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8th Belfast H.A.A. Regt.

aka   'The Twelve Mile Snipers'
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meems@marylennon.co.uk

The Men

Sergeant William Adrain - Diary and Biography

D. J. Bailie - War Diary and Photographs

Colonel Wm. N. Brann

Sgt. Thomas Herbert Coulter (Herbie)

Jimmy Cunningham's Private Army Comes Home

L/Sgt. Bertie Goodwin

Gunner Harry Grist

2/Lt. William George Hales

Gunner Herbert Hanley

Ken Heath

Bdr. William (Buttons) Hunter

Irvine Brothers 23rd Battery

Bdr. J. C. Irvine 23rd Battery

Bdr. Thomas Henderson Kane

Tommy and Albert Kinnon 21st and 23rd Bty.

 Gnr. Jim Lennon's War Records - Photos

Sgt. Joseph Harold Lynn (aka Harry-Joe)

Matchett Brothers 23rd Battery

L/Bdr. Harry Joseph Mawhinney 22nd Battery

Gunner Thomas Mercer 21st Battery

 Jimmy McKittrick

Bdr. Thomas McLaughlin

Colonel Harry Porter

Sgt. Billy Wilson 23rd Battery

Sidney Ernest Wright - Diary & Photographs

NOMINAL ROLLS, etc.

N-O-K- Dec'd Personnel 21/22/23 Hy.A.A.

Posted/Repatriated from 23 Hy.A.A.

List of Additional Soldiers

List of names, no addresses 23rd Bty.

Memorial Service Book (list of names) B Troop

22nd Bty. Memorial Brochure  names, addresses

23rd Bty. Memorial Brochure  names, addresses

RHQ/REME Memorial Brochure, addresses

Nominal Roll 21st Bty. all ranks

Nominal Roll 22nd Bty. all ranks

Nominal Roll 23rd Bty. all ranks

8th Belfast HAA Nominal Roll 21st Battery

8th Belfast HAA Nominal Roll 22nd Battery

8th Belfast HAA Nominal Roll 23rd Battery

Alterations & Additions to Nom. Rolls 23rd

RHQ / REME Nominal Rolls

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Correspondence

SEAC March 1944

 

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MEMORABILIA

Old Comrades Section

Burma Star Luncheon 2009

St. Annes and Lansdowne Court Hotel Laying-up of Burma Star Standard 3rd October 2010

 

Misc.

Obituaries  *  Memorials  Changi Prison Chapel

8th Belfast HAA History
by Colonel Murray Barnes, OBE , TD.

A short History of The 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment Royal Artillery (Supplementary Reserve)
by Harry Porter

Poems

Dean Houston McKelvey's Sermon
3rd October 2010

Extract from Coralie Kinahan's book
'Behind Every Great Man'
"Robin's War"

 

Video Page

Harry Porters film of the Twelve Mile Snipers
(in 3 parts)

Burma Star Luncheon

The Last Parade

and more....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

other WW2 stories

Cpl. William F. Davison

Belfast Telegraph Tuesday June, 6, 1944 Invasion

 

Sergeant William Adrain

Diary and Biography

meems@marylennon.co.uk

Sergeant William Adrian, M. M.

1905 - 1984

Army number - 1464855

Born, 8th November 1905

Died, 2nd April 1983

       William left school at twelve due to family finances, he worked as a soft and alcoholic drinks salesman for Lyle and Kinahans.

He enlisted in the supplementary reserve 5th May 1939 - 8th Belfast HAA, the 21st battery.

Motor mechanic (1941), motor vehicle fitter (1943)

DECORATIONS

(1) Awarded Military Medal: London Gazette - 8th of February 1945, GEC/RA - and 15th Indian Corps letter number 06804.  dated 20th February 1945 - part two order serial number 27, paragraph 5.  Visit 25 March 1945.

(2) 1939--43 Star

(3) Burma Star.

(4) Defence Medal.

(5) 1939 - 45 War Medal.

(6) Territorial Medal for efficient service.

