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Sikhs in British Armed Forces : Second World War - Burma

Second Burma Campaign 1943-44

The 1st/11th Sikhs arrived at Dohazari by rail on the 12th of October and then marched some eighty-five miles to Tumbru, where they arrived five days later. On the next day the Battalion embarked in river craft and sailed down the Naf river to Bawli, where it joined the 7th Indian Division. Here the Battalion was allotted the role of Divisional Headquarters Battalion and was split up amongst the three brigades of the Division.

Before proceeding with a detailed account of the Battalion's activities in the Arakan, it is necessary to explain very briefly the general situation at this time. During the monsoon both the British and the Japanese had been holding their forward positions very lightly and the actual number of troops on the ground at this time was small. A build-up was beginning to take place and the 7th Division was the first to arrive. Initial operations took the form of small unspectacular local advances with the intention of closing up on the Japanese forward positions north of the Maungdaw-Buthidaung road.

The Allied intention was to capture Akyab, the only port of any importance in the Arakan, by a combined sea and land attack. The XV Corps was to advance south in the Arakan with the 5th Indian Division on the right and the 7th Indian Division on the left.

During November the 5th Division arrived and took over the coastal sector north of Maungdaw, while the 7th Division crossed to the east of the Mayu Range to get into position for the coming offensive.

The area east of the range consisted of a tangled mass of jungle-covered hills intersected by stretches of flat rice fields, which were quite dry at this time of the year. The jungle was mostly thick bamboo and the hills were very steep and usually about a hundred to two hundred feet high. They provided ideal defensive positions and were very difficult to assault.

There was no lateral road across the Mayu Range to supply the Division, so a road was constructed by the divisional engineers through dense jungle over the thirteen-hundred-foot-high Ngakyedauk Pass. This was a remarkable feat of engineering, which enabled tanks, artillery and heavy transport to reach the Division. The pioneer platoon of the 1st/ 11th Sikhs was attached to the divisional sappers for work on the road and constructed some of the many bridges on the pass.

The Battalion was very unfortunate to lose its Adjutant, Captain P. J. Sheehan, who died of smallpox in Bawli Bazar in January. His place was taken by Captain P. T. Cunningham, who remained as Adjutant almost to the end of the war.

During January the Division started to line up for the offensive to eliminate all Japanese forces resisting north of the Maungdaw-Buthidaung road. Battalion Headquarters and "A" Company, under Major Lerwill, were with the 114th Brigade, east of the Kalapanzin river, and were given the task of showing strength in front of the strong; Japanese fortifications around Kyaukit, while the remainder of the Brigade ;prepared for the offensive. Patrols were active day and night and often penetrated deep into these defences. The official report says
" It is credit to this battalion that the Japs were sufficiently impressed with the exuberance of Sikhs to put them down as a full battalion."

During this time "D" Company, under Major Workman, was detached on a special protective and reconnaissance role in the Eastern Yomas overlooking the left flank of the Division. This company, known as "Workcol," isolated in these thick jungle hills, did excellent work and carried out many long-range patrols.

"B" Company, under Major Walker, and "C" Company, under Major Spink, were with the 33rd and 89th Brigades respectively. These companies carried out numerous successful patrols towards the Maungdaw-Buthidaung road and gained valuable information for the coming offensive.

During this time the Japanese command was preparing for its march on India which was to break the Allied forces on the Indo-Burma border and open the road to the plains of Assam and Bengal. In practice, this offensive fell into two distinct stages-first the Arakan offensive and second the drive through Manipur.

In the Arakan the Japanese plan was to encircle and destroy the 7th Division east of the Mayu Ridge, then cut the main line of communication behind the 5th Division in the coastal sector and drive it into the sea.

JAPANESE ARAKAN OFFENSIVE

On the night of the 3rd of February, when the 33rd and 114th Brigades were deploying for the attack on the enemy main forces covering Buthidaung, a Japanese force of several thousand men, with artillery, engineers and ancillary units, under the command of Colonel Tanahashi, moved round the left flank of the Division. There was much confused fighting in the rear areas and the 89th Brigade, in reserve, bore the brunt of the main Japanese thrust in the Linbabi area south of Taung Bazar. Here they delayed the Japanese advance and "C" Company was engaged in some bitter fighting, repulsing Japanese attacks on Brigade Headquarters. During this fighting, Lance-Naik Karnail Singh earned a posthumous Indian Order of Merit for great gallantry. When a large number of men in his platoon were either killed or wounded, he charged forward on his own and drove off a party of Japanese:, who were harassing the evacuation of the wounded, and thereby enabled all the casualties to be brought back safely. His body was found some time later surrounded by dead Japanese. Major Spink was one of the wounded and had a very lucky escape when his stretcher convoy was ambushed: his life was undoubtedly saved through the gallantry of his orderly, Sepoy Mehar Singh, who was awarded the Military Medal.

