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The Chindits (officially in 1943 77th Indian Infantry Brigade and in 1944 3rd Indian Infantry Division) were a British India "Special Force"[nb 1] that served in Burma and India in 1943 and 1944 during the Burma Campaign in World War II. They were formed into long range penetration groups trained to operate deep behind Japanese lines. The operations were marked by prolonged marches though extremely difficult terrain by underfed troops weakened by malaria and illnesses such as dysentery. The Chindits were the brainchild of the British army's most unconventional commander of WW2: Orde Wingate. A continuing controversy over the force has centered around the extremely high casualty rate which it suffered and the military value of its achievements.
Order of Battle of the Chindits
First Chindit Expedition 1943. Codenamed Operation LongclothHeadquarters 77th Indian Infantry Brigade
Commander Brigadier Orde Wingate Brigade Major Major R.B.G. Bromhead (succeeded by Major G.M. Anderson) Staff Captain Captain H.J. Lord Deception party
Officer Commanding (O.C.) Major Jeffries No. 1 Group (Southern)
Officer Commanding (O.C.) Lieutenant Colonel Leigh Alexander (died during the operation) 1 Column (Major Dunlop) 2 Column (Major Burnett) No. 2 Group (Northern)
O.C Lieutenant-Colonel S.A. Cooke 3 Column (Major Michael Calvert) 4 Column (Major R.A. Conron)(replaced by Major R.B. Bromhead March 1, 1943) 5 Column (Major Bernard Fergusson) 7 Column (Major K. Gilkes) 8 Column (Major Walter Scott) HQ Group (Burma Rifles)
O.C. Lt-Colonel L.G. Wheeler 2nd Burma Rifles (replaced by Captain P.C. Buchanan on the death of Lt-Colonel Wheeler)
Second Chindit Expedition 1944. Codenamed Operation ThursdayHeadquarters 3rd Indian Infantry Division
Division Commander Major-General Orde.C. Wingate (succeeded by Major-General W.D.A. Lentaigne) Deputy Commander Major-General G.W. Symes, (succeeded by Brigadier D. Tulloch) Brigadier General Staff Brigadier D. Tulloch,( succeeded by Brigadier H.T. Alexander) Locations of Headquarters Rear HQ at Gwalior, Central India Main HQ first at Imphal later at Sylhet, Assam Launching HQ at Lalaghat Tactical/Forward HQ, Shaduzup, Burma Thunder 3rd West African Brigade
Officer Commanding (O.C.) Brigadier A.H. Gillmore, (succeeded by Brigadier A.H.G. Ricketts): 10 HQ column 6th Battalion Nigeria Regiment: 66 and 39 Columns 7th Battalion Nigeria Regiment: 29 and 35 Columns 12th Battalion Nigeria Regiment: 12 and 43 Columns 3rd West African Field Ambulance: Support (From disbanded British 70th Infantry Division );
Javelin British 14th Infantry Brigade
O.C. Brigadier Thomas Brodie: 59 HQ column 2nd Battalion The Black Watch: 42 and 73 Columns - Lt.Col.G.C.Green 1st Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment: 16 and 61 Columns 2nd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment: 65 and 84 Columns 7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment: 47 and 74 Columns 54th Field Company Royal Engineers & Medical Detachment:support Enterprise British 16th Infantry Brigade
O.C. Brigadier B.E. Fergusson: 99 HQ column 2nd Battalion The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey); 21 and 22 Columns 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment ; 17 and 71 Columns 51/69 Field Regiment Royal Artillery 51 and 69 Columns (infantry columns made up of R.A. personnel) 45th Reconnaissance Regiment ; 45 and 54 Columns (infantry columns made up recce units) 2nd Field Company Royal Engineers & Medical Detachment: support Emphasis 77th Indian Infantry Brigade
O.C. Brigadier Mike Calvert: 25 HQ column 3rd Battalion 6th Gurkha Rifles: 36 and 63 Columns 1st Battalion The King's Regiment (Liverpool): 81 and 82 Columns 1st Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers: 20 and 50 Columns 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment: 38 and 80 Columns 3rd Battalion 9th Gurkha Rifles: 57 and 93 Columns 142 Company, Hong Kong Volunteers & Medical and veterinary detachments: support Profound 111th Indian Infantry Brigade
O.C. Brigadier W.D.A. Lentaigne, (succeeded first by Major John Masters and then by Brigadier Morris): 48 HQ Column 1st Battalion The Cameronians: 26 and 90 Columns 2nd Battalion The King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster): 41 and 46 Columns 3rd Battalion (part) 4th Gurkha Rifles: 30 Column Mixed Field Company Royal Engineers/Royal Indian Engineers & Medical and veterinary detachments: support Morris Force
O.C. Lt-Colonel (later promoted Brigadier) J.R. Morris 4th Battalion 9th Gurkha Rifles: 49 and 94 Columns 3rd Battalion (part) 4th Gurkha Rifles: 40 Column Dah Force
O.C. Lieut-Colonel D.C. Herring Kachin Levies Bladet (Blain's Detachment)
O.C. Major Blain Gliderborne commando engineers Royal Artillery Supporting non-mobile units designed to defend Chindit Jungle Fortresses.
R, S and U Troops 160th Field Regiment Royal Artillery (All 25 pounders) W,X,Y, and Z Troops 69th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment (40mm Bofors) Support Units
NO 1 Air Commando USAAF – strike and casualty evacuation (until 1/5/1944 only) Eastern Air Command – supply U. S.Army 900th Field Unit (engineers) Divisional Support Troops
2nd Battalion Burma Rifles – one section assigned per column except for columns in the 3rd West African Brigade 145th Brigade Company R.A.S.C. 219th Field Park Company Royal Engineers 61st Air Supply Company R.A.S.C. 2nd Indian Air Supply Company, R.I.A.S.C.
Galahad 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) US Army
1st Battalion; Red and White Combat Teams 2nd Battalion; Blue and Green Combat Teams 3rd Battalion; Khaki Orange Combat Teams Also known as Merrill's Marauders and after being trained were transferred to General Joseph Stilwell's Northern Combat Area Command and operated independently of the Chindits. 23rd British Infantry Brigade
O.C Brigadier Lance E.C.M. Perowne CBE: 32 HQ column 1st Battalion Essex Regiment:Columns 44, 56 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding): Columns 33, 76 4th Battalion Border Regiment:Columns 34, 55 60th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery: Columns 60, 68 (fighting as infantry) 12th Field Company Royal Engineers & Medical Detachment: Support This Brigade trained as a Chindit Brigade, but was diverted to the main front for use against the Japanese.