From: Alexandria, Scotland
Dont know if this helps demonstrate my point
SECOND WORLD WAR
Thirty thousand Nigerians fought in World War 2. They saw action at Juba, Goluin, Marda Pass, Babile Gap, Bisidimo, Colito, Omo and Lechemti during the Abyssinian campaign in East Africa from 1940-41. The 12th African division in that theater consisted of the 1st South African Brigade Group, 22nd, 25th, 26th and 28th East African, 23rd Nigerian and 24th Gold Coast Brigades. The brunt of actual fighting beginning in Somaliland (Mogadishu) through to Ethiopia was borne by the 23rd Nigerian Brigade. Nigerian soldiers were right there with Orde Wingate when Emperor Haile Selassie was returned to power in Addis Ababa. The Nigerian and Gold Coast troops who fought in East Africa later joined the 82nd (West Africa) Division in Burma.
In Burma, from 1943-45, as part of the 81st and 82nd West African Divisions, the Nigeria regiment of the West African Frontier Force also fought in North Arakan, Kaladan, Mayu Valley, Myohaung, Arakan Beaches, Kangaw, Dalet and Tamandu and was a component of Chindit operations in 1944. The high point of the Nigerian regiment in Burma was the fall of Myohaung on January 24-25, 1945. Before independence, January 25 used to be celebrated annually in Nigeria as an official military day.
The 81st (West Africa) Division
The 81st (West Africa) Division was created in March 1943 in Nigeria under Major General C. G. Woolner, CB, MC. It consisted of the 3rd, 5th and 6th (West Africa) Brigades. The 3rd Brigade under Brigadier H. U
Richards comprised the 6th, 7th and 12th Nigerian Battalions. The 5th (West Africa) Brigade was entirely Ghanaian (Gold Coast). The 6th Brigade combined battalions from Nigeria, Gambia and Sierra Leone under Brigadier J. W. A. Hayes DSO.
Between August 14th and November 8th, 1943, various Brigades of the 81st Division arrived in Burma and concentrated at Chiringa, which thus became the West African Base and Rear Headquarters. Barely after arrival, with no animals or vehicles in support, the Division was “volunteered” by General Giffard, C-in-C Eastern Command, to advance independently of the main Arakan formation along the Kaladan River on the left, threatening the Japanese flank and their west-east lines of communication at Kanzauk Pass. General Slim regarded this area of operations as “the dangerous spot in Arakan”. The axis of advance meant the Africans would have to totally rely on air re-supply – the first time an entire unit of that size would be deployed under such circumstances. The 81st created a jeep track through 75 miles of jungle from Chiringa to Satpaung (nicknamed ‘West Africa Way’) and constructed airstrips along the Kaladan River. From a springpoint at Daletme, they thrust southwards against Japanese resistance toward Paletwa. As they neared Kyauktaw they began to threaten the Japanese right rear.
Perhaps as a result of prior positive experience with Nigerians under Orde Wingate in Ethiopia, the 3rd (Nigerian) Brigade of the 81st Division was transferred to the Special Forces Unit (Chindits) back on November 8th 1943 and was thus detached from its parent force. East African and Indian detachments replaced the Nigerian Brigade. Thus, in January 1944, during “Operation Thursday”, most Nigerian troops in the 81st were actually deployed with the legendary Chindits under Major General Orde Wingate – a long-range group of Special Forces trained to fight and survive deep behind enemy lines, supplied only by air. The 6th, 7th and 12th Nigerian regiments in the Thunder (3rd West African) Brigade were designated as Fortress or airfield Protection troops.
In the meantime, the remaining 4th Battalion, Nigeria Regiment, of the main 81st Division, seized Kyauktaw and Apaukwa. The Division was, however, later thrown back in confusion (after the Battle of Pagoda Hill on March 1st and 2nd) to an area near Taung Bazaar. This was caused by a determined Japanese counter-attack led by one Colonel (later Major General) Koba and lack of resolute command by 81st Div Commander Major General Woolner. In April 1944, the 81st Division was redeployed from the Kaladan valley across the Kaladan ranges into the Kalapanzin valley to fill a gap created by the deployment of the 7th Indian Division to the Imphal front. In August, there were wholesale changes in its command structure. In addition, its reconnaissance battalion, the 81st (West Africa) Reconnaissance Battalion of the West Africa Armoured Corps, which had been removed (along with the 3rd Nigerian Brigade) from its Order of Battle back in late 1943, was returned to the parent Division.
With the Monsoon rains over, the 81st Division, now under Major General Loftus-Tottenham, regained the offensive and advanced once again down the Kaladan Valley. By October 18, they had cleared Singpa and Mowdok. After a series of pitched battles in very difficult terrain, they crossed the Kaladan River on December 4th,, outflanking Kyauktaw and Thayettabin. The Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment (DRR) advanced towards Apaukwa and Kanzauk in support of the main Arakan offensive by the 25 Indian Division. Meanwhile, the 82nd West Africa Division advanced down the Kalapanzin Valley. On January 7, 1945, at Kanzauk, the DRR linked up with the 4th Brigade of the 82nd Division, which had crossed the range from Hzitwe. The 81st Divisional Reconnaissance Regiment thus came under the command of the 82nd West African Division for the final push to take the strategic Japanese Communication Center at Myohaung, the ancient capital of Arakan. This forced the Japanese to order a general retreat from the area, barely extricating themselves from isolation between Minbya and Kangaw. Elements of both West African divisions, under Maj. Gen. H.G. Stockwell (D.S.O.) joined elements of the Indian and British Divisions with supporting armour for the final assault on Mandalay and Rangoon, in order to drive the Japanese out of Burma.
At the end of March 1945, however, the 81st (West Africa) Division was withdrawn from Burma (to ease the strain on maintenance) and thus left for India. They had suffered 74 killed, 343 wounded and 21 missing in the Arakan campaign. Later on, in August 1944, the 3rd (West Africa/Nigerian) Brigade of the Chindits, under Brigadier A. H. Gillmore was also withdrawn from Burma. Brigadier P. M. Hughes later replaced Gillmore. They were re-united with the main 81st Division on March 20th, 1945 in India. As plans were being made for the Division to take part in the reconquest of Malaya (Operation Zipper), the Japanese surrendered. In May 1946, therefore, the 81st (West Africa) Division returned to Nigeria.