On the 6th of February Divisional Headquarters was overrun by the Japanese and after some very gallant fighting General Messervy, with most of his headquarters personnel,'withdrew to the divisional administrative area, which became known as the "Admin. Box." Brigades were immediately called up by wireless and ordered to stand fast and form defensive boxes.

The 1st/ l lth Sikhs, less "B" and "C" Companies, were with the 114th Brigade in the Kwazon area and continued to hold more or less the same positions north of Kyaukit. "D" Company had been withdrawn from the Eastern Yomas and was holding a hill feature on the northern side of the brigade box.

On the west bank of the Kalapanzin river "B" Company was protecting the 33rd Brigade Headquarters, just east of Hill 182, while "C" Company formed a box with a company of the 7th/2nd Punjab Regiment to protect a field regiment and some anti-aircraft gunners at Awlanbyin.

On the 7th of February the Japanese captured the Ngakyedauk Pass and the siege began. This was a series of large and small battles for three weeks, when the Japanese did their utmost to hammer the Division into submission, but everywhere the troops stood firm, inflicting severe casualties on the enemy. Some of the most bitter fighting was seen around the Admin. Box, which was so gallantly held by Headquarters and administrative personnel. The Granthi, Naik Kartar Singh, with the "Granth Sahib," was in the Admin. Box with the motor transport. The drivers played their part in the defence of the box, while the Granthi displayed considerable, gallantry while encouraging the men holding the front line. The Gurdwara harmonica was damaged by a bullet in the fighting and it was mended and is still in use in the Gurdwara.

The Japanese had not expected the Division to hold on and fight and had not appreciated that General Slim could maintain the Division by air. The first Dakota aircraft came over on the 11th of February and the Royal Air Force dropped supplies daily until the siege was raised, while small liaison aircraft, landing on rough airstrips in brigade areas, evacuated all the seriously wounded from the overcrowded field ambulances.

For the next three weeks the Japanese lost heavily and Tanahashi's force was split into small scattered parties which were methodically reduced by offensive action from the defensive boxes and by troops of the 26th Division, who moved up from reserve in the north. During this period "A" Company carried out several successful ambushes, while a platoon infiltrated into the Kyaukit defences and occupied a Japanese forward position. "B" Company had their share of fighting with the 33rd Brigade and on the 20th of February carried out a particularly successful attack on a party of Japanese near Hill 182 overlooking Brigade Headquarters. The Sikhs went in with great dash under the inspired leadership of Subadar Gurcharan Singh and threw the Japanese out of their positions with the bayonet.

On the 23rd of February the Ngakyedauk Pass was opened, in co-operation with troops of the 5th Division who attacked from the west, and the siege was lifted. By the end of February the remnants of Tanahashi's force had been mopped up.

General Sir William Slim, Commander of the Fourteenth Army, summed up this battle in the Arakan in these words
" The battle of the Arakan was the first occasion in this war on which a British force has withstood the full weight of a major Japanese offensive, held it, broken it, smashed it to little pieces and pursued it. Anybody who was in the 7th and 5th Indian Divisions and was there has something of which they can be very proud indeed."

The following is an extract from a message sent by Mr. Winston Churchill to General Slim after this victory in the Arakan
" I congratulate the Fourteenth Army heartily upon the successful outcome of the series of fierce encounters with the Japanese in the Arakan. . . ."

At the same time, Admiral The Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander, South-East Asia Command, issued an order of the day in which he said
" . . . The enemy . . . launched a major offensive in the Arakan in the hope of defeating you and sweeping you into India. You have met the onslaught with courage, confidence and resolution. Many of you were cut off and encircled, dependent on supplies dropped from aeroplanes. But everyone stood firm, . . . . Now, after bitter fighting in the jungles and in the skies, the Japanese attack has been smashed. The enemy forces which infiltrated into your rear have been destroyed or scattered. The threatened passes are clear; the roads are open. You have gained a complete victory. Your splendid spirit was clear to me when I visited you recently. Now that spirit, that tenacity, that courage, have been demonstrated to the enemy and to the world. I salute you."

