The ‘Chindit’ forces were those officially known as the the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, later becoming ‘Special Force’ incorporating a wider formation. They were long range penetration groups that were sent behind the Japanese lines during the Burma campaign of 1943 and 1944.

They were organised into groups known as ‘Columns’ rather than the traditional Infantry Brigade or Divisional structure. This formation provided a self-sufficient and sustainable force with its own support elements within the Column.

Each Column had three Infantry Platoons, a Support Platoon with mortars and Vickers machine guns and a Commando Platoon of sappers and infantry, for demolition tasks.



The first Chindit operation was LONGCLOTH, which took place in February 1943. The only higher-level formation involved was 77th Indian Infantry Brigade. It was structured into two groups and a separate Battalion. The formation was then formed into Columns numbering 1 to 8, with No. 6 being broken up during training to provide reinforcements for other columns. No. 1 Group (Southern) was formed from the 3/2nd Gurkha Rifles, with No. 2 Group (Northern) was formed from 1st Bn, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment. The third battalion in the Brigade was the 2nd Bn, Burma Rifles, but this was not formed into Columns.

Operation THURSDAY

By this time, the ‘Chindits’ concept of Long Range Penetration had gained additional support and resources. The formation was as shown in the Table below. It now included a greater number of British formations from the 70th Infantry Division.

3 (West African) Brigade
Headquarters 10 Column
6th Bn, Nigeria Regiment 39 and 66 Columns
7th Bn, Nigeria Regiment 29 and 35 Columns
12th Bn, Nigeria Regiment 12 and 43 Columns
14 Infantry Brigade
Headquarters 59 Column
1st Bn, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment 16 and 61 Columns
7th Bn, Royal Leicestershire Regiment 47 and 74 Columns
2nd Bn, Black Watch 42 and 73 Columns
2nd Bn, York and Lancaster Regiment 65 and 84 Columns
54th Field Company, Royal Engineers Support
16 Infantry Brigade
Headquarters 99 Column
51st/69th Field Regiments, Royal Artillery (as infantry) 51 and 69 Columns
2nd Bn, Queen’s Royal Regiment 21 and 22 Columns
2nd Bn, Royal Leicestershire Regiment 17 and 71 Columns
45th Regt, Reconnaissance Corps (as infantry) 45 and 54 Columns
2nd Field Company, Royal Engineers Support
23 Infantry Brigade
Headquarters 32 Column
60th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (as infantry) 60 and 68 Columns
2nd Bn, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment 33 and 76 Columns
4th Bn, Border Regiment 34 and 55 Columns
1st Bn, Essex Regiment 44 and 56 Columns
12th Field Company, Royal Engineers Support
77 Indian Infantry Brigade
Headquarters 25 Column
1st Bn, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment (moved to 111 Bde in May) 81 and 82 Columns
1st Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers 20 and 50 Columns
1st Bn, South Staffordshire Regiment 38 and 80 Columns
3rd Bn, 6th Gurkha Rifles 36 and 63 Columns
3rd Bn, 9th Gurkha Rifles (moved to 111 Brigade in May) 57 and 93 Columns
Mixed Field Company, Royal Engineers / Royal Indian Engineers Support
142 Company, Hong Kong Volunteers Support
111 Indian Infantry Brigade
Headquarters 48 Column
2nd Bn, King’s Own Royal Regiment 41 and 46 Columns
1st Bn, Cameronians 26 and 90 Columns
3rd Bn, 4th Gurkha Rifles 30 Column
Mixed Field Company, Royal Engineers / Royal Indian Engineers Support
Morris Force
4th Bn, 9th Gurkha Rifles 49 and 94 Columns
3rd Bn, 4th Gurkha Rifles 40 Column

There were a number of other units attached; however, these did not form Columns and, therefore, would not have been equipped with the Vickers.