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Biographic Index

Key Dates



USAAF Air Commandos bombing Japanese supply dump

photo courtesty USAF 

Biographical Index:

Akavia, Abram
Israeli Haganah, Lt.-Col. 1916- . While becoming a civil engineer becamce involved with Jewish underground army, the Haganah. Assigned to work as interpretor to Wingate while the later led the SNS. Later during Ethiopian campaign joined Gideon Force to work as clerk under Wingate at Wingate's request. Was later commissioned as officer serving in British Army, finishing war as a major. Still a defender of Wingate.

Allon, Yigal
Israeli Haganah, General. 1918-1980. During the period of Wingate's activities in Israel was a unit commander in the Haganah. In 1941 was one of the founders of the Palmach, the elite strike unit within the Haganah. After WWII commanded the Palmach and during War of Independence was instrumental in leading forces on different fronts. After commanding the IDF retired in 1950. Like many military officers after him, he entered politics in the 1950s and was elected to the Knesset. Later served as cabinet minister at different times, including the 1970s the foreign minister.

Ben-Gurion, David
Zionist leader, 1st Prime Minister of Israel. 1886-1973. Ardent Zionist upon emmigration from Poland to Turkish Palestine since 1906. Young political activist who worked to raise world's awareness of Jewish condition and to lobby foreign powers. Organized state labour organization and consolidation of left-wing political groups into single party. A founder of Haganah and served as chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency in the 1930s as well. Upon declaring Israel's independence in 1948 became nation's first prime minister and defense minister during the War of Independence. Served until 1953, then was elected again in 1955, and worked to build Israel's economy, immigration efforts and pro-Western alignment. Resigned in 1963 over an espionage affair, later working in the Negev.

Boustead, Hugh
Lt-Colonel, British Army. 1896-1972. Active service during First World War both in Navy and Army. Afterward fought with White Russian expeditionary force. At start of Second World War left Sudan political service to serve in Sudanese Frontier Force. Serving as commander of one of two battalions that comprised Gideon Force's main core. Clashed with Wingate several times during the campaign both over tactics as well as over personality. Post-war work with government of Abu Dubai.
Calvert, Michael
Major, Brigadier-General. British Army. 1913-1998. Fought first in Norway in 1940, sent in 1941 to Pacific to assist in creation of special assualt units. Met Wingate while in command of a small commando unit in Burma, transfered in August 1942 to 77th Brigade for first Chindit mission. Commanded No. 3 Column which played a central role in the disruption of Japanes communications in Indaw Valley. Was among first group to reach safety of west bank of the Chindwin. In 1944 was appointed command of 77th Brigade with new rank for March mission. Columns succesfully interdicted Japanese communications while establishing and holding strongholds Broadway & White City. Led exhausted remants which captured Moguang in June. Towards end of the war he commanded an SAS brigade in north-west Europe. After end of war remained in Army. During the Malayn Emergency of the 1950s, drawing upon his WWII experiences and research he was insturmental in both developing a counter-insurgency ideas and military forces that were used successfully during that conflict. And from this he layed a path to the creation of the modern British SAS. Also in the early 1950s he was forced out of the service on drummed up charges.

Cunningham, Alan
Lt.-General, British Army. 1883-1956. Commanded British forces invading Italian East Africa from Kenya. Appointed to serve as commander of 8th Army in August of 1941. Relieved of command in November of 1941 for failures against General Rommel in North Africa. After war served as last High Commisioner for Palestine, lowering British flag in 1948.

Dayan, Moshe
Israeli Haganah, General, Minister. 1915-1981. Born on Israel's first kibbutz, Degania. Joined Haganah at early age and trained with Wingate while serving with the Jewish Police in the 1930s. Arrested by British at start of WWII, was released and while with Haganah was assigned to work with British Army. During 1941 Allied invasion of Vichy Lebanon-Syria in 1941 where was wounded and aquired famous black eye patch. Fought in War of Independence where military prowess was noticed and in 1953 became Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces. During 1950s instituted policy of cross-border raids in response to guerilla and terrorist raids, and during 1956 Suez War was still serving as Chief-of-Staff. On eve of Six-Day war of 1967 was appointed Defense Minister and received more laurels for the successfull planning. Was among those held responsible for readiness and preparedness failures of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and forced to resign. Briefly served as foreign minister during the Camp David Accords of 1978.