At the beginning of March the 1st /11th Sikhs were relieved of their role as Divisional Headquarters Battalion and allotted to the 33rd Brigade for the postponed offensive on Buthidaung. Everyone in the Battalion was delighted and felt that they would now have a chance of showing their worth and giving the Japanese a real beating. The men were all in great heart; their morale, which had always been high, soared; they were all very fit and they had great confidence in themselves. The weather at this time was good; nice sunny days, not too hot, while the nights were not as cold as they had been a month earlier.

The Battalion concentrated in Awlanbyin on the 29th of February and then moved to join the 25th Dragoons just south of the Admin. Box on the next day to carry out some tank training.

Lieutenant-Colonel Dinwiddie left the Battalion here to go and command the 114th Brigade, and Major P. G. Bamford, who was Second-in-Command, took over command.

Some very valuable training was carried out with the 25th Dragoons and preparations were completed for the coming offensive. This aimed at securing the eastern end of the Maungdaw-Buthidaung road, including Buthidaung, with the object of cutting off the enemy occupying their strong positions on the jungle hills, known as Massive and Able.

ATTACK ON POLAND AND RABBIT

The 1st/ 11th Sikhs were ordered to capture two hill features, Poland and Rabbit, on the night of the 6th of March. This was to be the first phase of a general advance by the 33rd Brigade to drive a wedge into enemy positions from which an assault on Buthidaung could be launched later.

Patrols were sent out on the evening of the 5th of March and reported the next morning that Poland and Rabbit were held by the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford decided to attack with "B" and "C" Companies forward and to keep "A" and "D" Companies in reserve.

The Battalion set out at dusk on the 6th of March and moved through the rice fields, between the enemy strongholds of Massive and Able, to their forming up area just north of the main road. It was bright moonlight and the Sikhs arrived in plenty of time to form up for the attack. At 10.15 p.m. Major Brough led "C" Company forward across the road under a barrage from the Corps and Divisional artillery. The barrage lifted as the leading platoon commenced the assault. "C" Company went up the slopes of the hill with great dash and surprised a forward enemy post which withdrew in haste as the men charged. Without a pause the Sikhs dashed on and captured the Japanese main position at the top of the hill against slight opposition.

Major Brough sent his reserve platoon through to capture the enemy's final position, but the leading section was held up as it moved along the top of the ridge. A second attack was put in and the men dashed forward shouting their "fatehs." They were again held up by a medium machine gun firing at very close range and suffered some casualties. It was very difficult to locate the machine gun in the jungle at night, while it was impossible to move down the steep slopes to attack the position from a flank, so Major Brough decided to consolidate his gains and delay the final attack until the next morning. However, the enemy had taken such a knock that they withdrew before dawn. In this action Sepoy Sajjan Singh displayed great gallantry in crawling forward under extremely heavy enemy fire and bringing back several wounded men from within a few yards of the enemy's machine gun. He was himself eventually wounded, but he refused to leave his section until the whole position was secured in the morning.

Meanwhile, "B" Company, under Major Walker, had advanced on the right of "C" Company, but the leading platoon had moved over too far to the west and was held up by impenetrable jungle. This delayed the advance of the remainder of the company and it was nearly an hour before patrols found a way through the jungle and "B" Company could move forward. The men had great difficulty in climbing up the slopes and in several places had to cut their way through the jungle. However, they met no opposition and secured the position soon after midnight, capturing two 47-mm. anti-tank guns and a considerable amount of minor equipment.

The remainder of the Battalion now moved forward and consolidated against the inevitable Japanese counter-attacks.

It was discovered in the morning that a Japanese headquarters had been located in the nullah between Poland and Rabbit and had been covered by positions on these two hills. It is believed that the enemy was surprised by the rapid advance on Poland, and, not suspecting an attack on Rabbit, failed to "stand to" in their positions on the latter when the artillery barrage lifted.

