Michael Allmand joined the British Indian Army at the end of 1942 and was commissioned into the Indian Armoured Corps for service in the Far East, and assigned to the 6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers. He later volunteered to serve with the Chindits and in 1944 saw action against the Japanese during Operation Thursday, and was subsequently attached to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles (3/6 GR).

Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Michael Allmand [Via en.wikipedia.org]

Allmand won Britain’s highest award for battlefield heroism, the Victoria Cross, during the regiment’s brutal slog towards Mogaung. He was only 20 years old.

Budge of the Regiment: 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles (3/6 GR) {Via chindits.wordpress.com]

Victory Cross Action

For the operation, 3/6 GR were assigned to the 77th Brigade, under the command of Brigadier Mike Calvert, and divided into two columns.They were flown in by glider to a landing zone code named "Broadway" in the northern Kaukwe valley on 5 March 1944. Despite heavy casualties and the destruction of a large number of gliders, a stronghold was established and from there columns were sent out to the north and south. The 3/6 GR were sent north towards Mawlu and Hopin where they probed Japanese defences. They were later sent north to another stronghold dubbed "Blackpool" where they were tasked with supporting Chinese forces around Mogaung and Myitkyina under US General Joseph Stilwell, who re-roled them as conventional infantry. Beginning on 6 June, the 77th Brigade advanced the final 10 miles (16 km) to Mogaung with the intent of capturing it. Amid monsoonal rains and suffering heavy casualties from the fighting as well as tropical diseases, the advance took a heavy toll on the Chindits; they were facing over 4,000 Japanese and by the end of the first week the brigade, having started with over 2,000 men, was down to just 550 and each battalion was at company strength.

Initially, Allmand was given command of a platoon; however, later he was promoted to acting captain and took over command of a company. On 11 June, two days after 3/6 GR had reached the outskirts of the town, Allmand's platoon was tasked with capturing a road bridge about 0.25 miles (0.40 km) away from the central railway station, close to where the Japanese had established their headquarters in a building dubbed the "Red House". During the assault, his platoon took heavy fire and the attack stalled; leading from the front, Allmand went ahead, rallying his troops as he attacked the defenders with grenades and his kukri. He was again in the thick of the fighting on 13 June when, having taken over a company following the loss of its commander, he led an assault to secure some high ground by singlehandedly destroying several machine-gun positions.

Sketch map of Mogaung June 1944 [Via www.6thgurkhas.org]

On 23 June, during the final stages of the advance on Mogaung, Allmand's company was tasked with capturing Natyigon village and securing the railway bridge that spanned the Mogaung River. Attacking to the left of the "Red House", Allmand's company was held up by machine-gun fire from an embankment near the bridge, Allmand went forward again. His movement hampered by severe trench foot, which had set in due to the poor conditions that the chindits had faced since starting the campaign in March, he nevertheless fought his way "through deep mud and shell-holes" and knocked out the machine-gun with grenades before being wounded. A short time later, another member of 3/6 GR, Tul Bahadur Pun, charged the bridge singlehandedly, killing the remaining Japanese defenders and securing it for the Gurkhas. Both Tul Bahadur and Allmand were later nominated for the Victoria Cross.

Victory Cross Citation

Captain Allmand was commanding the leading platoon of a Company of the 6th Gurkha Rifles in Burma on 11th June, 1944, when the Battalion was ordered to attack the Pin Hmi Road Bridge. The enemy had already succeeded in holding up our advance at this point for twenty four hours. The approach to the Bridge was very narrow as the road was banked up and the low-lying land on either side was swampy and densely covered in jungle. The Japanese who were dug in along the banks of the road and in the jungle with machine guns and small arms, were putting up the most desperate resistance. As the platoon come within twenty yards of the Bridge, the enemy opened heavy and accurate fire, inflicting severe casualties and forcing the men to seek cover. Captain Allmand, however, with the utmost gallantry charged on by himself, hurling grenades into the enemy gun positions and killing three Japanese himself with his kukrie.

Captain MJC Allmand VC [Via www.6thgurkhas.org]

Inspired by the splendid example of their platoon commander the surviving men followed him and captured their objective. Two days later Captain Allmand, owing to casualties among the officers, took over command of the Company and, dashing thirty yards ahead of it through long grass and marshy ground, swept by machine gun fire, personally killed a number of enemy machine gunners and successfully led his men onto the ridge of high ground that they had been ordered to seize. Once again on June 23rd in the final attack on the Railway Bridge at Mogaung, Captain Allmand, although suffering from trench-foot, which made it difficult for him to walk, moved forward alone through deep mud and shell-holes and charged a Japanese machine gun nest single-handed, but he was mortally wounded and died shortly afterwards.

The superb gallantry, outstanding leadership and protracted heroism of this very brave officer were a wonderful example to the whole Battalion and in the highest traditions of his regiment.

The citation did not go on to say that largely because of Captain Allmand's bravery Mogaung was captured. Michael Allmand is buried in the Taukkyan War Cemetery, Burma.


en.wikipedia.org | chindits.wordpress.com | www.6thgurkhas.org | www.victoriacross.org.uk

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