergast served with the 1/15th Punjab Regiment in the Arakan (and later in Burma reconquest in 1945). He joined battalion in February 1943, while battalion was based west of Rathedaung. In April he was evacuated due malaria. Arakan is covered on some 16 pages in his book. But it is really interesting book in general, at least to me.
  5. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    There are come inexpensive copies around. I think I will order a copy.
  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    The fact that the book covers the 1/15th Punjab is of some interest, since the 15th Punjab does not have regimental history.
  7. hammy780

    hammy780 Member

    Hi can anyone help me with Burma,
    My Grandad had told us he was in Burma for approx 1 week and were under fire by the Japanese and the Gurkha's had to come and rescue them.
    One of the Gurkha soldiers gave him a Kukri Knife which I remember seeing in my youth.
    I was able to get his Africa star reinstated and now trying to see if he was entitled to get the Burma star but can't find a record of him being in Burma ??
    I have attached his service record if someone could help me on this ??

    Attached Files:

  8. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Based on the service record that you attached, your grandfather served with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. They formed part of 13th Infantry Brigade of 5th Infantry Division. The Battalion arrived on Madagascar on May 6th, 1942 and left on May 19th, 1942. They had landed at Ambarata Bay near Diego Suarez and encountered "more formal than resolute" opposition. They re-embarked on May 19th for India. The Battalion arrived at Bombay on June 2nd, 1942. The 13th Indian Brigade then moved to Ahmednagar for training. Your grandfather appears to have been in the hospital at Ahmednagar from July 1-15, 1942. The Battalion left India at Bombay on August 17th, 1942 without having been engaged in any combat or being located in a combat zone. The 5th Division then moved to Iraq and later fought in Sicily, Italy and Northwest Europe.

    It would seem like your grandfather may have been embellishing his time in India since a good portion was spent in hospital.
  9. hammy780

    hammy780 Member

    Thanks for that info, just seems weird I remember he had Malaria and would have been re living being pinned down and he was very traumatised during those episodes, He was not a man for bragging it was hard to get any info from him about the war, All my info was coming from my Uncle who has passed away now so I have no more insight into his adventures I was hoping that there would have been some sort of mission he had went to Burma as apparently he fought with Paddy Mayne I was going to go and check out the war diaries to see if there was anything there. I was able to get his African Star due to his involvement with the SBS. It's great to have a source like yourselves to get vital information so thankyou for taking the time to help me in this quest I have started.
  10. hammy780

    hammy780 Member

    He was in the SBS 1942 would you know any info on below ??

    No.2 SBS did not use the Special Boat Squadron name but instead retained the name Special Boat Section. They accompanied US Major General Mark Clark ashore before the Operation Torch landings in October 1942 on Operation Flagpole. Later, one group, Z SBS, which was based in Algiers from March 1943, carried out the beach reconnaissance for the Salerno landings and a raid on Crete, before moving to Ceylon to work with the Special Operations Executives, Force 136 and later with Special Operations Australia. The rest of No. 2 SBS became part of South-East Asia Command's Small Operations Group, operating on the Chindwin and Irrawaddy rivers, and in the Arakan, during the Burma campaign.[22]

    Although their roles always overlapped to some extent, the various canoe and boat units became more specialised from late 1942 onwards. The RMBPD focused on ship attack and harbour sabotage, the Special Boat Section and COPP undertook covert beach surveys, and the Special Boat Squadron engaged in raiding, sabotage and reconnaissance above the high-water mark.[23]
  11. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member


    Of course, my conclusions were based on his service record. It does not mean that there may have been some other activity, though it should have been documented in the record.
  12. Wilhar

    Wilhar Member

    Hello David,
    15th Punjab's history is covered in Veteran Campaigners: A History of the Punjab Regiment 1759-1981 by Brig. S. Haider Abbas Rizvi. While there are potted histories of the now-Punjab Regiment's constituent units during the British period, the book has an understandable focus on the post-1947 period, so details can be sparse at times. That said, if you'd like scans of anything contained in this book, please let me know.
    idler likes this.
  13. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member


    Thank you so much for your kind offer. I was able to obtain a pdf version of the book from a bookseller in Afghanistan in the fall. The histories for each battalion are brief but correct. The 15th Punjab section is probably the only WWII history of the regiment, but more details are needed.

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