Fergusson, Bernard
Major, Brigadier-General, later Lord Ballantrae. British Army. 1911-1980. Before the war he served as ADC to General Wavell & was on intelligence staff in Palestine in late 1930s during same time as Wingate. During the war he first saw action in Syria and North Africa. Encountered Wingate while serving on Field Marshall Wavell's command staff for the Burm-India theater in 1942, upon which he transfered to the Chindit 77th Brigade that Fall. In command of No. 5 Column which was part of the main Chindit group assualting the Japanese bridges, railway line & viaducts. In 1944 was appointed command of 14th Brigade with new rank for March mission. Led columns which infiltrated overland through tough terrain, only to meet defeat while trying to take Indaw. Later brigade efforts succesfully interdicted Japanese communications to army fighting in India while establishing stronghold Aberdeen. After end of war remained in Army, serving in NATO postings as well as one during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Retiring in 1960s he was appointed Governer-General of New Zealand for several years.

Maraventano, Saverio
Colonel later General. Italian Army. 1893-1974. Served in WWI and then in colonial Ethiopia. Replaced previous commander of Italian forces in the Gojjam in March of 1941 who had been dismissed for retreating too fast from Gideon Force. Commanded at Debra Markos and then led the column which later surrendered to Thesiger and Wingate.

Mountbatten, Louis
Vice-Admiral, later Viceroy, Lord. Royal Navy. 1900-1979. A cousin of King George VI, Mountbatten was a naval cadet during WWI. Upon outbreak of the next world war, he commanded several destroyers during the early years. Taking part in the Norwegian and Crete campaigns, during the later his ship was sunk under him. Appointed Advisor on Combined Operations and he undertook the preliminary planning of the invasion of Europe & commando raids. In March 1942 Churchill made him a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. In 1943 he was given command of the South-East Asian Command, bringing his gift for public relations and made sure every operation was well publicized. While being overall commander of the successfull defense of India and reconquest of India, due to having good subordinates, a problem facing Mountbatten was that although he was expected to reconquer Burma he was not given extra equipment. At Singapore on 12 September Mountbatten accepted the surrender of Japanese forces in Southeast Asia. Later on he served as final Viceroy of India, overseeing the independence of India. During the Cold War he served in top military commands, including chairman of the Chiefs of Staff. Assasinated by the IRA in Ireland.

Platt, William
Maj.-General, British Army. 1885-1956. Appointed head of the British Sudan from 1939-1941, with official title as the Kaid. Commanded the advance into northern Ethiopia-Eritrea, and after the campaign led the East African Command till the end of the war.

Sadeh, Yitzhak
Israeli Haganah, General. 1890-1952. Emmigrated to Israel in 1920 after serving in Russian army and founded a labour unit. Joined the Haganah, and in the late 1930s helped to push the defense policy from one of passive defense to a more active offensive oriented mode. As part of this, first the field companies and later in 1941 the Palmach was formed under his command. In 1945 was promoted to command the Haganah to coordinate resistence against the British and Arabs. Took part in several operations including the battles for Jerusalem. Retired upon end of the War of Independence.

Sandford, Daniel
Colonel, British Army. 1882-1972. Pre-WWI service both in India and in the Sudan. Following war resigned and moved to Ethiopia. Became an advisor to Emperor Selassie in Ethiopia. Assigned as intelligence officer during early World War Two in the Middle East Command. Helped to create and lead Mission 101 into Ethiopia, until arrival of Wingate. Later in war and in immediate post-war years served again as advisor to Emperor Selassie, both in military and political roles.

