Introduction and Overview
account of "Operation Thursday", The long-range penetration combat units
that fought the Imperial Japanese forces where they thought they were safe,
hundreds of miles behind the front line. This is the story of just
a handful of the 10,000 men who were transported and supplied by air, who
fought for 6 months in the inhospitable conditions of the Burmese jungle,
mountains, swamps and plains in which was the second largest airborne operation
of World War II.
Whether it was official policy or just the expediency of practicality, no Japanese prisoners were taken and the allied soldiers knew that they would get short shrift from the enemy, if they themselves were captured.
This is the story of Private "Cocky" Cochrane and his muckers from No.1 Section, No.1 Platoon, "A" Company, 2nd Battalion "The Black Watch" Royal Highland Regiment, 73 column, 14th Brigade L.R.P "Cocky" was 20 years old when he flew into the hell which was Burma in 1944.
Pte. Cochrane was married to an English girl from London and they had a young daughter of 17 months.
These were ordinary young men, aged between 19 and 26, who were thrust into extraordinary circumstances. They were to prove to the rest of the Allied Armies, that the myth of the "Japanese Superman" was just that, a myth.
The book takes the reader throughout the period of training preceding the Chindit operation, then through five months of grueling jungle combat. The Chindits learned jungle fighting from their adversary, then became masters of it themselves. The British soldier was no longer scorned, but feared. The Japanese learned that there was nowhere safe from the "Chindit Man".
Though a War story, it doesn't only cover the combat in Burma. There is much soldier's humour and covers; recovery in India from the privations endured, special leave in London and Scotland, subsequent return to India as a potential paratrooper, news of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan and the wait for de-mobilization, back to the United Kingdom.
Ochil Hills and Menstrie village, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
"Ladies from Hell"
Term used by WWI German troops when describing kilted highland troops
"]" The Royal Highland Regiment was and is one of the oldest regiments in the British army. The 2nd Battalion was composed of professional peacetime soldiers, men who had joined the Army voluntarily rather than wait for their call up papers and men seconded into the regiment from various Scottish holding battalions. That way, the majority of the men involved chose to be in the most famous Highland Regiment, with a history of glorious deeds running back for two centuries and the tradition of the highland warrior.
Though primarily a Scottish regiment,
men from all over the British Isles joined, as did men of Scottish descent
from distant parts of the Globe. Pte. Cochrane knew of two whom had
traveled from South America to join up, but despite some English
foreigners, most of the regiment came from the midlands of Scotland, hence
the nickname that they took and called themselves "The Jocks".
There were "Jocks" from England, who would gladly stand shoulder to shoulder with his Scottish "Mucker" and slug it out with men from an English regiment in a bar, or would wear his kilt with pride as he swanked it down Princess Street Edinburgh. They were all "Highland Laddies" and "Braw Scots Boys" in The Black Watch.
Prior to its involvement in the 2nd Chindit Operation, the regiment had seen a lot of action in the Middle East. It had been stationed in British Somali land (Africa), then moved up to the Island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. During the German invasion of Crete, the regiment had the task of protecting the airport of Heraklion from German paratroop forces. Though only having small arms and no artillery, the Black Watch did great execution of the German paratroops and transport aircraft. Though the Black Watch were later pulled out from the battle and evacuated from the Island, the commander of the German paratroops grudgingly praised the tenacity of the defending "Jocks" and said that had any other regiment been defending the airport, they would have taken it with far fewer casualties and a lot earlier.
The "Jocks" were then committed to 70th Division and the battles of the North African campaign, most notably the defense of Tobruk and the great battle of El Alamein. They were given praise by those other elite troops, the Australians and earned respect from the battle hardened Afrika Korps. The regiment's Lieutenant Colonel called his "Jocks" "braw laddies with the bayonet!" especially as most of his troops chose to use the 18" Sword bayonet of 1st World War trench fame.
After the historic battles of El Alamein, The Black Watch spent a short time in Syria. They were then shipped to India where they were used as "police" against political agitators.
Being seasoned veterans, meant that they wouldn't be left out of the action for too long. In the autumn of 1943, the 2nd Battalion were sent to intensive jungle training to become part of "Special Force", Long range Penetration.