Battle of Elephant Point

On May 1, B-24 Liberators heavily bombed known Japanese defenses south of Rangoon as an Air Force observation post, a small detachment from Force 136 and a Gurkha composite parachute battalion landed at Elephant Point at the mouth of the Rangoon River in the middle of the morning. They eliminated some small Japanese parties, either left as rearguards or perhaps forgotten in the confusion of the evacuation. When Elephant Point was secured, minesweepers cleared a passage up the river, and landing craft started coming ashore in the early hours of the morning of May 2, almost the last day on which beach landings were possible before the heavy swell caused by the monsoon became too bad.

At 02:30 on 1 May, two C-47 transport aircraft took off from Akyab, transporting several pathfinder teams and a platoon tasked with defending the inital drop zone at Tawhai. The rest of the composite battalion boarded thirty-eight Dakotas and took off thirty minutes later, and at 05:45 jumped over the drop zone; there were only a few casualties, one being a medical officer attached to the battalion. It encountered no Japanese opposition, and after it had rallied, advanced towards Elephant Point and the artillery battery. It halted 3,000 yards in front of the battery to allow B-24 Liberators from the USAAF to carry out a preliminary bombing attack on the battery. Unfortunately, despite officers and other ranks wearing yellow recognition panels and carrying orange umbrellas to identify themselves, C Company was bombed and strafed by the bombers, causing a number of casualties. As a result, a Forward Air Controller attached to the battalion ordered a halt to all further bombing runs on the battery.

After moving through torrential rain, the battalion reached Elephant Point at 16:00, and close-quarters fighting then took place, with flame-throwers being used against several Japanese bunkers guarding the battery. About forty Japanese soldiers and gunners were killed during the assault, and the battalion also sustained several casualties. After the battery had been secured the battalion dug in around Elephant Point and awaited the arrival of the relief force, which landed at Thaungang at 15:30, with a supply drop following it several minutes later. As it neared the position of the battalion, the surgical team accompanying the relief force was accidentally fired upon by the Gurkhas, causing four members of the team to be wounded. The battalion remained where it was through the night, although high tides submerged a number of trenches and forced the battalion to higher ground. By the dawn of 2 May, after it had cleared a number of nearby bunkers, the battalion was able to watch as minesweepers cleared the Rangoon river for the columns of landing craft following behind them.