1st Burma Regiment
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1st Battalion, The Burma Regiment was raised in India in September 1942 from mainly Indian former members of the 7th and 8th Battalions, The Burma Rifles who had survived the retreat from Burma.

In March 1944, the battalion was preparing to fly to Fort Herz to reinforce units already operating in that area when the seriousness of the Japanese attempted invasion of India was realised. The battalion was diverted to guard the vital supply base at Dimapur, under the command of 202 Line of Communications Area, XXXIII Indian Corps. By 1st April the battalion had moved to Nichuguard, near Kohima and on 9 April established a detachment at Milestone 23, four miles short of Zubza, near Kohima, to cover the attack of 2 (British) Infantry Division.

The battalion now came effectively under the command of this division, reverting to XXXIII Indian Corps command on 23 May 1944. On 30 May, the battalion joined 33 Indian Infantry Brigade (7 Indian Division), replacing 4/15 Punjab Regiment which had suffered heavy losses. Later, the battalion supported 6 (British) Brigade in the attack to clear the Aradura Spur. The Kohima-Imphal road was soon reopened and the battalion, with the rest of the division, enjoyed a period of rest and reorganisation. Then, on 23 June 1944, the division was ordered to recapture Ukhrul which had been used by the Japanese as a major base. The battalion joined the advance, reaching the outskirts of Ukhrul on 7 July and meeting up with 89 Indian Brigade units in the town centre the next day.

Soon on the move again, this time towards Kamjong, the advance was first stopped by a Japanese roadblock, north of Maoku, on 12 July. After the first attack failed, a company was sent to outflank the position, and the battalion quickly cleared the road. However, further forward movement ceased on 23 July, the battalion having a company as far forward as Milestone 30, due to impassable terrain. 33 Indian Brigade then withdrew back to Kohima, reaching nearby Zubza on the 28th.

In early January 1945, the brigade was in the Zahaw area, near Gangaw in Burma, training for the Irrawaddy crossings. The brigade moved forward on 5 February 1945 and by the 14th, 1st Burma Regiment was in brigade reserve, ready for the assault crossing. The next day, the battalion crossed over into the Nyaungu bridgehead and was given the task of clearing the catacombs or tunnels covering the town which were infested with Japanese. It was decided to seal the tunnels on the 16th and the battalion remained in the Nyaungu area until 24 February. Moving first to Palin and then Nyin, the battalion joined the advance towards Myingyan, reaching just south of that town by 5 March.

As it prepared for the attack, 1 Burma Regiment was suddenly ordered to withdraw and to clear the Japanese from astride XXXIII Corps line of communications to Miektila, east and south-east of Taungtha. The town was captured on 6 March and the battalion remained in the area until relieved by 161 Indian Infantry Brigade on or around 17 March 1945. Moving back through Nyaungtha to Nyaungu, the battalion left 33 Indian Brigade and joined 9 Indian Brigade (5 Indian Infantry Division) around 1 April 1945, probably at Miektila. This town was left on 17 April for Taktan and the next day the battalion joined in the attack on Pyinmana, capturing the airfield there on 21 April.

On 29 April, 1 Burma Regiment was airlifted by Dakota aircraft from Lewe to Pyintaza airstrip in the Waw area. The battalion was to spend the next two months on the Waw front, attempting to block the Japanese breakout across the Sittang River. Having spent some time in Shwegyin, the battalion moved forward to link up with the rest of 9 Indian Brigade at Nyaungkashe. The battalion took up positions in here and on the western approaches to the Sittang Bridge, a scene of disaster in 1942. On 19 June 1945, the battalion came under fire on the west bank of the Sittang across from Mokpalin.

At the end of June 1945, 5 Indian Division moved to Mingladon, to begin preparing for Operation Zipper, the invasion of Malaya. The operation went ahead despite the Japanese surrender and 1 Burma Regiment embarked at Rangoon in mid August for Singapore. The first units of 5 Indian Division landed in Singapore on 5 September 1945.

The division was soon needed to help with the South East Asia Command mission in Indonesia. On 17 October 1945, 9IndianBrigade was relieved in Singapore by 5 Parachute Brigade and left for Indonesia. The battalion was detached from the brigade and landed at Palembang, Sumatra, on 25 October 1945.

After almost exactly a year in Sumatra, 1 Burma Regiment, left for Burma and arrived in Rangoon on 17 November 1946. Officially designated part of the new Burma Army, the battalion was earmarked for disbandment, presumably because of its largely Indian composition. The battalion provided the guard for HQ Burma Command at Rangoon during January 1947 but was disbanded sometime in mid 1947.

 

Assignments

Unknown command Sep-42 Mar-44
XIV Army? 20-Mar-44 26-Mar-44
202 Line of Communications Area (XXXIII Indian Corps) 26-Mar-44 09-Apr-44
2 Infantry Division (attached from XXXIII Indian Corps) 09-Apr-44 23-May-44
XXXIII Indian Corps 23-May-44 30-May-44
33 Indian Infantry Brigade 30-May-44 30-Mar-45 replaced 4/15 Punjab, replaced by 1 Queens in Apr-45
9 Indian Infantry Brigade 01-Apr-45 24-Oct-46
Burma Army 17-Nov-46 01-Jun-47 disbanded mid-47

 

02 June 2014

 

Please e-mail Steve Rothwell with comments, additional information and requests for help

British & Commonwealth Orders of Battle Website