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Operation Thursday

5 Mar 1944 - 27 Aug 1944

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

In late Jan 1944, Orde Wingate convinced William Slim to authorize a second operation behind Japanese lines in Burma utilizing irregulars that Wingate named the Chindits, though Slim provided Wingate far fewer men than what Wingate had initially wanted. The operation launched on 5 Mar 1944. The original plans called for the transport by glider of troops to three landing zones codenamed Piccadilly, Broadway, and Chowringhee, but Piccadilly was found to be occupied by Japanese troops by a pre-operation reconnaissance flight; the Japanese were actually military lumberjacks who were there purely by coincidence, but it had aroused much suspicion in Wingate toward Slim and the Chinese. The operation carried on nevertheless, with troops arriving at Broadway in the night of 5 Mar and at Chowringhee on the next day. 600 further sorties in the following week brought in more men, by which time about 9,000 Chindits (supported by over 1,000 animals) were present in Burma. The Chowringhee site was abandoned at this time, while Broadway was reinforced to form a field garrison. Two new field bases, codenamed Aberdeen and White City, were subsequently established north of Indaw and at Mawlu, respectively. By 18 Mar, the Chindits were on the offensive, attacking Kenu that day and Indaw on 21 Mar. On 27 Mar, the Japanese launched an attack on Broadway, which was repulsed by the start of Apr 1944.

On 21 Mar, Wingate decided to move his headquarters from Imphal to Sylhet in India, which caused some interruption in communications during the attack on Indaw. Just as that difficulty was being resolved, Wingate died when the aircraft which he was traveling aboard crashed in an accident. Walter Lentaigne was named Wingate successor by Slim despite opposition by Chindit field commanders, for that Lentaigne had long doubted Wingate. With the arrival of Lentaigne came many changes, including the abandonment of Broadway and White City, the establishment of a new forward base to be codenamed Blackpool, and the scaling back of supplies for Operation Thursday in favor of traditional operations near the Indian-Burmese border where the Battle of Imphal-Kohima was raging. On 17 May, while Lentaigne remained the chief of Chindit operations, Slim passed operational control over to Joseph Stilwell, who gave Chindits objectives which supported the American-Chinese operations in northern Burma. The Blackpool base faced Japanese artillery and infantry attacks almost immediately, and on 24 May penetrated Chindit defense lines and forced the Chindits to abandon Blackpool on the following day.

Between Jun and Jul, the Chindits in Burma sustained heavy casualties, and slowly they were pulled out of Burma. The last Chindit left Burma on 27 Aug 1944.

