Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Road to Mandalay

Regimental Chapel, Carlisle Cathedral, Cumbria
The Border Regiment Book of Remembrance for the Fallen of WW2 is displayed here
Cpl Wallace H. Hartley, 2nd Bn Border Regt is remembered here (Died 1945)

At the beginning of 1945, the 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment formed part of the 100th Brigade and 20th Indian Division. For the next few months - until the end of the war in the Far East in August 1945 - the 20th Indian Division played an active part in the Allied advance through Burma, pushing the Japanese forces back from west of the Irawaddy river.

Among those serving with the 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment at this time was Corporal Wallace H. Hartley. His wife and children were then living in the village of Oulton near Wigton, Cumberland, but Corporal Hartley originally came from the West Cumbrian village of Cleator. Unfortunately, he was to lose his life during the advance through Burma, dying of wounds on 1 March 1945 after the jeep in which he was travelling on the road to Mandalay was blown up by a land mine.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

On 12 February 1945 the 20th Division crossed the Irawaddy downstream and to the west of Mandalay. They had been joined by the 2nd Division. On the following day - 13 February - the 7th Division also crossed the Irawaddy, south of Pakokku, forming a bridgehead. Having been joined by motorised brigades from the 17th Division, on 21 February the breakout began from the bridgehead and by 28 February they had reached Meiktila, the principal administrative centre of the Japanese main front and where the Japanese had several forward airfields.

Hence, by the beginning of March 1945 the Japanese forces began to withdraw with the Allied troops swiftly following to keep up the advantage that had been gained up to this time. According to the Regimental records 2nd Border was in the rear and out towards one flank. The Japanese had protected their withdrawal by laying landmines and it was this that unfortunately led to Corporal Hartley losing his life.

At the time of his death, Corporal Wallace Hodgson Hartley, Service No 3601948, was 25 years old. He was the son of Mrs Mary Ellen Hartley and the late Mr William Hartley of Ivy Cottages, Cleator Cumberland, and the husband of Mrs Margaret Hartley of Oulton, Wigton, Cumberland and the father of two young children. Corporal Hartley's name is listed among the WW2 casualties on the Trumpet Terrace, Cleator War Memorial and also in the Cleator Moor 'Roll of Honour'.

Corporal Hartley’s funeral was conducted by the Chaplain, Padre Bennett from Aspatria, Cumberland, a small town about 8 miles from Wigton. Hence Corporal Hartley was with friends from his own home area to the last. There is perhaps some comfort to be found in this.

An article about Corporal Hartley appeared in 'The Whitehaven News' of 19 April 1945 (page 4), which has been transcribed below.

Cleator Corporal Killed

Mrs M. Hartley of Oulton, Wigton has received official word that her husband Cpl. Wallace H. Hartley, of the Border Regiment, has died of wounds in Burma.

Cpl. Hartley, aged 25, joined the army in January 1940, and had served 2½ years in Burma. He was formerly employed by the County Council. He was well known in Cleator, where, until his marriage, he lived with his widowed mother. He was an Old Boy of Cleator Council School.

Padre Bennett, of Aspatria, states in a letter to Mrs Hartley that her husband was travelling in a jeep to Mandalay when it was blown up by a land mine. Padre Bennett officiated at the burial, which took place on the banks of the Irawaddy.

Cpl. Hartley is survived by his wife and two children. His mother lives at Ivy Cottages, Cleator".

Even as the European war was drawing to a close in the spring of 1945, local newspapers all over the UK were still publishing tributes to casualties in the Far East, such as the one for Corporal Wallace Hartley. There would be much hard fighting to come and many lives lost on both sides before the war in the Far East would draw to a close in August 1945. This was the largely ‘forgotten’ war.


The KORBR & Border Regiment Museum, Carlisle.

'The Whitehaven News’

Cumbria County Archives, Whitehaven Records Office

Wednesday, 21 January, 2009  

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