Three Commanding Officers in nine days.

A range target used by British and Indian troops training in India
A range target used by British and Indian troops training in India.

The 1st Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was ordered from Wellington, South India to guard the oilfields at Yenangyaung, Burma against Japanese invasion in January 1942. The fighting was intense and the British and Indian troops had to withdraw to the Indian border under the most horrific conditions and suffering very many casualties. Lieutenant Colonel Cox and Lieutenant Colonel McConnell were killed within nine days of each other. Lieutenant Colonel JA Clifford assumed command of the battalion on the death of Lieutenant Colonel McConnell.

An American War Correspondent visited the battalion during this desperate campaign and filed the following back to America:

'An Inniskilling Major, with two other officers and myself, walked forward to inspect the outposts. We passed groups of men resting beside the road, dark shadows from which a voice said quietly "A Company,Sir", "B Company, Sir". There were other lumps of black shadow which were silent - Irish, Indian and Japanese dead, lying in heaps off the road...The Inniskilling Major had me worried when he continued to walk more than 100 yards beyond the last listening post, but he was satisfied that his men were holding a wide enough perimeter. Returning, we stopped beside a derrick where the Major struck a match; for a moment it flickered over the dead bodies of two Inniskilling officers. The tired voice of the Major came from the darkness; "These officers must be buried according to regimental custom tonight".'

After a month of a fighting withdrawal the 114 survivors of the Battalion arrived at the Indian border having suffered from hunger, thirst, want of sleep and malaria. The Battalion returned to Burma in 1943 and took part in the Arakan campaign where again they suffered horrendous casualties.