Chindit Affair: A Memoir of the War in Burma, Frank Baines

Chindit Affair: A Memoir of the War in Burma, Frank Baines

Frank Baines joined the Chindits in the summer of 1943, during the creation and training of 111 Brigade, formed after the success of Wingate's first raid. He came from the Camouflage School, but perhaps surprisingly the Chindits didn't have a role for a camouflage expert, but he was kept on, first in command of the mules and then as the commander of the Brigade Headquarters defence platoons. This meant that he was close to the brigade's commander during Operation Thursday, so his account combines a ground-level view of life with the Gurkhas and an insight into the command of the expedition.

This is by far the most unusual book that I have ever read on the Chindits, both in style and in content. The author, Frank Baines, was gay and became involved with one of the Gurkhas under his command. This relationship thus forms one of the main themes of the book. As for the style the tone is often quite poetic, and has more in common with a work of classic literature than with most military autobiographies.

Most of the book covers the time spent behind Japanese lines in Burma, with a vivid description of the flight in, fascinating details on the life in the jungle and accounts of a series of battles, some directly involving Baines and others seen as a distance. The longer the Chindits remained in the field the worse their condition became, and Baines traces that deterioration and the impact it had on their ability.

This is a fascinating book. Baines is an engaging narrator, and gives us a unusual view of a famous campaign.

1 - 111 Brigade
2 - Mule Problems
3 - Ready for War
4 - Into the War Zone
5 - Lift-Off
6 - Burma
7 - Across the Irrawaddy
8 - The Gangaw Hills
9 - A Change of Plan
10 - The March North
11 - The Build-Up to Blackpool
12 - Blackpool
13 - On the March Again
14 - A Court Martial
15 - A New Objective
16 - Taking Point 2171
17 - Holding On
18 - Getting Out
19 - Postscript - Farewell to Dal Bahadur

Author: Frank Baines
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 242
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011

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