"A major who was teaching us small arms combat and his name was Ralson, I think. And he had been in the Spanish Civil War. He was a soldier of fortune. He was quite an interesting guy."
I was stationed just outside of Bombay [now Mumbai] for four to six months and then I went on an advanced course. It wasn’t radar, it was, we were training to do a landing on the Andaman Islands and it was training in Combined Operations, at a battle school in Pune. And in Ahmadnagar. And it was advanced training on light arms equipment and stuff like that. I spent nearly a year training for the landing on the Andaman Islands. Actually what happened there, it was under Lord Louis Mountbatten who was Supreme [Allied] Commander in Southeast Asia. And they decided after all the training we did, they were cancelling that operation and they decided they would blockade the islands and starve the Japanese out with the Royal Navy. So the Royal Navy really took over. And that worked.
And then I got some more leave. I ended up in Southeast Asia and oh, I was on the Burma front before the Combined Operations, yeah. And working there with No. 5 Hurricane Fighter Squadron, plotting on the Japanese Zero fighters. Our aircraft would intercept the Japanese aircraft and shoot them down. When I was training for the Combined Ops in England, it was all mobile. It was called Wigwam, because we had a tent and we had set up our radar in a tent, and our radar current generators, and our receiver and our cathode ray tube in a tent and we moved all around different parts of India in the countryside, setting up and practising and getting it mobile and operational and in about nine minutes, we could get it operational. And that was all training at mobile radar, called Wigwam.
Oddly enough, when I was outside of Bombay at Sion, we were mainly, doing these field trips, setting up our Wigwam equipment. And we’d go out for a day or two days and come back and we did a lot of that. And then I also went to a battle school and trained under Combined Ops with the British Army. That was interesting because we had a major who was teaching us small arms combat and his name was Ralson, I think. And he had been in the Spanish Civil War. He was a soldier of fortune. He was quite an interesting guy and we would have to do maneuvers and use small arms like a Sten gun and a rifle and a machine gun, live ammunition and we were planning this landing that never happened.
When I was on the Burma front, near Coxy Bazar, a place called Ramu, I was there for three months. And we were just 35 miles north of the ground fighting under General [Sir] Bill [William] Slim, the General of the British Army. We were bombed once. What they did there was they, the fighter station was [rice] paddy fields that had been leveled off. No concrete runways and for a long while, the Japanese didn’t know we were there. And then once we, we got one attack, we were bombed on March the 17th, 1944, 1943 I think it was, and that’s when we lost one man.
But it was different because the 14th Army were fighting, they were called “the forgotten army.” Because everyone, everything was being held back for D-Day and Normandy, like supplies and troops and equipment and food. So we were sort of second shift. And we got the short shift because of normally preparing for the 1944 landing in Europe.