The Burma Campaign

Transcribed from National Archives File WO 172/986, War Diary 14th Burma Rifles by:  Steve Rothwell - The Burma Campaign web site.

The history of the 14th (Shan States) Battalion, The Burma Rifles can be found here.


W A R   D I A R Y

14th Burma Rifles


Hour, Date, Place

Summary of Events & Information.


4th Coy started forming


No.4 Shan Labour Coy started forming


Jem[adar] Sao Tun Po & Jem: Hkun Kyan War Posted to No.4 Shan Labour Coy


12 Other Ranks War Posted to No.4 Shan Labour Coy.


1 Declared Deserter.


4 men discharged.


12 Recruits enlisted.


12 Recruits enlisted.


24 Recruits enlisted.


52 Recruits enlisted.


3 Other Ranks War Posted to No.4 Shan Labour Coy.


53 Recruits enlisted.


1 Other Rank War Posted to No.4 Shan Labour Coy.


21 Recruits enlisted.


1 War Posted to No.4 Shan Labour Coy.


1 dismissed by Summary Court Martial.


2 Recruits enlisted.


1 man died.


14 Recruits enlisted.


1 Recruit discharged.


1      “       enlisted.


1     “             “


1 Recruit enlisted.


1 War Posted to No.4 Shan Labour Coy.


1 Recruit enlisted.


1 War Posted to No.4 Shan Labour Coy.


1 man died.


1 Recruit enlisted.


2 A.A. L.M.G. Posts [anti-aircraft machine gun] established at No.2 A.T. [Animal Transport] Coy Old Lines.



NO. 34/14/5

J.D. Tucker [1]

14 Burif
31-1-42 [2]

Lieut Col
Comdt 14 Burif




2 men discharged.


11 Recruits transferred from 13 BURIF


1 Recruit enlisted


2 recruits enlisted


Mongnai Post withdrawn and transferred to the following location – LOILEM/LAIKHA road to guard petrol dumps.

            M/S 2.5.     1 Pln: less 1 Sec:
            M/S 3.7.     1 Sec:


1 Recruit enlisted


1 man died


4 men discharged


1 man discharged


1 man enlisted


1 War Posted to No.4 Shan Labour Coy.


1 man enlisted


1 man enlisted


1 man enlisted



NO. 81/14/5

J.D. Tucker

14 Burif:

Lieut., Col,
Comdt 14 Burif:






War Diary of the 14th (Shan States) Bn B.T.F. for the month of APRIL 1942





1 Pl of C Coy under Jem[adar] Ng Pwint moved to LOIKAW and NANTAMPAK to relieve pl guarding bridge there.


1 Pl of B Coy under Jem Khun Leng returned from LOIKAW and NANTAMPAK after being relieved.


Jem Long Kyio and 6 men detailed as escort for a food train proceeding to MYINGYAN from SHWENYAUNG.


1) Capt Sao Hom Hpa[3] (Sawbwa[4] of N. Homin State) proceeded to LASHIO to organise state guerrillas and supervise police arrangements on road BURMA-CHINA running through NORTH HSENWI STATE.

2) 2/Lt Sao Hkim Tha[5] assumed command of A Coy.


Lt Zaw Win[6] (7 Burif) attached to 14 Burif for light duties.


16 Rfn deserted from SHWENYAUNG post taking their arms and 600 rds A.A.A. [small arms ammunition].


Air Raid in TAUNGGYI by 27 JAP bombers at 1230 hrs.  1. Rfm killed.  Town patrols and [illegible word] parties reorganised.  No case of looting reported.  All troops did good work.


Lt Zaw Win proceeded to LAWKSAWK to evacuate his family.  He remained at LAWKSAWK owing to illness and did not return to unit.

Withdrew No 1. AA LMG Post in TAUNGGYI under authority from HQ S.S.A. [Shan States Area – the command responsible for the lines of communication in that area].

SHWENYAUNG and YINMABIN dets of A Coy moved to A Coy HQ at KALAW on orders of HQ S.S.A.


Received orders from HQ S.S.A. regarding evacuation of TAUNGGYI.

Substance of orders as follows:  14 Burif personnel in TAUNGGYI and BFF (SSS Bn) [Southern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force] personnel in TGI were detailed as Rear Party & were to remain in TGI until the Chinese had withdrawn to a line just SOUTH of rd TAUNGGYI-HOPONG when they were to proceed to HSIPAW and LASHIO via SHWENYAUNG and LAWKSAWK.  Bullock cart and pack mule tpt was allotted.  HQ B Coy and two pls guarding NANTONG and NAMPAWN bridges were to hand over their bridges to the Chinese tps on their withdrawal after which they were to join HQ[?] 13 Burif at KAHSI MANSAM [Ke-Hsi Mansam].


1) Lt Col Brocklehurst[7] Comd No 2 S.S. Det [No 2 Special Service Detachment[8]] placed in command of TGI [Taunggyi] Rear Party

2) A Coy (less Jem Mg Aye 2 Havs[havildars] & 8 Rfn) stationed at KALAW deserted on night of 17/18 Apr.  The coy took their arms (rifles & bayonets) and 26,000 rds of S.A.A. and their two patrol lorries and proceeded to LAWKSAWK where they split up.  2/Lt Sao Hkim Tha and Jem Sao Kya Sone deserted with men and organised the desertion.

