Units in Burma

A Divisional and Brigade level history of the units that fought in Burma. This is a work in progress and additional information will be added as I glean it from various reference books. This page is dedicated to my Grandfather who transferred to the Indian army and fought in this Theatre.

The actual fighting in Burma was divided into 4 main phases
Spring 1942, Spring 1943, Spring 1944 and Spring 1945.

A brief run down of the fighting vehicles used by both sides

  • The early allied tanks used were Stuarts and Valentines. These started being replaced in 1943 with Lee/Grants and later Shermans.
  • The Japanese used Type 94 Tankettes, Type 95 Light Tanks and Type 89 Medium tanks.
    They also used several captured British tanks.

    British 14th Army
    English, Irish, Welsh, Scots
    New Zealanders, Australians, NewFoundlanders, Canadians, South Africans, Chinese, East and West Africans
    Chins, Kachins, Karens, Burmans, Sikhs, Pathans, Garhwalis, Gurkhas.

    Head gear: turbans, slouch hats, berets, tank helmets and khaki shakos.

    The forces that retreated from Burma

  • 7th Armoured Brigade: 7th Queen’s own Hussars and 2nd Royal Tank Regiment
  • 17th Indian Division
  • 1st Burmese Division

    Spring 1942: The British 7th armoured Brigade, which only arrived in Burma in February, scuttled all but one of their own Stuart tanks on the banks of the Chindwin, having successfully covered a British retreat. The Brigade under Brigadier J.Anstice was composed of 2RTR and the 7th Queens own Hussars. Other attachments included 414 Battery Royal Artillery (Essex Yeomanry). Having covered the retreat out of Burma, the 7th Armoured Brigade returned to the Middle East, eventually finishing up in Italy.

    Operations Spring 1943

  • 14th Indian Division
  • 146 Regiment RAC equipped with Valentines
    Most of the Valentines used in this operation were lost as they were unsuitable for the terrain.

    Offensive January 1944
    This largely envolved elements of 15th Corps who endured attacks from Japanese troops who had surrounded their position.

  • 5th Indian Division under Major General H.R. Briggs
  • 7th Indian Division under Major General F.W. Messervy
  • 2 Brigades 81st West African Division
  • 25th Dragoons under LT-Colonel H.R.C. Frink
    Other units later engaged in this area.
  • 26th Indian Division

    Armoured Brigades

  • 7th Armoured (Spring 1942)
  • 50th Indian Tank
  • 254th Indian tank
  • 255th Indian tank

  • 254 Tank Brigade had two Regiments of Lee/Grants + one Regiment of Stuarts.
  • 255 Tank Brigade was composed of two Indian Cavalry Regiments, Probyn's Horse and Royal Deccan Horse.

    Indian troops

  • Probyn’s Horse 1 squadron each of Punjah Mussulmen, Sikhs and Dogras.
  • Royal Deccan Horse 1 squadron each of Punjah Mussulmen, Sikhs and Jats.

    Armoured Indian Regiments that fought in Burma

  • 5th King Edward VII's Own Lancers (Probyns Horse)
  • 7th Light Cavalry
  • 9th Cavalry (Royal Deccan Horse)
  • 11th Light Cavalry (Prince Albert Victor's Own) Frontier Force(PAVO)
  • 16th Light Cavalry
  • 19th King George V's Own Lancers
  • 45th Cavalry

    Armoured British Regiments that fought in Burma

  • 3rd Carabiniers
  • 7th Queen's Own Hussars(Spring 1942)
  • 2nd Royal Tank Regiment(Spring 1942)
  • 25th Dragoons (raised from 3rd Carabiniers)
  • 116th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (raised from Gordon Highlanders)
  • 146th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps (raised from Duke of Wellington's Regiment)
  • 149th Regiment, (raised from a battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry)
  • 150th Regiment, Royal armoured Corps (raised from 10th battalion York and Lancaster Regiment)

    Infantry Brigades

  • 1st (Withdrawn after Spring 1942)
  • 3rd Commando
  • 4th Indian
  • 5th Indian (Part of 2nd Division)
  • 6th (Part of 2nd Division)
  • 9th (Salomons) (Part of 5th Division)
  • 13th (Withdrawn after Spring 1942)
  • 16th (Withdrawn after Spring 1942)
  • 23rd
  • 28th East Africa
  • 32nd
  • 33rd
  • 37th (Collingridge) (Part of 23rd Division)
  • 44th (Part of 17 Division)
  • 48th (Part of 17 Division)
  • 49th (Part of 23rd Division)
  • 50th Para
  • 51st Indian
  • 62nd
  • 63rd (Part of 17 Division)
  • 64th
  • 71st (Part of 26 Division)
  • 74th (Part of 25 Division)
  • 89th (Crowther) (Part of 7 Division)
  • 99th (Part of 17 Division)
  • 123rd (Part of 5th Indian Division Evans)
  • 161st

