April 8th 1943


I go on a trip to Indin and see 6 Brigade battle in progress. More corpses than I have ever seen in previous battles, and a “T” out, though I feel the wrong end is facing the enemy. I go up to Rama and see Carruthers and W/C Forbes about our move up to ‘Lyons’. (JDW: a landing ground). I fly back here and am head over heels in ‘organising’ things. Bud Rose comes down, and comes round last night for a drink. We get awful tight and confidential!

Tom Pierce returns to Ranchi. Damn hot and sticky down here. The Japs surround 6 Brigade, capture Brigadier Cavendish, and they have to fight their way out to Kyankpandu. Several burnt bodies visible.

An air raid on Maungdaw the other afternoon. I see ten (Army 99s?) through my (field) glasses and a lot drops on Maungdaw.

JDW (From the BBC archive)
In early April 1943, the 6th Infantry Brigade was strung out north and south of the Brigade Headquarters in the Burmese Arakan peninsular when the Japanese attacked across the Mayu Ridge. With his village headquarters about to be overrun, Brigadier Cavendish issued two significant orders. His young and agile staff (at 47 he was neither) were to evacuate the area and make their escape as best they could; thereafter, the area was to be regarded as hostile territory and the commander of the artillery regiment nearby was to “blast anything that moved without question”. The Japanese were jubilant to capture a brigadier. News was flashed to Tokyo and Tokyo Rose announced it over the air, but the triumph was to be short-lived. Next morning, 6th April, Ronald Cavendish accompanied his unwitting captors onto the village square, he alone knowing what was to come. The British Artillery carried out their orders and shelled them. Back at their home in Middleton, Mrs Cavendish was told that her husband was missing, but she knew in her heart he was dead. Two and a half years later, before he died by his Bushido code, the Japanese general described him as “a very brave and admirable gentleman”. Nowadays, after 60 peaceful years, the accolade ‘hero’ is awarded for mere sporting achievement. Ronald Cavendish was a real hero in two world wars; but his life and exploits still await the biography they deserve.

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