The Special Operations Executive in Burma 1941-1945

Secret Agents & Guerrilla Armies in the Second World War

Mahout 1: An Indian Agent in Burma

The work of Force 136 in Burma was not all about training Karens and Kachins to fight as guerrillas.  In an earlier blog post, the story of a Chinese agent called Li Jui was told.  Here is the story of... Continue Reading →


The ‘Interrogation’ of Rifleman Bhimbahadur Rai

What follows is a transcription from the original found in the National Archives.  I have made no changes from the original except to add in square brackets where one word was unintelligible.  Afterwards, some context and issues with the source... Continue Reading →

Of Mouse and Men: SOE in the Arakan, 1945

From The Royal Indian Navy, 1939-45, part of The Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War, taken from a blog by @GibbinsDavid What follows after a brief introduction are excerpts from the report written by Captain Blathwayt about... Continue Reading →

[5min read] A Far Eastern Dunkirk?

  'It was Dunkirk and the summer of 1940 repeating itself, but instead of the R.A.F. and the Battle of Britain the monsoon and the Assam mountain barrier gave us the time in which to recover for the second round.'... Continue Reading →

[5min read] Li Jui – The Extraordinary Tale of a Chinese Agent in Burma

The 'Panda' Li Jui, TNA, HS 1/6 Li Jui was a Chinese agent who was parachuted into Burma on 29 June 1944.   Li Jui’s operation was designated Hensingham and he was tasked with making his way to Mandalay to find out... Continue Reading →

Lysanders over Burma

Lysander over the Burmese jungle, photograph courtesy of Simon Leney, W/T Sergeant Leney's son: Operation Character, 1945. The Lysander, or 'Lizzie', is well known for its wartime service in Europe.  The aircraft entered service in 1938 and apparently holds the... Continue Reading →

1min read: Publishing ‘SOE in Burma’

Thesis to Book #thesistobook What Have I learnt About Publishing So Far? Have a look at this blog post by @thomsonpat who has more advice than me.  @annerhanley has also written an excellent couple of blog posts about publishing her PhD... Continue Reading →

What Makes History Fun (2 minute read)

As part of my Easter break, I travelled up to Northumberland this year (2017).  Whilst there, I was told by the friends we stayed with that a little town called Craster sold the best kippers in probably the whole world.  I... Continue Reading →

5min read: The unresolved murder of a ‘cipherette’: the case of Maimie Elizabeth Parker

The thing with the SOE files at Kew (HS series) is that you never know what you are going to get.  This is particularly the case when opening the Personnel Files (PF).  In one file, there might be four or... Continue Reading →

SOE & the Decolonisation of Burma

Paper given at a Decolonisation Workshop convened by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 10 March 2017.   Twitter: @ICwS_SAS ‘The Special Operations Executive and the Decolonisation of Burma, 1944-1950’ On 18 August 1950, the Communist newspaper Izvestiya published a... Continue Reading →

Special Operations, Special Consequences?

  Professor Richard Aldrich wrote: ‘During 1948 and 1949, in Malaya and Burma, the painful aftermath of guerrilla tactics employed against the Japanese became all too apparent [...]. Wars of insurgency were easy for secret services to ignite, but now... Continue Reading →

Paucity of Military Historians in University Departments

Yesterday (26/11/16), the keynote speaker at the BCMH New Research in Military History Conference, Professor Charles Esdaile, reflected upon the career of a military historian.  Here is a sample of the conversation he provoked on Twitter: Catherine Fletcher ‏@cath_fletcher Nov 26... Continue Reading →

Recruiting the ‘Natives’

Paper presented at the Institute of Historical Research, at the 7th conference for New Research in Military History.  Convened by Dr. Matthew Ford @warmatters (University of Sussex) and Dr. Stuart Mitchell @SBMitchell (Royal Military Academy Sandhurst), with support from the... Continue Reading →


Below is the blog post related to a lecture entitled Burma 1942: SOE's Role in 'Defeat into Victory' that I gave at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) in June 2016. Have a look at the programme reproduced after my... Continue Reading →

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