Burma Campaign

British Forces
World War II
4/1st King George Vth's Own
Gurkha Rifles
Remount Division

Captain R.D.S. Drew-Smythe
Going on parade prior to the C.O.'s Inspection.
Comments are directly quoted from text on the back of individual photographs. Pictures have been cross matched with negatives and computer enhanced from small black and white originals.

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Detail from Snaffles print "Yi-hai!" Indian Cavalry

Captain R. D. S. Drew-Smythe was born near Bristol, England on July 23rd 1920 and educated at Clifton College and Marlborough. He first became a student at the Royal Veterinary College in Edinburgh then trained for the Army at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, being commissioned into the Indian Army.

Captain - Gurkha Sahib
Biography & Photographic Record

Khan Bahadur after winning three and a half mile chase at Chas.

Japanese Postcard Blanks Japanese Postcard Blanks
Burma Campaign Press Cutting Burma Campaign Contemporary Press Cutting

He was sent to the First Gurkha Regiment, (4/1st K.G.V's.O. Gurkha Rifles) in the North of the Punjab, in the Himalayan foothills and was then posted to a training batallion down in the valley 200 miles away. Later came service on the Manipur Road and through Burma. After suffering from a severe intestinal illness - which followed him into later life - he became a Staff Captain at Agra but became bored with sitting behind an office desk and subsequently joined the Army Remount Section, still in India. He returned to Burma with an Advance Field Remount Depot and three Field Remount Sections, ending up at a large Remount Base at Imphal.

The two Adjudants - Training and Administration - Capt. Dennis Parker and Capt. Chris Nixon >
< 2/Lt John Prescott, 2/Lt. Michael Kelleher and Capt. Jack Sinclair

The Remount Section supplied all kinds of animal transport, ranging from officers' chargers to transport donkeys, ponies and mules. After the Japanese surrender, he remained in Burma/India with the Remount Depot, with responsibility for the animals and a serious sporting calendar - not to mention an equally serious party circuit. As a result of the former, he landed in hospital on February 28th 1946 after a nasty fall from which he eventually recovered, after some time "out of circulation". His close friends, Dick and Kay, finally married in Chas on Saturday March 15th 1946 (see "Special Friends" page link below) and he eventually handed over to Mike Horner, leaving with several animals and troops for Calcutta on 28th March under the impression that the 43 A.R.D. was to be disbanded and that he was "on his way home".

In Calcutta he caught up with his friends, including Bunty and Kay, and spent several days in party mood until embarking on the "Good Ship" 'Empire Rain' (giving rise to further partying - rough seas and bouts of sleeping) until the ship picked up its pilot off the Irrawaddy. Once landed in Rangoon the whole Unit entrained for Mandalay and thence, via switchback railway/articulator to Maymyo where it was confirmed that 43 A.R.D. was not to be disbanded after all but that it should move to Puabwe - and then, a day or so later, the decision was reversed. In the meantime, it was decided that Ris. Ahmed Khan should take over 43 A.R.D.

For a number of days Captain Drew-Smythe's Colonel ('Col. Mac.') had him involved in administration, taking addresses of all enlisted British personnel for post-war employment whilst he, in turn, pursued Col. Mac. to expedite his own release papers. Meanwhile he also found time for horse racing and polo in between enjoying a few glasses of iced beer.

The 43 A.R.D. files were handed over to Ris. Ahmed Khan on 25th April. The full take-over, cermonies and farewells lasted until May 4th when he set off by road to Mandalay and thence by train to Rangoon, arriving on 5th May. Here began the interminable wait for a ship home.

He writes on several occasions 'bored to tears' . A typical day - Tuesday 14th May: 'Read books. Slept. Read more books. Went for walk. Slept. More books. Beer. Bed.' The next day reads: 'Same as yesterday except no more beer left. Wrote 10 letters.' Finally, in desperation, he secured a flight in a Dakota out of Rangoon on 17th May and arrived back in Calcutta after an eight hour flight which 'nearly crashed four times'. Once on the ground he shared a 'large brandy with the crew at Barrackpore', took a taxi to the Grand Hotel and had 'two more large brandies' and promptly organised his social life, going to the pictures with 'Peggy, Gwen and Peter' - and with dinner afterwards for good measure.

From Calcutta he went to Delhi and spent some days travelling - meeting up with John, his brother, (26th May) in Agra for a short time - and then returning to Delhi on 29th May. By June 2nd, he was in Bombay and making "I want to go home" noises in the right places - to no avail.

Still searching for a berth on any ship bound for England, on June 5th he decided to join the permanent staff at the camp as a temporary officer and began to appreciate the difficulties at first hand - finally achieving, after several near misses, a passage to England on H.M.T. Sythia - embarking at 16.30hrs on June 15th. He had a dormitory cabin on D Deck and was accompanied by his boxer dog "Bruiser".

After three days at sea, his diary ceases - apart from an entry for July 1st which simply says 'Should be in U.K.??!! by 7th !!!'.

Indian Cavalry' (B.E.F.) (British Expeditionary Force) 'Yi-Hai!' This early 20th Century 'Snaffles' print was Captain Drew-Smythe's particular favourite and both Burma and India remained always dear to him despite the many horrors and sadnesses he encountered. He spoke seldom about the War and when he did, it was usually in praise of the Gurkha soldiers and the Burmese natives. Bunty is unknown to the present generation family - likewise Dick and Kay.

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