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Looking for information on men in Unit RZGHA who voluteered for 204 Mission China.  XML
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Rualiam
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My Grandfather was Gerald Desmond 4278348 Troop 5 No 6 Commando and Colmun 5 in Operation LongCloth. I am trying to find as much detail as I can on his time in WW2. I found a note he left which mentioned volunteering for Mission 204 China. I know he was in Norway in Dec 1941 and enters the India and Burma Campaign the 17/3/42. I think he was part of the RZGHA unit the Wingate took and formed into 142 commando company with the ex Bush Warfare training School. If anyone has any information I would be very grateful.

Liam
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Hi Liam,
Welcome to the CVA Website & Forums.

We do have your grandfather listed in the No.6 Commando Nominal Roll which is good news...
As for Mission 204 and 142 Commando, there are a few members here that are probably better qualified than I am to give you answers.

There is one thing I can add though - the letters RZGHA are not the name of a Unit but, together, make up a drafting code for an overseas posting.

nick

Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Kevin
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Liam, enter 142 in the custom search bar (top of page). Should give you all info on 204 and 142 available here.

Kevin

''Coemgen Filius Primi Inter Pares"
Pete
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I would just like to add that whilst correct on RZGHA being a draft serial number, in fact Ted Stuart of No 5 Commando and Mission 204 states in his memoirs during a period with Wingate
"By the time I was discharged (from hospital), the Force had moved to a place called Sagor, so complete with all my kit I set off to rejoin my unit, still mustering under the name of RZGHA. They even had a flag with the name on it, and no doubt hold the record for keeping their draft serial number the longest."
. Its a good read. Below is the link to the original account sent to us by his son Neil Stuart.

In the article he talks of all of his section joining the mission.

http://gallery.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/WW2/Mission+204/204+acct/

We also gave permission for the article being reproduced on a website about Operation Longcloth and they have put into a very good format on their site which has more useful information:

http://www.chinditslongcloth1943.com/ted-stuart-almost-but-not-quite.html

Link to our gallery on Mission 204: http://gallery.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/WW2/Mission+204/

As Kevin says we have a lot of information dotted around in the Forum and gallery about 142 and 204. I would like to add a document with as much detail as possible onto the main body of the Site for easier access. Is there anyone who has a such document or could assist in putting one together that might include all the detail from our forum, gallery, and various documents included there. Basically just a brief insight into the History.





This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 03/03/2015 10:42:41


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Cdo. God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before. When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.

**** nb. I no longer monitor private messages (pm). Use email or forum please. ****
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Rualiam
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I stand to be corrected on everything I am about to post, I have been putting this together the last few weeks from family stories and reading some of the great information posted on this forum. At this moment in time this is how I see Geralds journey to joining the Chindits but finding proof to support any of it is proving difficult. Any ideas as to documents to go through would be helpful.

Gerald was part of a group of a 100 commandos who volunteered for a secret mission 204. They left for India on the 10th of January 1942 from Liverpool as part of WS 15 Convoy. ( I know Gerald was in Capetown on the way to India, the WS 15 convoy is the only one I can find that matches the dates and route).There route took them to Freetown in West Africa, then on to Capetown and then from there on to Bombay. Where they docked on the 4th of March 1942. While on the 8 week journey to India and the Japanese continuing invasion of Burma, the original mission they had volunteered for ceased to exist. After disembarking at Bombay they were sent to Deolali for acclimatisation and then onto Jubalalpoe Ridge. Lieutenant Colonel Featherstonehaugh, the senior officer of the group travelled to Army HQ at Meerut to obtain their orders. On arriving at Army HQ he is told they knew nothing about their Mission. The unit left in limbo adopted the letters that made up their drafting code for overseas posting as there Unit identity, RZGHA. Orde Wingate who was forming the 77th Indian Brigade ( Chindits) for a new operation against the Japanese, quickly took them under his command. (Gerald told a story to my mother that he was on a runway about to leave India when Wingate arrived. Wingate made a speech to the group asking them to volunteer for another mission, to a man everyone stepped forward and volunteered to go with Wingate. I can find no evidence as yet support this.) They are sent by Wingate from their base at Jubbulpore to Ramna Camp, Patharia (In a snippet of a letter Gerald wrote to a friend he mentions being in the advance party into the Patharia jungle.The War Diary of 142 Regiment mentions "Advance party of RZGHA (Cooper-Key and Molesworth above and 30 B.O.R.'s) left Jubbulpore for Ramna Camp, Patharia." Together with those that had survived the original Mission 204, Wingate formed the 142 Commando Company and on the 1st of October 1942 they were placed in the 13th Kings Regiment.

The above could be pure rubbish but at this moment in time with what little information I have it makes the most sense.

