Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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240 Squadron RAF covert operations


North Andaman Island Area

OSS planned operations to the Andaman Islands for the purpose of obtaining military and typographical intelligence on North Andaman Island and the smaller surrounding islands with a view to finding suitable anchorage and a base for storing fuel and supplies for small boats, and for other parties that might be placed ashore at a later date. Weather information was to be gathered along with shipping and air activity observed along the North Andaman coast and in the Port Cornwallis area. Intelligence was to be obtained on movements of troops, radar installations, plans of the Japanese to evacuate the Andamans, and coast watching stations.

On 21 January 1945, a group of observers was inserted via RN submarine. A reinforcement of supplies and equipment for the North Andaman base was carried out when a party led by an American escorting officer and enlisted man left Madras, India by PBY Catalina on 27 February. The plane, after circling the rendezvous area twice, spotted the prearranged torch signal and dropped anchor only 300 yards off shore. the 2,100 pounds of supplies were unloaded and the plane returned safely to Madras.

Another reinforcement of this advance base on Pocock Island was made by PBY on 26 March when, accompanied by an escorting officer and assistant, a native agent and 1,000 pounds of supplies were brought in.

In May, an attempt was made to evacuate the personnel on Pocock Island by submarine, but when the craft broke down preparations were made to take the men out by Catalina flying boat. At the same time, it was proposed to replace this group with two OSS weather men who were to maintain continuous weather station in the area. Personnel on this mission included an American escorting officer and assistant. A meteorologist and a Thai radio operator were to be infiltrated. The party left Madras on 21 May in two Catalinas and were waterborne off Pocock Island early in the afternoon. The weather men were landed, the original personnel and equipment placed on board and the Catalinas returned to Madras without mishap.

On 11 June, a Catalina aircraft of the 240 Squadron took off from Madras with an OSS escorting officer and assistant to take emergency supplies to the Pocock Island base. Again on 19 June, a Catalina with two OSS personnel aboard rendezvoused with the base party to deliver supplies and retrieve the native radio man who had remained behind when the original party was retrieved the commander of the shore party reported that just a few hours before the plane arrived, a Japanese patrol boat with about 30 soldiers had cruised along the shore. Given advance warning by a native, the party had managed to hide all but their native boat, in which they had come to the rendezvous. This was drawn up on the shore, and though the Japanese must have seen it, they made no effort to investigate further. The incident resulted in a change of rendezvous points, and the next drop of communications supplies on 12 July was made by Catalina on Landfall Island. On that operation photographs were taken of the area.

Again on 28 July, a Catalina with two OSS personnel aboard, supplied the Pocock Island camp. An American sergeant, accompanied by an escorting officer and assistant, was infiltrated on 30 August, along with additional supplies. In September, as hostilities had ceased, the entire party was evacuated successfully.

249 Squadron Operation in Burma

Tavoy Area

In late January 1945, an intelligence network was established in the Tavoy area to gather information on enemy shipping and traffic along the Bangkok-Moulmein Railroad. The party of three Burmese natives, accompanied by two OSS officers departed from Red Hills Lake, Madras in a Catalina aircraft of the 240 Squadron on 30 January 1944, and were successfully landed with their boat and stores.

With the aid of local natives, all equipment was carried up the mountain were a camp was made near a small stream and the radio set up. For the next several weeks the part was busy recruiting natives and transmitting intelligence to base.

On 24 February, camp was struck, all gear left behind buried, and the remaining equipment moved down to the shore where the party, plus two Karan recruits were picked up by Catalina aircraft for return to headquarters.

In April the base was reestablished near Tavoy Island by an OSS party of five Karans. Two officers accompanied the party on the PBY aircraft which left Madras on 23 April A Liberator-carried supply drop was made on 15 May, and in July an American officer was infiltrated to expand and direct the operations. A weather observer was also sent in. They were parachuted from a Liberator aircraft on 12 July. Additional supply drops were made on 15 and 25 August and on 1 September.

Thailand Operations (Siam)

Mergui Archipelago

In late August and early September 1944, reconnaissance was made of various islands in the Mergui Archipelago for the purpose of establishing a base for observing Japanese sea and air activities, for weather reporting, and to infiltrate agents, intelligence and demolition groups into southern Burma and Thailand. After two attempts, first by Catalina and later by submarine, four Americans and one native radio operator were landed on Chance Island, there to establish the first OSS outpost off the Thai coast, where it remained for six months accomplishing valuable work in intelligence and weather reporting.

In January 1945, OSS infiltrated two officers into Bangkok to form an underground network for intelligence gathering and to train and arm Thai guerrillas for an eventual uprising against the Japanese. On 23 January, the party, consisting of two American officers, one Thai radio operator and escorting American officer, was flown by Catalina aircraft of 240 Squadron from Madras to a rendezvous with Thai representatives a short distance from the island of Koh Koddard off the eastern shore of the Gulf of Siam.

After successfully establishing relations with anti-Japanese Thai officials, plans were afoot to infiltrate more American teams of two to four men to train and arm Thai guerrillas. At the request of the Thai leaders, it was decided that on 2 February, one of the Americans should return to present their plans and information to HQ in Ceylon. Accordingly, after another eventful trip through enemy-infested canals and rivers, the original route being impossible owing to Allied planes having mined the mouth of the river, the OSS major rendezvoused with a Catalina aircraft off Koh Sattagoot on the western shoe of the Gulf of Siam and was flown back to the 240 Squadron at Red Hills Lake, Madras.

The OSS officer traveled to the USA and after consultation, returned to India. Shortly after his return to Ceylon, the officer accompanied by an American captain and another American were flown to Thailand by special Catalina, arriving at Koh Sattagoot Island during the night of 29/30 March 1945. The returning officer brought with him $50,000 in gold, entrusted to him by the Thai Committee in Washington for delivery to the head of the Thai underground.

A few days after their arrival in Bangkok, one of the American offices in Bangkok became very ill and on 31 March, he was flown back to India by Catalina for treatment.

Brief list of known 240 Squadron RAF covert missions in support of OSS in Thailand.

6 September 1944, deliver 1 native and 3 American by Catalina

23 December 1944, deliver 2 natives and 1 OSS by Catalina

27 January 1945 deliver 1 native and 3 OSS by Catalina

30 January, deliver 3 natives and 2 OSS by Catalina

3 February, deliver 1 OSS by Catalina and retrieve 1 OSS officer

23 February, deliver 4 OSS by Catalina and remove 2 OSS and 1 Thai

24 February, deliver 5 natives and 1 OSS by Catalina

2 March, deliver 1 native and 1 OSS by Catalina

23 March, deliver 1 native and 3 OSS and remove 8 natives by Catalina

23 March, deliver 1 native and 2 OSS with supplies by Catalina (two planes)

31 March, deliver 3 OSS and retrieve 8 natives by Catalina

5 April, retrieve all American except 2 OSS officers and 1 native, by Catalina

21 April, deliver 3 natives and 3 OSS, and remove 5 native and 3 OSS by 2 Catalinas

20 June 1945, deliver 2 natives and 3 OSS with supplies by two Catalinas

27 July, deliver 2 OSS by Catalina

18 August, deliver 1 native and 5 OSS by Catalina

27 August 1945, deliver supplies only by Catalina

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