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below each story title,
and listen to Cyril, who is sadly no longer with us, Cyril was 90 years old
when he related each story to his Grand-Daughter, Anne.
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This is the
Sergeant Major Cyril Joseph Robinson Lancashire Fusiliers Page .
He was Bill Daltons life long bested pal who saved his life certainly twice if not three times.
He was a conscript just like Bill and rose to the rank of WO2 .
He died 2003 at the age of either 91 or 92.
These Three stories have re-typed by Cyril's grand-daughter Ann,
and sent in by Cyril's Wife Agnes
The Tunnels Battle.
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(click photo to enlarge)
A photograph of one of the tunnels near Buthedeung
The numeral XXIV refers to the 24th Foot Regiment, the South Wales Borderers whose 6th Battalion fought with the LF's in Burma
At the beginning of the first Arakan campaign, the
10th battalion Lancashire fusiliers, of which I was a sergeant,
were detailed to advance on to a river port known as Buthidong. At this time we were just south of Gopi bazaar.
I was in charge of a guerrilla platoon, and it was decided that the 2 tunnels which connected the road between
Buthidong and Mondo were occupied by the Japs.
It was decided that I would take the guerrilla platoon
down to the East tunnel. On the 17th of January 1943,
we would attack the tunnel whilst the battalion would attack a village known as Letwidet.
But the plan was that I would leave the battalion 10 days before they moved, with complete radio silence
and no communication at all. However, the Japs had vacated both the tunnels and Letwidet and moved further south.
But we had no means of communication when I moved off,
a week before the battalion.
(Incidentally, on our way to these tunnels, we passed a place known as the Admin box,
which later became famous for a battle). It took us a week to get there, but we duly arrived at our position,
at about 6 o'clock in the morning. We were sitting right on top of this tunnel and it was pouring down.
We didn't know that the Japs had left this tunnel, so when we spotted some people patrolling
the tunnel mouth and surrounding area, we presumed they were Japanese.
At this time, there were 2 bombers which had been detailed
to bomb Letwidet, along with the attack from the battalion.
They moved down to a position to attack it, and we then attacked the tunnels.
Our position was slightly above the position of the tunnels, because they had been built on a road which
cut through the mountain side. So we were higher than the road. The road levelled out, then it dropped away again.
Some time later, when I'm sure we must have inflicted
quite some casualties on them, I decided to take a section
of the guerrilla platoon onto the other side of the road. We managed to get across the road,
and another section of the platoon got on top of the tunnel. But as we were firing into the tunnel,
and more or less reducing them to a shambles inside, a British officer came up from the direction of Letwidet,
shouting "stop firing, stop firing!" So everybody stopped firing. He came up to me and said, "what are you doing?" I said,
"well, we're attacking the Japanese!" He said, "you're not, you know! You're attacking the first 15th Punjabs!"
What had happened was that the Japs had vacated this
position, without anybody knowing.
Due to this radio silence that had been imposed on us by the move down south, we weren't aware
of this fact, and you've a job to tell the difference between a Japanese in the monsoon in a rainmac,
and a 15th Punjab! So that was the cause of the mix up.
Anyhow, we eventually formed up into position. The
officer liaising with our battalion must have been from the Punjab.
The battalion in the meantime had simply walked into Letwidet, which had been vacated by the Japanese.
So we marched the 5 miles to Letwidet. From Letwidet, they'd walked into Buthidong,
which was then a navigable port on the river Mayu, the last port where mechanised vehicles could use the river.
We joined the battalion there, and we were put into the village school. We stayed there for a time and
celebrated Christmas day 1943 in Buthidong.
While we were there, a patrol went out from A company
under Sergeant Burns, and he brought back 2 brothers,
part of a native tribe known as the Mogs who were joining up with the Japanese.
These brothers were known as the Kings of Burma, and he'd captured them and brought them back.
On Christmas day, or the day after, I'm not quite sure which, we shot them, because they were liaising with the enemy.
We stayed about a week in Buthidong. The plan was to
move further down the river, and proceed down
with this attack on the Japanese, the main objective being Akiob island which was right at the bottom of the river.
On the West bank of the river at Buthidong were 2 sandstone
plinths. Lying on top and facing the river were
2 lion or sphinx like figures. These were thought to be local deities and were called Chinths.
