The London Gazette, March 11th 1948 (Second Supplement)

IS 191. The enemy followed this up with fur­ther raids at 14.10 and 14.30. in all the scale ot attack was 59 bombers and 24 lighters that day. 192. On the 22nd March, plots of movements were received irom the R.D .F .set at 08.04 and oS-ii hours. Immediately afterwards there was a temporary Dreakaown ot the Vv/T. link which, com Dined with interference, prevented the reception ot plois in the operations room until the enemy attack had developed at 08.45 hours. Two Hurricanes had been sent off to intercept a high tiymg enemy reconnaissance aircratt overheard the airfield at 08.30. Ihe}' had not yet made contact when at 00.47 hours 27 Domoers with an escort often plus fighters appeared over the aerodrome, followed a quarter of an hour later by a second wave of 27 bombers also with fighter escort. As no warning of these raids had been received, no further fighters were sent off to engage. The two Hurricanes already in the air engaged the Japanese formation and damaged two. 193. Considerable damage was sustained. The runways were rendered unserviceable, communications were broken down and a num­ber o f aircraft, both bombers and fighters, were destroyed on the ground. 194. Immediately afterwards, the Com­mander of the Second Pursuit Squadron, A.V .G reported to Group Captain Seton Broughall that in view of the absence of warn­ing and the scale of attack he was compelled by the terms of his instructions from General Chennault to withdraw his remaining flyable aircraft to refit- A t this stage of the action only three P.40s and three Hurricanes remained flyable, the Hurricanes alone being operation­ally serviceable. The A.V .G.’s P.40s withdrew to Loiiwing that afternoon followed by their ground party. 195. At 13.30 hours reconnaissance aircraft w ere? again reported approaching and two of the three remaining Hurricanes were sent up but failed to intercept. While they were re­turning to land at 14.30 the enemy again com­menced his attacks with two w raves of 27 and 26 bombers respectively, each accompanied by fighter escort. This terminated the enem y'j attacks. 196. Great damage had been done and 9 Blenheims and at least 3 P.4o’s were destroyed on the ground, 5 Blenheims were unserviceable, w'hile 3 Hurricanes had been destroyed in air combat. The remaining 20 aircrait (6 Blen­ heims, 3 P.40's and 11 Hurricanes) were Ilyable but unserviceable due to normal un- serviceability or damage from enemy action. These aircraft, except the P.40's, w'ere flown out to Akyab. 197. This grave reverse to Burwing— the R.A .F .detachment in Upper Burma— w ’as{he result of our weakness infighters, the weakness of the warning system at Magw’e and the com­plete absence of aircraft pens and bad dispersal arrangements at this airfield so hurriedly occu­pied. There has be2n a good deal of criticism of the subsequent hasty move of Burwing from Magwe, w'hile it had an adverse effect on the morale of both the Army and the civil popula­tion. 198. The convoy left Magwe for Lashio and Loiwing early on the morning of the 23rd. Salvage and refuelling parties were left behind. 199. On the nights of the 22nd and 23rd respectively, I met. General Alexander and Group Captain Seton broughall at Maymyo. It was coniirmed that Bur wing w r ould De with­drawn to Lashio and Loiwing— the only remain­ing aerodrome where fair warning existed— lor rentting. 200. In the meantime it was proposed to try and make good the warning at Magwe, to put it into a proper state of deience and fit for Burwing to reairn therefor operations. As the convo}/ had already left Magw'e I issued instructions for the R.D .F .set to be turned round and sent back to Magwe and for the salvage and working parties at Magwe to be strengthened. 201. Loiw'ing was the only airfield leit with reasonable warning and therefore the proposal to leave Magwe and to refit at Loiw'ing w'as not unsound despite the great distance of the latter airfield from the are? in which the Army was operating. B y use of the advanced landing grounds, limited support could be given to the Army until the defence at Magwr e was satis­factorily completed and the aerodrome re­occupied. A t Lashio warning w r as weak. 202. As events turned out it would not have been possible to reoccupy Magwe since the air­field tell into enemy hands 3 weeks later and the organisation oi the warning system and the provision of works— for which only limited labour then existed— could not have been done in time. Additionally, the observer corps belt in the Sittang Valley and the Valley of the Irrawaddy w r as gradually being rolled up and with it any w'arning from this source. Enemy Action— Akyab 203. The enemy had also found our small force at Akyab. A similar action took place which commenced on the 23rd, was repeated on the 24th and on the 27th. Our fighters inter­cepted on 2 occasions inflicting a loss of 4 enemy aircraft destroyed and 3 probably de­frayed for a cost of 6 Hurricanes. 204. Although warning wr as received on the 27th, low flying enemy fighters caught our small force unprepared on tlie ground on this occasion. 2 Hurricanes got into the air and engaged, 1 being shot down. 7 Hurricanes were destroyed on the ground and a Valencia. Instructions had already been issued by Air Headquarters, India, to withdraw Akwing fiom Akyab to Chittagong was :aming was so weak. A kyab would continue to bean ad­vanced landing ground for refuelling aircrait and to enable our Hudson reconnaissance to reach the Andaman Islands. A small R.D .F .set with a limited range of 20 miles, had been flow'n in and was operating, but the observer corps warning for A kyab w-as poor. The posts were few, only the outlines of communication existing owing to the difficult nature of the country. 205. These two actions— at Magwe and at Akyab— in effect terminated the R.A .F .activi­ties based in Burma. The supply of aircraft now became the critical factor. The necessity to buildup our defence in NorthEastern India and Ceylon brought about a decision by the Commander-in-Chief, India, not to re-equip Burwing. The maintenance of a small force in Burma was uneconomical in view7 of the lack of warning and increasing weight of attack.
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