Behind Enemy Lines, The 2nd Chindit Expedition 1944

'Inside the Enemy's Guts'

Soon after the start of Operation Thursday Wingate had three Chindit brigades building up behind enemy lines. 77th and 111th Brigades had been flown in to Broadway and Chowringhee and 16th Brigade had nearly completed its 600-mile march from Ledo to Indaw.

Broadway was rapidly developing into a powerful air base with firmly constructed defences. Within days of landing Chindit columns were marching off along jungle paths to establish themselves in the region. The columns would strike against the railway, road and river systems used by the Japanese army operating against Stilwell's Chinese-American forces approaching from the north.


The 1943 expedition had been a series of raids and ambushes against enemy and communications by lightly armed troops. For the 1944 campaign Wingate planned to establish fortified bases in enemy territory and to launch larger scale operations from these bases.

The sites selected for these fortified bases, Strongholds, would be in remote jungle far away enough from roads to prevent the enemy bringing up tanks or heavy artillery to attack it. The site would also have suitable ground for an airstrip for Dakotas to bring in supplies, reinforcements and to fly out the sick and wounded. Within the Stronghold perimeter there would also be a good water supply and supply-dropping zone.

Enemy attacks on the Strongholds were expected so they were heavily fortified. Garrison troops, anti-aircraft guns and artillery were flown in to defend the Stronghold. Part of the garrison troop operated outside the perimeter as a floater column ready to counter attack any enemy attacks on the Stronghold.

The Strongholds main objective was aggressive, columns would set of from the base to attack enemy targets returning afterwards to rest, replenish supplies and to bring back any wounded for evacuation to India.

The four strongholds established by the Chindits were named Broadway, White City, Aberdeen and Blackpool.

16th Brigade

On 5th February Brigadier Fergusson led 16th Brigade on a 600-mile march to attack the Japanese base at Indaw. By 5th March they had covered 100 miles and reached the Chindwin River. Here gliders flew in with inflatable boats and outboard motors for the river crossing.

16th Brigade's march was through very difficult jungle terrain and this caused them to fall behind schedule. The delay was made worse when two columns were ordered to divert and attack Lonkin, which was an outpost of the Japanese forces facing Stilwell.

On 20th March the brigade arrived in the area where they were to set up the Aberdeen Stronghold. The Stronghold was established and an airstrip built.

From Aberdeen three battalions were sent to attack Indaw, a main Japanese base on the Mandalay-Myitkyina railway supplying the enemy forces opposing Stilwell's forces further north.

Wingate had planned to take Indaw before the Japanese had time to reinforce it so 16th Brigade was rushed into the attack without being given time to rest and recuperate from their long march.

Indaw had by now been reinforced and was heavily defended, although supported by 111th Brigade the Chindits did not possess the strength to seize and hold Indaw and therefore withdrew.

There was a major success though as the Chindits found a huge supply dump near Indaw. It was the main supply for all the Japanese divisions in north Burma. An air strike was ordered and the dump was destroyed.

77th Brigade

77th Brigade was given the task of cutting communications leading north from Indaw. After their landing at Broadway, one battalion went east to attack the Bhamo-Myitkyina road, two battalions remained in the area of Broadway and Calvert took the remaining three battalions west to 'Railway Valley' to block the road and railway near Mawlu.

On 16th March they established the 'White City' stronghold to block the railway at Henu, near Mawlu. Before this a Japanese force had to be driven away from the nearby 'Pagoda Hill'. The first Chindit VC was won by Lieutenant Cairns of South Stafford's for his actions during this battle.

The White City block had caused serious damage to the supply of Japanese forces and on the 6th April the Japanese launched a strong attack on White City. The attack started with heavy artillery shelling followed by an air attack carried out by 27 bombers (12 of which were destroyed). For the next 10 days Japanese infantry launched attacks against White City. The Chindits counter attacked using columns outside the perimeter with supporting air strikes from 1st Air Commandos. Heavy losses were inflicted on the enemy who eventually fled. White City was not attacked again.

111th Brigade

111th Brigade had been given the task of cutting communications from the south to prevent reinforcements reaching Indaw (the target of 16th Brigade).

Piccadilly was the intended landing site for 111th Brigade. When it was abandoned, two battalions, King's Own and Cameroonians, flew into Broadway instead and the remaining three battalions of 111th Brigade flew into Chowringhee.

Brigadier Lentaigne, commander of 111th Brigade, now had his force split and separated by the Irrawaddy River. It took time for 111th Brigade to assemble its scattered forces and stores and this delayed them in reaching their area of operation.

14th Brigade

[details of 14th Brigade will be included here]

3rd Brigade

[details of 3rd Brigade will be included here]

23rd Brigade

23rd Brigade was withdrawn from the Chindit operation by General Slim and used instead in the area west of Chindwin River for the defence of Kohima.

Dah Force

[details of Dah Force will be included here]

Morris Force

[details of Morris Force will be included here]