Served in France at Arras in 1940.  His unit was nearly cut off by the Germans.  When they were held up at a crossroads by abandoned lorries using three rifles they managed to hold off a German light tank until they cleared the road.  The unit was evacuated through Cherbourg.

The unit helped to defend London during the Blitz, before being sent to India via South Africa , arriving at Bombay and helped to defend a Calcutta by providing anti-aircraft fire.  The unit then moved to Chittagong.

The unit then move to Cox Bazaar, December 1943, and the 21st at the ack ack battery of the Belfast Regiment took part in the battle of the Admin Box where the Japanese were defeated for the first time.  The 21st battery, under Captain Harry Porter was involved in this bitter battle.  The heavy anti-aircraft guns were used against infantry, by lowering them below the horizontal and against enemy aircraft.

            The 21st battery earned two MCs, two MMs, and several mentions in dispatches.

Captain Robin Henry Reade from Broughshane in County Antrim won the military Cross.

            His battery was singled out for attack by enemy bombers, and enemy guns engaged  the detachments over open sites.  Despite 40% casualties captain Reed continued to keep his guns and action and by his courage and leadership, set a fine example to his men.  Disregarding his personal safety, he attended to me when it during the period of shelling, and after the attack, turned his guns on to the field guns which were shelling over open sites and assisted and silencing them.

Sergeant William Adrain, a native of Belfast was one of two men to win the military medal with the 21st heavy ack ack battery. Adrain was the motor transport Sergeant of the troupe in the Admin Box between the 7th and 26 February:

            Throughout this period, during which the compound was dive-bombed, shelled, mortared, and machine-gunned, he was outstanding for a clueless and courage, and by his example did much to maintain morale at a high-level.  In particular on the 8th and 10th of February he was conspicuous for his devotion to duty under fire, attending to the wondered and moving ammunition lorries which were endangering the gun position, regardless of personal danger.

W. Adrain Sn. - Rosaleen Adrain (nee Dunlop) - W. Adrain Jn.


Sgts. Robinson - Wallace and Adrain


Sgts. J. Dubois, J. Flaherty, W. Adrain - Durban 1842


Sgts. Cassels, W. Adrain, Menary and Adernethy
Chittagong 1943


.

Sergeant William Adrains' diary from 8th of February 1944: -

see map of Admin Box 

Casualties, 8th of February 1944

Sergeant Thompson, J.            (W)      ADS

Bombardier Anderson              (W)                     dead   1569930

Bombardier Sherrard N.                                      dead

Gunner, Galway J.                     (W)       ADS     dead

Gunner Shields                          (W)       ADS     dead

Gunner Wakefield , RC          (W)       ADS

Gunner Buller E.                                                   dead

Gunner Sharp H.                        (W)       ADS     dead

Gunner Graham J.                     (W)       ADS     returned to unit

Gunner Talbot                                                      dead

Gunner Kinnon A.                                                 dead

Gunner Buchanan                      (W)       ADS     return to unit

Sergeant Miller                           (W)      ADS      return to unit

Gunner Burke, P. W.                    (W)      ADS

9th of February 1944

casualties

Sergeant Lockhart, H.                (W)       ADS     return to unit

Gunner Hughes, J.                     (W)                    returned to unit

Gunner Newell W. J.                  (W)       ADS     returned to unit

Gunner Creighton, J.                  (W)       ADS     return to unit

Gunner Haughey                         (W)       ADS     dead

Gunner Sheffield                        (W)       ADS     returned to unit

Gunner Gilmore W.                     (W)       ADS     returned to unit

Gunner Murray                         (W)       ADS     returned to unit

Lance Bombardier Warilow      (W)       ADS     returned to unit

Gunner Bassett J.                                                 dead

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

10th of February 1944

Casualties

Lance Bombardier, Warilow      (W)       ADS

Gunner Rydes                            (W)       ADS

Gunner Woolhead                      (W)       ADS

Gunner Robertson                     (W)       ADS

Lance Bombardier Mills             (W)       ADS

Gunnar Losby                             (W)       ADS     returned to unit

Sergeant Dubois                        (W)       ADS

Gunner Hughes                                                    dead

Gunner Grinsell                                                    dead

                                    32.