3) During this period desertions in TGI, especially from the recruits (D Coy) became widespread.  As many deserters were taking their arms and S.A.A., all arms and SAA were withdrawn from the men and kept in rifle [llots? illegible] and only issued for guards and duties only.  Surplus arms & ammunition were returned to TGI Advance Depot.  In spite of serious desertions from the lines V.P. [Vital Point] guards and AA LMG posts remained at their posts with only an occasional desertion although they could only be relieved once a week.  One reason given for desertions was the non receipt of all pay due to them up to date in their accumulated savings.  All men were paid up fully to 31 Mar incl all accumulated credits.  Morale became very low after the Air Raid and many more men deserted with the exception of men on guard & duties as previously detailed.



Nominal strength of personnel in TGI was approx as follows:

B Coy (less 3 Pls)        40 men.           HQ 14 Burif

C Coy (less 1 Pl)          90 men

D Coy (recruits)           200 men

But by 18 Apr only about 100 men remained in TGI.


1)  Jem Long Kyio returned from train escort to MYINGYAN.   Hav[ildar] Mg Win and 1 Rfn were missing after a heavy air raid on THAZI when they were passing through.

2) All AA LMG posts in TGI were withdrawn under orders from HQ SSA.

3) Balance of A Coy at KALAW withdrawn to TGI.  This party deserted on night 19/20 Apr.

4) One 3in Mortar and 3 Bren LMGs handed over to 2 S.S. Det under orders from HQ SSA and 3 Chinese Bren LMG’s received in exchange.


1) Jem Ng Avint and one pl C Coy returned from LOIKAW & NANPANTAK on relief by Chinese troops.  Col. J.F. Bowerman[9] liaison officer with the Chinese tps ordered the withdrawal of this pl to TGI.

2) Capt R.J.C. Clark[10] Comd C Coy evacuated by car to LASHIO on medical certificate.

3) At 2000 hrs Lt. Col Brocklehurst Comd TGI ordered the immediate evacuation of TGI.  Chinese resistance on road LOIKAW-HOPONG had collapsed and a Japanese armoured unit was advancing on HOPONG.  14 Burif was ordered to R.V. 10mls NORTH of SHWENYAUNG on road SHWENYAUNG-LAWKSAWK.

4) Capt S.K. Mojumder[11] ABRO(M) and 4 orderlies from the TGI Staging Sec reported to 14 Burif.

5) 14 Burif adv party reached R.V. 10mls NORTH of SHWEYAUNG at 2330 hrs.


1) One Pl B Coy under Jem Sao Shere guarding NAMPAWN BR ordered to withdraw to LOILEM by a staff officer attd to HQ SSA.  The majority of the pl had deserted before the final withdrawal was ordered.

2) HQ B Coy & one pl at NAMTENG BR withdrew to KEHSI MANSAM.  HQ SSA order to them to withdraw there had not been received by OC 13 Burif, but as the Coy Comd (Capt Sao Hkim Aung) & the Pl Comd (Jem Han Tun) were both absent these men were disarmed and allowed to return to their houses.


1) Balance of personnel in TGI joined Adv Party bringing strength up to about 70.  During the withdrawal to INDIA the majority of these men fell out or deserted.  The Shans did NOT leave the Shan States and the last of the Kachins deserted in the KHODAUNG HILL TRACTS which are mainly populated by Kachins.  Personnel who fell out were paid up to date.  After crossing the R. SHWELI at INGINBIN only HQ personnel & Chins remained.

2) OC Force (TGI Rear Party) ordered the destruction of one 3” mortar and 3 (three) Chinese Bren guns owing to lack of tpt.


3) Camped at INDAW – NORTH of LAWKSAWK.  2/Lt Sao L Choe[12] one Hav and 8 men sent to LAWKSAWK to obtain & escort bullock cart tpt.


Camped at INDAW BR about 3 miles NORTH of INDAW.


1) Unit took over Rear Gd

2) Remained at INDAW BR

3) 2/Lt Sao L Choe returned to unit.


Remained at INDAW BR.


1) Moved to 10 MILE CAMP.

2) B.F.F. took over Rear Gd.


1) Marched to KUNHING.

2) Took over 40 Chinese mules from S.S.S. Bn [Southern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force].


1) Camped at 28 MILE CAMP.

2) Took over 12 mules & two riding ponies from No. 2 A.T. Coy B.A.S.C. with 12 mule leaders.


Marched to NAUNGWO village.


1) Capt Thompson[13] with about 80 Karen Levies (from Karen Coy 1 Burif) and Capt Nimmo[14] with a further 120 Karen Levies arrived NAUNGWO from LAIKA en route to GOKTEIK GORGE.


