23rd Infantry Division (India)
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Indian 23rd Infantry Division
dates= 1942 - 1945
British Indian Army
Reginald Arthur Savory
Ouvry Lindfield Roberts
Battle of Imphal
The Indian 23rd Infantry Division was raised during
World War II.
The division was raised on
January 1, 1942, at Jhansiin Central India. Its badge was a red fighting cock on a yellow circle. (The animal was chosen by Major General Reginald Arthur Savory, the division's first commander, as one which would offend neither the Moslemnor Hindusoldiers of the division.
In May that year, while the division was still forming, it was ordered to
Imphalin Manipur, where Burma Corpswas retreating, having been driven out of Burmaby the Japanese. Imphal lay within the mountainous frontier between India and Burma, and the division was ordered to move while the monsoon season was at its height. Movement was difficult, and disease (mainly malaria, but also typhus) was rampant. The division's chief claim to respect lies in holding its positions in these trying conditions, while also trying to undertake basic training.
June 3, 1943, Major General Savory was promoted and appointed Director of Infantry in India. The division was temporarily commanded by Brigadier Collingridge of 37th Brigade until August 15, when Major General Ouvry Lindfield Roberts, who had gained widespread respect by his handling of operations in the Middle East, was appointed.
Battle of Imphal
In March, 1944, the Japanese launched a major attack on the British troops at Imphal. At the time, 23rd Division was the reserve unit for
Indian IV Corps. After its previous service in Imphal, the division was no less than 5,000 men short of establishment (about 18,500). This was due mainly to disease, and poor administration in the rear areas in 1943, which prevented many recovering sick men from rejoining the division.
When the Japanese offensive began, Indian 17th Infantry Division was cut off in its forward position at Tiddim. Two brigades of 23rd Division were sent to help extricate the 17th Division, while another held Imphal itself. Once the two divisions had linked up, they retreated to Bishenpur south of Imphal, being supplied by parachute drops.
23rd Division was then sent to Kanglatongbi, north of Imphal, where Japanese troops had cut the road linking Imphal with India and were threatening a major supply dump. The Japanese were held back while the dump was emptied of stores.
In June, all the divisions at Imphal were reorganised and repositioned. 23rd Division defended the Shenam Saddle southeast of Imphal against the last Japanese attacks in this area.
After the end of the Battle of Imphal, the division was withdrawn to India. After recuperating, it began training for future operations in Malaya. Major General Roberts was promoted to command
Indian XXXIV Corps, and the division was commanded by Major General Douglas Hawthorn. In mid-1945, the division was due to take part in Operation Zipper, a landing on the west coast of Malaya, as part of XXXIV Corps. Although forestalled by the Japanese surrender, the landing took place unopposed, as the quickest means of sending troops to Malaya to enforce the surrender.
Later that year, the division was sent to
Java, where the end of the war had brought widespread disorder and conflict between the Dutch colonial regime and pro-independence movements. The division was broken up in Java, and its units merged into Indian 5th Infantry Division.
Order of Battle
April 1, 1944"
*GOC Major General Ouvry Roberts
Indian 1st Infantry Brigade(Brigadier A. King)
** 1st Bn.
** 1st Bn.
16th Punjab Regiment
** 1st Bn.
Patiala Infantry Regiment(State forces)
Indian 37th Infantry Brigade(Brigadier P. C. Marindin)
** 3rd Bn.
3rd Gurkha Rifles
** 3rd Bn.
5th Gurkha Rifles
** 3rd Bn.
10th Gurkha Rifles
Indian 49th Infantry Brigade(Brigadier F. Esse)
** 4th Bn.
5th Mahratta Light Infantry
** 6th Bn. 5th Mahratta Light Infantry
** 6th Bn.
6th Rajputana Rifles
** 2nd Bn.
19th Hyderabad Regiment(divisional reconnaissance unit)
** 4th Bn.
12th Frontier Force Regiment(divisional machine-gun unit)
** 3 Field Regiment
Royal Indian Artillery(IA)
** 28 Mountain Regiment IA
** 2 Anti-Tank/Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment IA
** 23 Indian Infantry Division Provost Unit
** 23 Indian Infantry Division Signal Unit
** 69, 71, 91 Field Companies
Royal Indian Engineers(IE)
** 305 Field Park Company IE
** 21, 24, 50, 61 Animal Transport Companies
Indian Army Service Corps(IASC)
** 121, 122, 123 General Purpose Transport Companies IASC
** 12, 13, 14, 15 Composite Units IASC
** 24, 47, 49 Indian Field Ambulances,
Indian Army Medical Corps(IAMC)
** 23 Ordnance Field Park,
Indian Army Ordnance Corps(IAOC)
** 38, 61 Infantry Workshop Companies,
Indian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers(IEME)
** 23 Indian Division Recovery Company IEME
* [http://www.burmastar.org.uk/123rdind.htm Burma Star organisation site]
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