The Burma Campaign

1st Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

War diary 1st February 1942 – 30th April 1942

Transcribed from WO 172/863 by Graham Woolgar (email).  Thank you, Graham.


1st – 28th Feb

Meerut & Faridabad Camp nr Delhi

Coy & Bn training from camp near Delhi. Camp period coincided with the Bn taking part in a ceremonial parade in New Delhi in honour of the visit of Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek

Meerut 24 Feb

              5 Mar

              0600 hrs 6 Mar

              0800 hrs

Mobilization orders received

Bn completed mobilization

1st Troop Special left Meerut for Barrackpore (Bn HQ, HQ Coy, A Coy)

2nd Troop Special left Meerut for Asansol (B, C, D Coys)

Barrackpore 1700 hrs 8 Mar

1st Troop special arrived at race course siding & troops detrained & went into bivouac on race course.

Asansol 1200 hrs 8 Mar

2nd Troop special arrived & troops detrained & went into bivouac near the aerodrome.

Dum Dum Aerodrome 0900 hrs 9 Mar

Bn HQ, part of HQ Coy left for Magwe in DC2’s & one B****ey

Asansol   0900 hrs 9 Mar

Part of personnel left in 4 B17 & 1 Liberator

Dum Dum  (9 – 14 Mar)

Ferrying continued  from both aerodromes until at 1400 hours, 14th March last plane load from Dum Dum landed at Magwe. Strength of Bn  31 Officers 610 Ors.

Magwe 9 March

On arrival CO (Lt Col R G S Cox MC) was ordered to take over defence of Magwe aerodrome.

Magwe 12 March

Bn ordered to leave by MT

Magwe 14 March 1200 hrs

Advance party left Magwe for Prome  [Prome = Pyay]


During the period 9 – 14 March M.T. of a sort was given to the Bn & consisted of  B.O.C. vehicles RAF vehicles & private cars

Pishal [?] 19 March 0800 hrs

Bn concentrated in the Prome area. Occupation of defensive position on the eastern outskirts of the town completed.One coy astride the main road 2 miles South of the town. N.b.

Prome 28 March

[?] Coy D Coy (Maj H F C Lewin Comd) ordered to form part of a small striking force to harass Jap advance on main Rangoon – Pishal[?] road

Shwedaung 29th March

Force cut off by the Japs forming a road block in the area of Shwedaung

Shwedaung & Prome 30 March

Force fought its way back through the road block. Bn suffered 13 OR’s killed 4 OR’s wounded.

Prome 30th March

1400 hrs 30th March Bn placed under the orders of 48 Bde

2000 hrs placed at ½ hour readiness & came under orders of 1 Bur[ma?] Div

Prome 1 April

2300 hrs Jap attacks commenced from S.E. & South of Prome

Prome 2nd April 0100 hrs

                           0700 hrs

Bn withdrew to 1 Bur div area North of Prome

Bn embossed & withdrew Northwards to Allanmyo (30 miles)

Allanmyo 2nd April 1200 hrs

Arrived Allanmyo & occupied defensive position covering S.E. approaches to the town

Alllanmyo 4th April

CO (Lt Col R G S Cox MC) took over temp comd of 13 I.I. [Indian Infantry?] Bde

2 I/C (Maj A B Mc Connell took over temp comd of 1 Innisks

CO ordered to withdraw in MT to a concentration area at 309 ms [milestone?] Rangoon – Mandalay Road

Alllanmyo 6th April

Lt Col R G S Cox resumed command of 1 Innisks

6th April 0100 hrs

6th April 1200 hrs

Withdrawal from Allanmyo commenced

Bn in concentration area at 309 ms & brigaded with 5/1 Punjabs, 1/18 Gharwali Rifles, 13 I I Bde. Comd Brig A C Curtis.

309 ms 10th April 0800 hrs


                             1200 hrs

CO (Lt Col R G S Cox MC) killed by Jap plane machine gunning road while driving in a ‘Jeep’ with Bde Comd.

CO buried at 309 ms

Maj S B McConnell assumed command. Maj B J H Boyle appt 2I/C

Recces carried out forward in area of 300 ms

300 ms 10th April/11 April night of

Defensive pos’n occupied 4 miles North of Alebo South of the main Rangoon – Mandalay Road

300 ms 11th April

Patrol activity South of defensive position. Jap forward elements contacted. 2/Lt P J Kelly     OR’s reported reported wounded & missing. Fighting patrols sent out with object of bringing in casualties. No trace found.

300 ms 11th April 1400 hrs

Fighting patrol ordered to clear village near ALEBO. Lifted to village area by 3 tanks (Stuarts) of 2nd R.T.R. Engaged about 50 enemy & during action 2/Lt H A Wilson wounded 6 OR’s killed 7 wounded. 2/Lt H A Wilson died later on hospital ship.

Owing to fine[?] observation from forward areas enemy attempts to infiltrate beaten off by long range V[ickers?] MG fire and fire from 3.7 how[itzer]s of 2nd Mtn Bty.

Orders received to withdraw.

12th April 1900 hrs

Withdrawal commenced & new position occupied South of 307 ms. No contact in this position.

13th April 2000 hrs

Withdrawal ordered & commenced at 2000 hrs by MT.

Bn R.V. [Rendezvous?] in area 321 ms & defensive position occupied on the North of main road.

16th April 0900 hrs

M.T. ordered to withdraw by main road to ms 349 North of Magwe, two vehicles 2 OR’s lost by air bombing.