This is thought to be the word from which Wingate's force derived its name: the Chindits.
The Shambles at Rathidong
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This is a story from the first Arakan campaign in 1943.
At this time, I was a sergeant in the Lancashire Fusiliers.
Information had come to us that the Japanese had vacated a place called Rathidong which was on the river Mayu
just above Akiam island. It was decided to send down a standing patrol from B Company under the control
of Lieutenant Pierce.I was the senior sergeant. A flotilla of 6 sampans sailed down the river Mayu
on an ebbing tide, to stand and patrol in Rathidong with the idea that the battalion would follow the following day.
If we met opposition, we would vacate Rathidong and rejoin the battalion.
We sailed down the river for some time till we reached the bend where Rathidong was.
As we reached the jetty, we found that the Japanese had now occupied Rathidong town and they opened fire on us.
The main body of the patrol managed to land, but my sampan wallah ( the man who rows the boat)
was shot in the head and fell overboard. My sampan floated down the river, past the jetty,
and I managed to steer it into what they call a chaung, which is tidal from the main river.
I steered it further around the chaung, and met up with another sergeant, Jack Hallowes ,
who had managed to get into this area. As we sat there, we heard firing going on in the town,
so I decided to leave the sampans where they were, with one sampan wallah, dump our blankets
(we only carried a blanket), and join the main body.
We left the sampans there and we moved towards where
the firing was taking place. As we did so,
I was suddenly halted by a Lancashire voice saying, "Halt, who goes there?" I recognised this voice as
Sergeant Ron Southworth, so I said, "Don't shoot, its Robbie, me!" and he said, "Advance to be recognised".
After he recognised me, I advanced and asked him what was going on. He said that the main body were now
engaged with the Japs who were in the town. So I said the best thing to do would be to join the main body
and see what was going on. So we joined the main body, which was roughly in the
centre of the town and met up with Lieutenant Pierce
All this time, there was firing going on, up and down
the village at various points. At the top of this road where we
were talking, there was a temple, and I understand that it was occupied by the Japs with some of our soldiers inside as prisoners.
So I asked Lieutenant Pierce what he intended to do. He said that our instructions were, if we met opposition
to make our way back to the battalion. He had already sent one sampan back, but he'd heard firing in the river,
and we could only presume that they'd met trouble. I said that I'd left 2 sampans up the chaung at the south end of the town,
and I suggested he took as many men as he could back with him and rejoin the battalion.
I would go back to my 2 sampans with Sergeant Southworths platoon, go back down the chaung, and rejoin the main river.
We decided that he would give me a signal, like a whistle,
when he was clear of the river so that we could then move off ourselves.
After some time, we got the whistle blast so I moved off then to where I'd left the 2 sampans.
But lo and behold, they'd gone. The sampan waller had obviously had taken them,
with all the blankets. So for a time I was in a quandary, wondering what to do,
because we had no means of transport. I thought the best thing to do was to cross the chaung at the bottom of Rathidong,
move due east, then cross the chaung further up and strike north back towards the battalion position, which was further north.
We gathered the party together, which was approximately
20 people. There was Sergeant Southworth, Sergeant Hallowes,
approximately 17 fusiliers, and myself. As Senior Sergeant, I took charge of this party.
We then moved on and we came to a concrete raft across the chaung, which we crossed
and walked south for perhaps 10 minutes. Then I decided to strike east. This was taking us away from the Japanese positions.
After moving this distance, I decided to follow the chaung eastwards. This would take us as far away
from the Japanese positions as possible, and into some shade which was provided by some wooded areas.
We did this for some time, and then perhaps after about an hour and a half, I decided we should lay up.
So we positioned ourselves into a defensive area and laid up for perhaps half an hour.
After this we struck off again up this chaung till we came to a man made bamboo bridge,
which was a ramshackle affair which crossed the chaung at a narrower point.
The tide was now ebbing, and these chaungs used to flow down and leave mangrove swamps at each side of these.
I sent as many as possible across the bridge - most of them got across - and it left me and a fusilier,
Joe Carter, on this side. I had my rifle and Joe had the bren gun. Anyhow Joe decided to try and get across this bridge,
and he got so far and fell off. Of course, he fell off with the bren gun. I pulled him out of this mire,
and I carried the bren for a time.
