The Chindits


The Chindits were the largest of all the allied special forces of the 2nd World War. 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 Penetration

In 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 Expedition

There 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.
No. 5 Column 13 Bn King's (Liverpool) Regiment
No. 5 Column 1943 Expedition. Members of 13 King's (Liverpool) on Manipur Road during training in India.
© Photo courtesy of Chris Lloyd

2nd Expedition

The 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.

Chindits and Glider - Operation Thursday 1944
'One For The Road' - 5th March 1944 Lalaghat Airfield, Assam, India. Chindits next to glider ready to emplane for 150-mile flight deep into the jungles of enemy-occupied Burma. This is one of the eight gliders that formed the first wave of the invasion. It would carry Brig. Michael Calvert and his advance party of 77th Brigade HQ. From the left is Lt. Lees (American glider pilot), Capt. R.G. Turrall (C.O. of Hong Kong Volunteers Coy., 77th Bde.), L/Cpl William Young (Hong Kong Volunteers)
World War II
British Army
Northern Burma
Formation Name
Official Name
Special Force
Security Title
3rd Indian Division
Major-General Orde Wingate DSO
Major-General Orde Wingate onboard Dakota of 1st Air Commandos
Wingate onboard Dakota of 1st Air Commandos. © Crown Copyright Imperial War Museum (Ref EA20829)
Chindit Badge
The Chindit Badge features a Burmese Chinthe, a mythical creature, statues of which stand guard outside Pagodas in Burma
Long Range Peneration
1943 1st Expedition
1944 2nd Expedition
3,000 (1943)
20,000 (1944)
Code Names
Operation Longcloth (1943)
Operation Thursday (1944)
Air Support
RAF 31 and 194 Squadrons
Troop Carrier Command
USAAF 1st Air Commandos
The Boldest Measures Are The Safest
July 1942
February 1945


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.

Chindits Military Awards - Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross was awarded to
Lieut. George Albert Cairns
South Staffordshire
Major Frank Gerald Blaker
9th Gurkha Rifles
Rifleman Tul Bahadur Pun
6th Gurkha Rifles
Captain Michael Allmand
6th Gurkha Rifles
Number of
Chindits Military Awards - Victoria Cross Ribbon Bar Victoria Cross 4
Chindits Military Awards - Order of the British Empire Ribbon Bar Order of the British Empire, Commander 1
Chindits Military Awards - Distinguished Services Order Ribbon Bar Distinguished Services Order 27
Chindits Military Awards - Order of the British Empire Ribbon Bar Order of the British Empire, Officer 6
Chindits Military Awards - Order of the British Empire Ribbon Bar Order of the British Empire, Member 19
Chindits Military Awards - Indian Order of Merit Ribbon Bar Indian Order of Merit 4
Chindits Military Awards - Distinguished Conduct Ribbon Bar Distinguished Conduct Medal 13
Chindits Military Awards - Indian Distinguished Service Ribbon Bar Indian Distinguished Service Medal 15
Chindits Military Awards - Military Cross Ribbon Bar Military Cross 112
Chindits Military Awards - Military Medal Ribbon Bar Military Medal 89
Chindits Military Awards - Burma Gallantry Ribbon Bar Burma Gallantry Medal 7
Chindits Military Awards - British Empire Ribbon Bar British Empire Medal 11
Chindits Military Awards - Silver Star Ribbon Bar American Awards 5
Chindits Mentioned in Despatches Oak Leaf Ribbon Mentioned in Despatches 378

A list of the recipients and their commendations is included in Military Awards


Composition of the Chindits

Below are the units that took part in the Chindits campaigns. They are listed in the order that they appear on the Chindits Old Comrades Association Standard.

Inscriptions on the Chindit Memorial additionally includes Indian Engineers: Sappers & Miners, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Indian Medical Service, Burma Intelligence Corps, RCAF, RAAF and RNZAF.

Composition of Chindit brigades is listed in Order of Battle.

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


Site News and Contact

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Site Updates

February 2023 - 1944 Campaign
New section added for the Hong Kong Volunteers Company

January 2023 - Order of Battle
More information added.

November 2022 - Military Awards
Recipients of multiple awards added.

February 2021 - Military Awards
(i)New section added for Mentioned in Despatches. Names of 378 recipients included.
(ii) New recipients added
1st Lt R.R. Brackett MC
1st Lt G.M. Hellyer MC
Capt D.C. Tulloch MC

January 2021 - Military Awards
(i) New recipients added
Col C.C. Fairweather OBE
Flt Lt R.G.K. Thompson MC
Sub Ba La Sein MC
(ii) A further 99 citations added

November 2020 - Photographs of the following have been added to the Photo Gallery

Chindit - George William Norman Blackwell George William Norman Blackwell
Chindit - Frederick Griffiths Frederick Griffiths
Chindit - Cpl Percy Frederick Jones Cpl Percy Frederick Jones
Chindit - William Arthur Lusted William Arthur Lusted
Chindit - Ralph Perry Ralph Perry
Chindit - Col. John Laing Mewton Col. John Laing Mewton
Chindit - Don Stacey Don Stacey
Chindit - Major Frank W.J. Turner Major Frank W.J. Turner

Fake / Forgery of Chindit Badge

In recent months there has been a spate of forged Chindit badges on the market. There have been so many that it has been necessary to bring this to the attention of collectors. To help collectors identify them and avoid them, examples of some of these forgeries have been provided.