THE FORGOTTEN GUNNERS OF KOHIMA.

Discussion in 'Gunners' started by TalaveraTom, May 4, 2009.

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  1. Sad to say that the Royal Regiments historians appear to have neglected one of our own regiments. That Regiment is 10 Fld Regt RA who fought at Kohima as part of the 2nd Inf Div in 1944. The regt was made up of 30/46, 51/54 bty's respectively. Strangely, although 3 of the bty's are still existent, non of these bty's seem to register this as a significant part of their bty histories, if at all. Kohima was one of the most important battles of WW2, and many details have been written about the various fine units and their exploits during the battle, that it seems strange that virtually nothing exists about one of only a handful of RA units present.
    I have done a bit of research myself. But still the story of this regt is clouded by mystery. What was their role during the battle? Some Arty were used in the infantry role. Where were they located in respect to the positioning of the guns, for effective fire being laid down on the Japanese. Were the bty's split up, to increase coverage or were they kept together for more powerful effect...Basically, i just want to know what happened to this regiments history!
    If anyone knows anything or could direct me to a source of information then i would be most grateful for your help...Thanks in advance.

    For your tomorrow, we gave our today. (Inscribed on the Kohima memorial for those who gave the most)..Lest we forget!
     
  2. I can't remember the details, but I do know that I wrote up the history of 51/54 battery in 1981 when I was the battery history officer of 129 Dragon Battery. I met the man who commanded the battery in Burma and was awarded the MC for his actions on the Irrawaddy crossing. I interviewed him and had the notes typed up. They may still be in the 129 battery history, wherever that may have ended up. One other veteran was John Greenway who looked after the laid down wine celler at Woolwich. He was one of the ROs who propped up the bar at lunchtime drinking pink gins

    We also send a sergeant to Kohima as part of the 2nd Division expedition to visit and repair the Kohima memorial in 1979, the 35th anniversary.
     
  3. I thought the 51 kabul bty was part of 50 Missile in the eightys, or are we on about a different 51 .
     
  4. Pteranadon and joncal...Thanks for the gen, but you see my problem. Was the 51 bty of 10 fld the same as the 51kabul of 24/50 msl regt. Not sure, as many of the the bty's within the artillery were redesignated and re-titled during the 50s. I cannot imagine that any bty that was at Kohima wouldn't have kept records of such a historic event.

    Pteranadon, Yours sounds quite possible because the bty's were linked as you described ala..30/46 and 51/54. In fact, i've just been on 40 regts site and checked Dragons history and your hint was correct. It does reference 51 bty at Kohima, but not their exploits, obviously concentrating on the China honour title. If you do remember any details, Would you post them?

    More difficult than i imagined..but i'll keep looking.

    Thanks again.
     

  5. 51 Kabul Battery of 50 Missile Regiment was not the same as the 51 Fd Batttery of 10 RA. 51 Kabul battery was 109 fd bty durign the second world war. http://www.50missileclubra.com/51battery.html Both batteries were renumbered in 1947. 129 Battery had the battery histories of both 51 and 54 Dragon batteries, ex Madras Foot Artillery! These included the photograph albums from 1923-39 and the hand written battery history of 51 Battery.

    I'm afraid that my old and tired brain is no substiotute for proper research. You need to obntain the battery war diaries from Kew or Woolwich or write to 129 Dragon Batteyr and ask for their help. They may have the work I did in 1981 as well as primary source material. As a young officer I was more interested in dicharging the duty of filling in the gap between 1939 and 1945 than remembering each part of it.

    I am ashamed to admit that until recently I did not know that 54 battery had supporte dthe 2nd Battalion the Worcesters on their historic charge at Gheluveldt on 31 October 1914. One of their officers was awared the MC for bringing B sub into action on the Menin road and dismounting a German battery with new 18 Pdr HE shells.
     
  6. My own Uncle was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery as part of the gun crew of a 5.5 inch field gun. I'm not sure what Battery he was with, as he did not speak about his experience much. What he did see was the horrific results of the Japs bayoneting POW's who were in the Military Hospital at the battle for 'Admin Box' after they were driven out by the Chindits and other forces.

    My uncle was a John Milne, born in India in the 1920s and joined the Calcutta Scottish TA Regiment in the late 1930s before the war broke out. He transfered to the RA around early 1940.
     
  7. Not alot of help on this but I can offer a bit I've just finished writing a dissertation on the 2nd Divisions infantry at Kohima.
    The Divisional artillery was held at ZUBZA a village captured by the QOCH early in the battle their fire is credited as being vital in the RWK and the DLI's defence of Garrison Hill.

    More specifically I'm not sure I can help, though any broad questions I'm sure I can have a bash.

    A quick check and I think your uncle served with 136th Field Regiment, RA; they would have been with 7th Indian Divisions Admin Box the only other option is 139th Jungle Field Regiment, RA.

    Sorry to be a pedant but there were no Chindits in the Admin Box, they were probably men of the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment
     
  8. The Batteries would have been renamed after the war and so would most definitely not be the same ones as exist now.

    Have you looked for Kohima being listed as an RA engagement with any Battery? RA library could help, not least with the battery nomiclature from then to now. This would tell you which Battery (if any) it now is and they may have something in their history.
     
