2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment

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Recorded Interview
Pte. Kenneth James Wells 14559924
Page 5


.....We eventually reach a clearing down by the river although it was clear of Japs there were signs of activity, footprints, the Japanese wore a distinctive shoe which separated the big toe from the others and this left an equally distinctive print and the ground was covered in Jap footprints indicating a lot of activity in all directions. Traveling further the going being slow and arduous, I was about 20 plus yards ahead of the patrol I spotted through the undergrowth what at first glance appeared to be a cave to the right of my position down by the river I approached more cautiously and discovered an munitions dump, ammunition boxes stacked some six foot high, hand grenades, automatic weapons and machine guns, I returned to the main body and reported my findings to Lieutenant XXXX. I led the officer to where the munitions were and we opened up the clearing to reveal more munitions than was apparent at first glance, I suggested that we should blow the dump but the Lieutenant said, we shall have a go at it later when we return, as there was a track going up to hill 15R, that was the hills designated name.

.....I moved forward more cautiously making my way along this track, I gestured to the men to hold their position while I climbed to the top to take a look over the ridge, I dropped to the ground, their was a Jap officer, leather boots and all, he was sorting out ammunition and other equipment, I assumed for the enemy positions on 15R. I gestured to the Lieutenant to accompany me, which he did and the two of us surveyed what was before us, we come to the conclusion that the officer was part of supplies to what was a larger force covering hill 15R and made our way back down leaving the officer unmolested so as not to draw attention to the fact that we were there. The Lieutenant indicated that we should probe a little further on, taking point once more it was not too soon before I could hear talking accompanied by the sounds of digging coming from ahead, I returned as quickly as possible to report my findings adding that there must be about 20 to 30 of them, XXXX suggested that they might be Burmese, I replied, Burmese wouldn’t be digging in and they sound like Japanese, the Lieutenant decided that he would go forward to see for himself, the returned very quickly and said, you’re right, there’s loads of Japs on this hill, it’s swarming with them, we must get back and report this.

.....As I looked around at a sound from my right, I spotted what looked to be a moving bush, it was a Jap he was covered in bits and pieces of undergrowth to camouflaged himself, I said straightaway, there’s a Jap coming, covering ground as quickly as we could under fire, making our escape along the river when we reached our perimeter we used our password, Muddy Waters. Lieutenant XXXX reported our findings to Major XXXX and added that we were pursued by at least one Jap but there was fire coming from all directions, the place is crawling with Japs. I was ordered to report to Major XXXX to recount the activities of our patrol, and was asked, in your estimation how many Japs do you think are on that hill? I said, there’s more men on that hill than we have here, it’s absolutely swarming, their like ants on that hill, their all digging in, close to a thousand, in various position’s, we were lucky to get back and I wouldn’t be surprised if they haven’t got artillery on the other side of the river as well, which they did have they had 75mm guns.

.....Latter that evening Sergeant Major XXXX said Major XXXX wanted to see me, Major XXXX said, I’m commending you for bravery and all the men that were on that patrol, I am offering you a promotion to Corporal, I declined as I felt I was too young at 19, I have a job looking after myself let alone others, maybe at a later date. Major XXXX respected my wishes and indicated that he would speak to me again. The fighting escalated and got so bad from that date on, we had already made a couple of attacks on the hill and lost a lot of men and the subject of my promotion never got mentioned again. Among the ploys used by the Japs on 15R was to call out from the dark, Johnny, Johnny, ha, ha, ha, Johnny, Johnny, your all going to die, you’re all be dead in the morning, ha, ha, ha. We had hand grenades rolled down on as by the hundreds, mortored, they were deadly accurate with the mortor from 150 yards, 200 yards; their mortor was a bit smaller than our own 2 inch.

.....One other morning in the early morning mist the Japs drove Bullocks, cattle from the village which had bells around their necks, drive them into our positions ahead of their column to conceal the noise of their approach but Colonel XXXX foiled the whole thing. The few Japs that were behind them retreated quickly returning to their position on 15R.

.....Less than 2 miles from our position we could see an Armoured Unit, Tanks and they were not used to help us, for whatever reason I shall never know, we radioed for air support but they never turned up till very late when we had already lost many of our men, when the Hurrie-bombers did arrive they dropped one bomb and strafed the whole hill with little to no effect, so later, much later we got their heavy stuff, it really flattened that hill and that’s what put pay to the Japs, why they couldn’t have done this in the first place I do not know, because we were under strength so much so that they got ‘A’ Company in, and ‘A’ Company put an attack in on the East side of the hill, where we had that patrol with Lieutenant XXXX, they lost every man in ‘A’ Company, every single man they lost, over 200 men, over 200 men dead. That hill took a lot of taking, over a month and cost a lot of men’s lives.

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Pte. Kenneth James Wells
Pte. Kenneth James Wells

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