British Army in Burma

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 1824) Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, with Major General G N Wood in a jeep during a visit to the 25th Indian Division, January 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Frightfully unqualified for anything, Mountbatten made numerous ghastly mistakes. His appointment in South East Asia did increase morale of the “Forgotten Army of Burma” since he was a member of the royal family and enjoyed massive press coverage.  In fact, Mountbatten made the “forgotten army of Burma” quite famous. Very keen on publicity was Dickie Mountbatten. His HQ in Ceylon had a staff of 7,000 men and women a number of whom spent their time getting him publicity.

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 2358) A 25-pdr field gun and its crew about to start their journey on a pontoon raft down the Kalapanzin River from Buthidaung, January 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 2355) A 25-pdr field gun and jeep being transported on a pontoon raft down the Kalapanzin River from Buthidaung, January 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 2188) Sherman tanks moving forward to support infantry in the Myebon area, January 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3167) A Daimler scout car, Sherman tank and Dodge weapons carrier disembarking from a pontoon raft after crossing the Irrawaddy at Ngazun, 28 February 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 1931) Men of the 6th Gurkha Rifles go into action at Singu on the Irrawaddy bridgehead, with Sherman tanks in support, February 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3111) The crew of a jeep take stand ready with Sten guns beside their vehicle during an encounter with the Japanese in the advance on Mandalay, February 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3342) The .50-inch machine gun of a Priest 105mm self-propelled gun, 7 March 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3335) The crew of ‘Deepcut’, a Priest 105mm self-propelled gun, have a cup of tea and play a hand of cards during a lull in fighting, 7 March 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3346) Priest 105mm self-propelled gun in action, 7 March 1945 Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3361) Priest 105mm self-propelled gun, 7 March 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 3074) Sherman tanks of Probyn’s Horse (5th King Edward VII’s Own Lancers), 255th Armoured Brigade, advancing on the road between Myaungyu on the Irrawaddy bridgehead and Meiktila, March 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

British Indian Army, British Army and British Commonwealth Troops Reclaim Burma from Japanese

The largest all-volunteer fighting formation of the British Empire in World War Two was the British Indian Army which was recruited in British India then comprised of modern day Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. More than 2.5 million men served in the British Indian Army and they fought all over the world.



ALLIED FORCES IN NORTHERN BURMA, JUNE 1945 (HU 87180) Mandalay fell to the 19 Indian Division after fierce fighting during the drive on Mandalay from the north. Picture shows: Tanks with infantry speeding along the road to attack a village near Madaya, 12 miles north of Mandalay. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 87182) Mule convoy carrying supplies into Burma. Photo shows: Mule convoy crossing a stream, the water is muddy and leech infested. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 88980) Imphal to Kohima: the meeting at MS 109 of the 7th Cavalry and 33 Corps. Jemader Karnail Singh of 7th Cavalry shakes hands with Major AC T Brotherton, a 33 Corps Staff Officer. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 88979) Wingates Expedition: Air Supply Dropping of Rations. View from an aircraft of a message written on the ground with parachutes. It reads ‘Plane land here now’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
BURMA VICTORY: 4TH CORPS CAPTURE MEIKTILA (IND 4447) Men of an Indian Regiment charge burning remnants of Seywa during the drive on Meiktila. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


BURMA: BRITISH TROOPS CROSS SHWELI RIVER (SE 1790) After the heaviest air and land bombardment in this sector of the Burma front, British and Indian troops of the 36th Division forced a crossing in assault craft over the Shweli river to Myitson. The Shweli is the last river barried to the 36th Division’s advance into central Burma, and the Japanese opposed the ferry crossing fanatically. This image shows men of the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 87183) Tanks of the 25th Dragoons near Fort White. 25-pounders re-established in the gunners box on Kennedy Peak open fire again on the retreating Japanese. Picture shows: General Lee tank on Hill 8225. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4470) British troops in the Sittang Bend area, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Defensive measures for Burma were never put into place by the British because they did not believe Burma was under much threat. By the time they did, it was too late. After a series of small engagements with invading Japanese, British Army, British Indian Army and Commonwealth troops under General Sir Harold Alexander (later Field Marshal, Earl Alexander of Tunis) made a fighting retreat to British India where the Japanese were halted. The climate made fighting even more miserable than fighting could be.

