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Burma 1930 - 1947:

Special Force

This 77 Indian Infantry Brigade was formed in June 1942 in the Saugor area. It was reformed into columns for the long range penetration role on 21 July 1942.


The brigade was deployed to Imphal on 27 January 1943 and entered Burma on First Chindit expedition (Operation Longcloth) on 10 February 1943. It disrupted Japanese activity in the Shwebo area before withdrawing to Imphal on 29 May 1943. The brigade had suffered significant casualties so was concentrated in the Bombay area to refit.

The British Prime Minister (and Minister of Defence) Winston CHURCHILL heard about the exploits of the first Chindit expedition and at the Quadrant Conference, it was agreed to form a corps scale formation to undertake long range penetration into central Burma. This formation was initially called ‘Special Force’, but, was redesignated 3 Indian Division on 12 March 1944, for deception reasons.

The 14 Indian Infantry Brigade deployed to ‘Aberdeen’ on 23 March 1944. It moved to ‘Blackpool’ in May 1944, being involved in heavy fighting in the area before eventually being withdrawn to India in August 1944. The 16 Indian Infantry Brigade was tasked with walking into the area, to attack and secure the Indaw area. It failed to occupy Indaw and was withdrawn soon afterwards. The 23 Indian Infantry Brigade was not deployed as part of Special Force, but was sent to support XXXIII Indian Corps at Dimapur and Kohima. The 77 Indian Infantry Brigade was flown into ‘Broadway’, then established a block at ‘White City’ which it later abandoned to make its way to ‘Blackpool’. It was then ordered to attack and take Mogaung, which it achieved after a superb feat of arms against the Japanese defenders. It was then flown out. 111 Indian Infantry Brigade was due to flown into Piccadilly, but as that landing site was unusable, so it flew into Chrowringee and Broadway instead. This left the brigade dispersed and ineffective until it was reunited at White City. It fought its way north with 77 Brigade, being evacuated from Mogaung. The 3 (West Africa) Brigade was to used as garrison troops for the strongholds. One battalion was flown into Broadway, and made its way on foot to Aberdeen. The other two battalions were flown directly into Aberdeen. The brigade reformed at Aberdeen, but was disbanded on return to India on 30 November 1944. The brigade reformed with same units in India on 1 March 1945 coming under command of 81 West Africa Division on 20 March 1945.

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