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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:02 pm 
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Never trust a journalist!

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 2:35 pm 
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Very nice piece.

There's something confused in the article about the Rangoon Volunteer Rifles (or if not confused, then not sufficiently explicated), but I understood the main point to be that they had discovered a lot of ammunition originally issued to the 5GRs in Shillong, which is where they were based. The Burma connexion I don't quite follow, though Shillong is over towards Burma-side (though by no means next-door).

Incidentally, I lived in Shillong for 1.5 years (2003-5), when my wife was finishing her BA there.

cheers,
B.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 3:36 pm 
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Thinking about the article still: the Gorkhas were stationed all over the (largely tribal) northeast part of India and in neighbouring Burma. The regiments may have moved around a bit, and I believe that some units were pulled out of Burma when the Japanese invaded (though I'm not certain). So perhaps the Rangoon Volunteers were pulled back to Shillong at one point in time?

Again, incidentally, my wife's parents (who are Nepali) were born in Burma and she ended up living in Shillong for a good part of her life (doing schooling) - so Nepali Burma/Shillong connexions are by no means impossible...

--B.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 5:27 pm 
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I think Burma was just tecnicaly another region of British India untill 1947 Beo? I may be mistaken though.

Many soldiers Ive spoken to certanly seemed to regard Assam as Burma, for some reason.Guess they associated the hill tribes with Burma?

Shillong was a major Gurka base throughout the 20s & 30s at least & even today is one of the 3 main Gorkha training centres.

Ive seen many photos, trophys & plaques from Shillong from between the wars.

Spiral


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 6:59 pm 
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Shillong is not immediately next to Burma (Myanmar):

Image

I thought Burma was separately administrated, but I found on Wikipedia:
"Burma became a province of British India by late November 1885, and was given as a New Year present to Queen Victoria on 1 January 1886. On 1 April 1937, Burma became a separately administered territory, independent of the Indian administration. "

So during WWI it would have been part of British India. But I don't think people generally associated Assam with Burma. (Historical note: 'Assam' used to comprise essentially all of Northeast India, but was later divided into seven states (at different points in time)). The hill tribes of Northeast India are rather varied, and are certainly distinct culturally from the Burmese. Though of course there are tribes in the areas of Burma bordering on India which are similar to the tribes across the border in India.

In any case, Gorkhas were used extensively to conquer and control Northeast India - and were stationed also in (British) Burma (I don't know the history of the ANglo-Burmese wars well enough to know what role Gorkhas played in them) - which is why there are now so many Nepalis living throughout the Northeast and Burma.

P.S. Apparently Burma did not become independent until 1948


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:40 pm 
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Intresting stuff Beo, thanks. Ahh yes 1948 of course, Aung San & all that.

I didnt realise it was a part of India for such a short time. just under 60 years.

Most of the soldiers Ive met who were in Assam & Burma wouldnt have been as aware of the cultural & tribal differences as you were i imagine Beo.

My father regarded all Burmese as 3 types, {He spent 5 years in North east india,Burma & Siam. {maybe last year was Singapore?}

Hill tribe, plains people, & city wallhas. He was not particularily cultraly aware, I guess. But I expect the same was true for many Brit. soldiers.

As you say the Gurkhas were used to subjugate many Indian tribes, the Gorkhas are still used in that way, many would say.

The Gurkhas played a big part in the Burma wars & many "Burmese" units even up to ww2 had up to 50% Gurkhas in them as well.

"The Regimental history of the Assam rifles" you may find intresting, it has been re printed & the publishers often list them on ebay at a slight reduction.

As you say, Burma & India are full of the descendants of Gurkhas.
Rather like the scenario of more Irish in USA than Ireland perhaps? to draw a shakey analogy. :lol:

Spiral


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 Post subject: Bear with me
PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:50 am 
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Just a little musing. I have a good friend who I met through collecting Brithish motorcycles. He said his father was in Burma during the war. This was 25 years ago and I did not pay much attention to it. Well the elderly gent developed alzeheimers just as I found out he had a bring back kuk and had fought the Japs with the Chindits. He passed away quickly. All that history lost as he never talked about it to his son and me being an idiot never asked him about it despite having the opportunity. Only some of his letters and odds and ends survived. His son Doug moved along with any chance to research the goods. Twenty five years ago I did not know a Chindit from a chimp. My father landed in France during D-day and did not tell me squat before he died. There are fewer and fewer WW2 vets left.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 12:33 pm 
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Yep a lot of it , {the hardest bits} my father only talked about, in his last 18 days.

I think it would have been better for him if he had talked it through years before.

Spiral


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 3:43 pm 
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Spiral - ah, you mean British troops - ok. I was thinking you meant Nepali soldiers - these latter would presumably have been more aware of the differences between Assamese, tribal Northeastern Indian people and Burmese.

The analogy with the Irish in USA... it's a good analogy, not from the standpoint of numbers though (I think there are still many more Nepalis in Nepal than in NE India), but in terms of the sociological context -- think USA 100 years ago (with signs like 'HELP WANTED (IRISH NEED NOT APPLY)'), in that the Nepalis face a lot of discrimination problems with the local peoples in the Northeast (for instance in the 90s, the local Khasi people chased the Nepalis out of Shillong; my wife's brother was there at the time and had to leave). Of course, even in North India (Delhi etc.) Nepalis face a lot of negative steorotypes (watch some Hindi films - Nepalis when they appear usually appear as chowkidaars, watchmen, and always are portrayed as stupid, and unable to speak Hindi well -- of course the Hindiwallahs who make the films don't seem to know much about Nepali and for instance in one film I saw the 'Nepali accented Hindi' sounded like Bengali accented Hindi...

anyway.... it's too bad about these Nepali steorotypes in India - I think most Indian people forget what an important role Gurkha troops played during the Partition in stopping some of the wholesale slaughter of Hindus by Muslims and Muslims by Hindus (the Gurkhas, unlike the other Indian troops, usually didn't take sides)...


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