Photo Credit Hereford Times
What were the men of SOE Burma doing while Victory in Europe was celebrated? Compiled from various reports and operational diaries, here’s their 8 May 1945:
Lt.Col. John Cromarty Tulloch, officer commanding Walrus area of Operation Character
Another team of officers, unfortunately without W/T, arriving conveniently on the 2nd May, I decided to move my H.Q. en bloc, with them, CHARLESWORTH and WARREN (who arrived on the 7th) to HPU-HKYA-KU and set up my H.Q. close to the road.
This move was completed by the 11th May and, although it necessarily left the YADO area without British Officers and somewhat up in the air, I consider it paid handsome dividend in the enormous increase in Jap casualties and the complete disorganisation of their only L. of C.
Major Alexander Boal, one of the officers who arrived on 2 May, wrote about the move mentioned above. This excerpt covers the 6-11th of May 1945
After three days delay there and fruitless correspondence with WILSON, I decided to try to cross the road at LAWEE-KHU by ourselves, as we could not get either guides, coolies or levies locally. We were hampered by having with us BEATSON, the Interpreter, who was suffering from a bad cough, and was totally blind at night.
While carrying out a recce of the road at LAWEE-KHU, we were surprised by 50 Japs moving up to the village. We took up position on a rocky eminence about three quarters of a mile from the village, and waited for the Japs to go. They remained in the village all day, looking for us, so the villagers told us, and so at night we slipped out and moved to PRESAWKHU, whence, after one abortive attempt, we succeeded in crossing he road arriving in KYEBOGYI on the 11th May.
From the diary of Major Arthur Denning, commanding Red area of Walrus
7.5.45. To LOBAHKU to see U’BEE and to organise his fighting men. On to DAWRAHKU. Fighting at HKO-RI (LW 6661) 10 Japs killed. Daily ambushes NAMMEKON area. Ambush on BALU Chaung approx LW 6895. 30 Japs drowned.
8.5.45. Returned to HWARIKU.
9.5.45. Lib dropped to DAWRAHKU not HWARIKU. NAMMEKON ambushes developing into pitched battle 35 Japs killed (unit 10592).
Lt.Col. Hugh Howell, in charge of Hyena area of Operation Character
On 3 May British troops occupied SHWEGYIN and thus cut off enemy withdrawal South along the foothills road. The effect of this appeared to be that large Japanese parties halted along the foothills between KYAUKKYI and SHWEGYIN undecided what to do. Up to 10 May, sub-area WHITE was repeatedly asking for air attacks on bodies of 3000 to 4000 enemy between PAYAGI QB 3321 and MINLANTAZEIK QB 3620.
Major George Pennell, officer in charge of Wolf team of Operation Heavy
7th May 45. Jitter raid on WANG PANG HSANG. Thai casualties 3 wounded.
8th May 45. Thai Comdrs. at three outposts – WAN PANG HSANG, TAPON bridge and TAPING ferry – offered to surrender. We asked CALCUTTA for interpreter, as Thais speak very poor English. On the evening of 8th May, we asked CALCUTTA for information re Thai surrender as Japs may get early warning.
9th May 45. Message from KANDY states that Thai surrender may lead to unfortunate repercussions.
The 8th May was not a pleasant day for for captured Burmese agents:
Next morning (8.5.45) Comrade THAN NYUN was questioned by Interpreter MAUNG THAUNG PE and Sgt ARAHI. The ropes which were fastened to his wrists, waist and legs and neck were tightened and a wooden rod was passed through the main knot and twisted as a lever to cause the following pain and torture:
- He was made to fall on his back and a Jap sentry, placing one leg on his stomach and the other on his breast, jumped on him for about five minutes.
- When he shouted with pain, another sentry stepped on his neck and choked him.
Such torture and cross examination lasted for about an hour during which period Comrade THAN NYUN fainted three times.
Sergeant Leney, born 4 May 1923, was a W/T operator on Operation Character, team Mongoose. In his memoir he wrote:
After some days of keeping the radio dry over a fire I thought I was getting some response from the transmitter and kept pumping the same message out asking for an urgent drop. As we were not sure of the exact date I could only guess at the sked times. The only thing I was sure of was that I had spent my twenty second birthday getting shot at.
Just a few excerpts here to show what was going on in the war far away from Europe. The war was not over for everyone, but that does not mean that VE day should be diminished in anyway, just that VJ shouldn’t.
Whatever you do this 75th anniversary of VE Day, have a good day.