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Title:BATTLE FOR MANDALAY - INFANTRY ASSAULT ON FORT DUFFERIN [Allocated Title]
Film Number:JIN 16
Other titles:INDIAN ARMY OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
Summary: 19th Indian Division close in on Burma's second city of Mandalay and fierce fighting erupts as troops attempt to storm the gates of Fort Dufferin.
Description: Shot by Lieutenant Hayat: Uneven and dark footage of troops walking along a road. View of the distant Mandalay Hill with bare trees in the foreground; troops (probably 8th Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment) and tanks move left-to-right along a road in the midground. A Lee medium tank crosses a bridge with infantry riding on its hull; Mandalay Hill rises in the background. Silhouetted troops march along a raised road. An ambulance follows them. Mandalay Hill with a Lee in the foreground; another Lee enters shot. Troops and vehicles cross a railway line at a level crossing. An Ordnance BL 5.5-inch Medium Gun fires on the walls of Fort Dufferin; the barrel is depressed to its minimum elevation for firing at short range. The gun bounces on its carriage with each shot. View from directly behind the gun. View of the pagoda on the summit of Mandalay Hill under shellfire 'very reluctantly ordered by General Rees' (from the dopesheet). View (from a ditch or similar?) looking towards the walls of Fort Dufferin; something explodes immediately in front of the camera. A bare patch of ground, possibly where the explosion went off. Troops moving up in the distance. Tilt from a bare tree to ground level; camera position appears to be very close to the ground. Troops advancing with their heads down. The gates of Fort Dufferin burning fiercely. Longer lens view shows the burning gates. A Lee a short way off. Troops advancing on the gates of the fort; slight pan reveals the cameraman is sharing his position with a Vickers machine gun team. Two tanks, supporting the advance, a short way off.
Shot by Lieutenant Abbas: A very grey shot of troops crossing open ground. Mandalay Hill with drifting smoke and shell bursts. Pan showing Mandalay Hill. Distant shot of infantry crossing a road with Stuart tanks of 7th Light Cavalry in support. Grey shot of troops crossing open ground, possibly near the racecourse to the north of Fort Dufferin; two jeeps raise dust.
Production Details: Public Relations Directorate, India (Production sponsor)
Indian Army Public Relations Film Unit (Production company)
Hayat, A R (Production individual)
Abbas, S V (Production individual)
Personalities, Units and Organisations: Indian Army, 12th Frontier Force Regiment, 8th Battalion (regiment/service)
Indian Army, 19th Indian Division (regiment/service)
Indian Army, 254th Indian Tank Brigade (regiment/service)
Keywords: Mandalay, Burma (geography)
Mandalay 1945, Burma 1942-1945, Second World War (event)
Indian Army 1939-1945 (theme)
Burma 1942-1945 (theme)
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 731 ft; Running time: 9 mins
Notes: The dopesheet does not provide many details, but the date and the references to the gate of Fort Dufferin make it very likely that this film shows an attack by 98th Brigade on the fort's northern gate on 10 March 1945. The medium gun seen here was firing to breach the walls for an assault company of 8th Battalion 12th Frontier Force Regiment. Despite heavy supporting fire this attack failed and the assault company lost a third of its strength in three hours. Further attempts against determined Japanese resistance in strong positions also failed.
The dopesheet also sounds a humorous note on the number cameramen covering operations at Mandalay. These included British, Indian and American official teams and likely several newsreel cameramen as well and so the dopesheet remarks 'Also covered by cameramen of almost all the nations of the world except the enemy'.
The Museum's Sound Archive holds a BBC recording of the divisional commander, Major-General Rees, describing this attack on the gates of Fort Dufferin.
In all, a striking piece of combat film with the cameraman capturing an assault from close-quarters, while the explosion makes very clear the danger of combat photography.