2) An M. Inf [Mounted Infantry] patrol from the SSS Bn were sent forward by Comd TGI Force and were ambushed by about 200 JAPS at NAMLAN.  The survivors had been informed by villagers that HSIPAW and LASHIO were occupied by Jap troops.  Comd TGI Force ordered all tps to R.V. about 5 mls SOUTH of the R. NAMTU.  14 Burif reported at the R.V. at about 1800 hrs and orders were received for the TGI Force to divide into units and proceed to MOGOK and BHAMO independently.  The TGI Force was split up as follows:

a) About 3 BO’s & 20 BOR’s of 2 SS Det (Comd Lt Col Brocklehurst).

b) About 100 I.OR’s [Indian Other Ranks] from SSS Bn (Comd Capt Hutchinson)[15]

c) About 100 IOR’s from SSS Bn (Comd Capt Prentice)[16]

d) About 70 BAOR’s from 14 Burif incl 30 Gurkhas from SSS Bn (Comd Lt Col J.D. Tucker)


Capt David King[17] Staff Officer to Comd TGI Force joined Capt Thompson’s party of Karen Levies.  This party was also joined by the balance of personnel of No. 2 A.T. Coy BASC (approx one Jemadar & 45 BAOR’s & 45 mules).




Copies (2) to D.A.A.G.  H.Q.  2nd Echelon (Burma)



J.D. Tucker   Lt Col
Comd  14 Burif



War Diary of the 14th (Shan States) Bn B.T.F. for the month of May 1942





Proceeded to R. NAMTU.  Crossing facilities were limited and the unit was unable to cross this date.


1) Cross R. NAMTU by bamboo rafts, & loading ropes as the stream was very swift.  Mules & ponies swam.  One native dug out canoe was also utilised.

2) Six Mtd Inf [Mounted Infantry], the remainder of the Recce patrol ambushed at NAMLAN, under Naik Rattan Singh joined unit as they could not find their own unit.

3) Camped NORTH bank R.NAMTU.


Marched to NAUNGLENG village on road MAYMYO – HSIPAW.


Owing to the difficulty in obtaining reliable guides across country to MOGOK, the Unit proceeded to a point about 9 mls SOUTH of NAUNGHKIO (after crossing the GOTEIK GORGE by the iron bridge (road) which was still intact) and found a hack leading to KALAGWE.  After passing through NAUNGHKIO (which greatly troubled by armed dacoits at night) a Chinese Bn was met moving due NORTH along the road.  The Comd stated that they had evacuated MAYMYO just before the JAPANESE entered the town.  Camped about 2 miles WEST of road at about 2300 hrs.


Proceeded to HSIHKU village after narrowly missing a coy of Jap tps sent on recce from KALAGWE and occupying a local village.

6.5.42. & 7.5.42.

Proceeded by jungle tracks toward MONGLONG on road KEMAPYU–MOGOK.  Unit halted on hills SOUTH of MONGLONG as considerable tpt was heard on the road.  A patrol ascertained that the tpt was composed of a force of about 62 enemy vehicles, incl numerous AFV’s.  They were being held up by a road block or damaged road in a hollow for about 10 mins for each vehicle.  Vehicles arriving towards the end were not held up for very long.  The enemy halted in MONGLONG to take food and then proceeded towards MOGOK.  Sounds of a battle heard during night.  Unit withdrew to a village about 3 mls S.E. of MONGLONG.


1) Dispensed with the services of the Chinese muleteers (& their 40 mules) as they could not be relied upon to obey orders.  They had previously disobeyed a firm order during an emergency.

2) As men were exhausted & the country very hilly & difficult 6 Lewis Guns were destroyed.


1) Crossed road KEMAPYU-MOGOK about 3mls EAST of MONGLONG at about 0500 hrs

2) Split up into the following parties

a) 14 Burif personnel less Indian followers.

b) Gurkha party incl Indian followers

c) SSS Bn Mtd Infy ( 1Nk[naik] & 5 Sowars)

In addition a small party of 14 Burif Kachins proceeded independently.

Instructions and maps were issued to each party.  Orders were given to R.V. at BHAMO.  Each party was provided with pack mule tpt and money.  14 Burif party marched to NAMPAN and MANGHKUNG villages.


Marched to KUNHKA and camped about 4 miles NW of this village.


As no reliable information concerning the general military situation in BURMA was available it was decided to contact Capt Sao Hkim Hkyio [Sao Hkun Hkio] (Sawbwa of  Momeik State through which we were passing).[18]  Capt Hkim Hkyio was reported as being in a village about 2 mls EAST of MOMEIK [Möngmit].  Lt Col Tucker & Capt Macpherson[19] went forward & met Capt Hkim Hkyio who stated that KATHA and BHAMO were then held by the enemy.  The JAPS had sent forward information that they were arriving in MOMEIK that day en route to MYITSON.  About 5000 Chinese tps had been in the vicinity of MYITSON and were proceeding down the R. SHWELI and towards NAMHKAM.  Capt Thompson’s party had passed through MOMEIK about 3 days previously.


Unit marched to a village about 8mls NE of MOMEIK.


Marched to LOIYA through HKODAUNG HILL TRACTS and heard that the Japs had captured MYITKYINA.


