- Title: OPERATION RIVER: AIR EVACUATION OF CHINDITS BY SUNDERLAND FLYING BOATS OF 230 SQUADRON RAF [Allocated Title]
- Film Number: MWY 25
- Other titles: INDIAN INTER-SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTORATE COLLECTION - INDIAN HOME FRONT AND MILITARY OPERATIONS, AND ALLIED OPERATIONS IN ITALY AND THE PACIFIC DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
- Summary: A Short Sunderland flying boat of RAF 230 Squadron is used to evacuate wounded and sick Chindits of 111th Brigade (3rd Indian Division (Special Force)) from behind Japanese lines at Lake Indawgyi, Burma, to Dibrugarh on the Brahmaputra River in Assam, India.
- Description: Airborne interior in the cockpit of a Short Sunderland flying boat of RAF 230 Squadron. Porthole with view of engine and terrain below. Flight deck with four members of the crew in the cockpit. View of the aircraft's throttles and pilot. View of the spinning propeller of the port inner engine with cloudscape and landscape behind. Cloudscape with Lake Indawgyi below. On the lake an inflatable dinghy is paddled towards the Sunderland. A narrow canoe-like boat motors away from camera. The dinghy, now alongside, offloads wounded onto the Sunderland. Three men are helped aboard. Aircraft interior showing evacuees. Boats on the lake. Airborne interior; view of starboard inner engine. Flight crew at the controls. Navigator at work at his map table. Air-to-air of two friendly fighter aircraft, probably RAF Supermarine Spitfires. (There follows a short section of junk footage, possibly the result of changing reels). Two men have tea aboard the aircraft, one takes a teaspoon from the other's mug, who then dunks a biscuit in his tea. On the flight deck the co-pilot has tea. A wireless operator (a warrant officer) at his station. Copilot with tea then speaking on radio. Cloudscape. View of Lake Indawgyi through windscreen. At Dibrugarh on the Brahmaputra River a DUKW amphibious truck transfers wounded from the Sunderland to the shore. They are received by waiting medical personnel. A man is helped onto a stretcher. Stretcher case put aboard a waiting ambulance. Looking into the ambulance as another case is put aboard; a number of Sikh personnel are present. A number of men sitting in the back of a lorry (an ambulance?) smile for the camera. On the shore a file of mostly Sikh medical orderlies waits. Airborne interior; an RAF officer speaks to two others, one of whom is an airman who wears the half-wing badge of an Air Gunner. Propellers spinning as the Sunderland starts to taxi. View of the Sunderland's wake. View of wingtip float in the water; the spray gets stronger giving a good impression of speed before the float lifts out of the water. Aerial views of the Brahmaputra. View over a town by the river (Dibrugarh?). Airborne interior looking forward towards the nose; a crewman is manning the nose turret but all that can be seen of him are his feet and legs as he traverses the turret. Distant view of a Sunderland taking off. Brief view of a sunset with two figures silhouetted (location now probably Lonton, on the shore of Lake Indawgyi). Two Spitfires make a low pass. Line of men presumably awaiting evacuation; one of them a British man in only a pair of shorts who is severely underweight. Others appear to be Gurkhas. A man sitting in a raised wooden hut takes notes. The note-taker speaks with an Indian (?) man who is leaning on a stick. Two seated men both with bandaged legs. Two men, one in a distinctively Gurkha bush hat and another with his head wrapped in bandages. A gaunt-looking man behind them has a sheaf of paper. Medium close-up then pan to line of waiting Gurkhas. The gaunt-looking man seen earlier moves along the line and appears to be issuing pills. Three men watch a flight of four aircraft pass in the distance. A shirtless soldier, with a slung M1 Carbine, stands with his back to the camera and shows off a large tattoo across both shoulders depicting King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon). A distant aircraft (a Sunderland?) overhead with men leaving their huts to see it. The aircraft overhead with another at lower altitude, possibly a supply-dropping Dakota. A group of men talking; the man in the centre is thickly bearded. Medium close-up of the bearded man, possibly a senior officer. Sunderland passing overhead. Sunderland on the water in the distance. View from a watercraft approaching the Sunderland. The Sunderland taxies.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM
- Featured Period: 1939-1945
- Production Date: 1944-06
- Production Country: India
- Production Details: Public Relations Directorate, India (Production sponsor) Indian Public Relations Film Unit (Production company) Hewitson, Joseph Walford19202010-12-10Army cameraman, served in India and Burma with Indian Army Public Relations Film Unit, later worked with National Film Board of Canada. (Production individual)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: Indian Army, 111th Indian Infantry Brigade (Chindits) (regiment/service) Indian Army, 3rd Indian Division (Chindits) (regiment/service) Royal Air Force, 230 Squadron (regiment/service)
- Keywords: Dibrugarh, Assam, India (geography) Indawgyi Lake, Burma (geography) Brahmaputra River, India (geography) Operation River, Chindits 1944, Burma 1942-1945, Second World War (event) Air evacuation of casualties, Air operations over Burma, Burma 1942-1945, Second World War (event) British Army 1939-1945 (theme) Indian Army 1939-1945 (theme)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 1 Footage: 630 ft (approx); Running time: 7:00 mins
- HD Media:Yes
- Notes: A very useful film, with the airborne interiors giving a good sense of flying in one of these large aircraft. This operation was also filmed by RAF cameramen and their footage can be found under the references below. See related items. The dopesheet names the pilot as Flight Lieutenant Jack Rand. Captions of photographs held at the Australian War Memorial name his copilot as Flight Sergeant F Wright. They piloted Sunderland DP180. See references below. These evacuations were made over 32 days from May-July 1944 during which time 537 men were recovered. Two aircraft were involved, DP180 and JM659, both detached from 230 Squadron's base at Koggala, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). By this point the Chindits had been behind enemy lines for months since the launching of Operation Thursday and wounds, malnutrition and disease were taking a severe toll on morale and combat effectiveness. Air evacuation of casualties was a feature of the fighting in Burma but the use of Sunderlands represented a highly innovative use of an aircraft designed for long-range maritime patrol. At a number of points in this film the film appears to briefly speed up. Possible that the camera's mechanism was faulty or the cameraman was unable to regulate its speed. Series note: The MWY series of films is believed to be part of a ‘pool’ of film received by the Government of India from various sources, including South East Asia Command, the Indian Inter-Service Public Relations Directorate, the Ministry of Information, and from Allied governments. This footage would have been considered for editing and release through the Indian Newsreel Parade; see INR series.
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
ABY 12 ('SUNDERLAND STORY' - TRANSPORT AND EVACUATION OF BRITISH CASUALTIES BY SUNDERLAND FLYING BOAT AT DIBRUGARH, ASSAM, INDIA [Allocated Title]) JFU 362 ('T FOR TOMMY' CRASHES: 230 SQUADRON SUNDERLAND AT KUANTAN [Allocated Title]) JFU 363 (KUANTAN, MALAYA: DELIVERY OF RICE BY SUNDERLAND FLYING BOAT [Allocated Title]) ABY 9 (AMPHIBIOUS EVACUATION OF CASUALTIES BY SUNDERLAND AIRCRAFT, DIBRUGARH, INDIA [Allocated Title]) ABY 146 (SALVAGING A SUNDERLAND FLYING BOAT ON THE BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER [Allocated Title]) 2565 (Burma: Air Evacuation of Casualties) WPN 181 (WAR PICTORIAL NEWS NO 181 [Main Title])