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Day 15 - Forgotten


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Day 15 - Forgotten

16 Jan 2016 6:23PM   Views : 686 Unique : 424

Catch up time again. Finished late yesterday so never got time to post.

Bit of a history lesson this one.

Let's start with the image though, what we have here is a genuine Burma Star andd 14th Army flash, both of which belonged to my Grandfather, Henry Hardy.

Now the history bit:

The British Fourteenth Army was a multinational force comprising units from Commonwealth countries during World War II. Many of its units were from the Indian Army as well as British units and there were also significant contributions from West and East African divisions within the British Army.
It was often referred to as the "Forgotten Army" because its operations in the Burma Campaign were overlooked by the contemporary press, and remained more obscure than those of the corresponding formations in Europe for long after the war.



The army was formed in 1943 in eastern India. With the creation of South East Asia Command in late 1943, the Eastern Army which formerly controlled operations against the Japanese Army in Burma and also had large rear-area responsibilities, was split into two. Eastern Command (reporting to GHQ India) took over the rear areas of Bihar, Odisha and most of Bengal. Fourteenth Army, part of the British 11th Army Group, became responsible for operations against the Japanese.
The Army's commander was Lieutenant General William Slim. Its principal subordinate formations were IV Corps in Assam and XV Corps in Arakan. During the early part of 1944, the Army also had loose operational control over the American and Chinese Northern Combat Area Command, and the Chindits operating behind enemy lines under Major General Orde Wingate.

Defending India

In early 1944, the Allies began tentative advances into Burma. The Japanese responded with all-out offensives, intending to destroy the Allies in their base areas.
The first Japanese move was a subsidiary attack in Arakan where XV Corps was advancing slowly south. After initial Allied setbacks, in which an Indian divisional HQ was overrun, the surrounded units defeated the Japanese at the Battle of the Admin Box. A vital factor was the resupply of cut-off units by aircraft.
The main Japanese offensive was launched on the central front in Assam. While a division advanced to Kohima to isolate IV Corps, the main body attempted to surround and destroy IV Corps at Imphal. Since the Japanese attack in Arakan had already failed, battle hardened units were flown from Arakan to aid the besieged forces in Assam. Also, XXXIII Corps was moved from southern India, where they had been training for amphibious operations, to relieve the garrison at Kohima and then push on to relieve Imphal.
The result of the battles was a crushing Japanese defeat. The Japanese suffered 85,000 casualties, mainly from sickness and disease after their supplies ran out. The Allies had been continually supplied from the air, in the largest operation of its type to that date.

Retaking Burma

In 1945, amphibious operations to recapture Burma had to be cancelled once again because of shortage of resources. Instead, Fourteenth Army was to mount the main offensive. The Army was now subordinated to the headquarters of Allied Land Forces, South East Asia (ALFSEA), and consisted of IV Corps and XXXIII Corps. Since the Army's supply lines by land were long and precarious, air supply was once again to be vital.
The Japanese attempted to forestall the Allied attacks by withdrawing behind the Irrawaddy River. Fourteenth Army was nevertheless able to change its axis of advance. IV Corps, spearheaded by armoured and motorised units, crossed the river downstream of the main Japanese forces and seized the vital logistic and communications centre of Meiktila. As the Japanese attempted to recapture Meiktila, XXXIII Corps captured Mandalay, the former capital which was of major significance to the majority Burman population. The result of the Battles of Meiktila and Mandalay, known as the Battle of Central Burma, was the destruction of most of the Japanese units in Burma, which allowed the subsequent pursuit.
Fourteenth Army now advanced south. While XXXIII Corps advanced down the Irrawaddy River, IV Corps made the main effort along the Sittang River, covering 200 miles (320 km) in a month. It was vital to capture Rangoon, the capital and principal port of Burma, to allow the Army to be supplied during the monsoon. In the event, IV Corps was held up 40 miles (64 km) north of Rangoon by sacrificial Japanese rearguards, but its advance caused the Japanese to abandon Rangoon, which was occupied after an unopposed amphibious landing (codenamed Operation Dracula) on 2 May.
The Fourteenth Army was supported by the Women's Auxiliary Service (Burma) who provided a canteen service for the troops of Burma Command and moved down through the country with the Army.

End of the War

Shortly after the fall of Rangoon, the Army headquarters was relieved of responsibility for operations in Burma. A new Twelfth Army headquarters was formed from XXXIII Corps HQ and took over IV Corps. Fourteenth Army HQ now moved to Ceylon to plan operations to recapture Malaya and Singapore. It controlled XV Corps and the newly raised Indian XXXIV Corps.
General Slim was promoted to command Allied Land Forces South East Asia. Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey was appointed to command Fourteenth Army.
A seaborne landing on the west coast of Malaya, codenamed Operation Zipper, was being prepared but was forestalled by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese surrender. Zipper was nevertheless mounted unopposed as the quickest method of introducing troops to Malaya to enforce the surrender of the Japanese there and repatriate Allied prisoners of war.
Fourteenth Army was renamed Malaya Command on 1 November 1945.

I have no other info about my Grandfather participation, maybe one day i'll find out.


Tags: Project 365 365 project

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