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.
As I research Bandoola Production’s 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.”