Selassie I, Haile
Emperor, Ethiopia. 1891-1975. Born Ras Tafari, son of a provincial noble family. Governor of Harrar in 1910, appointed Crown Prince in 1916. In 1930 became king of Ethiopia, in 1932 took the title of Haile Selassie I. Forced into exile by Italian invasion of May 1936, sought refuge in Britain where he continued to press the world for awareness of loss of Ethiopian independence. In 1940 helped to push for British advance against Italians, taking part in advance of Gideon Force in 1941. In May of that year entered capital Addis Ababa 5 years to the day after he was forced to flee. Post-war saw the king take up leadership position of Organization of African Unity. Unable to balance growing unrest in Ethiopia with sound governing, he was overthrown in 1974. Soon afterward he was murdered by the new military revolutionary regime on August 25th of 1975.

Slim, Joseph
Major-General, General. British Army. 1897-1970. SIim saw action in WWI in Mesopotamia, at Gallipoli, and at the Western Front. Between the wars he both commanded field units as well as taught at staff colleges. During the conquest of Italian East Africa Slim commanded an Indian Brigade, and afterward served on General Wavell's staff. Sent to Burma in 1942, his abilities shown in a theater of defeat. He quickly rose form Division to Corp commander, and then finally command of the 14th Army in late 1943. In 1944 he first held, then soundly defeated the Japanese thrust into India. In 1945 he planned and led the re-conquest of central Burma, culminating in the complete defeat of the Japanese forces. At the end of the war he was promoted to overall commander of Allied Ground Forces in Southeast Asia. In 1948 Slim succeeded Bernard Montgomery as Chief of the Imperial Staff. He also served as Governor-General of Australia in the 1950s.

Stilwell, Joseph
General. US Army. 1883-1946. Saw action in WWI. In the 1920s & 1930s he served as military attache to Nationalist China. When war broke out he was sent again to China & was appointed chief-of-staff to Chiang-Kai-Shek. In this position he tried to reform the Chinese army and its fighting abilities, mostly to little affect. He also became commander of U.S. forces in China, Burma, and India. Commanding Chinese forces fighting in Burma during the Japanese invasion to halt their advance, he was forced instead to lead their retreat. With Allied SEAC established, he became Mountbatten's deputy while also retaining his previous responsibilities. Pushing for the northern Burma offense of 1944, he led Chinese regular and American long-range penetration forces to capture Myitkyina. In the face of Chinese incapacity, Nationalist machinations, logistical problems & Japanese resistance, his worst characteristics were brought out earning hatred from many quarters. As a Japanese offense in China pushed back Chinese forces, Chiang-Kai-Shek used this as an excuse to push for his removal. In October of 1944 he was relieved.

Thesiger, Wilfred
Major. British Army. 1910-2003. Born in Imperial Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa. The son of the British Minister there and the grandson of the chief-of-staff to the British commander in the Zulu Wars. Attended coronation of Haile Selassie and later served in the Sudan political service while also exploring East Africa. Thesiger served with Gideon Force and afterward with the Long-Range Desert Group in North Africa. After the war he journeyed to and explored the Saudi Arabain Empty Quarter, and then lived for a while in the marshland of Iraq. Established a reputation of distinguished traveling and writing on the life of cultures on the brink of exposure to the modern mechanized world, from Africa to Asia. Recently died in August of 2003.

Wavell, Bernard
Major-General, Field Marshall, British Army. 1883-1950. After serving in minor roles during WWI, Wavell held a series of steadily growing staff postions, culminating in being given Middle-East Commander-in-Chief in 1939. In Winter 1940-41 he led numerically inferior British forces that defeated first Italian forces in Egypt-Libya and then that Spring the Italians in Ethiopia. Forced to divert forces to the unsuccessfull Balkans campaign, he later was unable to halt the advance of German General Rommel. Impatient at his cautiousness and inability to halt the Axis in the Mediterranean, Churchill relieved him that July of 1941. From late 1941 through 1943 he commanded Allied forces in South-East Asia. Given few resources, he was unable to halt Japanese conquests of the Dutch-East Indies and Malaya, Singapore & Burma. In late 1942, early 1943 he ordered unsuccessfull counter-attacks against the Japanese in Burma. In 1943 he was promoted to Field Marshall and given the position of Viceroy of India. He held this title until 1947.