16th April 1200 hrs

Bn marched across country due North to area 341 ms. Bombed & machine gunned en route. Owing to dispersion no casualties.

16th April 1900 hrs

Bn concentrated East of main road about 349 ms.

17th April 0200 hrs

Bn M.T. ordered to proceed to a dispersal area North of the Pin Chaung [Pinchaung River] on the main road 7 miles N of the YENANG YAUNG oil fields.

Yenang Yuang 17th April 0600 hrs

Japs had cut road however & M.T. was unable to get through.

During the day Jap party infiltrated into the town & got amongst the vehicles some of which had to be abandoned. Remainder repaired  Bn[?]

Bn marched during the day to bivouac area South of Yenang Yuang.

Orders were received that night for an attack through the oilfields with the object of outflanking the jap positions in the town.

18th April 0600 hrs

Bde moved to the start line for the attack through the oilfields Punjabs Gharwalis leading 1 Innisks in reserve.

1300 hrs

1st[?] Bound[?] Hill 510 made good & attack continued. Strong resistance met with on final objective Hill 501 and leading Bn’s held up. 1 Innisks ordered to go through & continue attack. Some ground gained but owing to thick nature of the area and V G [very good?] strong point occupied by the enemy in a village the situation became confused. 2 Coys (A&D) & 2I/C Maj B J H Boyle pushed on & lost contact. The remainder were held up

1700 hrs

At nightfall attempts were made to reorganise & bring up food & water. During the days fighting A/Capt R J Thomas 2/Lt I E C McKee & 2/Lt D H B Tuckey & a number of other ranks were killed in very close fighting. Burials were carried out during the night.

Yenang Yaung 19th April 0400 hrs





1400 hrs




2200 hrs

Japs began attack from village area & it was soon apparent that during the night large numbers had infiltrated into the Bde area and were sniping from all directions. All available forces were collected & attacks on Jap positions resumed at 0700 hrs. Strong resistance was met with & sniping was intense. The CO A/Lt Col S B McConnell was hit early in the morning & died some hours later at the RAP. The two Coys under the 2nd I/C had still not made contact and nothing was known of them.

The order was given to break contact & bypass the Jap position to the east. This was done & at about 1800 hrs the Pinchaung had been crossed & the remnants had reached the main road running North from Yenang Yaung. In the meantime the Chinese 38 div had established itself on the north bank of the Pinchaung & was engaging the Japs.

A RV was established at 370 ms & stragglers collected. Approx 80 men of A & D Coys rejoined under command of Maj H F C Lewin having been captured on the night of 18th. This force had crossed the Pinchaung preparatory to establishing a bridge head & made contact with what the Comd thought was the advance Chinese elements. The recognition signal had been correctly replied to  & troops had begun to fraternise when it was realised that the ‘Chinese’ were in reality Japs. By this time the party was surrounded. They were taken into the village which our own forces were attacking, stripped of everything but their clothes & shut up in the top storey of a bamboo house. On the evening of 19th they escaped when our own tanks & artillery supported a Chinese counter attack on the village. Major B J H Boyle & Capt P J Colgour[?] were reported missing

19/20 April

During the night stragglers continued to come in to the perimeter camp formed by 1 Innisks. Cameronians & KOYLI casualties were evacuated. Capt J A Clifford assumed command.

374 ms 20 April 1200 hrs

Bn marched to the Bde assembly area near 374 ms reorganised & rested during the afternoon.

404 ms 20/21 April

During the night M.T. was allotted & the bn was ferried to the 404 ms near to M[oun]t Popa. Arriving at 0500 hrs 21 April.

404 ms 22 April 0600 – 1000 hrs

Bn marched to Bivouac area on the lower slopes of Mt Popa arriving about 1000 hrs.

23rd April 1200 hrs

Bn proceeded by MT to bivouac area in Taungtha. Morale was low at this time & a thorough clean up took place together with the issue of some new clothing & equipment which was badly needed. Some time was spent on P.T. & drill.

25th April 1600 hrs

The Bde was ordered to Myingyan to occupy a rear guard position to cover the withdrawal of the Chinese 38th Div. 1 innisks were allotted the role of rear guard to the Bde & occupied a position South of the town astride the main road HQ[?] being situated in one of STEEL Pacos[?] cotton mills

Myingyan 26 April 1900 hrs

Bn acting as rear guard to 13 I I Bde withdrew from Myingyan by march route. The last Coy to leave the town B coy (A/Capt D P Farell) blew the large bridge in the centre of the town. The route of withdrawal followed the main road out of the town & then by track to SAMEIK[K]ON on the Irrawaddy River. 26 miles. This march was one of the worst during the campaign.

SAMEIKON 27th April 1000 hrs

Bn arrived & were ferried across the Irrawaddy during the day & went into bivouac in the area of a wood 1½ miles N. of the river.

Sameikon 27 – 30 April

This period was spent in further cleaning up, resting & reorganising t[roo]ps as the Bn was now on a mule & bullock cart basis.

Sameikon 30th April 1700 hrs

Bn left the bivouac area & during night march[ed] 17 miles to NGALONDIN arriving 0800 hrs. Information was received that the Japs had cut the road at MU-A. 10 miles further north. After a short halt the Bn continued the march to Chang-U 5 miles further North. A halt was made here & recces carried out & at 1500 hrs the Bde marched to a large Pagoda S.E. of MU-A 10 miles.


29 November 2017