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I have just finished reading Burma the longest war by Louis Allen, it is a great read providing a lot of detail of the campaign to regain control of Burma from the Japanese.

An interesting part was on a Tank transport squadron made up of members from a Theatrical touring company in England.

Question, What information is there on this Squadron, having spent some time in Malaysia, Singapore and Sarawak I know the difficulty's faced with operating in this type of terrain on foot let alone moving a Tank Transporter with tank into this area. The book indicates that the tanks were constantly loaded and unloaded and in fact traveled for a third of the distance under there own power at times assisting the trucks.

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The forgotten War? with all the interest on the site centering around Europe, what do we know about the Burma Campaign. There is 818 photos on the IWM web site most are from the RAF/RN. There is one of Diamond Ts winding up a hill side, lots of tanks.

My attempts to trace RCT history failed partly due to there amalgamation into RSC.

The Burma Star association has some information on the units involved but that's it.

One should compare the war in Europe with the war in Burma and ask were would you rather be, fighting the Germans or Japanese, in the European country side or the Jungles of Burma.

Any Help tracing the tank transport squadron would be appreciated as I said they were partly manned from a London theatrical company so there should be photos?.

 

Remember them all

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RANGOON MEMORIAL

Country: Myanmar

Locality: unspecified

Location Information: The Rangoon Memorial is situated in Taukkyan War Cemetery, which is about 35 kilometres north of Yangon (formerly Rangoon). The cemetery is on PY1 Road (formerly Prome Road), about 15 kilometres from the airport and can be easily seen from the road.

Historical Information: The RANGOON MEMORIAL bears the names of almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma (now Myanmar) and who have no known grave. The memorial stands in TAUKKYAN WAR CEMETERY, which is the largest of the three war cemeteries in Burma. It was begun in 1951 for the reception of graves from four battlefield cemeteries at Akyab, Mandalay, Meiktila and Sahmaw which were difficult to access and could not be maintained. The last was an original 'Chindit' cemetery containing many of those who died in the battle for Myitkyina. The graves have been grouped together at Taukkyan to preserve the individuality of these battlefield cemeteries Burials were also transferred from civil and cantonment cemeteries, and from a number of isolated jungle and roadside sites. Because of prolonged post-war unrest, considerable delay occurred before the Army Graves Service were able to complete their work, and in the meantime many such graves had disappeared. However, when the task was resumed, several hundred more graves were retrieved from scattered positions throughout the country and brought together here. The cemetery now contains 6,374 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 867 of them unidentified. In the 1950s, the graves of 52 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War were brought into the cemetery from the following cemeteries where permanent maintenance was not possible: Henzada (1); Meiktila Cantonment (8); Thayetmyo New (5); Thamakan (4); Mandalay Military (12) and Maymyo Cantonment (22). Taukkyan War Cemetery also contains: The TAUKKYAN CREMATION MEMORIAL commemorating more than 1,000 Second World War casualties whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith. The TAUKKYAN MEMORIAL which commemorates 45 servicemen of both wars who died and were buried elsewhere in Burma but whose graves could not be maintained.

No. of Identified Casualties: 26857

 

From CWGC

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When you go home don't worry about what to tell your loved ones and friends about service in Asia. No one will know where you were, or where it is if you do. You are, and will remain "The Forgotten Army." ― attributed to General Slim.

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Guest catweazle (Banned Member)
When you go home don't worry about what to tell your loved ones and friends about service in Asia. No one will know where you were, or where it is if you do. You are, and will remain "The Forgotten Army." ― attributed to General Slim.

I lot of vets from Aden feel the same.cw.

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Any Help tracing the tank transport squadron would be appreciated as I said they were partly manned from a London theatrical company so there should be photos?.

 

 

 

 

Hi Paul,

 

There were three tank transporter companies in 14th Army, Burma ;

553 Company - engaged on the L of C

589 Company - joined 254 Indian Tank Bde in March 44, when Japs invaded Assam.

590 Company - serving 255 Indian Tank Bde

 

None of the accounts for these units mention anything about the theatrical link. Apparantly drivers were in short supply in that campaign and the Indian Army Service Corps bolstered the numbers. A thought crosses my mind that perhaps members of an ENSA concert party helped out :???

