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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

2nd Battalion DLI: Burma 1945

Part of an online exhibition from Durham County Record Office commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe on 8 May 1945

Soldiers from B Company, 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in Kangaroo armoured carrier, Germany, late March 1945 (D/DLI Acc: 10050)

In 1943, the 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI), rebuilt after the losses it had suffered in Belgium and France in 1940, became part of the 14th Army in India. In late 1944, after battling Japanese forces in the Arakan and at Kohima, the 2nd Battalion DLI joined the 14th Army's advance towards Mandalay. There the Japanese Army in central Burma was destroyed.

‘A’ Company, 2nd Battalion DLI, Pagoda Hill, near Mandalay, Burma, March 1945 (D/DLI 7/121/13(26))
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After the fall of Mandalay in early April 1945, the 2nd Battalion was flown back to India to train for a sea-borne invasion of Rangoon, the Burmese capital. However, whilst the battalion was on-board ship waiting to invade, Rangoon was captured.

On 7 May 1945, as German forces were surrendering in Europe, the Durham soldiers were allowed off their invasion ship to swim in the sea. The next day, when news of the surrender reached Burma, each soldier was given two bottles of beer to celebrate VE Day.

 

 

 

'A' Company, 2nd Battalion DLI, Pagoda Hill, near Mandalay, Burma, March 1945 (D/DLI 7/121/13(26)).

After landing in Rangoon, the Durhams patrolled the city and nearby villages looking for Japanese Army stragglers and collecting abandoned weapons. The rest of the time was spent in training, sports and other entertainments meant to keep the soldiers' minds off their longed-for demobilisation.

To celebrate the victory of the Allied forces in Burma, a parade was held in Rangoon on 15 June 1945, with the salute taken by the Supreme Allied Commander, Louis Mountbatten. The 2nd Battalion DLI took part in the Rangoon Victory Parade.

On 15 August, after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered. The 2nd Battalion DLI, however, held no ceremony to mark the final victory and, within weeks, the first of the Durham soldiers were returning home. 

Back to 'We have come through' - remembering VE Day 1945 exhibition homepage.