First Arakan Campaign
In September 1942, General Wavell had issued directives
for a British return to Burma, and the same month the 14th
Indian Division left Chittagong on a journey south through Cox's
Bazaar and down to the bottom of the Mayu Peninsula. The only
road south was a four-foot wide track, and although the heavy
supplies were sent by sea part of the way, much had to be
carried by the troops and progress was almost imperceptible.
Thirteen inches of rain fell on one
day in November and monsoon conditions reigned in the Bay of
Bengal, but by the beginning of December the division was
slogging towards Cox's Bazar towards Tumbru and Bawli Bazar
where the two brigades separated, one holding to the coast and
the other driving parallel on the left for Buthidaung as the
first drove for Maungdaw. A flank guard of irregulars operated
inland to provide intelligence led by Lt-Colonel J.H. Souther.
On arrival, the brigades found
Japanese units holding strong defenses along the line of the
road between Maungdaw and Buthidaung, and were then instructed
to wait for the arrival of two more brigades, 123rd and 47th
Indian Brigades who arrived on 17th December.
The Lincolns were part
of 47th Indian
Brigade. I left Calcutta onboard the troopship Ethiopia for
Chittagong where we transferred to a paddle steamer for a night
time trip down coast to land just above Maungdaw.
was then discovered that the Japanese had withdrawn into the
Peninsula itself, but it was January before the Division was
ready to move forward again.
The Lincolns advanced
along the side of the Mayu Mountain Range
This was because we
were equipped with mules for transport
The Japanese had in fact dropped
back into strong defenses around and south of Kondan protecting
the town of Rathedang. The Japanese waited and watched and even
allowed a patrol from the 47th Indian Brigade to reach Foul
Point, but when first a company and then a battalion attempted
to follow up a week later than ran into a well-laid trap of
fox-holes deep in the scrub.
The 14th Indian Division pressed
forward, while more battalions of the 47th Indian Brigade
followed on down the Mayu Peninsula and attempted to storm
Donbaik and the Japanese defense lines in vain. Units from 123rd
Brigade split on both sides of the Mayu river, one battalion
attempting a direct attack on Rathedaung itself, the rest trying
to take Kondon from the north.