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

Feb. 25th— Last Japanese effort failed to establish air superiority over Rangoon. March 7th— Demolitions at Rangoon com­menced, Rangoon evacuated and General Alexander’s .Army commenced withdrawal up Prome Road. March 21st— Japanese inflicted severe reverse on R.A .F .Wing at Magwe. April 12th— Air operations based in India and Assam in support of the Army com­menced. May 20th— General Alexander’s Army withdrawn to India and Air operations against the enemy in Burma continue. 3. On the 12th December, 1941, I was informed by the Air Ministry that I was to takeover Command of the Air Forces in Burma. It was proposed to reinforce Burma with a force of 4 Fighter Squadrons, 6 Bomber Squadrons and 1 G.R .Squadron with the object of making a front in Burma should the Japanese cam­paign against Malaya prove successful. On the 14th December I left England. I met the Commander-in-Chief in India, General Sir Archibald W avell, and the Air Officer Com- manding-in-Chief, Air Marshal Sir Patrick Playfair, on the 28th December in Delhi, where the land and air situations were explained tome. Par tI— A i r sit tau i o non m ray riv a lin Bur m a and con sequent request for REINFORCEMENT. 4. On theist January, 1942,, I flew to Rangoon to takeover command from Group Captain- E.R. Manning. He met meat Mingaladon aerodrome and I proceeded to Group Headquarters. It was necessary to make an appreciation of the air situation as a rirst step. 5. During the first seven days of January i visited the airfields in Burma, the Station, Squadron and Detachment Commanders and met the Military and Civil Authorities. The Governor of Burma was H.E .Sir Reginald Dorman Smith, .B.EG .,the Army in Burma was under the command of Lieutenant-General T. J. Hutton, C.B .C.,.,M while the Senior Naval Officer at Rangoon was Commodore C. Graham, R.N .—Commodore Burma Coast— who succeeded Capt. J. Hallett, R.N .,up to that time N.O .I.C .Rangoon. 6. I found that the air garrison of the country comprised one Squadron of the American Volunteer Group, armed with P.40’s at a strength of 21 I.E .based at Mingaladon, and No. 67 R.A .F .Buffalo Squadron of a strength<? ubout 16 aircraft, also based at this Sector Station. Apart from the personnel of 60 Squadron— whose aircraft had been retained /fin Malaya— and the Communication Flight 'equipped with aircraft of the Moth type belong-ing to the Burma Volunteer Air Force, there was at that time no further aircraft in the country. Reinforcing aircraft for the Far East were, however, flying through Burma to Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. 7. The American Volunteer Group, whose primary role was the defence of the Burma Road, under the command of General (then Colonel) C.L. Chennault, was based at Kun­ming. A Squadron of the A.V.G .had been detached by the Generalissimo Chiang Ivai- Shsk for the defence of the Port of Rangoon, the only port through which supplies for China could be passed. 8. Control p i the R.A Burma had been somewhat chequered. Up to the 15th December, 1941, it was organised as Burgroup —later 221 Group— under A .C.O .Far East. On the 15th December 1941, this Group was transferred to the command of the C.-in-C rndia. Almost immediately after my arrival in Burma 221 Group became Norgroup under the command of General W avell, Supreme Com­mander South-Western Pacific Command, though remaining under the C.-in-C. India for administration. After the fall of Java, Norgroup reverted again to the Command of C.-in-C. India. 9. Airfield lay-out and topography.— Geo­graphically, Burma is a cul-de-sac with along tongue of jungle escarpment reaching South from Moulmein to Victoria Point. The Port of Rangoon therefore provided the only means of maintaining an Air Force in Burma, since on the West, Burma is cutoff from India by the dense jungle escarpments of the Arakan Yomas, in the North by the Naga Hills, in the East by the Ivarenni Hills, while the Pegu Yomas, a mountain range, divides the waters of the Sittang and the Irrawaddy which flow almost their eniire distance through Burma to Rangoon and the Gulf of Martaban. Thus there were two Valleys in which airfields could be made. 10. The mainline of airfields ran from Vic­toria Point to Moulmein, to Rangoon and Mingaladon and then up the Valley of the Sittang through Toungoo to the East, through Heho and Namsang and up to Lashio in the North, a total distance of some 800 miles. This line of ‘aerodromes faced the enemy air force based in Thailand and 'because the terri­tory to the East and SouthEast of this line of airbases was mountainous country covered by jungle, through which there were few if any communications, it followed that situated here adequate R.D .F .and telephone warning of the approach of enemy aircraft attempting to attack our bases was impossible. Had Toungoo, Heho and Namsang been situated with their attendant satellites in the Irrawaddy Valley, warning would have been possible and satisfactory as long as the communications in the Sittang Valley remained in our hands. This fact gravely influenced the air campaign. 11. In general, the aerodrome development and construction undertaken on behalf of the Far East Command by the Government in Burma showed an extremely good state of affairs. Indeed, remarkable. All airfields had one or two all-weather runways fit for modern aircraft of the heaviest type. Accom­modation for personnel, P.O .L.and bombs and ammunition were available and all-weather satellites were provided for most airfields. Moreover, at this time of the year the paddy fields were hard and, provided labour was available, a runway suitable for fighter or bomber aircraft could be prepared in a week. Thus airfield accommodation for a considerable air force was available in Burma. The weak­ness of the lay-out, however, was, as already stated, that the four main airfields between Toungoo and Lashio (inclusive) had little or no warning.
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