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4459) General Sir Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief India, inspecting troops, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4463) 4.2-inch mortars of 33rd Anti-tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, in the Sittang Bend area, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4468) 5.5-inch guns of 63rd Medium Battery firing on Satthinagyon, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Battleship HMS Rodney at War

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1417) Royal Marines remove old paint from the X gun turret on board HMS RODNEY before repainting. Another of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen beyond the men. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1426) On board HMS RODNEY ‘Boys’ receiving instruction on how to ‘heave the lead’. The lead weighs 10 to 14 pounds and the picture shows a Boy standing in the ‘chains’ about to heave the lead. Going in and out of harbour a Leadman is always in the chains taking soundings which he calls out to the bridge. The Forth railway bridge can be seen in the distance. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


MEN OF THE HMS RODNEY KEEP FIGHTING FIT. 20 JANUARY 1943, MERS-EL-KEBIR, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 14364) A game of deck hockey during the dog watches on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


GUNNERS KEEP UP TO THE MARK ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15733) A gunnery spotting table rigged up on the forecastle on board HMS RODNEY. A model ship and model splashes are used to indicate to the gunnery control officer high up in the director control tower, the accuracy of his ‘fire’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


SENDING UP THE HEAVY SHELLS ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15737) In a 16′ shell ammunition room on board HMS RODNEY a sailor revolves a shell into the hoist while an empty shell container returns to position to fetch another shell from the tray. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


MIDSHIPMEN TRAINING ON THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15736) Midshipmen being trained in rifle drill on the forecastle on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

American Tradition of Being Knee Walking Drunk

5.8 Gallons of pure alcohol per year in 1790 now down a gallon


Gentlemen having a few beers in the early 1900s

Americans like to drink alcohol although we drink less than we used to. Primness, like sipping a glass of sherry,  seems to be in fashion these days as opposed to knocking back your liquor.

I would get drunk if I had to wear these clothes

I also note that “binge drinking” among college students is defined as five or more drinks in an evening. Five? When a student at Tulane in the 1970s we were just warming up after five drinks.

Serving out the rum ration aboard a Royal Navy ship circa 1920s. The wooden tub being used has the legend, “The King God Bless Him” because the grog ration (that is rum mixed with water) was a gift of the Crown to the men of the navy.  The bosun piped “up spirits” about 11:30 am. Usually one of the older ratings would shout, “stand fast the Holy Ghost.”

Each man is from a separate mess table which sat about ten men and is collecting the ration for the entire group of ten in the tin buckets the men are holding. Petty officers are regulating the amount served based on the calculations in the book the man in the foreground is looking at.

Men were registered in the spirits book as T for teetotaler, or not of age, or ration suspended because of punishment. Boys could join the Royal Navy at sixteen but were not permitted to be issued with grog until they were eighteen. They could, however, take advantage of the generous cigarette allowance they received from the navy, this also a gift of the monarch and the tobacco wasn’t taxed.

Having a pick me up glass of beer in the morning

According to the BBC, “Early Americans even took a healthful dram for breakfast, whiskey was a typical lunchtime tipple, ale accompanied supper and the day ended with a nightcap. Continuous imbibing clearly built up a tolerance as most Americans in 1790 consumed an average 5.8 gallons of pure alcohol a year.”

This is down to 3.4 gallons of pure alcohol as of 2010 says the World Health Organization. If you take women out of the equation, American males consume 4.7 gallons of pure alcohol so we’re down a gallon a year in the last 225 years.

I don’t think drinking a lot is a good idea and we drank too much in college but it was a different time and place. Still, it is interesting to note that our forebears in American were totally drunk all the time. You wonder how they got anything done or built all that antique furniture people pay so much for these days.

Canadian Built Lancasters Bomb Nazi Germany

Given its relatively small population, Canada made an immense contribution to Allied victory in WW Two. Canadian troops, most of whom were volunteers, fought all over Europe although mainly in the Italian campaign and the battles in Northwest Europe. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Divison comprised a part of the Allied forces on D-Day.


Lest We Forget
44,000 Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen lost their lives in World War Two.


