An Infantry Company in Arakan and Kohima
by General Sir George Giffard GCB DSO
Colonel of The Queen's Royal Regiment
It gives me great pleasure to write a foreword to Major Lowry’s diary of the operations of “B” Company, 1st Battalion The Queen’s Royal Regiment, which served under my command in Arakan and Manipur in the Burma campaign in 1943 and 1944.
It gives a vivid picture of life and fighting in the jungles of Burma, from patrols to set-piece attacks, and brings out without exaggeration the hardship and nervous strain which the infantry soldier underwent. Those conditions, which I observed for myself on many occasions, were as severe as any in any theatre of war, and no one who was not there has any idea of what jungle warfare entailed for the officer and man in the front line.
Added to the many difficulties of the terrain and weather was an enemy who was a tough and indomitable fighter, readier to die than surrender, against whom it was not possible to take chances. The diary brings out the almost continual state of readiness which the troops had to maintain.
It is highly satisfactory and a great compliment to the discipline, steadiness and morale of the Company to read that in the very jumpy conditions of night fighting and patrolling in the jungle no shot was fired without orders. This is no mean record in country where the night is full of noises made by animals and men. Firing, once started at night, is very infectious and is impossible to stop. It is a great encouragement to the enemy, who discovers his opponent’s positions and realizes that he is nervy and ill-disciplined.
The care of the men by their officers appears in every line of the diary, and it is, I am sure, one of the reasons why this Company was obviously a good team and a happy family. I like, too, to read of the maintenance of a high standard of cleanliness, shaving, etc., on all occasions when it was possible. These things do an enormous amount to maintain self-respect and morale. In fact, “spit and polish” so called are the backbone of discipline, high morale, and fighting efficiency.
The author is to be congratulated on a very interesting story and on being the commander of a fine lot of officers and men.