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"Chindit (3rd Indian Infantry Div) - Support & Service units" Topic

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Gary Kennedy Inactive Member04 Mar 2012 10:26 a.m. PST

There are plenty of Orbats for the Brigades and Battalions of the Chindits available, but seemingly less for the other Divisional elements. Does anyone have a more detailed list of the S&T, Medical and Workshop elements, plus anything else? Best as I can find from the web is -

RASC – HQ CRASC, one Bde Coy and two Air Supply Coys (one RASC, one RIASC)
Medical – one RAMC Det per Bde
REME – HQ CREME, LADs (presumably one per Bde)
Misc – Provost and Postal units




Jemima Fawr Inactive Member04 Mar 2012 11:15 a.m. PST

All I've seen are a few references to it all being divided up equally between the columns, except for rear-echelon elements. I've got no info on how much of what as allocated to each column, sorry. I'll have another look, though. I've got David Rooney's and Shelford Bidwell's books here immediately to hand.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member04 Mar 2012 11:37 a.m. PST

From Chris Kempton's 'Loyalty & Honour: The Indian Army 1939-1947' Vol II:

77 Bde had the following support elements:

216-218 Special Sections KGVO Bengal Sappers & Miners (Aug 43-Dec 44)
77 Bde Signals
45 Animal Transport Coy (Mule) RIASC (1942-43)
77 Bde Medical Det IAMC (1943-45)
77 Bde Veterinary Section IAVC (1942-45) [known as No.1 Bde Vet Sec in 1944]
81 Field Post Office (Nov 42-Mar 44)

111 Bde had the following:

219-221 Special Sections KGVO Bengal Sappers & Miners (Aug 43 to Dec 44)
111 Bde Signals
111 Bde Medical Detachment IAMC
111 Bde Veterinary Section IAVC [known as No.2 Bde Vet Section in 1944]
143 Field Post Office (until Mar 44)

N.B There seems to be an IASC mule company missing from this list, but they must have been present, hence the vets!

Interestingly and unlike other Indian Bdes, they don't seem to have had organic IEME LADs or organic IAOC workshops. It's also the case that other Indian Bdes did not have organic mule transport or veterinary detachments.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member04 Mar 2012 11:41 a.m. PST

From Kempton's Vol. 1, here are the divisional support elements:

219 Field Park Coy RE
145 Coy RASC
61 Air Supply Coy RASC
2 Air Supply Coy IASC
14 Mobile Veterinary Section IAVC (did not enter Burma)

It also mentions here that the 81 & 143 Field Post Offices did not go into Burma.

Curious that while there is a divisional veterinary unit, there doesn't seem to be any mention of a divisional medical unit!

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member04 Mar 2012 11:43 a.m. PST

I've just had a look in John Hamilton's 'War Bush' and he provides every detail of the West African columns, down to the last mule, Padre and MO. As far as I'm aware, all columns were organised identically, so this is excellent info. However, I've got to dash out now, so will copy that out later.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member04 Mar 2012 3:46 p.m. PST

Thanks R Mark, will be interested to see the WA details when you get chance.


Jemima Fawr Inactive Member05 Mar 2012 5:30 a.m. PST

Hi Gary,

From Hamilton, regarding the transfer ofthe 3rd West African Brigade to Wingate's Special Force:

'Each Nigerian battalion was now divided into two columns, on Wingate's establishment. The core of each was a strong infantry company, that is, one with four platoons instead of the normal three. In support there was a Commando (demolition) platoon, commanded by a Sapper, whose NCOs were Sappers, a Support platoon with two Vickers .303" medium machine guns and two 3" mortars, and a Reconnaissance platoon, half its personnel being Burma Rifles, native or half-caste Burmans, under a Burif officer. The pack animals, sixty-five mules and six riding ponies (intended for reconnaissance work or for carrying wounded and sick who could ride), were the Animal Transport platoon, a captain's command. There were plenty of Indian muleteers available, but Wingate barred all Indians and the Nigerians had to train their own muleteers. The column's HQ group consisted of the Column Commander, who was the battalion's CO for the 'senior' column, and its 2IC for the 'junior' one, a Staff Officer (normally an Adjutant), an Administrative Officer (a Quartermaster), an Intelligence Officer, and, attached, an RAF liaison officer with two RAF sergeants to operate a powerful wireless set, and a Medical Officer (RAMC). There was only one padre and one signals officer for each battalion. The company commander for each column was also the 2IC of the column.'

He also goes on to say that the brigade HQ had sixty animals and nearly 200 men, 'including a Defence platoon, the rest being muleteers, signallers and other specialists (Ferguson calls it a "horribly unhandy affair too clumsy to attach to a column, and too vulnerable to take a chance on its own").'