Gunner Bradshaw Shock          sick      tacky          return to unit

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

13th of February 1944

Ebery                                                                    dead

Haughty died 17th of February 1944

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            First crossed the pass on the last week of January, with Captain Reade and the first guns. 

We crossed the pass on the fifth of February with three guns to Tottenham Corner at 2000 hrs -- division signals fell at 0 700 hours -- left with lorries back to the pass to find safe motor transport lines -- reported to Admin command -- motor  transport parked at SD.

Saw the general and staff come in from division -- Mr. West contacted gun site, were the guns were -- returned to pass entrance took up defence positions at S. D. the under Captain Paterson (Green Howard's).

Went to Tottenham corner, on motorcycle - met Lt. West - collected men's kits and returned to Walter Transport Park.

Started to rain heavily - took a lovely dive off motorcycle, was not hurt but foot rest smashed.

At dusk I received a message that guns were trying to get back from the gun Park.

Went along the road to meet them and directed them into position.

Met first gun, Hutton driving a AEC guided it into position.

Went back and met the men who were walking and brought them along to the new gun site beside a road.

Went back and met Farr with gun and directed him in.

Returned along the road and met Denton , driving B6 pulling the third gun and directed him into the Gun Park .

Met Captain Reade on the motorcycle before the guns arrived.

The fourth gun was put out of action -- breach block removed and the dials smashed.

The 7th  February 1944

Three guns ready for action and opened fire on Jap planes (fighters).

The position is very exposed -- hills on four sides, and with back to the pass.

The tanks saved the guns by their support during the withdrawal from the first site.

Further still, in the Valley opposite to pass entrance is 1200 yards away, our Ammo hill is 400 yards away, and the hill on the south side of the pass is 600 yards away, and is held by the Japanese.  We are completely surrounded.  In the position is very bad and the pass is closed.

Terrific gunfire from tanks and Bren gun posts all night.

Food plentiful, and plenty of ammunition.  -- West Yorks are the only infantry support and have done great work.

8th of February1944

Fired at some of the hilltops in Japanese hands, patrol later found dead Japs.

We are being pounded by Jap 75 mm gun and mortars from hill at the opposite end of the valley.

Men in good spirits.  We received our first severe casualties to direct hits on the gun site, the first one in the morning and about six were wounded, but not seriously, including H. Lockhart.

In the afternoon, it was a bad smash.  Jack Thompson and about a dozen others were severely wounded.  Bombardier Sherrard was killed instantly, on Jim Dubois's gun and Talbot at the Bren gun pit nearby.

I brought a vehicle onto the park to take the wounded to the ADS about 100 yards away.  We had a job of getting them into the EDS as Japanese gunfire was coming right over the lorry and we had to take shelter.  Lt. Warke was also killed, and both men were buried on the gun site.

Lance Bombardier Thomas was with me.  When the gunfire ceased, we could not get any stretcher bearers.  We later found out that a lot of them were killed.  We managed to get some stretchers ourselves and then we had assistance from an RMC sergeant and private to get the worst cases of (14 that day.  Six of them and died later, making eight dead that day.)

The ADS had to be moved to a more sheltered spot, the other side of the river in the pass.

We are brought over blackouts and medical supplies, that had been left.

I was called by some of the drivers and Bassett played in a Nullah beside two bulldozers an RE officer had parked.  He had been left there to rest as he had a touch of malaria.  It was a shock as no one knew he had been hit.  A Padre conducted funeral services, for some of the dead, who are buried on the gun site and the enemy guns were firing away all the time.

Bassett was buried next morning, where he was killed, Mr. Bing, taking his pay book and I have his wallet.

The guns of the 5-5, the 25 Pounders, the tanks and ourselves (3.7 inch) have blasted away at the Hills whenever we find a sign of Japanese 75 mm or mortars.

The crows are finding plenty of deadly Japanese.

