- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Mr L Cook, Captain Clamp, General Slim
- Location of story:
- Burma, Imphal, Indangyi, Monywa, Meiatila, Pegu, Rangoon
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 25 August 2005
Gunner Les Cook at Monywa, Burma, in 1944, with Z Force.
In December, 1944 I was with Z Force at Imphal, Burma, where we spent Christmas and met some of the ‘Johnnies’, also a part of the same operation. The purpose of Z Force, which was attached to General Staff Intelligence, was to gain information for General Slim. We then proceeded through Burma, and set up our radio station at Indangyi, which was in contact with the ‘Johnnies’, who were behind the Japanese lines and giving us information on enemy oil dumps, ammunition depots and the size of their forces. This enabled HQ of the 14th Army to plan their advance, and General Slim said afterwards that we had helped so much with information during the campaign.
Their Unit was made up of people who had worked pre-war in Burma so were able to live in the jungle. Some worked in the teak forests, some in Oilfields, and some with Radio Companies. They were all appointed as officers from Captain to Colonel. Their patrols consisted of Burmese Chins and so on, and some were there as guards on the camps, and some to assist the officers in gaining information about the Japanese. They had radios built in, and workshops near Simla and these were powered by hand generators. All information was sent back to us in code which as far as I know was never broken by the Japanese. 14th Army HQ received this and acted on it.
First of all they walked through the Japanese lines, but later on they were parachuted in and then supplies were dropped to them. RAF fighter planes helped with this, and one had the food containers fitted like bombs under the wings. Two other planes circled round straffing the area as a distraction from the plane dropping the food. Money was also dropped to repay Burmese if they gave us important information. The leader of the patrol had to be careful so they did not go into villages to endanger the life of the friendly headman. The Japanese were cruel to the Burmese and rapes were common, so the young lades avoided us as we proceeded through.
Our next stop was Monywa, and three of us were in a camp with Captain Clamp who was the radio expert attending to the transmitters. From there went to Meiatila on the edge of a large lake next to Pegu. And on to Rangoon where it was beautiful, the Shwe Dagon Temple being outstanding with its gold "leaves" on the roof.
Sometimes we had as many as seventeen patrols out in all different parts of Burma. For seven months in three successive years they in company with their loyal and devoted Burmese Chins, Kachins and Karens had carried out a strange and highly dangerous mission in a war noted for its ferocity and beastiality, and in conditions which only untold courage and determination could have overcome. The award of one CBE, two DSOs, four OBEs, four MBEs, seventeen MCs with bars to two, and sixteen Burma Gallantry medals also bear witness to this fact. I am now 84 years old and although my legs are not too good I still feel proud to have served with Z Force.
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