 

Info from "Wait for the Waggon" ,story of RCT and predecessors 1774 - 1993

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The reason I started this thread was that I wanted to highlight that we didn't just fight in Europe during the Second Great war (as my father would say) and when considering that there is a lot of information on the battles in Europe, but in Burma were the fighting was against an enemy that was suicidal and the conditions far surpassed those of Europe, then we the custodians of this history should become better informed.

 

Burma

The longest War by Louis Allen

Louis Allen served in Burma as a Japanese speaking intelligence officer.

In his book, chapter 7 (the battering ram- the capture and siege of Meiktila).

 

The passage that I was referring to is,” The tanks moved on there own tracks longer than they should have done to get to the starting-point. The tank transporters which brought them down the valleys from Imphal were well past their best and often broke down. (Oddly enough, the Tank Transporter Squadron were nearly all members of the same theatrical touring company in England, who had joined up en masse, actors, electricians, and stage-hands, and they would often run two trailers together and put on a show.) But these worn vehicles rambling over tracks consisting at times of sawn-off tree-stumps and holes in the ground occasionally had to be towed in by the Sherman’s, so that the tanks ended up doing a third of the journey on their own tracks. After doing 210 miles, the transporters finally gave up the ghost at Mawle.

 

Notes

255 Armoured Brigade consisted of 116 Regt RAC, Gordon highlanders converted to armour

Indian Cavalry, 9 Cav and 5 Lancers.

In his notes there is also 255th independent tank brigade, 11th light cavalry (A Charge of Jungle 1962 by Miles Smeeton) on the above page 426

From other sources 150th Regt RAC, 3 Carabiniers, 149th Regt RAC/ 7th The Kings own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 22nd or 24th Tank transport company, 149th Transport Company and 500th company RASC and from Richard the 553,589 and 590.

The 500th is the only one on the order of battle for 1944

 

 

From The book page 630

 

"The final question is obviously Little Peterkin's:

'And what good came of it at last?'

Quoth little Peterkin.

"Why that I do not Know,' said he,

'But 'twas a famous victory'."

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The longest War by Louis Allen

Louis Allen served in Burma as a Japanese speaking intelligence officer.

In his book, chapter 7 (the battering ram- the capture and siege of Meiktila).

 

 

 

Paul,

 

From the references for the three companies that I have found, there is only one that mentions Meiktila, so see if this fits:

 

quoted from "Wait for the Waggon" Edited by John Sutton

 

"the other transporter unit, 590 Company, served 255 Indian Tank Brigade and probably had the hardest task of them all. In order to effect a surprise crossing of the Irrawaddy at Pakokku, and from there make a dash for Meiktila, 4 Corps,which included this tank brigade, was switched from the left flank of 14th Army to the right and sent down by way of the Kabaw and Gangaw Valleys. The route was difficult: it was 400 miles long of which 110 through the Kabaw Valley were over a fair-weather road, already the L of C of 33 Indian Corps and deep in dust. The difficulties encountered by 590 Company in moving the tank brigade over the last 200 miles, without using too much track mileage, were immense. The whole move took eight weeks to complete because of the arduous nature of the route and the lack of transport. Throughout this period the company worked extemely hard in terrible conditions and carried much praise for their sustained efforts."

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Richard that fits right in,like a glove, so I will go with the 590 company. we in Australia in Transport have Squadron's and Troop's. He use the word Squadron which could be a mistake but I find it unlikely?

590 is not mentioned on the order of battle from the Burma star Association but the 500 is?

As you can see the troops made a name for them selves not only from there driving tasks but also from providing entertainment, I have tried ENSA on the web an interesting site and will continue.

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. we in Australia in Transport have Squadron's and Troop's. He use the word Squadron which could be a mistake but I find it unlikely?

 

 

Paul,

 

I know your army structure was based on the British one and I would suggest that "squadrons" were not introduced until after WW2. During wartime period, what is now refered to as a squadron was then a company.

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Richard and members I can Confirm the 590 Transport Company from the SEAC order of battle and the The Argus, October 10 2008 from an Archive article published 29th May 2001 Sussex Pride. Its all a mater of trying different combination's on this machine.

 

Now I need some one who lives near Worthing, West Sussex who would like to make a house call on a driver from that unit.

 

I have his complete details and will PM them. An interview would probably make a good article for all those that drive Diamond T's

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  • 12 years later...

This is a very old thread, but came across it while going through some old papers from my grandmother. There is a letter to her from  Boris Pharo dated Feb 1944, from 589 Tank Transport Company, India Command, where he describes the challenges they are facing living in the jungles in Burma. 

 

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