9th February 1944

Japanese got into the ADS on the Buthidung Road about a mile from us and have murdered Indian doctors, stretcher bearers and wounded men.  Tanks went into action against them.

Gun were shelled again and there are more casualties.  The officers and men are sticking it extra well.  Defence posts are manned all night.  Thomas, and I only get an hours sleep every other hour.

DC3's are dropping tons of supplies every day, coming in very low.

The situation is very critical on the ninth February, as there is still no sign of the 26th division and there is very little fighter support.

10th of February 1944

Bofors guns have been doing very good work.

We received another direct hit on a gun.  There was a bad smash on the gun Park. More lorries ablaze and exploding ammunition and hand grenades.  When I was able to leave the dugout I found two dead on number one gun.  Sgt. Dubois, and all of the gun team were injured.  The military police and West Yorks helped to take them to the ADS.

Capt. Reade was mad, and also Sgt. Maj. Francis, and it was decided to blast the hill.  The Admin Cdr. helped to direct the shoot.

Sgt. Sharp was in charge of one gun, and the scratch team for the other gun still an action was: --

 number 1 -- Sgt. Arthurs, Dials --  Bombardier Pain and Gunner McGillaway, Loaders -- Lt. being, Lt. Francis, Sgt. McLaughlin, myself (Sgt Adrain).

We fired 10 rounds from each gun  at the hill, where the Japanese gun was located.  The number one gun was hit on the barrel and is out of action.

Maj. Gen. Messerly and Brigadier Negly, aide-de-camp, arrived and congratulated us on putting up such a good show.

The usual gunfire all night.

11th  February 1944

This was much the same still the subject it to gunfire and mortar fire.  The Japanese are very accurate.  The tanks and the guns blasted the hills and were in action from before 1100 hrs to 1800 hrs without a stop.  The fire was terrific, and the machine-gun fire was very intense.  There was no reply from the Japanese, and plenty of them were reported to be found dead on the hills when our patrol was not there.

There is still not enough infantry to hold in the hills so that there are only observation posts left on them.

It was a bit quieter during the night, and the men were in very good form There is still no sign of the pass being opened, or the 26th division arriving.

12th of February 1944

The shelling of the hills continued and there was returned mortar and shellfire from Japanese positions.  We've got very little sleep at night.

Plenty of supplies still arrive every day, dropped by DC3's .

13th of February 1944

Plenty of fighting going on around in the hills by the pass.  Our guns have made the hills very bare in parts.  Punjabi infantry, 220 strong make contact with the 6 Lee tanks at 0 600 hours.  Lincolns reported to be getting closer.

Heavy bursts of machine-gun fire in the evening, across the Gun Park .

Gunner Titch Ebery was killed instantly and was buried on the gun Park.  It was about 1700 hrs when the men were having a dinner.

Bombardier Thomas and myself had a very narrow escape as the bullets were flying all around us.  I felt very shaken up and tired.

There was fighting as usual, at intervals during the night, and the usual sniping.

14th of February 1944

Much the same: Japanese gun put out of action by tanks and on the same evening another one received a direct hit from our gun site. Our Ammo was set on fire, and a lot of ammunition destroyed.

The general came along to congratulate the men on the great show they had put up, and it was only then I realised I had been talking to him after Sergeant Dubois's gun was put out of action. The troop has been praised by everyone. They have made a name for themselves.  The West Yorks , and the tanks have put up a great show.

15th of February 1944

Lincolns are reported to have made contact.  The hills nearby are completely under our control.  The hill on the north-side of the pass is again in Japanese hands, and the tanks have blasted it for over an hour. Patrols of our infantry later gained control of it.

The position is much better, but the pass is still closed.

I visited the ADS every day to see the wondered.  The medical officers, Colonel Bonnet and Major Currant, stretcher bearers and orderlies have done a great job in an impossible situation as the Japanese guns burst about it at times.

I hope the pass will soon be open and the wounded taken away, as there is no proper hospital just a hideout on the side of the pass.  It is very nerve racking for the wounded.