    British and Indian Infantry Regiments

    British Infantry RegimentsIndian Infantry Regiments
    The Border RegimentBaluchis7/10th, 5th
    CameroniansBombay Grenadiers3/4th, 4/4th
    No 1 CammandoBurma Frontier Force(BFF), 2nd(FF2), 8th(FF8), Kokine
    No 5 CommandoBurma Rifles1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 20th
    No 44 CommandoDogras1/17th, 5/17th
    2nd Duke of Wellington'sFrontier Force Rifles2/13th, 4/12th
    1st GloucestershireGarhwal Rifles1/8th. 1/18th
    2nd Green HowardsGurkha Rifles3/2nd, 1/3rd, 1/4th, 3/4th, 3/5th, 4/5th, 1/6th, 1/7th, 4/8th, 1/10th, 4/10th, 2/5th, 3/7th
    2nd King's Own Scottish BorderersJats1/9th Royal, 3/9th
    2nd King's Own Yorkshire Light InfantryPunjabis1/1st, 5/1st, 4/14th, 9/14th, 4/15th, 6/15th, 7/16th
    1st LinconshireRajputs2/7th, 4/7th, 6/7th
    2nd NorthamptonshireSikhs1/11th
    Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light InfantrySikh Light Infantry
    1st Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
    Royal Berkshire
    Royal West Kent
    2nd South Lancashire
    1st West Yorkshire
    2nd Worcester
    7th York and Lancaster
    1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

    Allied Burma Command March 1944

  • Special Force Wingate 3 Indian Division
  • XV Corps Christison
  • IV Corps Scoones
  • XXXIII Corps Stopford

    Later in the Year Messervy took over IV Corps

    Make up of the Corps of 14th Army March 1944
    XV CorpsIV CorpsXXXIIICorps
    5 Indian Division17 Indian Division2 British Division
    7 Indian Division20 Indian Division23 Long Range Penetration Brigade
    25 Indian Division23 Indian Division
    26 Indian Division50 Indian Para Brigade
    36 British Division254 Indian Tank Brigade
    81 West Africa Division
    3 Special Service Brigade

    Allied Forces Battle of Meiktila-Mandalay
    IV CorpsXXXIIICorps
    7 Indian Division2 Division
    17 Indian Division20 Division
    19 Indian Division254 Tank Brigade
    268 Brigade
    255 Tank Brigade
    28 East Africa Brigade

    XV Corps December 1944Known Brigades and Regiments
    25th Indian Division74th Infantry Brigade
    26th Indian Division71st Infantry Brigade
    82nd West African Division
    2 Brigades 81st West African Division
    3 Commando Brigade
    50th Indian Tank Brigade19th King George V Lancers,(Shermans)
    146 Regiment RAC,(Lees)
    45th Cavalry (Stuarts)

    The 19th Lancers had been sent to Arakan in July 1943

    Road to Mandalay XXXIII Corps December 1944-January 1945
    XXXIII Corps
    British 2nd Division
    Indian 19th Division
    Indian 20th Division

    Make up of IV and XXXIII corps beginning December 1944
    IV Corps XXXIII Corps
    19th Division 2 Division
    7th Indian Division 20 Indian Division
    255 Tank Brigade 268 Brigade
    254 Tank Brigade

    January-March 1945
    IV Corps
    7 Indian Division
    17 Indian Division
    28 East Africa Brigade
    255 Indian Tank Brigade116 RAC (raised from Gordon Highlanders) (Shermans)
    5th King Edward VII Own Lancers (Probyn's light horse) (Shermans)
    9th Cavalry (Royal Deccan horse) (Shermans)
    B squadron PAVO

    Allied Forces in the race for Rangoon March-April 1945
    IV CorpsXXXIIICorps
    5 Division7 Division
    17 Division20 Division
    19 Division254 Tank Brigade3rd Carabiniers (Lees)
    150 Regiment RAC (Lees)
    C Squadon 7th Light Cavalry (Stuarts)
    3 PAVO Squadrons
    255 Tank Brigade116 RAC (Shermans)
    7th Light Cavalry (Stuarts)
    16th Light Cavalry (Armoured Cars)

    Other Forces in Burma 1944-1945
    11th East Africa Division arrived late 1944
    Stilwell's (from October 1944 Sultan's) Chinese Army in India
    A varied number of Chinese groups comprising several armies and divisions

    Great Battles of the British army.(1991) Editor D. Chandler, Arms and Armour Press.
    Tank Tracks to Rangoon. Bryan Perrett, Robert Hale Limited
    1944 The Allies Triumph.(1994) John Westwood. Bison Books
    The Retreat from Burma 1941-1942.(1986) James Lunt, David and Charles plc

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