Monday, May 5, 2014

Burma Operations (Contd.)

Burma Operations (Contd.)

Simultaneously with the landing at Myebon, there was an all-out offensive down the Kaladan valley. The waterways east of the Myebon peninsula were completely blocked by Arakan Coastal Forces, whose motor launches had many exciting night encounters with the Japanese motor launches carrying goods, ammunition and oil though the chaungs to the forward troops comprising nearly five battalions. Meanwhile the Narbada and Jumna were intermittently shelling road transport and other supply targets. In a period of nine days (13 to 21 January) they fired 2,548 rounds from their four-inch guns. It was then decided to make a further landing on the edge of the Daingbon Chaung, close to the township of Kangaw. The Japanese were known to have a whole brigade defending this important staging post on their supply route, and the biggest concentration of artillery ever assembled in Burma. From these nearly 800 74-mm shells were lodged in the beachhead area during the assault. Hotly contested fighting ensued, as the Commandos and Indian troops stormed Hill 170. Between this hill and the beach, on one day alone, 340 Japanese dead were picked up from an area not much bigger than a football field. But Hill 170 was finally taken and the Japanese brigade was practically annihilated. R.I.N. Beach Commandos did a grand job under heavy fire on this perilously small beachhead. The support of Naval guns proved a factor of prime importance. In the week following the Kangaw assault, the Narbada and Jumna fired 3,173 four-inch shells, and additional fire support was provided by other craft.

Assault on Kyaukpyu (Ramree Island)

The assault on Kyaukpyu was timed to take place at 0930 on 21 January at the same time as the Narbada and the Jumna with the Garhwal Rifles embarked were attacking Kangaw. A week previously on 14 January Lt. Cdr T.H.L. Macdonald, D.S.C., R.I.N.V.R. in M.L. 440 with M.L. 447 in company embarked a Special Boat Section under the command of Major Livingstone, and proceeded from Akyab south to Katherine Bluff, which bounds Kyaukpyu harbour on the northern side. The party were landed successfully, and for four successive nights the two M.Ls returned to Kyaukpyu to wait at a predetermined rendezvous for their return. On the 17th night, Major Livingstone returned safely, having carried out a complete reconnaissance of Kyaukpyu inner harbour.

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