Japanese gunmen fired from a new position and hit Ammo hill again after 1700 hrs and the tanks had to clear away from it. Ammunition continues to explode all over the place for most of the night. It was fairly quiet during the night.  I could hear some fighting on the pass.  The K. O. S. B. arrived in this morning, this will be a great help.

16th of February 1944

Japanese gun firing again, when I was at the ADS and were bursting on the hills close by. Shrapnel was falling around the patients. It was fairly quiet until after dusk, when the Japanese are on the hills tried to come in to support others already about the pass. They had a hot reception from Bren guns, and I hear 80 dead Japanese were found by the KSOB's this morning.

17th of February 1944

The situation is the same today.  Some gunfire at times.  The tanks and KOSBs went up in the pass this morning and have just returned.  The second in command was killed by a sniper.  The tanks cleaned up some machine-gun nests.

At dusk, the Japanese started sending over incendiary bombs, one landed beside the Bofors gun in the field in front of us. Another one set a vehicle alight, and one set fire to oil on the north-side of the hill at the petrol dump.  This burned for a long time but the rest were put out quickly.

Went up with Denton , Haycock and Taylor to move the transport, as some of it was in the petrol dump Valley.  I moved B 10 as it was fully loaded with ammunition into the far corner of the old ADS and then we moved the other vehicles on that side of the valley down to the ADS road below it.  Got the Indian other ranks and MPs to clear all the diesel and oil away from that side.  It was just as well as an incendiary landed a few feet from where the ammunition lorry had been.  It did no damage just burning the grass.

The night was fairly quiet, ordered bursts of artillery fire, mortar fire and machine-gun fire off and on during the night.  It was mostly ours.  There were sounds of fighting in the pass..

18th of February 1944

 I went along to the petrol dump first thing in the morning to see if the incendiary bomb had landed near to where our lorries were parked. We had a fairly quiet day, but received word at breakfast that Haughey had died the previous night at the ADS, that makes 13 dead. The wounded are doing fairly well.  The most serious cases are Sergeant Thomson, Sergeant Dubois, Gunner Warilow, Gunner Woolhead, Wakefield and Robertson, Rydes and Bombardier Mills went over to see them as usual.  I had more rest, and unloaded ammunition into a pit at the end of the ABS road in case any more incendiaries came over.  I had a nice quiet afternoon and was reading "Village in August."  Written by a Chinese about Manchuria , under the Japanese.

At dusk, 1900 hours all our guns opened up, along with the mortars, and they pounded round the hills to the north side of the pass all night.  The regiment guns on the other side of the pass were firing over as well.  I guess there will be plenty more dead Japanese this morning

The figures for dead Japanese up to a couple of days ago was 750.  The KOSB's were out most of the day, and some of the tanks clearing up machine-gun nests in the hills by the pass and found plenty of dead Japanese.  They captured some more Japanese machine-guns.  I saw the first Japanese 10 rupee note, also a half rupee note, all ready for use in India .  Hutton had been given them by one of the infantry.  
[see photo left]

19th of February 1944

There is still no sign of the pass being opened to get the wounded away.  They have had a rough time as some of them have been lying in the shelter of the hill by the pass for most of the time.  The doctors have had a tough time as most of the wounded are in the open and there is no proper hospital for treating them, its nerve wrecking for them, lying helpless and gunfire going on all around them especially when Japanese guns and mortars started bursting around.

A very quiet day, just the occasional gunfire, and our own mortars firing. There are still a number of Japanese in the hills nearby.

DC3's (Dakotas) are still dropping plenty of supplies, and we seem to have more control of the hills around.  Infantry patrols of the KOSB's are active against the Japanese on the hill at the South-side of the pass.

12 Hurricanes and 12 Vengeances, staffed nearby, just after 1700 hours.

I was over to see the wounded as usual.  They all seem to be keeping in good spirits.  There is still no sign of the pass being opened.  I hope it will be soon as it is time the wounded were in a better place.

Heavy fighting, about 0 200 hours this morning on the north-side of the pass.  The usual gunfire, mostly from our own guns and mortars.