British built R5727, the pattern Lancaster, in Gander 23 August 1942.

photo courtesy of Bomber Command Museum of Canada

“On September 18, 1941, a decision was made to build Lancasters in Canada and the first drawings arrived in January 1942. For a country still largely agrarian and just recovering from a decade of depression, the challenge was immense. 500,000 manufacturing operations were involved in building a Lancaster which was made up of some 55,000 separate parts even when engines and turrets were only considered as one and small items such as rivets, nuts, and bolts were not included. A Lancaster from England was flown across the Atlantic in August 1942 to act as a “pattern” and a Crown Corporation named Victory Aircraft was formed to do the work in Malton, Ontario.”

More than 130,000 Allied pilots trained in Canada which also “hosted” tens of thousands of German prisoners of war. Famed U-Boat ace Otto Kretschmer was held in a Canadian POW camp.

KB-882 is one of over 400 Mk-10 Lancasters built in Canada.


Workers at the Victory Aircraft Plant in Malton, Ontario
celebrating the rollout of KB799, the one-hundredth Canadian built Lancaster.


Lancaster R-5727 over Montreal 24 Aug. 1942

The first Canadian-built Avro Lancaster B Mark X, KB700 “The Ruhr Express”, taxying after landing at Northolt, Middlesex, following a delivery flight across the Atlantic. KB700 was the first of 300 aircraft built by Victory Aircraft of Malton, Ontario, and flew operationally with Nos. 405 and 419 Squadrons RCAF.
CH 11041
Part of
Royal Air Force official photographer
Crouch F W (F/O)


11 Jan 1945
Moose – Ghost Sqn
Snow’s snow and fun’s fun, but when snow hits the stations of the Canadian Bomber Group, it just means a lot of work for all personnel, air crew and ground crew types alike. Up a-top the starboard wing of a Canadian-built Lancaster on the station where the Moose and Ghost squadrons are based, four of the boys scrape off the stubborn snow. They are, left to right, LAC F.J. Chapioniere, a fitter from Champion, Alta.; LAC B. Holiday, Elgin, Ont.; LAC J.G. Chagnon, St. Hyacinthe, P.Q., and LAC W. Van Norman, Guleph, 90 Nottingham St., Ont.


ground crew of a Canadian Lancaster


Untitled, 4/23/04, 1:34 PM, 8C, 9590×6580 (1650+8275), 150%, A.I. Basic, 1/60 s, R83.9, G77.6, B95.0

Let’s Go Canada! by Henri Eveleigh 1939–1945

(Issued by the World War Two agency, Canadian Bureau of Public Information)

We Shall Remember Gallant Few of Battle of Britain

“…the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization….”
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the House of Commons.
 18 June 1940

One of the most haunting images from the Battle of Britain is that of Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC (above middle) taken immediately after he landed from a combat sortie in September of 1940. (photo courtesy of IWM).

The strain and exhaustion on his face belie his young age (23) and make this one of the best-known and most powerful photographs to come from the era. (photo courtesy of IWM).This was taken during the Battle of Britain at Fowlmere, Duxford’s satellite station.