  9. Thanks Gents, your assistance is greatly appreciated. Any information moves the story on.
    46 Bty were retitled 109 Fld Bty of 40 Fld
    51/54 Bty are now 129 Dragon Bty of 40 Fld
    30 Bty are not the same as the 30 Bty at 16 AD..They were a coastal defence and training bty during the war.


    Heres what i have thus far in 10 Fld Regt RA's WW2 Trail:

    1939...The regt was brought up to strength with 2 bty's 30/46 and 51/54.
    1939...The regt served in France for 9 months and was evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940.
    1940..The regt was stationed in quite a few places, such as, Bridlington, Wakefield, Knottingley and Wychem Manor near Banbury whilst training and re-training on various equipment. They were inspected by HM King George vi and addressed by Churchill.
    1942...They were moved again to board the ship Reina Del Pacifico at Liverpool. From there they sailed to Glasgow to pick up more troops. The threat was such from submarines, that the ship then sailed toward Canada to join up with their convoy. A number of ships in the convoy were lost to submarines. It took six weeks to get to Cape Town, and then onto Dakar for re-supply.
    Security onboard was the responsibility of The Worcestershire Regiment, although each unit looked after their own area of the ship. From Dakar, the Reina del Pacifico set out alone for India at full steam anchoring at Durban for a short period and then sailing straight to Bombay, where the Regiment disembarked. Unfortunately, there was great anti British feeling on the sub continent, and a number of grenades were thrown at soldiers who were out and about. Popular targets were Cinema's or markets.
    From Bombay 10 Fld regt were posted to Poonha. Whilst here they underwent further training and went on firing camp to the new ranges that had been built. Once their training was complete they were posted to Hyderabad.

    This is all i have at the moment but with your help perhaps we can at least put 10 Fld Regt RA back on the Gunner Map...Thanks Again :)

    Edited for my ignorance of bty lineage.
     
  10. You have missed a bit. In 1939 they went to France and came back via Dunkirk. One of the items that I was able to get from the ex BC was the Subaltern's after action report he wrote about his expereince as a GPO in 1940 - a subbies eye view of the blitzkreig. (After Dunkirk the sodliers were sent on leave and the subalterns asked to write COs essays.) This should also still be with the 129 History
     
  11. Pteranadon,
    Well spotted! 24/09/39 arrived in France, where they spent the next 9 months before being evacuated from Dunkirk in June 1940. I assume the BC to which you referred was 51/54 bty? Were they evacuated as a regiment or as individual bty's i wonder? They remained in the UK until 1942, being trained and re-trained on different equipment, because the hierarchy weren't sure where they were going to use them. According to reports, the men were led to believe that Madagascar was a possible destination, due to it falling to the Germans in late 42.
    46 Bty were for some 10 months independent of the regimental role and worked within 36th Indian division as a LAA Bty until April 1943, when it reverted to it's previous role within the regt. Interested to find out what they were up to for that period?

    Cheers...Tom.
     
  12. Just a thank you to Tiger Stacker for his contribution to the story so far.
    It is greatly appreciated and has helped to put a context to their position at Kohima.

    ATB...Tom :D
     
  13. Not sure how good my memory is, but I seem to recall that 'Not Ordinary Men', which is about Kohima and is published by Pen and Sword (can't remember the author) lists 20 Bty as the only battery that provided dedicated fire support throughout the battle. Interestingly, 20 Bty does not have an honour title. I served with 20 Bty for a while and always thought it strange, having read about their involvement at Kohima. Will dig out the book this evening and have a look.
     
  14. As I previously stated - the Batteries were re-designated post war (1947?) and so the 20 Battery now in existence (or even in existence since 1947) may not be the 20 Bty involved in the Kohima battle.

    The easy way to do it would be to google the Battery titles (as I just did with 20 Bty) and see if any of the historical sites make reference to the current battery serving at Kohima.

    It is unlikely that a Battery would "forget" that they were in action somewhere, but not necessarily the case that they would receive that action as an honour title. It is more likely that the WW2 Battery is not the same as the current one and therefore no link between them.
     
  15. From the 22 Regt OCA site:

    "20 Commando Battery originated from No 7 Company, 4th Battalion Royal Artillery which was formed in 1771. The Company fought in the American War of Independence notably at the defence of Penascola in 1781. They also fought in Canada during the Second American War. During the Second World War the Battery was stationed at Ceylon.

    20 Commando Battery joined 29 Commando Regiment in 1964. In 1971 the Battery was put into suspended animation until 1990 when it was reformed as 20 Battery, part of 16th Regiment Royal Artillery.


    The Battery resumed its commando role in support of 3 Commando Brigade on 1st April 1992, joining 22nd Regiment at the same time."

    Again, not exactly a complete Bty histtory, but might point to the WW2 Kohima 20 Bty not being the same a the 20 Cdo Bty (although they are not Cdo now).