Thank you Nick,Kevin and Pete for your help so far.
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Hi Liam,

Well it seems as if you've been busy researching your grandfather and have come up with a fair amount of information already.
Well done.
You haven't mentioned whether you've applied to MoD for your grandfather's Service Records? For an admin fee of 30 you will be sent a photocopy of the original document which should detail your grandfather's service from joining up to his demob.
Details should include parent regiment, training, postings, embarkation to overseas, disembarkation, promotions (and demotions), wounds, hospitalisations, transfers to other regiments / units etc.
I always recommend that people apply for the records as it does fill in many details but, in your grandfather's case, it will give a good framework to build upon.
If you plan to follow this route, I can forward the relevant forms to you - let me know.

As Kevin & Pete have said there are many references to Mission 204, 142 Cdo, Special Service Detachments 1 & 2 etc., on our Website & Forums but I still cannot get my head around it (and I know I'm not alone in this as other researchers have said the same) - hence my initial reluctance to comment on the subject...
I have read War Diaries and as many books and accounts that are available on the subject and am still no clearer!
I am currently reading No Surrender in Burma which is taken from the journals of Ken Goode, one of only a handful of survivors of Special Detachment II, and hope that this will explain things more clearly for me.
Of course anything you can add, from family anecdotes, may help to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together...

Nick

Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Kevin
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Nick
I agree, I seem to have been going round and around in circles on and off for over 30 year that's why I decided to keep my reply post very open.😉

Liam, as Nick said, well done and good luck?

Kevin

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Kevin
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204 Military Mission
(Extracts from diary 11/03/1942 - 14/08/1942)

11/03/1942 Posted to 204 with No1 Commando.
11/03/ Left Irvine for London, arrived Glasgow 6.45pm, arrived London Thursday 12th, 10am.
13/03/ Billeted at the Hotel Central, Marylebone and drew Kit.
16/03/ Left London at 11.10pm, arrived Liverpool 10.30pm. Went on board H.M.S. Holland
18/03/ Still at Liverpool moved from quay to channel.
20/03/ 12 noon, sailed in convoy from Liverpool, passing Anglesey.
21/03/ Anchored outside Gourock, Clyde. We are making for India, from there to China - Memo - Our work is to advise Chinese troops.
24/03/ 30 ships in convoy, plus aircraft carrier.
28/03/ A scare was sent around the ship that there were subs about, all gunners at action stations.
04/04/1942 Arrived Freetown.
11/04/ Left Freetown at 1am The news is depressing for us as we are going out to India.
19/04/ Have now travelled 4500 miles.
23/04/ Table mountain in sight, birthed Cape Town, 2pm.
25/04/ Cape Town - Went on route march.
27/04/ Left Cape Town at 3pm, next port of call Durban.
02/05/1942 Not calling at Durban, next port Bombay.
04/05/ Passed Madagascar.
05/05/ News just came through that Madagascar has been taken by B.T.
12/05/ They buried one of the ships crew at sea today.
16/05 Now known as the Burma Detail. (Arrived Bombay).
17/05/ Left Bombay by train at 5am, arrived Deolali 2pm (It is a transit camp).
19/05/ Deolali - Went on route march.
20/05/ Went on run this morning.
21/05/ Packing up today, moving off at 10.45pm. We are going to Jubbulpore.
23/05/ Jubbulpore - 5.30pm went on 3 mile route march, temperature 110
26/05/ Formed up new troops.
27/05/ Took troop out on map reading, too hot to stay out.
29/05/ Went on 7mile route march.
01/06/1942 6.30am P.T. 9.15 Demolitions.
02/06/ 6.10 10 mile route march.
03/06/ Range - Zeroing rifles.
04/06/ Demolitions.
06/06/ Training on the range.
13/06/ Informed of vacancy for W.O. in 142 Reg.
14/06/ Advance party leave today.
22/06/ Left Jubbulpore at 4.30am, left station at 7.
23/06/ Arrived Pataria at 4.30 am, marched 8 miles to camp, rain and mud every where in camp.
25/06/ Pataria - Camped out in the jungle, nearest town 10 miles, had to swim across river for supper.
02/07/1942 Rumours that we are going on our original job, standing by to move at a moments notice.
05/07/ Lectured by the Brigadier on jungle life.
15/07/ 13.00 R/S Lake, leaving us for China, appears that things are moving.
17/07/ Draft leaving today.
23/07/ The Draft for China are handing in their rifles again today.
24/017/ The Draft are moving to Calcutta on their way to China. They go by plane from Calcutta. Memo - I may be going to Saugor today.
27/07/ Three men drowned today.
30/07/ Heavy rain, I am to take charge of 142 section until officer returns from sick leave.
31/07/ Took over 142 Group today, moved into new lines.
01/08/1942 Took section out on Demolition.
04/08/ Orders just received to pack up and be ready to move on Wednesday. Going to Saugor.
06/08/ Marching off this morning. Marched to Patharia 7 mile. Left Patharia at 11pm.
07/08/ Saugar - Arrived 5.30pm marched 3 miles to billet.
11/08/ Went with Kings Officers to recce ground where field firing is to take place.
12/08/ Out training the section.
13/08/ Riots have broken out in Bombay and Delhi.
14/08/1942 The riots are getting worse, troops called out. Went on field firing and Demolitions.