February 26, 1903:
Orde Charles Wingate born in Naini Tal, India.

With part of his family, Orde Wingate sent to Britain.

January, 1921:
Begins officer training at Royal Military Academy Woolwich.

August, 1923:
He graduates and posted as new 2nd Lieutenant to artillery unit near Salisbury Plain.

April, 1928:
Posted to Sudan Defense Force in the Sudan near Ethiopian border, commands infantry company.

January, 1933:
Leads small camel expedition to western desert in Egypt on search for lost oasis.

January, 1935:
Wingate marries Lorna Patterson.
Italy invades Ethiopia. Wingate posted to command of artillery battery.

May 5 1936:
As Italian forces close in on the capital of Addis Ababa, Emperor Haile Selassie flees the city into exile.
Spring 1936:
General Arab rebellion breaks out in British Palestine, targeting Jewish civilians and symbols of British colonial rule.
Wingate arrives in British Palestine where he is to be assigned as an intelligence officer.

June 1937:
The Royal Peel Comission reports on situation in Palestine and recommends splitting the colony into an Arab and Jewish zones of controls.

February 1938:
Posted to Brigade covering northern Palestine, Wingate begins investigating Arab guerilla raids and terrorist attacks.
Begins training initial British and Jewish personal for the Special Night Squads.
First patrols of SNS occur.
June 3:
First SNS action with patrol encountering saboteurs near pipeline.
July 11:
largest action of SNS with skirmish at Dabburiya.
SNS activities continue and begin to wear down Arab guerillas and terrorist bands.
October 3:
Wingate in action for last time day after Tiberias massacre.
Wingate takes leave and journeys back to England to speak on behalf of Zionist cause. Following actions Wingate is relieved of his command.
The main SNS camp at Ein Herod is closed down.

January 1939:
British military command begins to disband the SNS.
British government publishes White Paper limiting Jewish immigration and rejects previous royal commission on partition. Wingate is given new orders for outside of Palestine.
May 26:
The Wingates depart British Palestine.

June, 1940:
As part of effort to create guerilla force in case of German invasion, Wingate briefly involved with this and Special Operations Executive.
November 6:
Major Wingate arrives in Khartoum.
November 20:
Flying behind enemy lines Wingate to meet Sandford.

January 1941:
British offense against Italian East Africa begins as forces advance from the Sudan as well as Kenya into Ethiopia.
January 20:
Gideon Force officially begins offense from Um Idla.
February 6:
Party of Wingate, Sandford and Emperor Selassie arrive at Mount Belaiya.
February 24:
Advance against Burye begins.
March 8:
Gideon Force occupies the fort of Dambacha.
Attacks against Italian positions around Debra Markos.
April 6:
The Emperor Selassie enters Debra Markos as Italian forces continue retreat. Addis Ababa is captured by British forces which have advanced from Kenya.
May 5:
Emperor Selassie accompanied by elements of Gideon Force led by Wingate enter capital Addis Ababa.
May 21:
Italian forces cornered near Dessie surrender to Wingate.
June 2:
Wingate ordered out of Ethiopia.
July 4:
Wingate suicide attempt.
Wingate arrives home to Britain.
Japanese launch war and invade Burma.

January 1942:
Ethiopian independence with Haile Selassie as its Emperor officially recognized by Britain.
March 18:
Rangoon captured by Japanese.
March 19:
Wingate arrives in New Dehli.
Burma Road, the overland supply line to Nationalist China, is cut by the Japanese as Lashio is captured.
General Wavell approves formation of Chindits, organization and training begins.

February 13 1943:
Operation Longcloth begins as forward columns begin to cross the Chindwin River.
March 4-6:
Initial attacks and sabotages begin in Indaw Valley lines of communication.
March 24:
Wingate's Chindit columns ordered to return to India.
March 27:
Chindit columns begin dispersion back to Allied lines.
April 15-24:
Small groups from the columns begin to reach the Chindwin.
April 25:
Wingate's command party reaches the Chindwin.
May 1:
Elements of a column reach Chinese forces in Yunnan.
Allied political & military leaders agree upon new advance to re-capture northern Burma, Wingate home and then taken with Churchill to Quebec.
Wingate returns to India, after a stop where he contracts typhoid, keeping ill for several months.