20th of February 1944

It was a quiet morning.  Our guns were firing at ground targets, I was over to see the wounded, and they all appear to be very well but the gunfire usually upsets them.

A church service was held on the site by the Padre of the 24th LAA Regiment who was at the burial of our dead.  He preached a very good shaman, based on the story of the lost Horizon.  His text was "my peace be with you."

The pass is still closed, hope it will soon be opened for the sake of the wounded.  I am feeling a lot better, as I am now at the command Post and getting more sleep.

We've managed to put some more of the vehicles on the road by changing tyres, most of the vehicles bear the scars of battle.

Vengeance dive bombers gave an exhibition of bombing on the hills, facing us about 1200 yards away.

It was a very quiet night, just some board bursts of gunfire and machine-gun fire for some

21st February 1944

12 Japanese bombers passed over before 900 hours, escorted by fighters our guns had a go at them.  The regiment guns on the west side of the pass also opened up.  Spitfires appeared hard on the tail of the Japanese fighters.

Our guns are still shelling some of the hills and the mortars are at it, as usual.  And there was no Japanese return fire.

Vengeance dive bombers came over at 1300 hours and blasted the hills near to the pass on the north side.  This was quite close to us so we had a grandstand view.  There should not be many Japanese there now.

I was over, as usual to see the wondered and found Jimmy Dubois, feeling a lot better.  He was afraid he was going to lose his left leg.  Jack Thompson and Woolhead still much the same, Bombardier Mills was making a good recovery, Robertson was not feeling too good.

The RTE Lt. Thomas who stays at our site is still doing good work with the bulldozer.  He has been making more room for the wounded for the last couple of days.

The Scots Lt. I. AOC is still around with us. The battle dress suppliers on his lorries are all gone, as we have been giving them to all that need a change of clothes.

Vengeance dive bombers came over at 1700 hours and blasted around the same hill on the north-side of the pass.

Clouds of dust spread over the hill.

The RI ASC managed to get the bakery working and we have had fresh bread for the last three days instead of biscuits.  The food situation is very good and we get enough to eat.  We also have M and B tablets and one mepacrine tablet every night.  The men's health keeps very good, considering we have been living underground for 17 days.

I was on duty from midnight, and shelling started up. There was plenty of machine-gun fire. Japanese mortars started up about 0300 hours and our mortars and the guns were very active.

At 0645 hours one Jap plane flew over from north to south, too far out for our guns to engage.

The sun is coming up like a golden ball, it's a beautiful sight, talk about Kipling's poem.

Japanese 105 mm gun making a nuisance of himself.  I hope it won't be long until it's blasted and gets a pasting.  There was heavy fighting on the pass at 1000 hours and there were plenty of stray bullets flying around, especially about the hospital.

I was at the hospital, as usual, all of the men were very cheerful. A private of the West Yorks , told me Sergeant Scott had been injured yesterday and had died early this morning. He was a Belfast man and lived in Fortingale Street .  I had met him at the beginning of the battle, and he was one of the West Yorks who brought the four pixies of tea to the gun sight after a direct hit on Jimmy Dubois's gun.

The KOSBS's and five tanks went up to the pass at 1200 hrs along with the RE's and bridging party.  The pass is expected to be cleared today and the first convoy through by tomorrow. 

It was very quiet this afternoon, just occasional firing DC3's were dropping supplies as usual.  I met the pantry (padre?) of the West Yorks and ADS, who comes from the south of Ireland .  He was at Trinity with our Padre, Quinlan.  An RI AMC  Captain in the ADS.  Comes from Ballymoney.

A Japanese 105 mm gun, open fire at dusk. Some of the shells burst nearby and a mule was killed in the Chung below. I found out later four Indians were killed in the ADS.

It was very quiet all night.

23rd of February 1944

It was a very quiet morning, and I was at the ADS to see the wounded.  A Japanese gun fired one shell when I was there.

Fighting is going on in the pass .  It should soon be clear.

Vengeance dive bombers were over about 1600 hrs bombing, a feature south of the pass.

DC3's were over as usual, 8 of them escorted by eight Hurricanes dropping plenty of supplies.

