IntroductionThe Chindits were the largest of all the allied special forces of the 2nd World Word. Formed and lead by Major-General Orde Wingate DSO, they fought behind enemy lines in Northern Burma during 1943 and 1944 in the War against Japan. They were unconventional due to their total reliance on airdrops for their supplies and complete dependence on wireless for communications.
Wingate and Long Range PenetrationIn March 1942 Lt.Col. (then) Wingate arrived in India after carrying out successful guerrilla operations in Palestine and Abyssinia. Using his understanding of guerrilla warfare he proposed a scheme of Long Range Penetration operations deep into the enemy-held territories of Burma. In July 1942 the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade was formed for this task.
Wingate organised and specially trained the Chindits in commando methods, preparing them for jungle fighting, sabotage, and air supply dropping.
The Chindits would infiltrate deep behind the Japanese lines in Northern Burma. For many months they lived in and fought the enemy in the jungles of occupied Burma, hundreds of miles behind the Japanese forward positions.Their mission was to raid the enemy’s lines of communications, blowing bridges, railway tracks and blocking supply routes. They would harass the enemy to cause confusion, disrupt their plans and divert their resources.
The Chindits were organised into columns with a strength of about 340. Each column was strong enough to defend itself and capable of mounting surprise attacks on enemy targets, yet small enough for concealment and for mobility to evade and slip through enemy nets. Columns would combine to strike larger targets and then disappear back into the jungle.
1st ExpeditionThere were two Chindits expeditions into Burma, the first in February 1943, code-named Operation Longcloth, consisted of a force of 3,000 men who marched over 1,000 miles during the campaign. It was an experimental operation to prove British forces could operate many hundreds of miles from their own bases in the midst of Japanese controlled territory and to test Wingate’s theories and to gain experience.
2nd ExpeditionThe 2nd expedition in March 1944 was on a much larger scale and consisted of a force of 20,000 men. They were given the name Special Force and was composed mainly of British battalions supplemented by Burma Rifles, Gurkha and Nigerian battalions and a company of Hong Kong volunteers.
Wingate had wanted an airborne invasion, to assist this United States provided an air task force to be known as 1st Air Commando. Equipped with bomber, fighter, transport, glider and light aircraft they provided the Chindits with direct air support and evacuated their casualties. The fly-in of the bulk of the force, code name Operation Thursday, was by the RAF and 1st Air Commando. Gliders were used to land advance parties who then constructed airstrips for the transport planes. It was the second-largest airborne invasion of World War II.
Once inside Burma, well-defended strongholds were established from which columns operated, air supply drop zones established and nearby airstrips were built for evacuating casualties. Floater columns patrolled outside the perimeter of the stronghold to counter-attack the flanks and rear of any enemies approaching or attacking the stronghold.
Tragically their leader, General Wingate, was killed in a plane crash a few weeks after the launch of Operation Thursday. Towards the end of their operations, the Chindits came under new command and the plans for them were changed. They were used for tasks that they were not trained for or equipped for and were kept in the field much longer then Wingate had planned. Casualties were high.
1944 2nd Expedition
Operation Thursday (1944)
Troop Carrier Command
Chindits Military Awards
A primary objective of this project has been to identify the recipients of awards for valour and distinguished service during the Chindit campaigns. This has been accomplished through research at the National Archives in London.
|Order of the British Empire, Commander||2|
|Distinguished Services Order||27|
|Order of the British Empire, Officer||4|
|Order of the British Empire, Member||21|
|Indian Order of Merit||4|
|Distinguished Conduct Medal||13|
|Indian Distinguished Service Medal||16|
|Burma Gallantry Medal||9|
|British Empire Medal||13|
|45 Reconnaissance Regt|
|Royal Regt Of Artillery|
|Corps Of Royal Engineers|
|Royal Corps Of Signals|
|2 Bn The Queen’s Royal Regt|
|2 Bn The King’s Own Royal Regt|
|1 Bn The King’s Regt|
|13 Bn The King’s Regt|
|1 Bn The Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regt|
|2 Bn The Leicestershire Regt|
|7 Bn The Leicestershire Regt|
|1 Bn The Lancashire Fusiliers|
|1 Bn The Cameronians|
|2 Bn The Duke Of Wellington’s Regt|
|4 Bn The Border Regt|
|1 Bn The South Staffordshire Regt|
|2 Bn The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regt)|
|1 Bn The Essex Regt|
|2 Bn The York & Lancaster Regt|
|142 Commando Company|
|Royal Army Chaplains Department|
|Royal Army Service Corps|
|Corps Of Military Police|
|Royal Indian Army Service Corps|
|Royal Army Medical Corps|
|Royal Army Ordnance Corps|
|Royal Electrical &Mechanical Engineers|
|3 Bn 2nd Gurkha Rifles|
|3 Bn 4th Gurkha Rifles|
|3 Bn 6th Gurkha Rifles|
|3 Bn 9th Gurkha Rifles|
|4 Bn 9th Gurkha Rifles|
|2 Bn The Burma Rifles|
|6 Bn The Nigerian Regiment|
|7 Bn The Nigerian Regiment|
|12 Bn The Nigerian Regiment|
|Hong Kong Volunteers|
|Royal Air Force|
|No 1 Air Commandoo USAAF|
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Fake / Forgery of Chindit Badge