Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings

The Chindits in Photographs, Part 2 – Contributed

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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

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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.

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Roberts

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)

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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 Pett’s daughter, Jane Barlow)

The family of David Pearson (see below photograph) believe their father is the tall figure, standing second from right.

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David Pearson

Trooper David Pearson of the 45th Recce. A native of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, Pearson was employed as an office boy before joining the army in 1941. He was posted to the 45th Recce in August 1942 but was transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment after the conclusion of Operation “Thursday.” He survived the war, was demobbed in 1947 and later set up his own business at the Grimsby Fish Docks.

Although he preferred not to talk about the war, his most persistent recollection was of a night in the jungle when a group of Japanese soldiers walked over him and other members of his troop, oblivious to the fact that they were treading over enemy soldiers.

(Photo courtesy of Pearson’s children, David Pearson II and Jill Finn)

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Stephens Sergeant Tom Stephens as he appeared at the end of 1943. A member of Lt-Colonel Walter Scott’s 81 Column (1st King’s (Liverpool) Regiment), Stephens survived the campaign. After the war, he returned to Liverpool where he lived for the rest of his life.

Stephens was in the first wave of gliders which landed at “Broadway” on the night of March 5, 1944. In another glider being towed by a C-47 Dakota was his best friend and fellow soldier, Jack Shaw. They had enlisted on the same day at Formby Barracks, just north of Liverpool and had gone through Chindit training together. On the flight in, however, Shaw’s glider was prematurely cut loose from its tug. Stephens watched helplessly as the glider drifted helplessly across the Burmese jungle, never to be seen again. In all, 12 gliders were lost in this way during the flight in, with nine crashing behind enemy lines. Years after the war, Stephens sought out Shaw’s widow and was able to tell her how her husband had perished.

According to Tom’s son, Robert Stephens, the Liverpool-based the survivors of 81 and 82 column held a reunion in 1974 which Walter Scott was able to attend. “It was a wonderful event, full of reminiscing and the telling stories…by the end of the evening, he felt like they had all ‘re-fought’ all their battles.”

(Photo courtesy of Robert Stephens)

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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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