2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment

Hardships Endured

Endurance comes in many guises, what is endurable for one man is unbearable for another and to add to this there was sickness on a scale unimagined.

Army Boots:
The tough leather army boot with hobnails, when broken in to one's feet. As far as footwear goes, they were hard to beat. But in the rain they leaked, they make your feet sweat, and were extremely heavy. Foot sores were a major problem.
Driven mad by large red ant's about the size of your fingernail, when they got into your clothes and the Japs were near it took a lot of willpower to remain still.
Becoming a casualty miles from base, on a patrol where it was not easy to get you back to safety if you were wounded - they all knew the probabilities and the consequences and the chances of being left behind.
"We had at one time, I remember B Coy being down to only 12 men, and the burden fell on the remainder of us, this led to a lot of added pressure."
When water was short some of the men used to suck a pebble or similar objects to induce saliva.
Digging trenches:
Digging trenches at every stop even if it was only for a short stay, made the hands callused and hard as stone.
Swarms of black flies always trying to settle on your person drove men to a frenzy.
Fatigue had become so serious several men fell asleep while firing their weapons and while walking.
Below is a list of equipment that each man carried in temperatures of 100 °F and humidity of 90 per cent. The heat was torrid especially out on the mosquito ridden plains.

Large packs weighing 60Ib
100 rounds of ammunition
Two grenades
Water bottle & Water
Entrenching tool
1st field dressing
Jitter parties:
Japanese calling out near the men's trenches, in an attempt to unnerve them, so much so that the new troops would fire at imaginary targets and thereby reveal their positions.
The jungle was so thick it would take six hours to cover less than two miles.
After and during heavy rains trees and bushes were covered with blood-sucking leeches.
Veterans often talk about the things they got up to on leave, but leave was rare and at times cancelled.
Rain fell at a rate of 15 inches a day, leaving soldiers up to their calves in a thick porridge-like mud. Beating down so heavy it hert their heads.
Mosquitoe bites which could result in malaria.
Patrolling in built-up or derelict areas where at any moment a Japanese soldier could spring out at you, played on the nerves.
"On one of our training marches, a Gurkha Linesman fell dead while carrying a reel phone-line. When the day came for us to march back, only half were fit to do so, the rest having been sent back with foot rot."
"Our rides were a nightmare, 16 of us in a 30 cwt truck; we were thrown all over the place, as the driver was doing about 30mph along roads no better than cart tracks."
Tree bursts:
Shells fired into the trees raining down leathal shards of wood and bamboo in an effort to maim or kill.
Sleeping conditions:
Sleeping on the ground for months on end. Ants and earwigs would get inside your clothes.

"Sleep when we got it as you might expect in combat could and was at a premium, which led to some men falling asleep in the most strangest of places and circumstances."
"The stench of rotting corpses in and around long held positions."
Water rations:
The days of non stop heat of 100°F, humidity of 90 per cent and the dusty conditions. One pint of water per man. Sucking stones helped relieve this.

"We would at times drink the water from the rivers, muddy, muddy water it used to be, absolutely filthy."
Jackals and Hyenas. Snakes the Banded Krait, its one of the most dangerous snakes in the world and then there were Scorpions.



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2nd Battalion
The Royal Berkshire Regiment
(Princess Charlotte of Wales's)
1939 - 1959

Burma WWII

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