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This post follows on from Mahout 1
A Second World War Parachutist: Credit here
After Sunil Datta Gupta (SDG) landed in June 1943, he was supposed to rendezvous with his fellow Mahout 1 agent, but after months of trying he finally gave up. The reason why he was unsuccessful in making contact was because the other Indian agent never left India – he was ill, initially at least. SOE’s Burma Country Section then attempted sorties in August which were abortive (no reason found for why) and in September no sorties were flown due to the weather.
Finally, on 13 October 1943, two Indian agents were parachuted into the Myingyan area. This was Mahout 2, and the two agents were Lance Naik Subdar Khan and Sudhir Ghosh. It is not clear if either of these men were the one who was supposed to have rendezvoused with SDG.
Subdar Khan does not have a date of birth recorded, but his SOE code symbol was BBR/121. He had been a Burma policeman in Myingyan, which was then in the Meiktila district (today it is in Mandalay district). Subdar Khan joined SOE on 1 February 1943 and spent March and April training at Banana Ridge with BB/204, who is listed as being Birmal Sen Gupta. Between 26 July and 11 August when he returned to Calcutta, Subdar Khan was parachute trained at Chaklala.
Sudhir Ghosh, alias Santi La Mitra, was born on 15 July 1919. He was a Bengali Hindu who joined SOE on 1 November 1942. There is no record of his training like there is for his companion, but it is noted that he had experience in political propaganda. It is not unlikely that Sudhir Ghosh was a Bengali Communist, originally employed by SOE against a possible invasion of India by the Japanese.
Burma Country Section did not expect to hear from the two agents until February 1944 when personnel from Operation Flimwell would ‘clear their postbox’. Operation Flimwell involved two Karen agents who were tasked with contacting the Karen community in the Bassein area of Burma. It is unknown whether Sudhir Ghosh and Subdar Khan were supposed to rendezvous with SDG once in Rangoon.
February 1944 came and went, and similar to Mahout 1, nothing was heard from Mahout 2. The first Burma Country Section heard from Mahout 2 was on 11 March 1945, when Sudhir Ghosh made contact with the advancing XIV Army. He reported that he and Subdar Khan had been arrested three days after they landed. Subdar Khan had subsequently died, apparently due to malaria. Sudhir Ghosh was released on parole by the Japanese because they believed his cover story.
Even if Mahout 2 had not been arrested, Flimwell would never have cleared their letter box, for the Karen agents had also been arrested after landing. Three operations and five valuable personnel, all launched in 1943 without apparent success. The pressure mounted on SOE to produce tangible results as they sought to get established in Burma.