January 18th 1943

The ground party arrives and we get organised. Scotty also comes back from Ranchi, but without any booze as he says they have none there! W/C Yorke broke up the joint one night throwing soda water bottles and tomato sauce around the place. Yesterday I go down and get a rum ration fro 5 B.O.s and 7 Sergeants which we consume with lime juice last night.

Yesterday morning I do a very successful contact recce at Changtow-Apankwa. “Soutcol” – 8/10 Baluchis and Tripara irregulars – are attacking Ryauktaw from west and east banks of the Kaladan river respectively. I spend about 40 minutes overhead and see “Soutcol” and ground strips in the town on the river bank, so they are successful. I see an officer riding on a horse followed by porters with the mess crockery. The other side, men in blue shirts with gurkha hats put out an ‘X’ and then dive back into the surrounding forest. They are held up by the Japs who all leave the other bank. I also count sampans between Kyanktaw and Apankwa – three Burmans leap overboard from one. Then Mann, Scotty and Hilton are sent out to strafe the boats I saw, killing some Burmans, and Scotty got a bull in a field. Later in the afternoon he and I are sent off to strafe a seaplane (seen by some Blenheim rear gunner) at Senbaik, but, fortunately nothing there, we carry on and I strafe a ship at Magyichaung and some at Kalachaung, not very successfully, also a tree with something under it south of the Pya Chaung. All a waste of ammo and flying times.

Japs raid Fenai and Chittagong yesterday, presumably from Magwe, as there are not supposed to be any aircraft on Akyab, though plenty of ack-ack is encountered there. Blenheims and their escorts pour over twice and sometimes three times daily, usually as close support I think. The Army Air Support Control (No 22) is functioning down here under W/C Ford and Major John Lewis of my old regiment. Alan Haig is shot at Risalpur. He is standing by the range signals (as  R.S.O.) when some dimwit fires at the signals in a Hurricane, instead of at the target.

The guns are rolling all day, as we are trying to shell the Japs from their foxholes before Dombaik, and save the casualties of a full scale attack. There is one company of them against our Brigade and they are supposed to clear them off the Mayu peninsula today. The Inniskillens and 5/8 Punjabis are down there and a whole regiment of 25lb guns, so they ought to do something.


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