Unit: 51 Battery, 69 Field Regiment
Date of Death: 31 July 1944 – Killed in Action
Age: 24 years
Cemetery / Memorial: Taukkyan War Cemetery, Burma
Grave / Panel Ref.: Grave: 13. H. 3.
Cyril was born in the March quarter 1920, in Ruskington, the son of Walter and Dorothy Florence (Florrie) (née Carpenter) Sandall of Ruskington. He had an older brother, Douglas Walter, born 25 March 1918, and four younger brothers. Twins Peter and Paul were born in January 1922 but only lived for 23/24 days. They were buried together in Grave C 186, Ruskington Cemetery Old Plot on 7 February 1922. His other brothers were Dennis (born 25 March 1923) and Charles (25 September 1925).
In the March quarter 1947 Frances re-married, Walter Victor Jenkins. She died on 7 August 2003 in Ewerby, Lincolnshire.
Cyril’s parents remained in the village for the rest of their lives. The 1939 mini-Census shows the family living at 44 Council Houses, Fen Road. Cyril was no doubt still living with them, but his record has been redacted.
His mother Florence, died in January 1972, aged 77, and father, Walter, in May 1978, aged 87. They are buried together in Graves E 136 and 137, Ruskington Cemetery New Plot.
Without his Service Papers it is not possible to tell when Cyril joined the Royal Artillery. However, clearly he served in the 2nd Chindit Expedition in 1944 (“Operation Thursday“). The Chindits, known officially as the Long Range Penetration Groups, were special operations units which saw action in 1943–1944, during the Burma Campaign.
In August 1943 Churchill, Roosevelt and the Combined Chiefs of Staff met in Quebec at the Quadrant Conference to discuss future Allied strategy. Accompanying Churchill was Major General Orde Charles Wingate. The second Chindit force was given the name Special Force but was also known as 3rd Indian Division, Long Range Penetration Groups, and still better known as Wingate’s Chindits.
At the conference Wingate presented his plans on how Long Range Penetration brigades would march into Burma to disrupt enemy communications behind their front lines and prepare the way for the main forces to recapture north Burma.
about Major-Gen, Orde Wingate – killed aboard a transport plane in India on March 25, 1944.
His force was composed of six brigades and the 51st/69th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery was part of the 16th “Enterprise” Brigade (under Brigadier Fergusson) along with the 2nd Queen’s Royal, the 2nd Leicestershire and the 45th Reconnaissance Regiments. Once in Burma the Chindits would attack and cut supply lines and generally harass the rear of the Japanese forces on the frontline facing British, American and Chinese forces.
In March 1944, the Japanese launched an attack on British bases behind the Indian Border in Imphal and Kohima. These battles saw some of the worst fighting of the Second World War. The now well known “Kohima Epitaph” now repeated at Memorial services throughout the world, was written after the Battle. It was originally inscribed on the Kohima Memorial.
At the same time, a second Chindit expedition began, the second-largest airborne invasion of the Second World War with 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers and air support provided by the 1st Air Commando, United States Army Air Force.
At the Indian base of Kohima, 2,500 British-Indian troops defended Garrison Hill against 15,000 Japanese. In one area it was said that only the width of the District Commissioner Charles Pawsey’s tennis court separated the two sides. When relief forces arrived, the British defensive lines were reduced to a shell-shattered area of only 350 square metres.
Cyril was the only member of his Regiment to be killed in action around this time – in fact the only Royal Artillery man. He now lies in Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar.
Taukkyan War Cemetery is the largest of the three war cemeteries in Burma (now Myanmar). It was begun in 1951 for the reception of graves from four battlefield cemeteries at Akyab, Mandalay, Meiktila and Sahmaw which were difficult to access and could not be maintained.
The last was an original ‘Chindit‘ cemetery containing many of those who died in the Battle of Myitkyina, which ran from 10 March to 3 August 1944. It is very likely that Cyril was initially buried at Sahmaw before the graves were grouped together at Taukkyan to preserve the individuality of these battlefield cemeteries. The cemetery now contains 6,374 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 867 of them unidentified.
On the 7th October 1944 ‘The Lincolnshire Standard’ reported Cyril’s death as follows: “Killed on active service July 31st, 1944, in Burma, Cyril Joseph Sandall, beloved husband of Frances (nee Shepherd), and second son of Mr. and Mrs Sandall, of Ruskington. Never to be forgotten.”
- ‘The Lincolnshire Standard’ – 7th October, 1944, page 8.
- Above personal photos courtesy of an ‘Ancestry.com‘ Family History website.
- The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6389A