Maymo BurmaBurma Maymo
The BBC - 2nd World Civil war People's conflict
At the end of 1941, the Japan invasion of Burma was just around the corner, and Britain and its ally began to strengthen Burma. A small garrison of the UK military was located in Maymyo in the canton near our house and the reinforcement established camp there. This was where UK and Australian infantry regiments were based and the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) was one of the regiments.
In May 1942 they conquered Mandalay and the English army under General Alexander retreated to the border with India. That was about March 1942 and I was 9 years old. Since the Allied armed services did not have enough ammunition, many improvisations were necessary to scare off the Japish enemy, and one of them was the construction of stupid Ack-Ack artillery positions on open field near our homeland.
I think our dads should stand back and take on the Japanese. In April 1942 we took a cab out of Maymyo and drove to the Shwebo town, located opposite the Irrawaddy in the northwest of Mandalay. Here the UK military had built an airport and some cabins to house reinforcement, which were quickly flooded by fugitives like us.
Here I had my first lecture of "relative size"; it was when we listened to an airplane crash and thought it was Japanese-made fighter planes that we all hurried outside and saw an airplane coming closer that was much bigger than the Jap hunters we had seen in Maymyo. Our accommodation was assigned to officer's lodgings in Fort William, which was occupied by the English army and where we were well cared for.
The army thus permitted us to abandon the fort and we made our way to the long train trip to Lahore. For the next three years my dad was part of the UK14 Army against the Japan Army in Burma. It was part of a small survey group under Brigadier Guy Bomford, who was Deputy Director of the Survey in the Fourteenth Army from 1942 to 1945.
At the end of 1941, when an Japanese infiltration of Burma was impending, Bomford had set up a small surveying group in Burma to triangulate and produce charts. Papa came back to India at the end of 1944, and after taking a holiday with us in Dehra Dun, he was transferred to the General Directorate in Delhi to the position of Major.