Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The 1st Burma Rifles



Being a big fan of South East Asia, I am forever studying the history of the region.I have worked with and traded with the Chin People, and know many Karen folks in Burma and Thailand.

 Recently, I came across some information about the 1st Battalion Chin Rifles in Burma. This unit was made up of mainly Hill people like the Karen, Kachins and Chins, cool stuff. One regement - 10th reg ,1st Burma Rifles later became the 10th Princess Marys own Gurkha Rifles.

Below, I have posted some info for you. If you are a military history buff, you might find it interesting.

See you on the Trail,

Tomahawk - Scouts Out!

Burma Rifles;

The Burma Rifles were a regiment of the British Indian Army created in 1917. The regiment re-used the name of an unrelated earlier unit, the 10th Regiment (1st Burma Rifles) Madras Infantry, which evolved into the 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles.
Contents.

Origins of the regiment
Early history:


The expansion of the British Indian Army during World War I led to the raising of two companies of Burma Pioneers in Mandalay in November 1916. Burmese of all groups were recruited for these units. After expanding to four companies, the Pioneers became the 70th Burma Rifles in September 1917. The 85th Burman Rifles were raised from the Burma Military Police in July 1917. A second battalion of 70th Burma Rifles was raised in January 1918 and both battalions served in the Middle East in 1918-20. Two more battalions were raised during 1918. According to John Gaylor in his history: Sons of John Company - The Indian & Pakistan Armies 1903-1991, the 3/70th Burma Rifles, raised in April 1918, went to Southern India to suppress the Moplah Rising whilst the 4/70th, raised in May 1918, remainded in Burma.
1922 reorganisation of the British Indian Army

In the 1922 reorganisation of the British Indian Army the 70th Burma Rifles and the 85th Burman Rifles were merged to form the 20th Burma Rifles. The new regiment numbered four regular battalions. A new battalion, the 11th (territorial) battalion was also formed in 1922.

The Burman element in the regiment was mustered out after 1927, although Burmans continued to serve in the Burma Military Police. Personnel drawn from the hill-tribes of Burma and other groups (Karens, Kachins and Chin) continued to serve and in 1940 Burmans were again recruited, although the Anglo-Burmese tended to be overly represented in the Burma Rifles and the Burma Military Police.

Separation from India

After the British formally separated Burma from India in 1937 the 20th Burma Rifles was allocated to Burma and renamed the Burma Rifles. The intention was for officers to be drawn from the British Army. However the majority of the British officers already serving with the regiment chose to remain with their units on secondment from the British Indian Army.

World War II

The regiment was expanded during the Second World War to a total of 14 battalions and served through the Japanese invasion of Burma during the Burma Campaign. Eight Battalions of Infantry were raised along with a holding battalion, a training battalion and four territorial battalions. The men of the territorial battalions were under no obligation to serve outside the borders of Burma.

After the British Burma Army's retreat from Burma, a reconstituted 2nd Battalion continued to take part in the Burma Campaign. The remaining highly weakened battalions were disbanded although many of the non-Burmese nationals (Indians and Gurkhas) from them went to form battalions of the Burma Regiment created in September 1942.

The 2nd battalion participated in the 1st and 2nd Chindit expeditions into Burma. In his official report following the first expedition Orde Wingate the Chindit commander wrote: “I would like to record here that I have never had under my command in the field as good a body of men as the 2nd Burma Rifles.     ”

As a result, for the 1943 Chindit operation, the battalion was expanded and broken down into reconnaissance platoons for the Chindit column. In 1944, the battalion was broken down into sections among the Chindit force.

In 1945, the 2nd Burma Rifles was reconstituted as an infantry battalion. In July 1945, the 1st battalion was re-raised in Burma. Over the following three years leading up to Burmese independence, the 3rd through 6th battalions were re-raised.

Uniform and insignia

The mess uniform of the Burma Rifles was rifle green with scarlet facings and the regimental badge was a (male)Burmese peacock (displaying)over a title-scroll "BURMA RIFLES" in white metal. (officers Silver or silver gilt)

In Volume 2 of his work "Indian Army Uniforms" W.Y. Carman describes a full dress uniform in the same colours, noting that it was worn by officers and other ranks forming part of the Coronation Contingent of 1937. It is not however known on what other occasions (if any) it was used.

The last surviving Burma Rifles Officer, Major Neville Hogan MBE noted further insignia distinctions from WW2.

Shoulder Titles : Rifle Green with "BURMA RIFLES" in red. Collar Dogs: Same as the Cap Badge, a (male)Burmese peacock (displaying)over a title-scroll "BURMA RIFLES" in white metal. (officers Silver or silver gilt) Officers Pips, Silver for Full dress, Black for Service Dress, Black embroydered onto Red worstead (after the traditions of the 60th Rifles/KRRC) Enlisted Stripes & Crowns, Black embroydered onto rifle green worstead (after the traditions of the 95th Rifles/Rifle Brigade)

This un-usual mix was noted and verified by photographs in Major Hogan's collection.
Titles of the Regiment

    70th Burma Rifles / 85th Burman Rifles
    20th Burma Rifles
    Burma Rifles

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