General Slim making prototype parachutes from jute sacks

One of  General Slim’s most unusual achievements as a leader was that he won the confidence of troops under his command whilst they were being defeated. This happened first in Burma Corps in 1942 then XV Corps in the Arakan in 1943.  Units from both went to be part of 14th Army when it was formed and he took command of it.  He then changed the way the Army operated in particular by saying that if the Japanese got behind an Anglo Indian unit,  as they often did, then the Anglo Indian unit should stay put. He promised, the surrounded unit would be supplied by parachute. However, India in 1943 had very little silk so his idea was to use jute instead. One day a staff officer came to his bungalow and found him cutting up sacks to prove the viability of this idea by making a parachute himself, much a dress maker might make a dress. This painting depicting this event, which took place in Comilla in 1943, was commissioned by Bandoola Productions.

Notes from a research visit to Japan

The Japanese perspective on The Battle of Imphal interests me greatly. Few English language histories cover it in much detail. Arthur Swinson (Four Samurai) and Louis Allen stand out as having done so. Other histories are not incomplete but have simply dwelt on other aspects. I spent a productive two weeks touring Japan, visiting the sites of the memorials to the veterans of 33 Infantry Division, meeting academics and giving a lecture to Japanese analysts about the battle and the surrounding decisions.

Continue reading “Notes from a research visit to Japan”

From behind our lines to behind theirs: a tale of Engineer Reconnaissance in Burma 1944

As I research Bandoola Production’s  Soldiers of Empires book/documentary about the Battle of Imphal, I keep coming across amazing stories. Some are not relevant to our narrative but deserve to be more widely told. I found this one in A Flower from Lofty Heights; Geoffrey Evans and Antony Brett James.

Continue reading “From behind our lines to behind theirs: a tale of Engineer Reconnaissance in Burma 1944”