Elephant Bill

Reviews and commentary on books, films, etc.
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Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:24 am
Last Name: Fisher

Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:06 pm

I felt I had to post a thread about the above named book, as although not equines, it is amazing what animals have been used in Military Service. The author Lt Col J H Williams O.B.E. was an officer in the British Army in Mesopotamia (Iraq) during WWI when he was the transport officer concerned with camels and mules.

After the war he went to work in Burma for the Bombay Burma Trading Company and was an assistant officer concerned with the extraction of Teak by elephants.

During WWII he was co-opted into the British Army, and his specialist skills with elephants and their handlers, plus his intimate knowledge of the Burmese Country was invaluable to the Allies as they firstly withdrew from Burma under the Japanese onslaught, and later built bridges and roads, working alongside the Sappers, to assist in the Allied advance towards Rangoon.

At one point during the Imphal and Kohima battles he led a herd of about 40 elephants, plus a large number of refugees over mountainous countryside to reach India, with the Japanese advance literally on their heels. Imagine elephants climbing a track three feet wide with a sheer drop of hundreds of feet on one side, the path having been dug by the oozies and native tribesmen.

With a foreword by Field Marshall Sir William Slim G.B.E. K.C.B. D.S.O. M.C. a truly remarkable story, about a chapter of WWII which is not very well known. No wonder the XIVth Army was known as "The Forgotten Army"
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