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Chindits

Article about: A friend of mine has been scanning some family documents and has shared some photographs of her grandfather with a brief summary. 'Reginald Frank Robinson (WIS CORPORAL 7939388) Born in Uppe

  1. #1

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    A friend of mine has been scanning some family documents and has shared some photographs of her grandfather with a brief summary.

    'Reginald Frank Robinson (WIS CORPORAL 7939388)

    Born in Upper Froyle on 21st December 1921, he was called up in 1941 after serving one year with the Home Guard and enlisted on the 19th June in the 61st Training Regiment Royal Armoured Corps. based at Tidworth in Wiltshire.
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    After a period of 8 months training which covered Driver/mechanic, Gunnery and Wireless Operator, he was moved to Bovington Camp to prepare for embarkation from Liverpool on 23rd March 1942 aboard S.S. Arundel Castle bound for India.

    A week or so was spent in Cape Town, S.Africa and the journey continued on the S.S. Mauritania to India docking at Bombay. After a week to ten days at the docks awaiting orders, the contingent was sent to join a newly formed armoured regiment, the 26th Hussars. This new unit had no armoured vehicles or trucks of any description and were hiring bullock carts from the local villages in order to carry out tactical exercises.

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    After a short time, he was admitted to a British General Hospital suffering from dysentery and during this stay also developed appendicitis.

    After almost 2 years it was decided that there was too much armour in India and the regiment was disbanded. He then joined an infantry unit, the 2nd Battalion York and Lancs Regiment which formed part of the second CHINDIT expedition into Burma. Their mission was to infiltrate enemy lines, ambush Japanese reinforcements and supply columns and destroy stores, fuel and munitions dumps. This would allow American aid to reach China via the land route currently blocked by the enemy.

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    During the monsoon season, he developed a hernia carrying supplies which the mules could not carry due to the muddy conditions deep in the Burmese jungle. He then became ill with jaundice and was turned loose from the advancing column to find his own way back to India. He left with another soldier named Shackleton who was a direct descendant of Sir Ernest Shackleton the Antarctic explorer. They met up with other soldiers on their trek through the jungle and eventually ended up at the Indawgy Lake in the north of Burma. He then travelled by various methods, including raft, train, aircraft and also by foot to arrive in Bangalore where survivors gathered from all parts of the country to reform the regiment which then moved up to Fort William in Calcutta.

    Video of Casualty clearing at Indawgyi Lake
    Sunderland Flying Boats + Chindits | Weapons and Warfare

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    This was the end of his military service in India and he was repatriated finally being “demobbed” at Beverley in Yorkshire on 18th December 1946.'

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    These articles are not about Reg but were kept by him so they must mean something to him.
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    A search for Private Ernest Dexter brings this article from the Imperial War Museum.
    silk 'panic map' of North Burma | Imperial War Museums
    "This badge belonged to Private E. Dexter a member of No. 7 Platoon, 2nd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, when he was involved in the Chindit operations (May to September 1944). Mr. Dexter said of his experiences in Burma: '. . . General Wingate was our commander, who was killed in an aeroplane, shortly after, and was a great respected leader. We were landed in the Burmese jungle, in the dark early morning. We were assured that this was (a) two month campaign, owing to the Monsoon's would be starting by then. When this period was over, we went to ... Indawgi Lake, taking our wounded and ill . . . to be taken back to hospital in Assam in the Sunderland planes which landed on the lake. We that were left expected to go back with them as promised, but our radio engineer received a message that morning to tell us that was not on and that we were to stay in and had got to fight our way out. This was to take another three months, during which we were losing a lot of Chindits due to disease and malnutrition and heat exhaustion. When we came to the end of the campaign (the lucky ones) all had lost weight and were down to seven stones.'
    badge, formation, Indian, 3rd Indian Infantry Division (The Chindits) | Imperial War Museums
    Last edited by Roger M; 06-15-2019 at 12:12 AM.

  2. #2
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    Remarkable to read about a flogging in the jungle... with all the associated dangers of any open wounds or sores in tropical conditions, it is unbelievable that any commander could consider such a punishment a good idea!
    Wingate has just plummeted further in my estimation.

    Superb amount of personal history and research, Roger.
    Many thanks!
    Bob

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    That's an interesting news story from 1946 where Major Graves-Morris in a court martial for ordering the flogging of Dexter & others, the court ruled Graves-Morris "was not to blame because higher officers on Wingate's authority had authorised his action". Now where have we heard that defence before?

    At the same time (1946) in War Crime trials of Third Reich officers, the courts were rejecting the universal defence of SS guards and concentration camp commanders of; "I was just obeying orders." Seems a little inconsistent.

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    I think it is easy to sit judgement 75 years on ,and I don't think it is at all relevant to the cases of SS officers. Slight difference in the issue of school boy caning and the murder of Millions of innocent men, women and children.

    Dexter did not complain about the punishment but mentioned it in a letter to his brother in law who complained to his MP

    The punishments were issued when the lives of others were put into danger such as sleeping on sentry duty.

    More information is available here British army flogging news, July 1946 - CORPUN ARCHIVE ukar4607

    "The flogging, Mr. Vick said, was carried out with a thin cane after both Dexter and Smith had signed a document saying they were willing to take such punishment in place of 25 days' field punishment that had been awarded by Major Graves-Morris."

    They were also allowed to keep the 25 days pay they would of lost.

    Flogging in the British army, October 1946 - CORPUN ARCHIVE ukar4610

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    The issue I was pointing to is; what is a crime or offence? Magnitude of the crime is another issue. A shoplifter stealing a packet chips breaks the laws the same as a bank robber stealing a truck load of money. Opting out of responsibility to obey in this case military law because a superior officer orders it seems out of line with most court decisions at the time and since then. Clearly someone in 1946 thought there was a case to answer as he faced a court martial. Graves-morris could have decided the Wingate order was illegal and refused to carry it out.

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