The, Sikhs' position on Poland were shelled all the next day, but very few casualties were sustained, since the men had completed their trenches early in the day. The next night, as expected, the Japanese launched a series of counter-attacks on both Poland and Rabbit and were repulsed all along the front. The night was one that everyone in the Battalion will remember. It was amazingly still and a full moon was high in the sky as the Japanese attacked through the jungle. The men held their fire until the Japanese were close up and then gave a resounding "Bole so nihal, sat siri akal," as they threw them back time after time. These shouts rang clearly through the jungle and echoed around the hills, while answering "fatehs" were periodically heard from men of the 4th/ 15th Punjab Regiment holding positions over on the left. The self-confidence of the Sikhs was most inspiring and no one could fail to have complete confidence in the men and to have pride to be serving with them. Before dawn the Japanese called off the attack and withdrew to their positions farther south.

On the 8th of March the 1st/11th Sikhs were warned to carry out an attack on the Japanese positions in the jungle hills, known as Astride, covering the western approaches to Buthidaung, so that the 4th/8th Gurkha Rifles and the 25th Dragoons could then pass through and capture the town the next day. The attack was not to take place before the 12th of March, so that the Battalion would have plenty of time to obtain details of the enemy's dispositions and to carry out diversions towards the south. "A" Company, now under the command of Major Thomas, was therefore sent to occupy a position west of Htinsbabyin, with the support of a squadron of tanks of the 25th Dragoons. No opposition was met, but the tanks were held up by marshy ground about half a mile north of Dongyaung, so "A" Company occupied a strong position on the ridge while the tanks withdrew into reserve. ,On the 9th of March "A" Company was ordered to move forward and occupy the southern end of the ridge overlooking Htinsbabyin, while "D" Company, under Captain Redding, was sent to raid enemy dumps in the Dongyaung area.

"A" Company moved south along the ridge, but the leading platoon met with very stiff resistance when moving forward to seize the objective. Major Thomas immediately launched an attack and the leading platoon captured three enemy posts in some fierce close-in fighting before being held up by several light machine guns firing at point-blank range. "A" Company sustained a number of casualties and Major Thomas wisely decided to consolidate his gains and not attack this strong position again until artillery support could be arranged. The leading section commander, Naik Naranjan Singh, displayed great dash and determination. Although he was wounded early on, he continued to lead his section forward and carried the first two enemy trenches at the point of the bayonet in spite of heavy fire from several light machine guns. Although all but two men of his section were killed or wounded, Naik Naranjan Singh assaulted the third trench up a precipitous slope and killed all the enemy with grenades. By this time one of his companions was killed and the other wounded, but Naik Naranjan Singh continued to hold the enemy trench until the remainder of the company had consolidated and he was ordered to withdraw. In this action Sepoy Mukhtiar Singh won a posthumous Indian Order of Merit for great gallantry; he was last seen charging the remaining enemy post on his own, firing his Bren from his hip, and killing four or five of the enemy.

"D" Company gained complete surprise. They moved behind the enemy's forward positions and destroyed three dumps without opposition. The company returned in the evening, having successfully completed its task without suffering any casualties.

While "A" and "D" Companies had been operating in the south, a number of Sikh reconnaissance patrols had been active along the whole front. A small patrol of four men was ordered to find out if the enemy was occupying a position south of Poland. This patrol set out in bright moonlight on the 8th of March and when it had gone about a mile it observed a party of forty Japanese moving north towards Poland. The patrol immediately took cover, but it was spotted by the enemy, who moved out to outflank the Sikhs, leaving their grenade discharger in a central position to cover their advance.

Sepoy Charan Singh crept silently .forward on his own until he was only a few yards from the grenade party. He then leapt at the Japanese with the discharger and killed him with one thrust of his bayonet. The other two grenadiers gave a piercing shriek, got up and fled. This bold move completely surprised the whole Japanese party, who turned about and retired hastily towards their own positions. On the same night a patrol, led by Havildar Bachan Singh (Brown), moved out to the Astride position. It moved right up close to the Japanese trenches and collected very valuable information. It reported that the enemy were busy digging and constructing bunkers along the whole of the Astride position and had several posts in the vicinity of the main road.

As a result of this patrol report, General Messervy came forward during the afternoon of the 9th of March to advance the time of the attack, while the artillery and Royal Air Force were ordered to harass the Astride position, in order to try to delay the construction of the Japanese defences.

General Messervy explained that there were two alternatives: to attack that night with tired troops and without reconnaissance, or to attack a better established enemy the next morning. Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford decided to attack the next day, since "A" and "D" Companies would be rested and some divebombers, all the Corps artillery and a squadron of tanks would be available to support the attack.

The Sikhs immediately prepared for the attack. "A" Company was relieved by a company of the 4th/15th Punjabis at Htinsbabyin and arrived back at 8 p.m. for some well-earned sleep.

