In most of the books and paperwork written about the 1943 Chindits, the figure for the number of bonfide POW's is usually put at around 210. This refers to the men who were known to be captured by the Japanese and who ended up being held at Rangoon Central Jail.
During my research I have found perhaps 25 or so more men who were held by the Japanese in 1943, but not all of whom made it down to Rangoon. I would go further and say that it is my belief that many other men were captured alongside jungle paths or in Burmese villages back then. In most cases these men were already in advance stages of starvation, exhaustion or suffering from the multitude of diseases available in Burma at that time. I am sure that these men perished soon after capture and were hastily buried along the way.
My numbers for POW status are 239 confirmed Chindit prisoners of whom roughly 60% did not make it home after liberation in 1945. The lists held at the Imperial War Museum make for grim reading as the soldiers perish in batches of two or three every few days, starting in May 1943 until the deaths finally begin to slow down by early 1944. There is no doubt that, as in the case of my Grandfather, the Longcloth men tended to die more from the privations of the operation, than from anything the Japanese had meted out. Of course the Japanese could have saved them, this is true, with any sensible level of nutrition and medical care, most of the prisoners would have survived. But this was simply not to be.
The men who were destined to be POW's were usually captured alone or in small groups all over the area west and northeast of the confluence of the Irrawaddy and Shweli Rivers. One group of column 5 men found themselves trapped on a large sandbank in the middle of the Shweli and here around 40 men were taken prisoner in what surely was the single largest group to be rounded up that year. Others had made it all the way back to the eastern banks of the Chindwin River, the natural and unofficial border between Burma and India, only to be captured at this final hurdle.
The story was the same for most of the men. Captured in the field by their opposite number, they were tied and bound, but generally treated decently by the Japanese Imperial infantryman. Most of the men agreed that the further away from the combat zone they travelled the worse their treatment became. After a short while the men were taken to holding camps in the local area. Bhamo camp seems to be the first collection point where a large number of Chindits found themselves crammed together in small wooden pens. Men who might not have seen each other for up to 4 weeks were suddenly reunited in these squalid cell rooms. Here is a quote from Philip Stibbe's 'Return via Rangoon' when recounting Bhamo Jail...