By Ogsgirl1957 |

My father, Capt Thomas Crawford Roberts was Officer in charge of the Support Platoon in Column 5, led by Bernard Ferguson, in Wingate's First Chindit expedition into Burma, begun January 1943. He and Private Chambers were both in the 13th King's.

Column 5 was the one left behind on the other side of the Irrawaddy, after Wingate gave the command to make their way back to India. They were covering, as it were, to help other columns. Unfortunately, that left them in a kind of living hell. Private Chambers and others were with my father when they were eventually captured by the Japanese, after a long shoot out at the end of April 1943, about 300 miles over Japanese lines. Others had been killed, but my father and a couple of other soldiers survived unwounded, but Private Chambers sustained a nasty wound in his thigh. Dad was taken to Rangoon jail initially, and then transferred to Changi, for interrogation. He survived incarcaration by the Japanese and lived to see the end of the war, although by then he was very sick with beri-beri. He was eventually liberated and came home. He told me, and left it in writing, in his POW diary, that Private Leslie John Chambers was the finest soldier he had ever known. Sadly, Private Chambers died in Rangoon Jail before the end of 1943, although my father did not know that for many years. In 2019, I was fortunate to be able to go on an expedition in Burma, (as you now know, Myanmar), and it meant a lot to me before I returned to England, to go to St. Mary's Churchyard in Yangon (Rangoon) and put flowers on the graves of all those of my father's men who were buried there. The biggest bunch I reserved for poor Private Chambers' grave, as my father would have wished. I stayed in St. Mary's for hours, on a day of pouring rain, just reflecting on the tragic waste of these young men and indeed of all wars.....

I would dearly love to be able to tell any descendants or other family of Private Chambers exactly what happened to him in Column 5, and also of his great bravery and what my Dad thought of him. All I know is that he was a Liverpool man, and his army number was probably 3779435 and he was aged 31 when he died on 6th November 1943.... according the inscription plate on the site of his grave. If you can find Leslie John Chambers in the ledgers, I may be able to trace some living relatives of his, and I could give them a copy of the book I have written (all the royalties to the charity, War Child).   I will also be fascinated to know what the ledgers reveal of my father, - he enlisted as a regular soldier at Seaforth Barracks on the 6th January, 1931, when he was about 18/19 years old and spent many years at Jubblepore, by the way. His army number was 3767917.

I have searched for Private Chamber's family for a number of years, without success.  Thank you very much, Joe. I hope to meet you one day. I live in Southport, but had a stroke earlier this year so at the moment I cannot visit the museum and look in these archives myself.


  Please let me know if you need any other information about my father. I have given you all the information I have about Private Chambers, although I do have photos of his grave in Yangon etc.

Thank you, Joe.

Just to let you know that Joe has indeed compiled a reply for you, but because it would be difficult to post all the images he has collected, onto the forum, he is sending you an email direct.  Hope this is ok.

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