ATTACK ON ASTRIDE

The Sikhs moved to the forming-up area behind West Finger before light on the 11th of March and Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford issued verbal orders for the attack from the forward slopes of this ridge at 6.30 a.m. A squadron of Lee tanks had been detailed from the 25th Dragoons and these joined the Battalion about half an hour later.

The forward troops were again "B" and "C" Companies. This time "B" Company was to be on the left to capture the hills north of the road while "C" Company on the right was to capture those to the south. On capturing Astride, the Sikhs had been ordered to secure the road, so that the 25th Dragoons and the 4th/8th Gurkha Rifles could pass through and capture Buthidaung at first light the next morning. "A" and "D" Companies were therefore ordered to be prepared to pass through and secure the eastern end of the Astride position as soon as the forward companies had captured their objectives.
When company commanders were just finishing their orders to their platoon commanders the bombers came over and gave a fine display of dive-bombing, dropping all their bombs in the target area. They were followed about an hour later by fighters, who strafed the whole area.

At about 10 a.m. the enemy observed the Sikhs' mortars getting into position and shelled and mortared the ridge from behind the Astride position. At this time both leading companies were moving forward to their assembly areas and the Sikhs suffered some casualties. Immediate and accurate counter-battery fire was put down and the enemy fire slackened considerably.

At 10.15 a.m. the artillery commenced laying smoke screens on the left flank and in front of the objective, and mortars and medium machine guns opened fire, while the tanks moved forward according to plan. The smoke screen put down for the tanks effectively stopped any further interference by enemy artillery fire and by 10.30 a.m. tanks and assaulting companies were formed up on the start line ready for the attack.

The Corps artillery now opened up on the objective, putting down a concentration so intense that the attacking infantry had to lie flat on their faces on the start line to avoid splinters from the barrage five hundred yards distant. Even so, two or three men were hit. The smoke and dust from the barrage mingled with that from the original screen and from the undergrowth on the objective which was now ablaze. The objective itself and the fields beneath it were soon obliterated by drifting clouds of smoke. In all, over seven thousand shells were fired on a front of some five hundred yards.

After ten minutes the artillery lifted and the leading companies advanced, the tanks moving forward with the leading troops. Although the objective was invisible, direction was easy to maintain and the forward elements of the attack were soon at the foot of their respective; objectives. During the advance across the open the machine-gun overhead covering fire from both the tanks and guns firing from West Finger was intense and continuous. The noise was deafening, completely obliterating the sound of the tanks and even the artillery barrage, now coming in rear of the Astride position. The moral effect of this covering fire and of the tanks moving steadily forward, both on the enemy and on our own troops, cannot be overemphasized.

Cheering and shouting "fatehs," the men now commenced the assault, while the leading tank halted only when it reached the mouth of the defile twenty yards from a deep anti-tank ditch and a minefield. The overwhelming concentration of fire and the sight of the rapid and determined advance of the Sikhs and tanks were too much for the Japanese, who offered only slight resistance before retiring in disorder from the defences which they had so carefully prepared.

On arrival on its objective "B" Company saw large bodies of the enemy streaming south in front of Buthidaung. A forward observation officer had accompanied company headquarters and the enemy was therefore engaged promptly and with good results. Buthidaung itself was also shelled and was soon blazing merrily, whilst the ground strafe by fighters about half an hour later also met with success.

At 11 a.m. the first objectives were in British hands and "A" and "D" Companies immediately passed through and secured their objectives without meeting the enemy, who had fled. Strong fighting patrols were sent out and all companies immediately consolidated the position to secure the road.

Patrols pushed far ahead, but no enemy parties were encountered and they entered Buthidaung without opposition. It was therefore decided to exploit success and send two platoons on tanks to Kanbyin away on the right flank and move on Buthidaung from the south. This party was delayed until 2 p.m. by anti-tank mines, but set out in great spirits. It moved about five miles south and then turned up a track towards Buthidaung, but the enemy had pulled right back and the Sikhs, riding on tanks, entered Buthidaung without seeing any enemy.

Unfortunately, one tank near Boomerang, a small hill on the northern outskirts of the town, struck a mine. Although the tank was damaged and could not be repaired that evening, no casualties were suffered. One platoon therefore had to stay out to protect the tank during the night, while the remainder returned to the Battalion position.

