Burma Star Association
Burma Star Association

17th Indian Infantry Division

Short History of  Black Cat Division

 

17 Mountain Division was originally raised as 17 Indian Division at Ahmednagar on 01 July 1941 under the command of Maj Gen HW Lewis, CE, CIE, DSO. Though the formation was earmarked for operation in North Africa after raising, it was rushed to Burma as part of the Burma Corps due to the adverse situation prevailing in SE Asia. In March 1942, Maj Gen DT ‘Punch’ Cowan, CD, CEE, DSO, MC assumed command of the formation. The division as part of 4 Corps and under 14 Army, was launched into Burma in December 1944. Starting with the battle of Meiktila, it continued its advance into Burma till Rangoon fell to the Allied Forces in June 1945. The formation won many laurels including 7 VCs, and 161 MCs, besides other gallantry awards.

 

On conclusion of World War II, the Division was disembodied in 1946. It was re-raised as 17 Infantry Division at Ambala in 15 November 1960 under Maj Gen KS Katoch, MC. During 1961, the Division was assigned the task of liberating Goa under Maj Gen Candeth Subsequently on 15 Nov 1963, the Formation moved to Sikkim since then it has been successfully guarding the 245 Km long Sikkim border with Tibet.

 

Structure Of The Division: (Order of Battle 1942)

 

Headquarters Brigade

4th Btn 12th Frontier Force Rifles

1st Btn West Yorkshire Regt

7th Btn 10th Baluch Regt

 

Divisional Artillery

129th Fld Regt (Royal Artillery)

82nd A/Tank Regt (Royal Artillery)

1st Indian Fld Regt (Indian Artillery)

2nd Indian A/Tank Regt (Indian Artillery)

21st28th29th Indian Mountain Regt (Indian Artillery)

1st Indian Light AA Regt (Indian Artillery)

 

16th Indian Infantry Brigade

1st Btn  9th Jat Regt (Royal)

4th Btn Frontier Force Rifles

2nd Btn Duke of Wellington's Regt

1st Btn 7th Gurkha Rifles

2nd 4th 5th 7th 8th Btn The Burma Rifles

Commanded by Brig. JK Jones

 

46th Indian Infantry Brigade

1st Btn Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

5th Btn 17th Dogra Regt

3rd Btn 7th Gurkha Rifles

9th(?) Baluch Regiment

Commanded by Brig. Ekin up to the Sittang Bridge catastrophe of 1942 after which the 46th ceased to exist

 

48th Gurkha Brigade

1st Btn 3rd QAO Gurkha Rifles

1st Btn 4th PWO Gurkha Rifles

2nd Btn 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (FF)

Commanded by Brig. RT Cameron for most of the 1st campaign and well into 1942.  It is believed that he was then relieved by Brig. N Hugh-Jones

 

44th Indian Infantry Brigade

6th Btn 1st Punjab Regt

7th Btn 8th Punjab Regt

6th Btn 14th Punjab Regt

Commanded by  Brig. G Ballantine

 

7th Armoured Brigade

7th Queens Hussars

2nd Royal Tank Regt

 

Indian Engineers Sappers & Miners

70th Fld Coy KGO (Bengal Lancers)

60th Fld Coy QVO (Madras)

414th Fld Park Coy KGO (Bengal Lancers)

24th Fld Coy (Royal Bombay)

Tehri Garhwal Fld Coy (State Forces)

 

The Following Regiments also served with this Division during the withdrawal from Burma.

1st Btn Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

1st Btn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

2nd Btn Duke of Wellington's Regt

6th Btn 7th Rajput Regt

6th Btn 9th Jat Regt

9th Btn 13th Frontier Force Rifles (M/Gun)

An Infantry Btn of Chinese Army

 

(Order of Battle 1943=1945)

 

DIVISIONAL COMMANDERS

Maj/Gen H.V. Lewis (CB CIE DSO)

Maj/Gen J.G. Smyth (VC MC)

Maj/Gen D. (Punch) Cowan (CB CBE DSO MC)

 

Headquarters Brigade

4th Btn 12th Frontier Force Rifles

1st Btn West Yorkshire Regt

7th Btn 10th Baluch Regt

 

Divisional Artillery

129th Fld Regt (Royal Artillery)

82nd A/Tank Regt (Royal Artillery)

1st Indian Fld Regt (Indian Artillery)

2nd Indian A/Tank Regt (Indian Artillery)

21st 28th 29th Indian Mountain Regt (Indian Artillery)

1st Indian Light A/A Regt (Indian Artillery)

 

48th Indian Infantry Brigade

1st Btn West Yorkshire Regt

1st Btn 12th Frontier Force Rifles

1st Btn 3rd QAO Gurka Rifles

1st Btn 4th PWO Gurkha Rifles

2nd Btn 5th (Royal) Gurkha Rifles

1st Btn 7th Gurkha Rifles

Commanded by Brig. M Hadley (DSO)            

 

63rd Indian Infantry Brigade

1st Btn Gloucestershire Regt

9th Btn Border Regt

7th Btn 10th Baluch Regt

1st Btn 11th Sikh Regt

2nd Btn 13th Frontier Force Rifles

1st Btn 10th Gurkha Rifles

Commanded by Brig. D Burton  (DSO)

 

99th Indian Infantry Brigade

1st Btn East Yorkshire Regt

6th Btn 15th Punjab Regt

1st Btn Sikh Light Infantry Regt

Commanded by  Brig. GL Turver (DSO)

 

Royal Indian Army Service Corps

14th 42nd 43rd 45th Animal Trt Coy's (Mule)

121st GP Trt Coy

47th 49th 52nd 54th Animal Trt Coy's (Mule)

50th Gwalior Pony Coy (State Forces)

900th 902nd 903rd 904th 906th Jeep Coy's

 

Medical Services

IMS RAMC IMD IHC IAMC

American Fld Service (U.S.A.)

23rd 27th 39th 50th  Indian Fld Ambulance

 

17th Division Provost Unit

17th Division Signals Unit

 

Indian Army Ordnance Corps

20th Mobile W/Shop Coy

117th Ordnance Sub=Park

 

Indian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers

1st 123rd Infantry W/Shop Coy's

17th Division Recovery Coy

When you go home

tell them of us and say,

For your tomorrow,

we gave our today

Lt Gen Slim at Fort Dufferin, Mandalay, in March 1945 Lt Gen Slim at Fort Dufferin, Mandalay, in March 1945
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