1) Decided to march to INDIA along the following rough route: MYATDAUNG for R. IRRAWADDY – PINLEBYU – PAUNGBYIN (on R. CHINDWIN) – TAMU – IMPHAL.

2) Jem Thal Kul and 5 Chin mule leaders form 2 A.T. Coy proceeded independently.  Mule tpt & money were given them.  This party successfully reached the Chin Hills.


1) Marched to SHWEDAUNGYI on the R. SHWELI & then met Mr TURNBULL[20] B. Fr Service [Burma Frontier Service] who confirmed that MYITKYINA had fallen.

2) Crossed R. SHWELI at night by raft, swimming the animals.


1) Received information that the enemy had reached MOLO on the R.SHWELI en route to SHEWDAUNGYI and NAMHLAM.  They were following up the retreating Chinese columns.

2) Joined by two Sowars from det Mtd Inf Tp which had proceeded independently on 8.5.42.  Party had been ambushed by Japs at SIN & the remainder of the party were taken prisoner.  One Sowar joined Jem That Kul’s party.

3) Jem Thal & his party joined forces with Mr Turnbull B. Fr Service.


During night 15/16 May crossed a hack running from MABEIN to SIN. Japs reported to have sent tanks over this hack which runs through SUPIEN[?].  It is a fair weather track only, needing considerable improvement before being readily passable by M.T.




Marched to junction of Rivers MAINGTHA and SHWELI and crossed R. SHWELI below INGINBIN by dugouts which first had to be repaired.  Previously used by Chinese tps.


1) Met party of about 15 (B.A.F. & civilians) personnel from BAWDWIN MINE.  They crossed the R. IRRAWADDY at KANNI and proceeded towards HOMALIN.

2) Reached banks of R. IRRAWADDY just north of MYATDAUNG.

3) Japs reported top be using about 100 boats on the river.  They were constructed of steel about 12 ft long.  They very seldom travelled by night.  These boats were capable of taking 12/14 men & were propelled by an outboard motor.  The enemy were also reported to be stopping at villages & collecting supplies etc.  Nearest enemy occupied posts were at INYWA and KATHA.


1) Crossed R. IRRAWADDY by sampan NORTH of MYATDAUNG between 0500-0600 hrs.  Animals swam river in 2 stages, crossing to an island on night 18/19 May & completing crossing on 19 May.

2) We were unable to cross the river during darkness as villages were well armed and started firing as we approached the island.  From this stage until the R. CHINDWIN was reached villagers were generally very nervous and it was very difficult to enter a village after dark unless they had been warned of our approach by villagers sent on in advance for this purpose by us.


Most villages had rifles & SAA. which they used for their defence against armed dacoits which were very widespread and prevalent throughout this area.  Reports were received of dacoits by day as well as by night.


Marched to MAGYIBIN.


1) Crossed railway line MDLY-MYITKYINA NORTH of GIN by night.  A train (armoured?) approached from the direction of NABA JUNC.  Villagers reported that the enemy had been using the line for some days & we heard other trains.

2) Japs reported to have posts at all large railway stations.  400 reported at WUNTHU and a smaller post at GIN.  Japs also reported to be at PINLEBYU in strength and using road WUNTU[sic]-PINLEBYU for transport of tps by M.T.

3) Camped about 3 mls WEST of railway line

4) There was also a fair weather road running parallel to the Railway used by the enemy.


1) Marched to HINNEBAN by a difficult jungle track.

2) As reported a large Japanese force was at PINLEBYU and parties of about 300 JAPS were proceeding daily up the R. MU (MU CHOUNG) branching off to THAYETKON en route to THAYOUNGON on R. CHINDWIN.  They were using a small jungle track.  Tracks were evidence supporting the villagers’ report.  Their track ran along the MU CHOUNG.  Villagers were being impressed as porters.


1) Reached to a point near R, CHINDWIN about 24 mls down stream from SITTAUNG.

2) Unable to cross R. CHINDWIN at this point as Japs reported to have frequent river and track patrols by day and night.  Country boats were used in addition to outboard motor boats which were chiefly used by day.  Night patrols in country boats were very silent & were reported to be very quick on the trigger.  Patrols (enemy) were based on MAHIN village in this area.

3) The enemy were reported to be using about 40 boats similar in construction to those used on R. IRRAWADDY and were mainly employed in collecting and carrying supplies.

4) 7000 Japs were said to have marched up EAST bank of R. CHINDWIN by 20.5.42. en route to UPPER AUKTAUNG-PAUNGBYIN and THAYAUNG which were all strongly held.  Japs reported to have informed local guides that they were proceeding to HOMALIN.


Marched 8 mls up R. CHINDWIN to neighbourhood of LOWER AUKTAUNG.

1) This march was along a track previously used by Japanese forces marching up EAST bank of R. CHINDWIN and was liberally marked by pieces of paper indicating direction and bearing unit code names.  Specimens are:


2) The Japs had treated the local population in the CHINDWIN area very harshly.  Patrols had removed all food and clothing and what they didn’t want they wantonly destroyed.  Requisitions made at the point of the bayonet & no payment made.  Villagers were being mistreated as coolies.  Jap troops reported to be very badly clothed & often without footwear of which they demanded from the villagers.


