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On 19 January 1943, Burma Country Section (BCS) dropped their first team back into occupied Burma. Two Karen agents, Saw Archibald Kino and his W/T operator, Mya Maung, landed in the Myamaung district near the village of Kyungone. Radio contact with Calcutta was never established, and the men were not heard of again until 1945.
Judging by extracts of ISLD (MI6) and Field Interrogation Centre reports that are sprinkled, seemingly randomly, in the Burma files, it appears that SOE / Force 136 made every effort to try and establish what happened to their missing agents. Piecing it together, as Burma Country Section would have had to do, what follows is what can be surmised about Saw Archibald Kino and Mya Maung.
On the night of 12 January according to the source, two agents landed near Kyungone. One of the men ‘fell through the roof of the/kitchen [sic] of a Burmese house, breaking the China there.’ This ‘highly reliable’ ISLD source goes on to state how ‘[h]is set, etc. were seized by the BURMESE villagers.’
Contrary to this, Kino ‘landed clear’, according to Mya Maung, so presumably it was Mya Maung who landed in the kitchen, but in his interrogation of 25 and 26 September 1945, he does not appear to have confirmed this. Instead, Mya Maung states that he signalled to the aircraft to drop the stores, but also that he ‘immediately on landing hid his crystals under a bush.’ The crystals for the W/T set were stolen, and the thief is even named, but Mya Maung was ‘unable to recover his stolen crystals.’
Mya Maung went on to relate how the stores had landed a couple of miles away, but when they got there everything had been stolen except the W/T set which was able to receive only.
Not much of these details thus add up. There seems to be confusion about who landed first, where they landed, who signalled to the aircraft, what happened to the W/T equipment, and then who gave them up to the Japanese – who had been ‘aroused’ by the circling of the aircraft.
In any case, captured they were, and ‘handed over to the KEMPEI TAI, who carried out the usual interrogation, accompanied by tortures, which lasted about one or two months.’ Both men were then freed, but ‘they were always shadowed in order to see what contacts they made. They were considered to be of more value in this respect than shooting them out of hand.’
More controversy is added to the story by the intercept of Japanese propaganda broadcasts in December 1943. Apparently Saw Archibald Kino was responsible, although SOE appears to have had no evidence other than Mya Maung’s testimony from his 26 September interview. Mya Maung told how Kino broadcast for between 10 and 20 minutes every Thursday.
More questions were asked about Saw Archibald Kino when he didn’t escape with Mya Maung, who joined Major Abbey’s Operation Nutshell in June 1945. A later interrogation seems to have established that the reason for this was that Kino was with the Japanese at another village at the time of Mya Maung’s escape.
By September 1945, Kino was reported as having made contact with SOE’s team codenamed Rabbit.
Whatever the finer details of their landing and subsequent capture, that both men were able to survive is remarkable enough. The price of life may have been a few propaganda broadcasts, the value of which appears to have been limited. More generally, Operation Flimwell was a failure for BCS, one of many frustrations during 1943 in which valuable indigenous personnel were infiltrated into Burma and with whom contact was lost.