Private Ernest Faulkner was 23 when he was drafted out to the Far East. Although in the same regiment as Jim Howard (next story below), his reminiscences are from the men's, not the officers', point of view. Ernest Faulkner, pictured at the end of the war on a stopover in Doolally, India, where troops were gathered prior to repatriation. We went through all the proper training for jungle warfare marching and walking, sleeping out in the wild. We used to go on tea and rubber plantations, and of a night you could hear the beaters keeping the animals away. There were quite a lot of wild animals around, elephants and leopards. We had scorpions and centipedes too. The chaps used to dig a pit and take a scorpion and a centipede and let them fight it out, taking a bet on it. Then they'd get a little snake and put it in too. The centipedes were five or six inches long. We relied a lot on air drops of food and we used to look forward to them. A couple of times we ran out of rations. Once, one of our officers said to a chap, after we'd left one area, 'Go back and get the potato peelings'. We'd buried them in paper (we used to bury things like that). This chap had a tin of jam, so we dipped the peelings in it. We were on half rations some times in Burma. Once I put these white panels out so that the aircraft could see where we were so food could be dropped. As it happened, we had to move on, and we went off so fast, I don't know what the result was, but I did hear a story that they dropped rubber dinghies instead of food' We were mainly on the defensive. In Burma they were building these roads right down to the Chindwin and as the roads progressed, we moved down to the Chindwin itself. While they were building these roads, the army was preparing all these defences on the hills, trenches, so that when we did withdraw, it was already dug and all we had to do was wait for the Japs. It was good thinking. It must have been about 50 miles we withdrew, from the Chindwin up into these hills. We went into prepared positions all the time, so we had an advantage on the hills. You only dug trenches when you were advancing. On the Ukhrul road, when we went round to the back of the Japs, we built our own trenches then. We would just lie in wait for them in these trenches and they would arrive swarms of them. We were really outnumbered and on each hill we had a small number of men. Some times on a hill you'd just have a section of chaps another might have a platoon, another one a company. The Japanese would capture one hill, and then bypass the next one. I wasn't actually on Nippon Hill, but I was on the next one. The Japs would attack Nippon Hill, but at the same time bypass it, working round, then capture another small hill. We were on Crete Hill, and they went around that one and captured this little pimple, Lynch's Pimple, we had only a section of men there and they overran them. They did manage to cut us off by this tactic eventually, but the Ghurkhas went in on the last night and put in a counterattack. They didn't completely get rid of the Japs, they had so many men but somehow we got ourselves and the wounded down. The Japs' main attacks were by night, daytimes there were just shelling with mortars. They had these 105s and 75s, and you could tell what they were by the noise. With a 105 you knew you had a few more seconds, you got used to it. They had a 72, and when they used to come over you had to get down quick. They were nearer, didn't fire so far away. The worst ones were these whizzbangs, little things on wheels, cannons deadly at about 500 yards. You never heard them, it was just SHOOSH. When we got off that hill one night we were just running across the road as they opened up their machine guns. You know we only lost one bloke. We were running through them and they were firing in the dark. We got just round a bend then, and saw the wounded Ghurkhas, all bandaged up after they'd put in their counterattack during the night. The Japs were really vicious they'd fight to the end. They were so good at camouflage and getting underground, they couldn't be seen by aircraft. The artillery would bombard them, but they were still there. We, on the other hand, would' attack during the day. We never got any peace or sleep at night. Half the night they'd shell you, then half an hour would go by, and then another attack. They'd do the same thing again, the Japs. On Nippon Hill they had barbed wire and left a gap, and you could see them there, they'd be shot down and a little while later another mob would come in. In the morning they had 60 to 70 bodies lying by the wire. They had no brains to alter their tactics. The Company Commander used to shoot the Very light, and you could see and just sling the grenades at them. They seemed doped up! It was a job to get hold of any prisoners, but we started getting more on the Ukhrul road. They all had their hair shaved off. They were only kids, a lot of them. Maybe it was shock, or it could be they were brain-washed. They knew their officers would mow them down with their swords if they failed them. On several occasions we found these Japs, not a mark on them, with skin like a new born baby. They must have been killed by the blast. We found bodies stone dead without a mark on them. They couldn't have known a thing about it. They used to have these Jap flags tied around their waists, when they captured a hill, they'd put the flag up. A lot of them had flags; it was an honour to get there first. On another hill at Tamu there was an outbreak of scrub typhus, we lost a lot of blokes through that. We were on this hill and, one night when I was on guard, there was a sort of earth tremor. I sort of went up in the air and the ground shook. We heard it was an earthquake along the Brahmaputra. After that, everyone was going down with typhus. The order came that we had to scrape all the green vegetation off the hill and burn it. They reckoned these ticks were living on it. We did this patrol for six or seven weeks and no one was allowed to shave, in fact, our CSM did shave, and they busted him down to a sergeant. It was in case they cut themselves and got an infection. We ended up like a load of tramps. Fleas, don't talk to me of fleas. We went up on this hill and there were head hunters' huts. When you came out of them, you were running alive … scratching. A group of Chindits, many with trousers removed for the crossing, negotiate their way over one of the smaller rivers in Japanese occupied Burma. In the monsoons you were never dry. You got used to it and plonked down where you were in the mud. The gas cape was your only protection. We were on the move and it would take all day to get up one hill, slipping and sliding in the mud with these mules, they went through hell. We had elephants too, on some hills. We fed them on special rations which came on the air drops and they ate grass and bamboo too. Boys would give them biscuits, mouldy stuff from their rations. The corned beef was really corned mutton and when it was hot you'd open the tin and it would come out liquid. Horrible. It was rotten, but we'd boil it up as a stew. I think it was the First World War rations; some of them had 1918 on the bottom. We had some Canadian rations too, Quaker Oats, and they were full of weevils. You just put them in the pot too. Eventually we knew the Japs were taking hell of a beating and withdrawing all the time. The men were pushing the Japs back on to us. It was a nightmare for them. You should have seen the graves. Bones and arms sticking out, they couldn't bury them. We knew we were winning.