4) Further EAST in the BHAMO-NAMHKAM area it was reported that the Japs had been attempting to gain the support of the local population by the free distribution of clothing & even money & by opening of bazaars.

5) In the area R. IRRAWADDY-CHINDWIN all the villagers were very scared and were living in the jungle near their villages.  Near the R. IRRAWADDY they were frightened of the Chinese troops in addition to dacoits in the R. Chindwin area the Japs took the place of the Chinese.  Stragglers from Chinese units were behaving like armed dacoits in many cases and small parties of Chinese troops under Junior Officers also behaved badly.  The fear of Chinese troops was widespread and very great.

6) Throughout our march from TAUNGGYI we invariably found villagers friendly and helpful once their confidence had been gained.  The fact that there were two British Officers in our party who spoke Burmese was a great help and also the ready payment for all services & supplies.  At least 4 guides were always taken as they were frightened of the return journey.  Villagers only knew a ten mile radius from their own villages but knew the DIRECTION & names of large villages within 20 miles.  They were noticeably weak in guiding by night, even within a few miles of their own villages.  The above remarks in general apply to SHAN, PALAUNG–KACHIN & BURMAN villagers.




Copies (2) to D.A.A.G.  H.Q.  2nd Echelon (Burma)


J.D. Tucker   Lt Col
Comd  14 Burif


War Diary of the 14th (Shan States) Bn B.T.F. for the month of June 1942





1) Crossed CHINDWIN RIVER at night between LOWER AUKTAUNG and a point due EAST of KUDDU CHOUNG village.

2) Camped outside KUDDU CHOUNG village which is on the river.


Decided to proceed to ALEECHAUNG by the following route: KUDDU CHOUNG – WUNTHU – YAUNG YAUNG – PYAMAKYUT – ALEECHOUNG.


The above hack is extremely difficult & is mainly along the beds of chaungs.  Huge rocks abound interspersed with smaller ones and there are several deep pools and stretches of water to negotiate.  it is an elephant hack passable to foot parties in dry weather.  Three elephants were hired from BBTC [Bombay Burma Trading Corporation] personnel in neighbourhood of KUDDU CHOUNG to carry our baggage, saddlery, food – our animals proceeded unloaded.  We lost one animal.  It took 3 days to travel 20 miles.  The track is unsuitable to animal tpt almost throughout its length.  Elephants returned from ALLEECHOUNG.


Marched to vicinity of ALEECHOUNG near the YU CHOUNG.


Crossed YU CHOUNG and camped near MAMAW YUWA (village) immediately EAST of road KALEMYO-TAMU.

This was the only area in which the local population were generally unfriendly.  We were greatly helped by employees of the BBTC Ltd who acted as guides and obtained the services of friendly Burmans.  The hostile attitude was put down as a result of the attitude of certain troops (unspecified) who had withdrawn up the road towards TAMU.

The enemy in the CHINDWIN area had been dropping pamphlets stating that villagers who did not disclose parties of British or Indian troops or Chinese troops or who helped these troops would be treated as enemies.


1) Crossed road KALEMYO-TAMU and marched to MAMAWCHINYUWA, inhabited by CHINS and on the BURMA border.  The monsoon arrived & there was heavy rain.



Marched to MOLTUN.


1) Marched to MOMBI.

2) Encountered a post manned by one Pl ASSAM RIF [Assam Rifles}.


1) Marched to SHUGANU

2) Encountered an ASSAM RIF post (one coy less one pl).

3) Met two officers of 23 IND DIV [23rd Indian Infantry Division] supervising return of 350 Chins to CHIN HILLS

4) Jem Ngun Hai & two Chins from 2 A.T. Coy paid up & went back to Chin Hills.


Remainder of party taken by Jeep to PALEIL [sic – Palel].


1) Reported to 23 IND DIV and IV CORPS HQ.

2) Reported to 1 BURDIV [1st Burma Infantry Division] at M.S. 105 and received orders to proceed to RANCHI.

Party comprised the following;

Lt Col J.D. Tucker                   Comd 14 Burif
Capt J.A.E. Macpherson                      Ajt 14 Burif
Capt S.K. Mojumder                ABRO(M) attd 14 Burif
Jem Badhlawar Singh              Hd Grade Clerk 14 Burif
Hav Kaitan Singh                     1st Grade Clerk 14 Burif.
One Sowar (Sikh) from SSS Bn BFF (handed over to BFF Camp at M.S. 105.)
One private servant to Capt Mojumder.[21]




Copies (2) to D.A.A.G.  H.Q.  2nd Echelon (Burma)