Frustratingly, he doesn't go into detail here, butpresumably the Brigade HQ column contained the bulk of the RASC, veterinarian and medical staff.

If you're interested, the West African column numbers were:
HQ 10 Column
6th NR 66 & 39 Columns
7th NR 35 & 29 Columns
12th NR 43 & 12 Columns

Note that the 3 WA Bde was one battalion weaker than the other Chindit Bdes.

Sorry there's not quite as much detail there as I thought at first glance.

Legion 405 Mar 2012 9:02 a.m. PST

Good intel as always Mr. Davies …

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member05 Mar 2012 11:01 a.m. PST

Thanks R Mark, I've been able to delve into British WEs again recently, and noticed a few more for Special Force units. I had wondered if it might be possible to build up a bigger picture of 3rd Ind Div, but the wider picture for RASC, RAMC and REME is a bit sketchy. I shall limit myself to the Bdes and Cols I think.

Fingers and toes crossed, I might even have found the WE for Chindit Artillery, which if it is what I hope it is, might even mention those mysterious 12.5-mm Hispano weapons discussed in other threads here!



Jemima Fawr Inactive Member05 Mar 2012 11:34 a.m. PST

I was thinking that as '3rd Indian Division' was essentially just a 'cover-name' for Special Force, it's entirely possible that it simply didn't have organic REME, as they were more of a loose group of independent brigades, rather than a division. They may have simply borrowed such units from higher formations.

It is however, difficult to believe that the artillery, AA and RE units that went in to defend the Fortress areas did so without REME LAD support.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member05 Mar 2012 11:50 a.m. PST

There is mention of an LAD (Special Force) REME in WEs, which I may put on my next order. I wondered whether they simply kept 70th Div's Workshops and OFP in place when the formation transferred to India, but they would have had to transition to REME org at some point. All very obscure points, but that's me…

I did at least find that the RE Field Coys adopted a unique structure, with eight Pls each of an officer and 33 ORs, under a small Coy HQ. That would seem to indicate one RE Pl was available to each Col within the Inf Bns, based on a four Bn Bde. The Field Park Coy wasn't much different, and presumably participate in full in Op Thursday, though they may have sent some personnel.


Jemima Fawr Inactive Member05 Mar 2012 1:15 p.m. PST

Everything I've read seems to indicate that the REs formed the bulk of the 'Commando' pls in each Column.

I imagine that the Field Park Coy had a major hand in the airstrip construction at the Fortresses. IIRC at least one bulldozer was flown in by glider.

Andy P Inactive Member06 Mar 2012 5:16 a.m. PST


Gary Kennedy Inactive Member29 Mar 2012 11:02 a.m. PST

Well my Special Force Battery WE table arrived today. Good news, it is for the unit I was hoping for, bad news, it's one of the briefest documents you can imagine.

Bty HQ of 3 officers, 14 ORs
Four 25-pr Tps each of an OP Party (2 officers, 43 ORs) and a Base Party (1 officer, 17 ORs)
Four LAA Tps, each of an OP Party (2 officers, 62 ORs) and a Base Party (1 officer, 10 ORs)
Total strength of 27 officers, 542 ORs (so rather on the large side for a Battery…)

Interesting point, no transport, not even at base, is mentioned. Re weapons, the expected sixteen 25-prs for the gun Tps, then for the LAA Tps there are twenty-four "40-mm, or 20-mm or .5 MMG" authorised. Also four LMGs, looks like one per 25-pr Tp.

Now, re the title OP Party, the first thing that came to mind was Observation Post party, though perhaps it might mean Operational?

Nothing groundbreaking I know, but interesting to see.


Andy P Inactive Member30 Mar 2012 4:15 a.m. PST


makes you wonder wether or not the Bofors are the airborne version or not and could be carried by dakota?

I'm wondering if the 12.5 Hispano is a transcription error and should read 40mm Bofors 20mm Hispano and OR 12.5mm (.5cal).

believe you are right with Operational

Andy P Inactive Member30 Mar 2012 4:24 a.m. PST

I cannot find a Hispano made machine gun in 12.5mm calibre??
So i believe its an error and actually means two diffrent weapons.

Gary Kennedy Inactive Member30 Mar 2012 6:46 a.m. PST

It's definitely allowing for substitute weapons, so you can have 40-mm guns, or 20-mm guns, or .5 MMGs. From accounts it looks as though only the 40-mm weapons were used, I think they were the airborne version (R Mark will know if he sees this!).

The WEs rarely specify a type of weapon, normally just a calibre and/or classification (such as LMG, .303-inch, but never Bren gun). Labelling a .5-in weapon as a medium machine gun seems a bit odd too.


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