February 1944:
Fergusson's 16th Brigade begins crossing the Chindwin and marching into Japanese Burma for start of Operation Thursday.
U.S. 5307 Composite Group (Merill's Mauraders) & Chinese units begin offense down Hukawng Valley towards Myitkyina.
March 5:
During the evening columns depart airfields in aircraft & gliders for main landing zones.
March 6-8:
Columns of 77th Brigade land & establish stronghold Broadway. 111th Brigade columns fly into Chowringhee & Broadway to begin operations.
March 7-8:
Columns detailed to operate against Bhamo-Myitkyina & Bhamo-Salween lines of communication land at Chowringee.
March 6:
Japanese army begins drive westward toward Imphal & Kohima.
March 20:
16th Brigade main columns establish stronghold Aberdeen north-west of Indaw.
March 13-31:
Stronghold Broadway repulses Japanese counter-attacks.
March 16-19:
Stronghold White City established by main columns of 77th Brigade & first Japanese counter-attacks beaten off.
March 23-April 4:
14th Brigade columns fly into strongpoint Aberdeen and begin attacks.
March 24:
Fergusson's Chindit columns begin march and attack agains Indaw area.
March 24:
General Wingate is killed in aircraft crash, General Lentaigne is promoted to command of Chindits.
March 27:
Attack on Indaw broken off.
Columns of 3rd West African Brigade fly into stongpoints White City & Aberdeen.
April 6-18:
77th Brigade, later assisted by 3rd West African, beat of series of attacks by Japanese against stronghold White City.
April 23:
Under Slim's desire's, Lentaigne orders Chindits to directly assit Stilwell and come under his command. 77th Brigade columns are toward Moguang while abandoning Broadway & White City, 111th columns to move north toward Moguang and establish a block along the supply line. 14th and 3 West African ordered to take over and organize withdraw from strongholds White City & Aberdeen then to assist 111th, 16th Brigade is to be flown out.
May 8:
Main units of 111th reach newly established stronghold Blackpool. Siege begins almost immediatly.
May 17:
Merill's Mauraders take Myitkyina airfield.
May 25-6:
111th Brigade retreats from Blackpool stronghold.
Columns of 111th, 14th and 3rd West African conduct operations west of Mogaung-Indaw road and rail line. Remnants of Japanese army that had invaded India retreats across Chindwin and from northern Burma.
June 2:
Calver's 77th Brigade begins operations against Mogaung.
June 27:
Mogaung falls to Calver's 77th Brigade. Providing assistance are the Chindit columns which were operating east of the Irrawaddy.
August 3:
Merill's Mauraders, U.S. reinforcements & Chinese units take Myitkyina town. Northern Burma cleared by Allies.

January 1945:
Land route to China re-opened
Final Allied offense in Burma begins with crossing of Irrawaddy, culminating in the taking of Mandalay in March & Rangoon in May.

January 4 1948:
Burma is officially granted its Independence from Britain.
State of Israel proclaimed as British administration departs. This leads immediately to open war with the Arab population, soon joined by the Arab world. Open fighting continues till 1949 when armistice signed. State of war continues to this day.


British Palestine

Italian East Africa

Japanese Burma

Military Terms:
In the British & other armies, including colonial forces, of the time there were basic units approximetely standard in established orgranization and size. The infantry squad, or section, made up of from 8-12 men was the smallest fighting unit. 3 of these made up a platoon, commanded by a junior officer. 3 to 4 platoons comprised a rifle company of some 120-150 men. 3-4 companies constituted an infantry battalion. A brigade usually consisted of 3 to 4 such battalions (3,000 to 5,000) with attached engineering and artillery support. A division had under its command usually 3 such brigades, and also commaned its own organic artillery, engineering and other combat and non-combat supporting arms. An army corp would comprise several such divisions, while the field army commanded several such corp.