2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment

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Recorded Interview
Pte. Kenneth James Wells 14559924
Page 3


Off To War:
.....We traveled up the Brahmaputra river, from Madras, Southern India, on giant paddle boat ‘B’ Company, them by rail, to a place called Dimapur, then on to Kohima, we were not involved in the famous battle, that was our 1st Battalion, we did at one point around there bump into our 1st Battalion, at Imphal we stayed for about a month or so, to get acclimatised to the jungle and terrain because up in the hill’s there was thick dense jungle, patrolling the area on many occasions.

.....We now joined the 19th Indian (Dagger) Division, Mountbatton paid us a visited and we were beckoned, gather round me, and he said, do you want to know were your going? You’re going up into Burma, you’re going to join the 14th Army, you’re going into Northern Burma, you’re going across some of the roughest terrain there is, but you’re going to see places you’ve never seen before. I can tell you it’s a fantastic place Burma, you’re going to march most of the way, cross the Chindwin River then you’re going to split up into three groups each group going certain ways into Northern Burma to achieve certain objectives.

.....Well we headed for a place called Pinlebu that’s where we first hit the Japs, the Gurkha's hit them first, but it was just a skirmish. The Gurkha's came back saying, they hit the Japs, there must have been about forty or fifty of them and they ran off, oh did we have a celebration of sorts with the Gurkha's and Sikhs. Gurkha's you know, make a lovely cup of tea, you’ve never tasted tea until you’ve had a cup of tea made by the Gurkha's it’s really beautiful.

.....Early that morning the Gurkha's set off while it was still dark, they went down the track about five miles returning at first light reporting the track clear, nothing down the track for five miles. We were in the leading group, setting off, two Platoons we had a Jeep and two pack mules with us, approximately half a mile down that track the Japs were waiting for us, they hit us but we couldn’t see them, the first to get hit, was the Officer, Lieutenant XXXX, got shot right through the neck, this was my first experience of seeing someone killed, this was strange to see, a man who was talking to us just now, is now laying dead at the same instance a boobie trap went off overturning our jeep leaving one mule wounded which was shot to put it out of it’s misery and two soldiers laying by the side of the road with no marks on them to account for their deaths, they were killed by the shock blast, it had made a large crater in the track.

.....Snipers were hitting us from all directions but from what points in the tree line we could not tell, XXXX had a bullet which ripped through his tunic, he screamed out, I’ve been hit, I’ve been hit, I reacted by ripping his shirt open to reveal a burn path where the bullet had gone through his shirt and had burnt a path across his chest but had not broke the skin, I said, your alright your going to be alright, he said, Christ I thought I’d been hit, the bullet had entered one side of his tunic and exited the other.

.....They were snipping us pretty badly, Sergeant XXXX took control of the situation we were ordered to cross the track and start digging in, radioing back for Artillery support from our 25 pounders about couple of miles to our rear, reporting snipers in the trees adding were being heavily sniped and loosing men we could hear the shells passing overhead and they were spot on, this lasted for about half an hour absolutely flattening the area when the barrage lifted it was all quite, when it got dark the Japs were all around us. Then the jitter parties started, they sent up verey lights, were shouting out to us Johnny, Johnny, creeping around our positions, Sergeant XXXX went to each of us in turn saying, for Christ sake don’t open up on them, they want to get our positions, let them keep shouting, their soon get tired of it, if you get a target don’t fire, throw a grenade, it quitened down after what seemed a long time and when it got light they had gone. The only evidence that they were even in the area was this one dead Jap, they’d placed him against a tree. Mountbatton told us they were little tiny men, nothing to worry about, half of them can’t see they wear goggles, well I tell you no lie this bloody Jap was massive, must have been 6ft 3in, he was a giant of a man and I thought these are the people we’ve got to fight. So ended the myth of the little yellow men, even Churchill said they were blind.

.....I remember this one occasion while we were on a patrol and it has stayed with me to this day. Up in the hills on another patrol we came to a glade where the sun was shining through, it was really uncanny, there were the remains of two Japanese soldiers propped up against a big tree lit by the suns rays, one an officer, who wore a leather case around his neck, nobody touched a thing because you never knew if it had been booby trapped, the other soldier was a private or his Batman, they were partly decomposed, partly skeleton and the first thing you noticed apart from their state was the smell what with the heat and humidity, we were suddenly startled by the sound of five or six Baboons crashing through the glade and there was this big giant Baboon, a dog Baboon leading the pack, they never took any notice of us, they knew we were there, they stopped right in front of these Japs looking at the bodies for about what seemed like five minutes, probably less, we were amazed I’ve never known anything like it, they weren’t frightened of us, the ones that were alive, they just looked at the two dead Japs and then left.

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Pte. Kenneth James Wells
Pte. Kenneth James Wells

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