10 June 2012

Land Girls And Fast Eastern Dunkirk...

'A remarkable story of courage, spirit and ingenuity that took place at a time when no one was sure what the consequences of the war in the far east would be. It deserves to be remembered.'

(Dr.Mostrecu - South Asian Studies, Cambridge)

It is amazing the wealth of historical notes revealed in Blogland and I found it a continued wealth of inspiration!
As I read Sarah Sundin's posts this week I learned yet again of two different events well worth some investigation on my part!

 (Archives BBC News- Land Girls)

The first was the 9 June 1942 agreement betwixt Britain and the US to combine food production and distribution for the duration of the War. 
The Land Girls or The Forgotten Army and their amazing contribution to the war efforts have always fascinated me but I did not know this!

The second was the almost forgotten story of the Elephant Man...

After receiving an SOS in June 1942 British Tea Planter Gyles Mackrell along with a team of elephants and drivers rescued hundreds of refugees from Japanese advances.

'Tens of thousands of the refugees - many sick and starving - had trekked for hundreds of miles through dense jungle in the hope of reaching the Indian border. But by May 1942, those who made it to the border were trapped by monsoons that had turned the Dapha River into a torrent.

Mackrell's diaries show that he collected some elephants to travel to the river soon after receiving a call for help from a group of refugees on June 4, 1942. His party rode the elephants for about 100 miles (160 kilometers) before finally reaching the river bank - only to find themselves helpless as they saw that fierce flood waters had trapped Burmese soldiers on river islands.

"On reaching the bank on a big tusker I discovered a number of men on an island surrounded by high and very fierce water," Mackrell, aged 53 at the time, wrote in his diary. "They signaled wildly and made signs to show us they were starving. I made several attempts to get over but it was utterly impossible."

Then in the early morning the water receded...and a window of opportunity opened...
"Rungdot, a Kampti elephant was the first to be ready and ... by 7 a.m. he was back in camp with the first three refugees," he wrote on June 10, 1942. "The others came in a few at a time and by midday we had the whole 68."
In the weeks that followed, Mackrell and his colleagues set up camp by the Dapha River and helped 200 people cross the river.

(Source: Sylvia Hui, A.P.)

An amazing feat of courage and ingenuity considering the uncertainty of wartime! 

(Source: Still image of the Mackrell rescue mission The Guardian/Mail Online)

Additional information (here) and (here) for those of you interested!

It truly is a story to be remembered and a memory to be honoured!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you sent me the link! I hadn't seen the pictures or read the full account of the story! I love hearing stories of compassion and ingenuity in times of war.


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