The Burma Campaign

5th (Mahratta) Anti-Tank Regiment, I.A.

The 5th (Mahratta) Anti-Tank Regiment, I.A. was raised on 1st January 1942 by the conversion of an infantry battalion, the 9th Battalion, 5th Mahratta Light Infantry.  The batteries regimented were the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th.  It subsequently served in Iraq with the 5th Indian Infantry Division.[1]

The Regiment returned to India from Iraq in June 1943, disembarking at Bombay on 6th June before moving to quarters at Chas, in Jharkhand state, arriving on 11th June.  At Chas, the Regiment took charge of 37 6-pounder anti-tank guns.[2]

On 25th August 1943, the Regiment ceased to be attached to the 5th Indian Infantry Division and reverted to the command of XV Indian Corps for all purposes.  During November 1943, although still Corps Troops, XV Indian Corps, the Regiment appears to have come under the command of 101 Lines of Communication Area for administration.[3]

The Regiment did not convert to become an anti-aircraft/anti-tank regiment at any time, according to the war diary, presumably because in August 1943 it became a corps rather than a divisional unit.  On 15th September 1943, the Regiment left Chas for Ranchi.  On 26th October 1943, a party of officers and men visited the “local aerodrome” to be shown different types of aircraft, however this may have been only for the benefit of the regimental anti-aircraft machine gunners.[4]  The Regiment is listed as Corps Troops, XV Indian Corps in December 1943, located at Barambe, near Ranchi.[5]

The Regiment returned to the command of the XV Indian Corps for all purposes with effect from 14th June 1944.[6]

(Note: The war diaries for 1943-1944 do not cover the period July-October 1944.) 

Indian divisional anti-tank regiments were once again the subject of reorganisation from August 1944, when they were reorganised to consist of three batteries, each equipped with twelve 6-pounder anti-tank guns and twelve 3-inch mortars.[7]  By November 1944, the 5th Regiment had converted to become one such anti-tank/mortar regiment, however it retained four batteries, presumably because it was an army or corps unit rather than a divisional one.  The Regimental Headquarters and the 17th Anti-Tank Battery left Ranchi on 4th November 1944, followed by the 18th and 19th Batteries the following day.  The Regiment arrived at Imphal on 19th November 1944, where it was informed that it had been allotted to the H.Q. 14th Army as Army Troops and had been sub-allotted to the H.Q. IV Corps.  The 20th Battery arrived at Imphal by 28th November 1944.  The Regiment left Imphal for Kalemyo on 29th December 1944.[8]

The Commanding Officers of the Regiment during 1943-1944 were:

Lt. Colonel J.F.G. Gurney
Lt. Colonel G.R. Dunbar from November 1944.

The Regiment remained serving as Army Troops, 14th Army until around June 1945 when it transferred to the 12th Army.  The Regiment later became the anti-tank regiment of the 5th Indian Infantry Division.[9]

[1] “History of The Regiment of Artillery, Indian Army”, Palit D.K., Leo Cooper (1972);”The British Armies in World War Two, An Organisational History”, Vol 10, Hughes, Ryan, Rothwell, Nafziger (2008).

[2] War diary 5th Anti-Tank Regiment, I.A., WO 172/2406.

[3] WO 172/2406

[4] WO 172/2406

[5] “The Arakan Operations, 1942-45”, Madan N.N., ed. Prasad, reprint by Pentagon Press (2012)

[6] War diary 5th Anti-Tank Regiment, I.A., WO 172/4757.

[7] Palit

[8] WO 172/4757

[9] WO 33 series