We eventually struggled and got across the bridge.
We were now across the chaung and the obvious thing now was to
get back to the battalion. The only way to do that was to strike north. Having no compass and no means of
directional finding, I decided to work on the stars which were now well up, and the time must have been perhaps midnight.
Anyhow, we located the north star in the sky and we worked on that for quite some time, keeping into the shadows
of this heavily wooded area. We must have worked on this for 2 or 3 hours, then we decided to lay up again.
It was kind of open scrub, and the sky was getting lighter. I decided to let half of the party have a sleep
while we kept guard in a defensive area, laying down, providing as much cover as possible.
After a time we went to sleep, and when I wakened up
everybody was asleep....if the Japs had have come,
they'd have had the lot of us! But fortunately they didn't. We set of again and it was now getting light, and
we crossed open scrub again for some time, not meeting anything or anybody in any areas, till eventually
we came to another chaung Luckily there was a boat at this site, on its keel, upside down. So giving 3 sharp cheers
we turned it over on its side, put it in the river, and it sank right to the bottom! There was a hole in it!
On the other side of this chaung was a village which
we came to know later on as
Thalindora and we managed to entice 2 of the villagers across. They got us 2 sampans,
which we needed for approximately 20 people, and we decided to get back to the battalion that way.
So we sailed out of the chaung into the main river Mayu, and by now the tide had changed so
fortunately it was taking us up stream. So we started making our way up the river Mayu.
We got so far up - we were making slow progress - when suddenly from up north, a British Spitfire came.
We gladly waved to him, and what did he do, he decided to fire on us!! So he fired on us and
we were over the side like wild ducks! Fortunately, he didn't hit any of us, and he merrily went on his way.
We got back in the sampans and made our way further
up the river. It was now getting late again so we
made very slow progress till eventually we joined up with the battalion at about 9 o'clock at night in
a place called Zedidong. The RSM welcomed us quite freely with cups of tea and something to eat.
They told us all to get our heads down, which we did.
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The bullet that hit Bill Dalton
Following the stories I've told about the Arakan campaign, on the 17th of January 1943,
we were at a place called Thalindora. The battalion had been instructed to attack the features beyond Thalindora,
leading into Rathidong. This was a densely wooded area with hill tracks and the plan was that C Company and A Company
would go in as advance companies. B Company would be in reserve and the battalion would follow up.
We crossed the chaung after a small bombardment of 2 by 2 Blenheims. C company met stiff opposition and so did A company.
So it was decided to advance through B Company and
take up the attack against the Japanese.
We crossed the chaung and I had no platoon officer, so I was acting as platoon officer with Sergeant Southworth
as my platoon sergeant, and Billy Dalton a fusilier as my platoon runner.
His position was in advance of me. We went through some densely wooded scrub land and he was perhaps 50 yds in front of me.
We'd just turned this corner coming out of the cover
and he was going along this track towards
the covered area again, perhaps 100 yds in front of him, Suddenly we saw , well we heard,
as machine gun open up and I literally saw the bullets dancing along the ground, coming towards Billy Dalton.
He was in front of me, and of course one struck him, it must have struck him and down he went.
So without thinking
you don't think about these
things at the time, you just do it, I dashed out and grabbed him and pulled
What happened was that a bullet had struck him close up in his right groin and I think he was actually bleeding to death.
I pulled his pants down and when I looked there was a gaping hole in the top of his groin and his eyes kept rolling in the back of his head.
We have a field dressing on part of your uniform, it's
a big piece of wadding. So I pulled this out and stuffed it into this wound.
I know nothing about medical things but I just did that, and then called up for the medics.
Percy Ely, who was our sergeant in charge of all the medical side, come running up, looked at this and he got a big wad out
and filled it with vaseline and bunged that in this wound and then of course we shoved him back.
From then on of course we went into this battle. It
was a battle of nothing actually, we advanced and reached stalemate as it
because we laid up for that night till we decided what to do the following morning.
As a matter of fact we were pinned down for at least 4 days before we moved again.
And that's the story about Billy Dalton and his wounded