“Sitting nearest to the Spitfire’s engine on the wing is Brian Lane, who had joined the RAF after escaping a dead-end job as a factory supervisor. He was appointed temporary commanding officer of 19 Squadron, part of the Duxford Wing, in September following the shooting down of its CO. In one logbook entry, he describes an encounter with the enemy in suitably Boys’ Ownish terms.
     “Party over London. Sighted big bunch of Huns south of the river and got in lovely head-on attack into leading He 111s. Broke them up and picked up a small batch of six with two Me 110s as escort. Found myself entirely alone with these lads so proceeded to have a bit of sport. Got one of Me 110s on fire whereupon the other left his charge and ran for home. Played with the He 111s for a bit and finally got one in both engines. Never had so much fun before!”
Lane was awarded a DFC for his bravery and survived the battle, but his luck was not to last. During a sweep over Holland in December 1942 his Spitfire was jumped by Me109s. No one saw his aircraft go down but it was assumed to have dived into the North Sea. Lane was 25.                                                 The men sitting next to Lane on the wing with German Shepherd Flash and spaniel Rangy are George “Grumpy” Unwin and Francis Brinsden, both of whom survived the war. So did the two men standing to the left, Bernard Jennings and Colin McFie – the latter after being shot down and captured during a sweep over France in July 1941.
       Howard Burton, the man in the dark jumper, and Philip Leckrone, the man on the far right, were not so fortunate. Burton went on to serve in the Middle East but died when in June 1943 when the Hudson bomber bringing him back to Britain disappeared over the Bay of Biscay. He was 26.
Leckrone was an American who had chosen to fight for Britain. Known to the boys as Uncle Sam, he went on to join 71 Squadron, an American volunteer unit flying Hurricanes. On 5 January 1941 his aircraft collided with another in the squadron during training and he was killed. He was 28.
      John Boulton (pictured on the left with two fellow pilots and a spaniel leaning on the tail of a Hurricane) was 20 when the battle claimed him. He was flying next to Gordon Sinclair (the man on the right by the tail) over Croydon on September 9 when their aircraft collided. Sinclair survived but Boulton’s aircraft careered into a Me 110 and plunged to earth.
The man in the middle with the moustache is Jerrard Jefferies, who changed his surname to Latimer later in the war to carry on an old family name. He joined the RAF in 1936 and fought in the battle with 310 (Free Czech) Squadron, as did Boulton and Sinclair. After the battle he transferred to Bomber Command and died over France when his Lancaster bomber was shot down. The spaniel in the picture, thought to be called Rex, died when he accidentally jumped into the propeller of Jefferies’ Hurricane as he tried to greet his master.
One of the two pilots pictured seated by a Nissen hut is the only man in the photographs still living. Wallace “Jock” Cunningham is 93 now, but in poor health. The officer next to him is Arthur Blake, a Fleet Air Arm pilot attached to the RAF and known in the wing as Sailor. the Battle of Britain was in its last days when it claimed him. Blake was ‘weaving’ behind his squadron – acting as lookout – when he was surprised by an Me109 and shot down. He was 23 when he met his death.

lest we forget
2353 British and 574 overseas aircrew fought in the battle of britain. 544 were killed between July and October 1940. Another 791 died later in the war, in combat and as a result of accidents.




Brian Lane. The epitome of the gallant few who won the Battle of Britain. Lane was No. 19 Squadron’s fourth Commanding Officer in less than 12 months. Of his predecessors, one was posted away, one was shot down and made a prisoner of war, and one was killed. Lane was extremely well-liked by his men and was a very gifted fighter pilot. He wrote a book about his experiences in the battle, “Spitfire!” which was published in 1942.

Lane was killed in action 13 December 1942. He was 25 years old. (Imperial War Museum)


Brian John Edward Lane

Squadron Leader No. 19 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

born 18 June 1917–reported missing-in-action presumed dead– 13 December 1942, age 25.  



In Constant Battle Royal Navy Town Class Light Cruisers


HMS EDINBURGH (Town class cruiser) HMS HERMIONE (Dido class cruiser) HMS EURYALUS (Dido class cruiser) steaming in line abreast whilst they escort a convoy (Operation HALBERD – convoy not visible).

Two men stained with fuel oil taking a breath of fresh air on on Town Class cruiser HMS Manchester flight deck, after being rescued from below deck. Both of them are wearing life preservers. Manchester had been damaged by an aerial torpedo but was not sunk. Photo by Imperial War Museum)

HMS Liverpool at speed February 1942 (photo courtesy Imperial War Museum)

All ten Town class cruisers were light cruisers, built to constraints of London Naval Treaty of 1930. This laudable but misguided treaty hurt the Royal Navy and the US Navy since the Japanese Navy and Kriegsmarine cheated outrageously and lied about the displacement of their “treaty cruisers.”

The two forward 6-inch gun turrets of the Town class cruiser HMS SHEFFIELD after she had opened fire and sunk the German tanker FRIEDERICH BREME in the North Atlantic. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum).


HM King George VI, wearing the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet, inspecting personnel from Glasgows crew at Scapa Flow as part of a four-day visit to the Home Fleet. Her two forward 6 inch gun turrets can be seen in the background. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)


Cruisers HMS Glasgow (C21), left, and USS Quincy (CA-71), right, during the bombardment of Cherbourg in support of the advancing Allied troops. (Official Royal Navy photograph courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

HMS Sheffield, a Southampton class cruiser, was built by Vickers Armstrong , on the Tyne, and completed in 1937. Ice forming on a 20-inch signal projector on the cruiser HMS SHEFFIELD whilst she is helping to escort an Arctic convoy to Russia. (photograph courtesy of Imperial War Museum)