Before dark the Battalion was firmly established on Astride and the tanks withdrew safely to Tank valley.

This was a much bigger success than had been expected. The enemy had been surprised and thrown out of a strong position. They had run from the bayonets of the Sikhs and left Buthidaung to be captured without a fight. In view of this success the move of the Gurkhas was accelerated and they passed through Astride at about 10.30 p.m., taking up positions securing the southern exits from Buthidaung.

During the night there was much enemy activity and "C" Company south of the road encountered numerous parties trying to infiltrate into their former positions. The enemy attempts to recapture the hill features south of the road were very half-hearted and were easily driven back. However, the next morning a Japanese platoon was reported to have dug in on India Hill, which was overlooking the road.

Since the Battalion was able to hold only the more important hill features along the road, it had been decided to leave India Hill unoccupied until Subadar Mehar Singh's platoon returned from pirotecting the disabled tank on Boomerang. Consequently the enemy had no difficulty in reoccupying it during the night.

The 25th Dragoons were now passing through the position and it was essential therefore to recapture India Hill immediately, before all their transport arrived.

ATTACK ON INDIA HILL

Gallantry of Naik Nand Singh, Victoria Cross Winner

" C" Company was detailed to carry out the attack and Major Brough was ordered to waste no time. As he dashed. away from Battalion Headquarters he met Subadar Mehar Singh and his platoon returning, after being relieved on Boomerang by the Gurkhas, so he immediately took them along to do the attack on India Hill. This feature was too close to "C" Company's position to allow artillery or mortars to support the attack, so Lieutenant-Colonel Bamford managed to get a Lee tank from the 25th Dragoons to cover the platoon forward.

India Hill was a knife-edged ridge, with steep, jungle-clad slopes. The enemy was holding some deep trenches and fox-holes which were well concealed and impossible to see in the jungle. The tank therefore harassed the whole area for several minutes, while the platoon moved up to assault the position, with a section under Naik Nand Singh in the lead.

Naik Nand Singh led his section forward along a narrow track leading up to the enemy position. This was the only possible approach on to the hill. Reaching the crest, they came under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, and every man in the section went down, being either killed or wounded. Nevertheless, Naik Nand Singh dashed forward alone under intense fire at point-blank range. As he was approaching the nearest Japanese trench he was wounded by a grenade, but without hesitating he went on and captured the trench, killing both occupants with his bayonet. Naik Nand Singh, seeing another trench a short distance away, jumped up and dashed towards the second trench in spite of the continuous fire from the enemy. He was again wounded by a grenade and knocked down, but he got up and hurled himself into the trench, killing both occupants with his bayonet. He moved on again for a third time and captured a third trench all on his own. As soon as he had captured the third trench the fire on the remainder of the platoon ceased and they were able to move forward and capture the remainder of the position, killing with bayonet and grenade thirty-seven out of the forty Japanese who were holding the position.

It was due to Naik Nand Singh's gallantry and determination that the Japanese position was captured so rapidly with so little cost of life and that the whole enemy party were destroyed almost to a man. For his gallantry and complete disregard for his own life in this action Naik Nand Singh was awarded the Victoria Cross.

IN RESERVE

On the 20th of March the Battalion was withdrawn from the Buthidaung area and given a protective role in the old Admin. Box, situated at the bottom of the now-famous Ngakyedauk Pass.

Early on the morning of the 25th of March a party of Japanese was reported in the hills overlooking the eastern entrance of the Admin. Box and the Battalion was ordered to drive the enemy off. Two platoons of "A" Company and one platoon of "B" Company were detailed for this task.

Patrols moved out at 8 a.m. and reported the enemy to be some one hundred strong and well dug in, in tunnelled positions. Three separate attacks were put in by the Sikhs supported by one tank and a very limited amount of artillery, and, although severe casualties were inflicted on the enemy, only two out of three enemy localities were captured. Jemadar Didar Singh showed great bravery during the second attack, personally leading his platoon forward under heavy enemy machine-gun and grenade fire. He could be seen dashing forward, all on his own, time after time, hurling grenades at a Japanese machine-gun post. He was killed in this action, but he was awarded a posthumous Indian Order of Merit for his outstanding gallantry. Sepoy Mohan Singh was also quite outstanding throughout this attack. He was with the leading section, which was soon pinned to the ground by enemy light-automatic fire. He crawled forward on his own right close up to the enemy trenches and threw grenades at the machin

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