* Nick, my father must have known Major English, of 204 BWTS as she, Mrs English is listed in the addresses he kept in the diary, but unfortunately no address.

Kevin




This message was edited 5 times. Last update was at 05/03/2015 15:15:53


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Rualiam
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Thanks very much for the information Kevin, Its been a very good day in my search. Steve Fogden has supplied me with the proof I was looking for putting Gerald in Draft R.Z.G.H.A. He is listed in the B.O.Rs that are considered suitable for employment with 142 Company.

Liam
Kevin
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Convoy WS 17/17B Clyde to Bombay. (16 March 1942 - 16 May 1942).

My father sailed on Nieuw Holland a Dutch registered 1927, 11,066 ton ship, which he listed as HMS Holland in his diary.

Hieuw Holland was listed as:-
Liverpool 20/03/42 Independent Clyde 21/03/42
Clyde 22/03/42 WS.17 (Oversay - Freetown) Freetown 06/04/42
Freetown 11/06/42 WS.17B (Freetown - Capetown) Capetown 23/04/42
Capetown 27/04/42 WS.17 (Oversay - Freetown)
WS.17B (Freetown - Capetown) Bombay 16/05/42

Hieuw Holland, Brazil, Clan Macdonald, Dunedin Star, Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt, Kina ll, Mormactide, Monterey and Windsor Castle detached from the convoy and arrived in Bombay 16 May 1942.


The convoy WS 17 assembled off Oversay 23/03/1942, with the final departure being made from Liverpool and the Clyde .

Abosso, Almanzora, Arundel Castle, Bhutan, Cameronia, City of Edinburg, City of Lincoln, Clan Macdonald, Dominion Monarch, Dutchess of Atholl,
Dunedin Star, Empress of Russia, Franconia, Glaucus, HMS Adamant, HMS Karanja, HMS Keren, Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt, Kina Il, Large Bay, Leopoldville,
Mataroa, Nieuw Holland, Orion, Oronsay,
Port Wyndham, Rembrandt, Samaria, Sobieski, Tamora, Winsor Castle.

Destroyer escorts during the passage were:--
Active, Antelope, Anthony, Badsworth, Boadicea Beverley, Croome, Exmoor, Inconstant, Javelin, Keppel, Leamington, Newport, Packenham, Rockingham, Volunteer and Wild Swan. Aircraft carrier Illustrious.
Cruisers HMS Ardent, Dauntless, Shropshire. Armed merchant cruiser Alacantra. Corvettes, Beverly, Commandant Detroyat, Commandant Drogou, Hydrangea and Newport.

The convoy then split into two sections WS 17 and WS 17B with convoy WS 17B, Abosso, Almanzora, Arundell Castle, Cameronia, City of Edinburgh, City of London, Dunedin Star, Empress of Russia, Franconia, Glaucus, HMS Adamant, Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt, Kina ll, Leopoldville, Mataroa, Nieuw Holland, Orion, Samaria and Tamora, sailing out of Freetown on 11/04/42 for the remaining passage to South Africa.
With the convoys arrival at Capetown on 23/04/42, exept for the Emperess of Russia, Franconia and Mataroa which went on to Durban.
Convoy WS 17 sailed out of Capetown on 27/04/42 and then from Durban on 1st May to be joined by new ships from Port Elizabeth these were American ships, Brazil, Marmactide and Monterey. After the final rendezvous the convoy was numbered C (Capetown), D (Durban) and P (Port Elizabeth) to indicate the South African ports from which they had sailed. The convoy finally arrived at Bombay on 16 May 1942 with no losses except for the destroyer Newport which returned to port and finally sailed to Liverpool for repairs as a result of a collision with the destroyer Beverley.

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Rualiam
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15/07/ 13.00 R/S Lake, leaving us for China, appears that things are moving.
17/07/ Draft leaving today.
23/07/ The Draft for China are handing in their rifles again today.
24/017/ The Draft are moving to Calcutta on their way to China. They go by plane from Calcutta. Memo - I may be going to Saugor today.

Kevin what do these section of the diary refer to? Is the draft refering to Draft R.Z.G.H.A. Did they send more troops into China in mid 1942? There is a family story that Gerald was on a runway about to leave when Wingate gave a speech and asked them to volunteer to join the 77th Indian Brigade and to a man they all stepped forward. It was always persumed they were flying back home but the mention of going by plane from Calcutta makes me wonder.

Thanks for the previous posts, they have help alot.

Liam.
Kevin
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I don't think that anything was really up and running sround these dates, there were rumours of this and that but no real movement, for his C/O had no additional information either, It must have been frustrating for the troops as they were eager for a fight, so much so that dad had applied for a commission prior to these dates and was awaiting news of his application, but 142 cropped up and my father was ordered to Saugor from where 142 was initially set up, possibly the draft he mentioned never went to China and returned to form 142 after meeting Wingate. My father leaves the unit and the Commando, but soon afterwards meets up with an officer he knew from 142 who wanted him to take a commission in 142, he had already requested a transfer and ended up in the Arakan.
Kevin

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