J.D. Tucker   Lt Col
Comd  14 Burif




[1] John Darley Tucker, born, 21st December 1897.  Commissioned into the Gloucestershire Regiment, 2nd Lt., 16th August 1916.  Appointed Indian Army as 2nd Lt. (AI 14), 16th August 1916, with seniority from 25th February 1918.  Served France, November 1916 to April 1917.  Promoted Lieutenant, 16th August 1917, with seniority from 25th February 1918.  Promoted Lieutenant, 16th February 1918.  Acting Captain, 23rd April 1918 to 2nd September 1919.  Served Iraq, wounded, August 1920 to December 1920.  Promoted to Captain, 16th August 1920.  As Lieutenant, attached 3rd Battalion, 70th Burma Rifles, 1921.  Served with the 20th Burma Rifles from formation, 10th February 1922.  Indian Staff College, 24th August 1923 to 31st January 1928.  Instructor Army Signal School, 24th August 1923 to August 1925.  Served Burma (Saya San Rebellion), 1930-32.  Promoted to Major, 16th August 1934.  Adjutant, Auxiliary Force India, 26th February 1935.  Served with the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, April 1939.  As Major, served with 6th Battalion, The Burma Rifles, to January 1942.  Possibly attached to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles for a few days after the fall of Tavoy, 20th January 1942.  As Lt. Colonel, Commanding Officer, the 14th (Shan States) Battalion, The Burma Rifles, January 1942.  As Major, served with 6th Battalion, The Burma Rifles, to January 1942.  Possibly attached to the 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles for a few days after the fall of Tavoy, 20th January 1942.  Promoted to Lt. Colonel, 16th August 1942.  Officer Commanding, No. 4 Holding & Enquiry Centre, 20th February 1946.  Retired, 19th March 1948 ("War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941", Savannah (2004); British Army List; Indian Army List; London Gazette; War Diary 3rd Burma Rifles, WO 172/976 (War diary 3rd Burma Rifles); War Diary 14th Burma Rifles, WO 172/986 (War diary 14th Burma Rifles)).

[2] The diary refers to two appendices; one lists the significant equipment shortages and the other training manuals which had not yet been received.

[3] Sao Hom Hpa, born 1906.  The 66th Saohpa (Sawbwa or “ruler”) of North Hsenwi, from 1925/July 1927 to 1952, crowned May 1947.  Most of the officers of the battalion were Sawbwas  (; HSENWI (Theinni) (Shan Princely State)).

[4] Sawbwa – a royal title used by rulers of the Mong of the Shan States of Burma (Myanmar) (

[5] 2/Lt Sao Hkim Tha cannot be identified.

[6] Zaw Win.  In 1939, Burma Police, Officer on probation, Shwebo.  Commissioned 2nd Lt., ABRO, 1st November 1940.  Served with 7th Burma Rifles (London Gazette).

[7] Henry Courtney Brocklehurst, born 27th May 1888, Swythamley, Staffordshire.  Commissioned 10th Hussars.  Royal Flying Corps, 1916-1918.  Game warden of the Sudan.  On the Special List (April 1942), as temporary Lt.Colonel, 1st December 1940.  From late 1941, C.O. of 2nd Special Service Detachment, initially based at the Bush Warfare School, Maymyo.  Brocklehurst drowned in late June whilst fording a river.  Date of death is given as 28th June 1942 by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

[8] No. 2 Special Service Detachment.  Formed to train men for 204 British Military Mission to China.  In late 1941 it was based at the Bush Warfare School in Maymyo.

[9] John Francis Bowerman, born 28th November 1893.  In ranks 187 days (temporary 2nd Lt., 26th January 1915 to 31st July 1916; temporary Lieutenant, 1st August 1918 to 28th November 1918).  Commissioned Lieutenant, Machine Gun Corps, 26th October 1916.  First World War, served Iraq, 18th September 1916 to 31st May 1917; wounded; Operations against  the Marris ( N.W. frontier), 20th February 1918 to 25th March 1918.  Appointed Indian Army, 29th November 1918.  Promoted to Captain, 20th October 1919.  Served Afghanistan, N.W. Frontier 1919; Waziristan, 1920-21; Waziristan 1921-24.  Attached to 1stBattalion, 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis (1921), later 10th Baluch Regiment.  Served N.W Frontier of India, 1930-31.   Seconded to Burma from 26th January 1931, Burma Military Police.  Promoted to Major 20th October 1933.  Served Burma, 1930-32 (Saya San Rebellion).  Commandant, Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1937.  Inspector General, Burma Frontier Force, 1938 until 9 months leave until 22nd October 1938.  Commandant, Southern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, 1938-1942.  Liaison Officer to Chinese Army in the Southern Shan States, April 1942.  Assumed command of the Burma Frontier Force in Myitkyina on 4th May 1942.  Later, as Brigadier-General, C.O. 2nd Burma Brigade in India from 1st October 1942.  Commander of British troops at Fort Herz, 1944?.  As temporary Brigadier, awarded C.B.E., 6th June 1946.  Died 18th December 1983 (British Army List; Indian Army List; “War Services of British and Indian Officers of the Indian Army 1941”, Savannah (2004); IOR L/WS/1/1313; WO 203/5694).

[10] Possibly R.J.C. Clark, Emergency Commission as 2nd Lt., 28th April 1941 (British Army List).

[11] Sanat Kumar Mojumder, MB.  Commissioned as Lieutenant, ABRO(M), Medical Service, 21st October 1940 (Anglo-Burmese Library).

[12] Sao L Choe cannot be identified.