Sources:
Frank McLynn, The Burma Campaign
Wikipedia

Operation Thursday Timeline

26 Jan 1944 Orde Wingate and William Slim met at Comilla, India; Slim told Wingate that he would provide only one battalion for Wingate's second Chindit operation.
27 Jan 1944 Orde Wingate and William Slim met at Comilla; Slim told Wingate that he could no longer provide any battalions for Wingate's second Chindit operation. Angrily, Wingate wrote a letter to Louis Mountbatten, criticizing Slim and asked to be relieved of duty since he could not perform his duties alongside of Slim; Slim was provided a carbon copy of the letter. Instead, via George Giffard, Mounbatten said he would find Wingate troops from the 81st West African Division.
4 Feb 1944 Orde Wingate issued the guidelines for the second Chindit operation.
5 Mar 1944 Operation Thursday was launched. William Slim flew to Hailakandi, India to oversee the launch. One of the intended glider landing spots in Burma was found by pre-operation reconnaissance flights to be defended by newly-arrived Japanese troops, and Wingate accused Slim or the Chinese of betrayal (in actuality, Japanese Army lumberjacks had coincidentally started working in the region); troops originally intended to land at that spot were diverted to other landing areas. Several gliders were lost by the over-burdened glider towing aircraft, but the operation would still get underway.
6 Mar 1944 Further glider operations brought in more men to join Operation Thursday at the Chowringhee site in Burma.
7 Mar 1944 Orde Wingate personally visited the Broadway site of Operation Thursday in Burma.
8 Mar 1944 Orde Wingate personally visited the Chowringhee site of Operation Thursday in Burma.
11 Mar 1944 By this date, 9,000 men and 1,300 animals were delivered to northern Burma for Operation Thursday.
12 Mar 1944 Orde Wingate sent Winston Churchill a message noting the initial successes of Operation Thursday in Burma.
18 Mar 1944 Chindit troops reached the railway at Kenu, Burma; the subsequent Battle of Pagoda Hill was characterized by savage hand-to-hand fighting that resulted in 23 Chindits and 42 Japanese killed.
20 Mar 1944 Orde Wingate visited the Aberdeen site in Meza valley, Burma.
21 Mar 1944 British Chindit forces attacked Indaw, Burma. Meanwhile, Orde Wingate began moving his headquarters from Imphal to Sylhet in India, thus causing some confusion in the Indaw offensive.
27 Mar 1944 Japanese troops attacked the Broadway site of Operation Thursday in Burma.
1 Apr 1944 The Japanese attack on the Broadway site of Operation Thursday in Burma was repulsed.
6 Apr 1944 Japanese troops attacked the White City site of Operation Thursday in Burma.
13 Apr 1944 British Chindit units attacked the village of Sepein near Mawlu in Burma.
8 May 1944 Brigadier William Lentaigne, commander of the Chindit, flew to the front lines in Burma to meet with Michael Calvert, repeating the order to abandon the Broadway and White City sites of Operation Thursday in order to build a new forward base, Blackpool.
17 May 1944 The Japanese attack on the Blackpool site of Operation Thursday in Burma was repulsed. On the same day, William Slim handed operational control of the Chindits over to Joseph Stilwell.
24 May 1944 Japanese troops penetrated Chindit defense lines near the Blackpool site in Burma.
25 May 1944 Chindit forces abandoned the Blackpool site in Burma.
27 May 1944 Brigadier William Lentaigne ordered Michael Calvert to capture Mogaung, Burma by 5 Jun 1944.
18 Jun 1944 Gurkha troops of the Chindits made contact with Chinese troops at the village of Lakum in northern Burma.
23 Jun 1944 Chindit and Japanese troops engaged in fierce fighting at Mogaung, Burma.
24 Jun 1944 Chinese troops, supported by heavy artillery, attacked Mogaung, Burma in support of the British Chindit operation.
25 Jun 1944 Gurkha troops of the Chindits attacked Mogaung, Burma cautiously, having suffered heavy casualties during the assault two days prior. Meanwhile, the Japanese began to fall back from the town.
26 Jun 1944 Gurkha troops of the Chindits captured Mogaung, Burma.
30 Jun 1944 The Chindits, by this date, would have been hard pushed to find anyone still fit enough to lift a camera, but they kept on marching and fighting even when one brigade, the 111th, was reduced to less than the strength of a company.
14 Jul 1944 In northern Burma, the Morris Force of the Chindits was now down to three platoons in strength.
17 Jul 1944 An inspection of the Indian 111th Infantry Brigade, a Chindit formation, found that only 118 were completely fit for active service; many of the remaining about 2,200 men suffered from malaria, foot rot, septic sores, typhus, or other ailments related to the Burma jungles. Joseph Stilwell withheld the brigade to guard a Chinese artillery battery for two weeks until conditions improved.
1 Aug 1944 The Indian 111th Infantry Brigade, a Chindit formation, was allowed to return to front line service in Burma after health conditions improved.
7 Aug 1944 The Indian 36th Division became the last Chindit formation to engaged in combat in Burma.
11 Aug 1944 In northern Burma the Chindits' 7th Leicesters fought their way into Taungni cutting the rail line.
17 Aug 1944 British 14th Brigade, 3rd West African Brigade, and elements of the British 36th Infantry Division received orders to withdraw from northern Burma.
27 Aug 1944 The last of the Chindits left Burma.




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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. michael clark says:
    11 Dec 2013 10:14:51 AM

    Can anyone help me I'm the son of Harold verdun Clark who served under wingate he may have been nicknamed knobby Clark I have pictures of him sat down in uniform with to other comrades with him just would like it know if they are still alive unfortunately my father died some years ago.could anyone help I would love to send pictures if that would help.
  2. Cheron Smith says:
    20 Jun 2014 11:08:40 PM

    Does anyone remember John ( Jack) Potter, 2nd batt. Kings Own, Liverpool reg. He was in the Broadway campaign 1944. The glider he was in crashed behind enemy lines and most of his comrades died. He suffered a broken jaw, and was missing for days. I know one of his closest pals was Jimmy Mullen from Liverpool. Jack survived the war and went on to be a Fireman. Any info please

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More on Operation Thursday
Participant:
» Wingate, Orde

Location:
» Burma

Related Book:
» The Burma Campaign: Disaster into Triumph 1942-45


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Officers and men of No. 3 Servicing Unit Headquarters of Royal New Zealand Air Force posing with a F4U-1 Corsair fighter, Nissan Island, Green Islands, 21 Dec 1944




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