12 Hurricanes (4 cannons) passed by on a staffing expedition.

It has been a very quiet day, just the odd bursts of machine-gun fire during the night.

24th of February 1944

The morning was very quiet, and we expect the pass to be open at any time.

I was at the ADS with Captain Reade to see the wounded.  They were all in very good form.

1320 hrs. I've just heard the first convoy has come through the pass from the West.  It is good news.  We have waited 18 days for this.

The first convoy of wounded left in the afternoon for the other side of the pass and a second convoy left by 1700 hours.  There is only Sgt. Dubois, and Wakefield to be taken across out of our unit.

The Japanese gun opened up again from the south-side of the pass and hit the far corner of the ammunition hill a number of times and set it on fire.  The ammunition was exploding all over the place for about one half hours.  It was very quiet until about 2130 hrs.  When there was quite a battle up by the SD, plenty of machine-gun fire.  The rest of the night was quiet.

25th of February 1944

Everything is now very quiet.  Col. Cunningham and Major Gabbey arrived from the west side of the pass to see how are we were doing.  There are plenty of convoys coming through now.

Vengeance dive bombers were over, about 1200 hrs and attacked feature on the southern side of Mayu Ridge.

All the mail arrived. I had plenty of letters to read, the first for three weeks, and I wrote my first letter to Rosaleen.

Our guns started firing at a Japanese pocket in the hill on our left at 1745 hours.  A 37 mm Japanese field gun was firing from a hill just on the North side of the pass about half a mile away.

There was some fighting during the night on the east-side over the hills and on the south-side of the pass.  Our guns were firing at these pockets of Japanese.

There are plenty of convoys coming through the pass with supplies.

26 February 1944

It was fairly quiet all day, with the odd bursts of firing in the distance. It is reported that fifth division patrol has found 300 dead Japanese in the Nullah that the guns had been blasting last night. Capt. McKibbin arrived with Captain Miller and Sgt. Weldon.  I have arranged for repairs and am starting tomorrow.  Hudson and Bombardier McKenna were also along.

The third gun is now in action.  A new barrel was fitted and other parts welded.  The slump of B5 was welded.  The BPL header tank type was welded, as was the footrest of the Norton.

It was a quiet night, just the odd shelling by our own guns.

27th of February 1944

It was a quiet morning.  Major Prosser and Sgt. Neil arrived and a Broadway play.  I have sent back all parts requiring repair and hope to have all the motor transport ready for the road again in a few days.

This I have got my first Japanese half rupee note intended to be used in India .  What a hope! 

There was shelling by our own guns.  I received word from Captain Reade we were to go out and retrieve the other gun.  We left at about 1500 hours with a scratch gun team.  Hudson (B4), Morrison (B14), Culmer, Denton , Kitchen and Haycock came as well.  We found the gun had not been touched by the Japanese, though all the stores and the kit had been looted.  They had opened up some of the shells and taken out the cordite.  One Japanese rifle was found.  We picked up a lot of stores and returned with the gun shortly after 1800 hours.  We had to tow an Indian track vehicle out of the road at Tottenham Corner, as it was blocking the way.

The gun was back in action for ground targets, as it was waiting new dials.

We started to repair vehicles and hope to have them all in action.  Major Gabbey arrived and is stopping the night.

At 1700 hours, a Japanese gun gave us a surprise. Shells burst near ammunition hill.

It was a very quiet night, with signs of fighting in the distance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the war he worked  at maintaining the Lyle and Kinahan lorry fleet, his army trade, but lack of money forced him to return to sales.

He then became a sales rep. and later a Sales Director in Lyle and Kinahan until his retirement.

He was always interested in education and was secretary of the WEA in Belfast and took courses in History, English and Politics. You can see he was interested in books even in the Admin Box.

He unfortunately contracted Parkinsons Disease and eventually died after a severe stroke in 1984 - 40 years after his ordeal in the Box

Billy Adrain died 2nd of April 1983.


Sgt. William Adrain's sketch of the Admin Box February 1944