[13] Arthur Leonard Bell Thompson, born, 1st December 1917.  Before joining the Army, worked on the staff of Steel Brothers, Rangoon, 1941.  Promoted to Lieutenant, ABRO (ABRO 088), 14th October 1941.  Served with the 1st Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1941 to 23rd March 1942.  As Company Commander of the Karen Company, 1st Battalion, The Burma Rifles, ordered to take his company from Toungoo to support the Karen Levies operating in the Mawchi area., 23rd March 1942.  Served as Lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles, 1944.  Served with Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.), 1944 to 1945.  As temporary Captain, The Burma Rifles, awarded the Distinguished Service Order, gazetted, 22nd March 1945, the citation for which reads:

Brigade: Burma Levies, Burma Army

Unit:  1st Burma Rifles, attached Burma Levies

Action for which recommended: -   On March 23rd, 1942, Captain Thompson, with 135 Karens of his Bn. was ordered to join a Burma Levies detachment under Capt. Boyt in the Karen Hills.  His force was limited to one rifle and 50 rds. per man, plus four TSMG [Thomson Sub-Machine Guns].  Capt. Thompson was ordered to cover demolitions by levies on the Toungoo-Mawchi road.  on 2/4/42 the Japs moved up the road a spearhead of approx. one Bn. supported by AFVs and m/c troops.  Capt. Thompson engaged this greatly superior enemy force at the Paletwa bridge, which had been destroyed, and delayed it with heavy casualties till his left flank was overrun and his position turned.  Capt. Thompson then extricated his force and took up another position further up the road.  25 Karens were lost in this engagement.  Sporadic minor clashes occurred as the enemy moved cautiously forward until 4/4/42, when the party took up a new position over the next major demolition and again fought it out till overrun, inflicting heavy casualties on the Japs and greatly delaying and discouraging them.  In this action the Karens lost a further 45 men including Sub. Thong Pe.  After assisting with further demolitions the party then passed through the Chinese who had by then moved up.  Throughout this period Capt. Thompson’s party was subjected to constant pressure by a greatly superior enemy.  Capt. Thompson showed the highest quality of courage, leadership, and skilful handling of his men throughout.  His determined reaction to enemy pressure during this critical period was of the utmost importance to all concerned in this very significant action.  In all Capt. Thompson gained some four days time for regrouping of the Chinese 6th Army in the Southern Shan States.  This enabled the 6th Army to hold up the Japs just long enough to let the Chinese 5th Army, then fighting at Pyinmana, send a division (the 200th) round to Taunggyi in time to stem the enemy’s thrust westwards through Thazi-Meiktila-Yenangyaing.  It is a fact that Capt. Thompson’s magnificent delaying action saved the Chinese and British armies in Burma from encirclement.

Though this particular action forms the subject of this recommendation it was not the end of Capt. Thompson’s excellent work.  Although later cut off by the enemy, he withdrew the very small remnants of this force through their lines and brought his men to safety in Fort Herz after a march of some 900 miles.  Throughout this desperate adventure, made as it was with virtually no supplies and very little money for food, Capt. Thompson continued to display the same high standard of leadership, and it is safe to say that without it none of the party could have made the journey.

Recommended by: H. Stevenson (late Lt. Col, Commandant Burma Levies)


Worked as an industrial journalist for the steel industry, post- war.  After the war became a writer of crime and thriller novels, writing under the pen name of Francis Clifford, late 1950s.  Died, 24th August 1975.  Wrote an account (under his pen name Francis Clifford) of his trek through Burma to Fort Herz from where he was eventually flown out to India.  Published after his death, 1st January 1979  ("Desperate Journey", A.L.B. Thompson writing as Francis Clifford, Hodder & Stoughton (1979); Anglo-Burmese Library; HS 9/1/1460/6; Wikipedia - Francis Clifford; London Gazette; Thacker's Directory 1941; War Diary 1st Burma Rifles, WO 172/974 (War diary 1st Burma Rifles).

Captain Thompson’s company subsequently took part in “…. the first battle of Mawchi road in 1942.   After the Japanese capture of Toungoo a Karen Coy which fought its way out of Toungoo was assigned to the Northern Karen levies and took part in a spirited action on the Mawchi road.   A glance at the map shows the strategic importance of this road, which is one of the main roads into the Shan States by way of Mawchi,  Loikaw and Taunggyi.   The Coy, 150 strong, was  under  command  of Captain  Thompson  and  held  a  strong Japanese  vanguard  for many  hours  at  the  28th  milestone,  inflicting heavy  casualties on  the enemy.    Boyt, by dint of driving all night from Mawchi,  arrived in  time  for the  battle  and  both he  and  Thompson  had  narrow  escapes.  Boyt  being blown  up  (but only  slightly injured) by  a  mortar bomb,  and  Thompson  having a  dud  bomb  rolled down the hill between his legs.  When it became clear that they were greatly outnumbered and could no longer hold  the  Japanese  they withdrew  up  the  road  blowing up  all  the bridges.  This action,  for which  Thompson  was  awarded  D.S.O. and  Boyt  the M.C., and  the destruction of the bridges  delayed  the  Japanese  for  several  days, and  gave  the  Chinese  6th Army time  to prepare positions  east  and  west  of Mawchi where  they  fought  stubbornly.  Although Thompson and Boyt estimated that they killed only thirty Japanese, Karen villagers later reported counting more than eighty graves.  When they occupied Mawchi, the Japanese  made  propaganda amongst  the  people  by  saying  that at  the  28th  milestone  they,  a  column  of only 700 men, had vanquished and  driven  back  the  spearhead  of  the  Chinese  6th  Army.  Standing instructions at  that  time  were  that,  when an area was overrun by  the Japanese,  officers were  to  make  their way  North and  levies  were  to  hide  their arms, lie low and  wait  for the  British return.”  (‘Memoirs of the Four Foot Colonel’, Smith Dun, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Library (1980); )

