World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                        Jack Burgin

 

A Dodge Truck and Vera Lynn

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Jack Burgin
Location of story: Burma/Assam border
Unit name: 216 squadron
Background to story: Royal Air Force

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Jack Burgin.

In 1943/4 we were on the Burma/Assam border for about 9 months. Our job was to fly supplies to the front lines and bring wounded and prisoners back. We'd heard that Vera Lynne was in the area and one evening, she turned up at our landing ground in a 3 ton Dodge Truck.

There was canvas over the back of the truck which she used it as a stage and gave us a few songs by the light of 2 Kelly lamps. She was absolutely covered in flies and moths. How she managed to keep singing I don't know.

The "concert" lasted for about an hour with an audience of 200 or so of us gathered round. We gave her a wonderful reception.


Pr-BR

 

How to get a mule onto a Dakota

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Jack Burgin
Location of story: Assam/Burma border
Unit name: 216 Squadron
Background to story: Royal Air Force

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Jack Burgin.
How to get a mule onto a Dakota
By
Jack Burgin

I joined the RAF in May 1940 and became an airframe fitter with a transport squadron. By 1943 we were stationed at airstrips on the Assam/Burma border, dropping supplies around Imphal. We’d carried many things in our Dakota aircraft including food, ammunition, water and fuel to front lines, and wounded men and prisoners back.

But here came a new challenge, mules. We were asked to carry Indian army Muleteers and their animals as far forward as possible, so that they, in turn, could take the supplies further forward to troops who were entrenched.

Imagine trying to coax a mule up a steep wooden ramp into a Dakota aircraft! Some of them trotted up with no problem, but others just didn’t want to go. They would stop stock still with their hooves out and refuse to move an inch. It needed one man pulling from the front and two pushing from the back to get them to shift at all! However, together we and the Indian army Muleteers did manage it. We had 4 mules to each aircraft, sectioned off with bamboo poles tied to the rail normally used for parachute straps. This stopped them from trying to run about in the air.

As soon as the engines started, the mules did what came naturally and the urine ran through the floor straight onto the control wires, which ran from the cockpit through to the tail of the plane. This meant taking up the aluminium floor of each plane (not an easy job!!) to grease and maintain the wires and stop them from rusting.

Once we’d landed at a remote airstrip, the next challenge was to get the mules out of the Dakota and down the ramp again. Once on the ground they were loaded with supplies and the Muleteers took them off to locations in the jungle. This was the only way of getting food, water and ammunition through to places where there were no clearings for us to drop supplies from the air.


Pr-BR

 

Vera Lynne on the Burma/Assam border

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Jack Burgin, Vera Lynne
Location of story: Burma/Assam border
Unit name: 216 Squadron
Background to story: Royal Air Force

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Jack Burgin.


Vera Lynne on the Burma/Assam border
By
Jack Burgin

In 1943/4 we were on the Burma/Assam border for about 9 months. Our job was to fly supplies to the front lines and bring wounded and prisoners back. We’d heard that Vera Lynne was in the area and one evening, she turned up at our landing ground in a 3 ton Dodge Truck.

There was canvas over the back of the truck and she used it as a stage and gave us a few songs by the light of 2 Kelly lamps. She was absolutely covered in flies and moths and how she managed to keep singing I don't know.

The "concert" lasted for about an hour with an audience of 200 or so of us gathered round. We gave her a wonderful reception.

 

 

Pr-BR