Help tracing grandads service in Burma

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by adampoo, May 2, 2008.

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  1. Hello everyone.

    My Grandad (sadly deceased for 8 yeras now) served in Burma during/after the second world war, I think he served with the the Gloucestershire Regiment (as I still have his capbadge) although he is from northumberland?! Unless he did swops or something!?. He also gave me his "DZ flash" which is a khaki badge with crossed spears (same shape as the 16AA Bge badge).

    I have spent quiet alot of time searching about the internet now, but I have came to a dead end.

    If anybody has any info or websites that may be of help that would be great

  2. From 'Cap of Honour' which is a history of the Glosters with a fair bit of detail on WW2:

    1st Battalion took part in the 1942 retreat from Burma as they were serving there before the war. Once they got back to India they pretty much stayed there and didn't get their revenge.

    10th Battalion did the avenging. After home service they were converted to an armoured regiment (159th Regt RAC) and sent to India. There they reverted to infantry and went to 72 Indian Inf Bde in 36 Inf Div. In 1944 after a stint in the Arakan they relieved the Chindits and fought under US command (Stilwell) alongside the Chinese forces.

    It's tempting to relate 'DZ flash' to 10th Glosters as they flew in to relieve the Chindits. However, none of the formations mentioned above seem to have had crossed spears as a badge. It may have been some rear area formation that 1st Bn served under in India.

    The Glosters still have their own museum (I think) so that may be worth a try, though they won't have individuals' service records.

    [edited to add the 'Indian']
  3. If you have his Army Service Number you can apply for his service record
  4. Probably no help, but the 82nd (West Africa) Division fought in Burma and the divisional emblem was crossed spears superimposed on a central circle. There would have been, of course, British troops in the Div but it does not seem to have included any British infantry battalion.

    wikipedia link:
  5. Was he a commissioned officer? If so he may have been on the Div/Bde staff within the 82nd Div.

    As I said earlier, apply for his service record at this link:
  6. Be prepared for a wait though - up to 5 months or so I was informed earlier this week when speaking with Glasgow re my late father's service record.

  7. 36 Div was a very unusual formation, from its formation in 1943 until Sep 1944 it was called 36 Indian Div, comprising 29 Bde and (fully Brit bde, regular inf bns 2 E Lancs, 1 RS, 1 RWF, that had led the assault to capture Madagascar), 72 Bde (formed Apr 44 from 72 Indian Bde, Brit inf, 10 Glos, 9 Sussex, 6 SWB) and all Brit arty, mostly Indian engrs (and a Brit fd coy, and a US coy for airfield construction), medics, services, etc, it was later joined by 26 Indian Bde (2 Buffs plus 2 Indian bns, 1/1 Gurkhas & Indian Mtn arty regt).

    It may have been renamed as Brit and comprised mostly Brit inf so that it could be assigned to US comd.

    GOC was Frank Festing, later CIGS, who had led 29 Bde into Madagascar, rumour has it that Festing was wanted as a corps comd in Europe but the US insisted he stay in Burma. The div landed in N Burma joined the Northern Combat Area Comd under Stillwell and later Sultan, fought they way south along the railway corrridor, then further East and eventaully to Kalaw south of Mandalay, and became part of 14 Army.

    Do't know what the bde insignia were (if they had one) 36 Div was two intersecting red and white circles. The division's chief medic, Geoffrey Foster, wrote a short history '36th Division - North Burma 1944-45'.
  8. According to my copy of "Army Badges & Insignia of WW2" by Guido Rosignoli the divisional sign of 36 Div was formed from the emblems of 29 Bde and 72 Bde. Plate 14 of the book refers to "independent infantry bde and bde groups" and shows 29 Bde's insignia as a white circle "O" on a khaki square; 72 Bde's insignia is shown as a 6 pointed white blocked star of david on a red square.

    Petardier - updated above from reference to Louis Allen's "Burma" and question for you - is it known why the US wanted Festing to stay in Burma?

  9. My mistake, my earlier post (now edited) should have said 72 Indian Inf Bde - whose Bde flash was a red circle on black and explains the 36 Div sign. Having 72 Indian Inf and 72nd Independent Inf Bdes in the same theatre seems an unlucky coincidence.

    My info, by the way, is from Cole's 'Formation Badges of WW2'.
  10. No worries - all on the right track now and the insignia for 72 Ind Bde makes much more sense given 36 div insignia. To be honest I'm not sure 72 Bde were in the same theatre - can't find any reference to them other than the insignia :?

  11. No, I'm worried - Google appears to be beating the books.

    72 Indep Inf Bde's entry in Cole mentions that it served in India and Burma. It seems they didn't: 72 Indep Inf Bde's HQ was the nucleus of 6 Abn Div's 5 Para Bde HQ. This is confirmed by 'Airborne Forces' the official history. It doesn't say what happened to the brigade's battalions, but two of them might have been 10 Green Howards and 2/4 South Lancs as these were the basis of 12 & 13 Para repectively...