Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings

The Chindits in Photographs, Part 2 – Contributed


These photos are courtesy of John Bradburn, West Midlands – of his father, Chindit John Henry Wallis Bradburn of the 1st Battalion, King’s own (Liverpool) Regiment







Thanks to Glenn for contributing these photographs from his father’s collection. They deal with the 6th Fighter Squadron, 1st Air Commando Group. If anyone can identify the other men in these photographs, do let me know.

Norman Goldsher  New version P47

(LEFT) Norman Goldsher in late-1944. An aircraft mechanic, Goldsher was stationed in Asansol and Harpers Ferry, India  (RIGHT) Unidentified member of the 6th Squadron poses in front of “Bar-Fly” with an M1 carbine.

New P51  New P47 engine

(LEFT) Unidentified ground crewmen of the squadron gather in front of the unit’s latest mount, a new P-51D Mustang, circa 1945 (RIGHT) Mechanics refit a P-47 Thunderbolt with a new engine.

Norman with P47 P47 Kodak

(LEFT) Norman Goldsher with “Bar-Fly,” simmering in the heat.  (RIGHT) A P-47 undergoes routine maintenance, either at at Asansol Airfield or at Cox’s Bazar, India.



Captain Tommy C. Roberts of 5 Column as he appeared in 1943, in the incarnation of a Lieutenant (note the two pips on his epaulets). Roberts, a member of the 13th King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, commanded 5 Column’s Support Group. Captured in Burma as the first expedition wound down, Roberts spent the rest of the war at the notorious Changi POW camp in Singapore, having been designated as a “special case” by the Japanese Secret Police. Happily, Roberts survived captivity and returned to Liverpool in October 1945, despite difficult conditions at Changi and despite being emaciated by Beriberi. (Photo courtesy of Robert’s daughter, Patricia Ireland)


Members of 7th Troop, ‘A’ Squadron,  45th Recce Regiment. Trooper Fred S. Pett is the second man from the right, kneeling. Trooper Prett sadly perished at the tender age of 23 under known circumstances. (Photo courtesy of Jane Barlow)



(RIGHT) The notable pre-war child-star John Leslie “Jacki” Coogan, now an Air Commando glider pilot, fiddles with a gadget. No martinet, Coogan went in with the first wave on the night of 5 March 1944 — and survived. After the war, he famously starred as Uncle fester in The Addams Family. Before the war, Coogan’s earnings were stolen by his parents who openly declared that young Jackie “would not get a cent.” When later Coogan fell into financial difficulties, he was saved by Charlie Chaplin. (US National Archives)


(LEFT) In 1944, the Chindits would get their own private air force – the American 1st Air Commando Group, an equally dashing formation filled with unconventional types. One admiring British officer, Captain Griffin, would call the group an “extraordinary [flying] circus.” (US Air Force)

(RIGHT) An Air Commando fighter pilot, Lt. Jack Klarr, wears a jacket with the insignia of the group’s Fighter Element. Klarr’s first kill, a Japanese Ki-43 Oscar, occurred on May 19 during a patrol over “Blackpool.” By September the Chindits had been withdrawn and the Air Commando reorganized. Anti-airfield sweeps began on October 17 against a ring of airfields around Rangoon, and on the 20th, Klarr destroyed a Japanese aircraft on the ground at Hmawbi. More action soon followed. On December 13, while escorting twelve RAF Liberators on a bombing raid, his squadron encountered ten Oscars. Klarr gave the lead plane a burst from his guns. The Japanese fighter rolled and dived away, smoke trailing from its engine. Jack Klarr was awarded a “probably destroyed.” In 1945, he became a Captain and would go on to survive the war. (Elwood Jamison, 1st Air Commando Association)


(LEFT) The two co-commanders of the First Air Commando, Lt-Col. John Alison (in front row, without hat) and Phil Cochrane (on far right) at Hailakandi in March 1944. The other men, from left, are: Capt. Walter Radovich, Maj. Arvid “Ollie” Olsen and Lt-Col. Robert T. Smith who flew the B-25 in the background, Barbie III, named after his wife. Alison was a combat ace with seven aerial kills to his credit before he was assigned (along with his friend, Cochrane) to the ultra-secret Project 9, a unit which ultimately morphed into the 1st Air Commando. Alison passed away on 6 June 2011. He was 98. (U.S. Air Force Association) (RIGHT) Cochrane and Alison together in a wartime Associated Press color photo. (U.S. Air Force)

Experimental Sikorsky Y-4 helicopters of the Air Commando during preliminary flights. The then-radically new machines went through their first combat deployment in the aid of Chindits. (IWM IND 3810)



For a full bibliography of all Chindit writing on this site, check the bottom of this post: Chindits – In 1944.

7 responses to “The Chindits in Photographs, Part 2 – Contributed

  1. Anonymous April 7, 2015 at 4:58 am

    brilliant , but no shots of maj/gen g w symes my great uncle

  2. Les Green March 1, 2016 at 6:13 am

    I need to learn more about the Chindits and their support units, including the 1st Air Commandos.

  3. sanjeev medhi December 8, 2016 at 1:25 am

    Dear akhil, i was working in a tea plantation in Assam from 1985 to 2001, when i was stationed in a tea estate called Hilika.

    I was looking after a tea division of an adjacent tea estate called Hokonguri. While conversing with the local sirdar (person incharge of a particular labour gang) he happened to mention an area named “Goli-garrah” which was covered with forest. On clearing it i realised that nothing grew there, especially not tea as it was polluted with sulphur in the soil, and the soil had a yellow hue. I was told that area was an ammunition dump which was linked to the Sookerating 1337th Army Airforce Base Unit. After the war the ammunition was exploded and the empty shells were bought by local marwari traders as scrap. I was also presented a .50 cal live round, which i promptly got rid off!

    The tea field next to this area is known as section no 1 of Hokonguri. The workers claim that American engineers dug a hole applied concrete around it and covered it by sealing it with concrete, but not before filling up that dug up area with lubricant oil into which a lot of arms are buried! Soil was put over this concrete box and planted with tea again.

    • Akhil Kadidal December 8, 2016 at 1:40 am

      Fascinating story. The fact that the arms were dumped into a concrete pit filled with lubricating oil means that there must be a horde of historical weaponry in semi-decent condition down there. Why hasn’t the Indian government done more to secure the site, considering India’s strict gun laws? Curious… The presence of sulphur is of concern.

  4. Qusar Laskar February 23, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I didn’t know that my place hailakandi had an American airfield in 1944 during the world war 😱😱😱

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