[14] James Russel Nimmo.  Before the war, employed by McGregor & Co.  Commissioned 2nd Lt., ABRO, 16th December 1941.  As Major, The Burma Regiment, in October 1943, parachuted into the Karen Hills to operate behind Japanese lines.  Was killed when his camp was surrounded by the Japanese, 15th February 1944  (London Gazette; Anglo-Burmese Library; Karen Heritage; Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

[15] Thomas Coulter Hutchinson, born, 27th November 1913.  Before joining the Army, was a "Rangoon banker", 1941.  Commissioned to the General List from O.C.T.U. as 2nd Lt. (189600), 28th April 1941.  Posted to the Northern Shan States Battalion at Lashio, 5th May 1941.  Temporary Major, 15th June 1941.  As Captain, Southern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force, on the withdrawal from Taunggyi as part of Taunggyi Rear Party.  Took command of a SSS Battalion party for the trek to India, 30th April 1942.  War substantive Captain, 15th June 1944.  After the war appears to have returned to banking in the Far East, 1945 ("Distinctly I Remember", H. Braund, Wren (1972); British Army List; FindMyPast; London Gazette; War Diary 14th Burma Rifles, WO 172/986 (War diary 14th Burma Rifles)).

[16] Alan Sharp Prentice, born, 1910.  Travelled to Rangoon aboard SS "Pegu", occupation "Clerk", leaving Birkenhead, 18th April 1935.  Joined the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, 1935.  Travelled to Rangoon, aboard SS "Salween", leaving Glasgow, 26th July 1940.  Commissioned from OCTU Cadet to the General List as 2nd Lt. (217681), 26th October 1941.  Officer Commanding Heho Aerodrome Guard, Southern Shan States Battalion, B.F.F., 1942.  War substantive Lieutenant, 14th March 1942.  Part of the Southern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force detachment forming part of Taunggyi Rear Party on the withdrawal from Taungyyi.  Led a detachment of around 100 men to India, a journey of around 750 miles.  Served with the Kachin Levies, out of Fort Herz, 1942 to 1944.  Temporary Captain, 30th November 1942.  First post-war Agent of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company at Mandalay, 31st August 1945.  As Mercantile Assistant, Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, resident in Mandalay, married Brenda Ruth Houston, Rangoon.  Travelled from Rangoon to Glasgow, aboard SS "Prome" with wife.  Occupation "Irrawaddy Flotilla Company", 1st June 1947.  Left the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company upon nationalisation, 1948.  Managing Director of the road transport subsidiary of the Colonial Development Corporation, Tanganyika, 1949 to 1951.  Returned to the United Kingdom, 1952.  Worked for Stonegate Farmers, United Kingdom, 1952 to 1973 (Anglo-Burmese Library;"Tales of Burma", A. McCrae, James Paton (1981); "Scots in Burma", A. McCrae;; British Army List; FindMyPast; London Gazette).

[17] David King.  Commissioned, 2nd Lt., ABRO, 3rd January 1942 (London Gazette; Anglo-Burmese Library).

[18] Sao Hkun Hkio, born 1921.  Saopha (Sawbwa or “ruler”) of Möngmit (Momeik), February 1937 to 1952 (Wikipedia - Rulers of Shan State).

[19] James Alexander Ewen Macpherson, born 1st March 1913.  Commissioned 2nd Lt., ABRO (ABRO 051), 10th November 1939.  Promoted Lieutenant, 11th May 1941.   As temporary Captain, member of Force 136, Special Operations Executive (SOE), 1945 (London Gazette; Anglo-Burmese Library; Special Forces Roll of Honour; National Archives file HW 9/971/9).

[20] Gilbert Edward Turnbull, born 1st October 1908, Lanarkshire, Scotland.  Joined the Burma Frontier Service on 15th January 1935.  Commissioned as 2nd Lt., ABRO (ABRO1119), 15th February 1943.  As temporary Major, awarded M.B.E., gazetted 17th January 1946.  Relinquished commission as 2nd Lt. and granted rank of honorary Major, 20th January 1946.  Died 19th September 1964, buried Maymyo Cemetery (London Gazette; Anglo-Burmese Library; Maymyo Register of Cemeteries)

[21] The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database lists the following men of the 14th Burma Rifles.  Dates of death are not known.

Rifleman  AIK SAI HAI

Jemadar     CAN THEIN MAUNG.