- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Ted Tinsley
- Location of story:
- India & Burma
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 25 August 2005
SPECIFIC WAR MEMORIES OF THE 2ND CHINDITS EXPEDITION - PART 3
There stories are transcribed by me Graham Shepherd , from notes and discussions with Ted Tinsley , and will be added to the web with his permission . He understands the sites terms and conditions .
In preparation for our expedition , we were all kitted out in jungle green clothing , and all our brasses were Blanco’d over to stop any reflections from the sun . We were all issued with a good quality lightweight blanket , and if we wanted to smoke at night we had to do it under the blanket . Only whispering was allowed - discipline was preservation .
We were also issued with two pairs of boots well before setting out , which we used to soak in warm water to soften them up and then dubbin them . One of the pairs were on our feet and the other pair kept back at the air base , and when replacements were needed these were part of the supply drop , which meant that they were already broken in . Many of the men , including Wingate , preferred to walk without their socks .
We left training camp for a 7 day and night train journey , and at one stage during the journey we found that the Japs had cut the railway line , so the train was stopped . We were issued with hand grenades , and although I had primed dummy grenades many times in practice , this was my first experience of the real thing - I was feeling apprehensive !
Walking continuously through the swamps and rivers we were always covered in leeches , and although the usual method used to get them to fall off was to touch them with a lit cigarette this was not usually very easy when you were up to your middle in water . The poor mules also suffered when they drank from the water , their mouths and nostrils always being swarmed with them . Unfortunately they went with the task .
We always made our HQ on the top of a hill at night , where the NCO’s would meet to decide on the next days plans . We would move off at 06-00 having had breakfast and watered and loaded the mules and before leaving fitting them with a feed bag . This took place in the dark .
Since our role was to work across country ambushing Jap supply lines , this involved continuously climbing over hill , across valleys and crossing many rivers . The hills were typically 6/7,000 ft high . Many of the valleys were called ‘ambush valley’ and we relied on the local Nagas to inform us when Jap supplies were due and we would then leave a group of men to carry out the surprise ambushes . This could take upto 2 days at a time . These teams would always return for ammo and food supplies every 5 days .
On one occasion before setting off in the morning , we saw a Jap fire across the valley , so we let off many rounds and left quickly .
We got an air drop of ammunition and food every five days . The food consisted of ‘K’ rations made by the Cracker Jack Co. in the USA . which typically contained , chocolate bar , dextrose tablets , biscuits , corn pork loaf and tinned Sheffield cheese . Although the quality was OK it certainly got monotonous . On one occasion we were told that we were going to get a luxury food drop which we were all eagerly waiting for . Unfortunately when it arrived it was Australian Quince jam and two slices of mouldy bread . However it was a very nice change .
Included in each air drop were 12 sheets of brown toilet paper so coloured that when it was left on the ground it could not be seen . We were always supposed to go to the toilet in two’s , but on one occasion Humphries decided to sneak off on his own , but in no time at all he came rushing back saying that that was the ‘ quickest s**t ‘he had ever had in his life . Apparently he had just dug out a hole with his machete and squatted down when a Jap patrol went by !
My most frightening experience of the war
When we stopped for rest breaks we with the mules were allowed 15mins instead of the usual 10 mins so that we could slacken off their reigns . On this occasion we were in a very dense teak jungle , and I decided I needed to go for a pee . I put my carbine up against a tree and went into the trees . When I came back I could not see my gun , all the trees looked the same and the gun did not stand out . With some help we managed to find it , but the short time which it actually took seemed like a duration , and I was absolutely terrified . The loss of your weapon was a court marshall - you should always keep it with you . The experiences with the Japs did not compare with this .
Cup of tea
The opportunity to get a good hot cup of tea was never missed . One day at Phakasumi when we were at the top of a hill my mate decided to brew up . We new that the Japs were on a hill about 3 miles away with big field guns , so he built a rough shelter and put leaves over it so they could not see the fire . All of a sudden they opened fire and we could hear the shells whistling over us , but his main concern was they didn’t blow down the shelter before we had tea .
During one intense battle the Japs were dug in on the side of a hill , and we were always under instruction never to attack without air support . Normally they would come in and drop smoke bombs to locate the Japs and then dive bomb them . On this occasion an officer decided to ignore this instruction and took his men up the hill - no doubt after Glory - but the Japs just rolled down grenades and killed many of the men , including the officer - what price Glory .
The real side of war
Unfortunately war was mostly gruesome , and on one occasion as the HQ column was passing through just after a major ambush the track was full of the dismembered bodies of Japs , and although many had been hurriedly buried by the Nagas , the graves were shallow and many arms were sticking out of the ground . On another occasion 2 Gordies in our group who always went out together came upon two Japs washing their cloths . One said to the other what time are we going to shoot Horace and his mate . Wait until they have hung up their clothes and then shoot .
My major war wound
I was very fortunate not to receive any major injuries throughout my war campaigns , the worst experience being raging tooth ache . I went to the MO and told him that it was unliveable with , and he said that although he was not a dentist he would take it out for me . I was suitably held down and the job done . It hurt like hell but was soon such a relief . Later when I was back in Bangalore a local dentist made me a false tooth and put it on a stainless steel plate . It was A1 and lasted me for years . It cost 5 ruppe ( 6/8d ) .
The final act
When we had finished the 2nd Chindits Expedition and returned to Bangalore we lived in Bamboo Bashers - round huts - and one day were due a kit inspection . the men had done a good job of laying out their kit , but Pt. Morgan had to go to hospital . The officer did his round , but when he came to Morgans kit he pulled his Bayonet out of its scabbard and it was very rusty . The officer asked where Morgan was and when told he was at hospital , he shouted ‘ shoot the bugger for me when he returns ‘
Summary of the Good times and the Bad times of my 12 years service .
- going to India in January 1936 on the Anchor Line TSS Cameronia , when the Italians were at war in Ethiopia and their ships were anchored at Port Said waiting to go through the Suez Canal .
- the ship flying the flag at half mast going through the Indian Ocean between Aden and Bombay when George V died .
- packing our matresses with 'coir' coconut nut matting when I joined the 1st KSLI .
- the men of the Naga hills who would get a fire going in torrential monsoon rain to get your little packet of coffee brewed if you copuld find them a piece of salt - mitsa - the size of a penny in the mule grain .
- exhausted men climbing these massive hills , grabbing mules tails to help them reach the top - against the rules , but we would turn a blind eye .
- men with very sore feet who would break the rukes and take off their boots and use them as a pillow so that they could very quickly put them back on again if needed in the dark .
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