The 7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment
were originally held back as a reserve Brigade to relieve,
after 90 days,the 3 Brigades that entered Burma first. But
pushed into Burma earlier than planned, they found themselves
in immediate action, Aberdeen being the subjected to several
ultimately abortive incursions by Japanese troops as well
as machine gun fire from Japanese Zero aircraft.
The entire Brigade was flown in by April
4th and after a spell on stronghold defence, 47 Column left
the security of Aberdeen and headed north east into the jungle
to harass the Japanese heading northwards to reinforce their
troops in the Henu area. These reinforcements never arrived!
Heading towards Indaw via Setaw, the
Column were under strict orders to avoid the use of all jungle
tracks in "The Story of the 7th Battalion the Royal Leicestershire
regiment", James Wileman reports that this was with mixed
hours by-passing the village of Katta in order to remain unobserved,
it was a bitter blow for the platoon to be met by the headman
and his full village council and to be invited to a ceremonial
tea and reception. The villagers had been watching for
over two hours and had reached the solemn conclusion that
these westerners were either playing a strange sort
of game or else were completely mad"
A Chindit Column
photo courtesy of 14 USAAF
27 Troop Carrier Squadron
47 Column then carried out three
successful ambushes on Japanese troops at the Tatlwin-Meza
road and rail Crossing. The column then headed for "White
City", another of Wingate's strongholds, here they were
once again the subject to attack from Japanese troops and
aircraft. The prime reason for the presence of the Column
was to oversee the evacuation of White City from under the
noses of the 53rd Division of the Japanese army, who were
amassing to launch an all out assault on the stronghold, and
which with the onset of the monsoon could no longer be defended.
The column were resupplied by
parachuted airdrops, a hazardous operation for those on the
ground, but as well as providing necessary supplies, they
also boosted morale. There was often a bottle of rum among
On the way, to White City, Harold
vividly recalled Japanese troops streaming into their offensive
was dusk, just before we found our bivouac spot, we were at
the bottom of a steep slope, and silhouetted against the
skyline we saw hundreds upon hundreds of Japanese soldiers
moving along the ridge. They seemed to take an age to
pass and we hardly dared breath. Fortunately the mules remained
silent as though they sensed the danger they were in"
On the night of May 9th, over
30 Dakotas landed at white City and evacuated all the sick
and wounded, surplus artillery and ammunition and stores.
The Leicesters set about turning White City in to a death
trap, with booby traps and mines, and the following morning
they "melted" away into the jungle and had the satisfaction
of hearing and seeing the major Japanese assault on the now
In 1997, Harold
wrote some notes about "A Day In The Jungle", for
a school project for his granddaughter, Rosie Lambert.
in the Jungle
Woken at dawn by sentries,
first job, lace up boots which were kept on in case
of night attack. It was very cold just before dawn but
quickly warmed up as tropical sun rose.
Lit small fires an
brewed tea and breakfast of American "K" rations,
(small packets containing tin meat, tin sweet, fruit
bar and 5 cigarettes) three packets a day breakfast,
lunch evening meal.
Then mules loaded,
site made free of rubbish so as to look as if it had
not been occupied.
Column moved of in
single file to where next ordered, keeping look out
for enemy either to attack or avoid depending on orders.
Usually marched for I hour then 10 minutes (break) until
destination reached if not interrupted by enemy or other
A suitable site was
found for the night, usually away from tracks. The jungle
was considered neutral i.e. it concealed us from the
enemy and it concealed enemy from us.
Water was a problem
both for animals and men, as enemy was also looking
for it too, so we were very wary when approaching a
People in front passed
down Column news of trouble, all dispersed into the
jungle at side of tracks - given map reference to regroup.
The men at the front
were changed regularly. At White City we were used as
a floating column and took the brunt of it out on patrol.
To view Harold's original
document and a questionnaire he filled in at the same time
After leaving White City, 47 Column were to join three other
Brigades, in an all out assault on the Japanese 53rd Division.
The route they were to take from White City
was through a valley which contained a road and a railway
track, leading to a gap in the mountains (the Kyunsalai Pass).
47 Column and and a Nigerian column decided to march there
through the jungle to the west of the railway, the Nigerians
on the left and the Leicesters on the right.
When the Japanese discovered a deserted White
city, a patrol was set of to the west to try to discover where
the British troops had gone. It was this patrol that would
ambush 47 column two days later.