By Andrew Martin
The terrific tale of Gyles Mackrell and his Burmese, elephant-assisted wartime rescue mission.
In the summer season of 1942, Gyles Mackrell – a adorned First global conflict pilot and tea plantation overseer, played a sequence of heroic rescues within the hellish jungles of Japanese-occupied Burma – by using twenty elephants.
At the age of fifty three, Mackrell went into the ‘green hell’ of the Chaukan move at the border of North Burma and Assam. the following, Mackrell and a group of elephant riders rescued Indian military infantrymen, British civilians and their Indian servants, from the pursuing jap, directing the elephants via jungle passes and raging rivers, and territory infested with sand flies, mosquitoes and innumerable leeches. these he kept have been all close to dying from hunger or fever: that summer time was once spent in a struggle opposed to time.
Now in Andrew Martin’s palms this never-before-told story of heroics is given the form of a suspenseful event, a wartime rescue whose proof are the stuff of fiction. ‘Flight through Elephant’ is a gripping chronicle of battle and survival, starring everyone’s favorite animal – the strong, unique and highly loveable elephant.
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Extra resources for Flight By Elephant: The Untold Story of World War Two’s Most Daring Jungle Rescue
Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith later offered the rationale that Europeans would be worse treated by the invaders. In The Story of Burma, F. Tennyson Jesse writes, We made a mess of it at the beginning, as we always seem to make a mess of everything at the beginning. When we did begin to establish road convoys and air transport, there were not enough to go round, and in issuing passes for lorry or air transport we had to fix priorities; the more important the person the higher was his priority, and important persons were largely white; but even so the whites were few, for there were very few of them in Burma, and the coloured people secured the majority of the passes though not in proportion to their overwhelming numbers.
She never went to Burma, but then she never went to India either. She didn’t like ‘trips’. The British had annexed Burma in 1886, following the third Anglo-Burmese War. There had been territorial disputes on the Burma–Assam border, and the British were concerned at French ‘interference’ in the country. The British occupied Burma from the south and the west. They did not enter Burma from Assam, simply because there were no roads into Burma from Assam. Prior to 1937 – when Burma was given a measure of self-government – Burma was by far the largest of the ten provinces of British India, but only two of those provinces had a smaller population.
It was impossible to get ashore, ‘so we sat in wicker chairs on a BOAC barge out in the river, drinking lemonade and waiting for the bombs to fall in the harbour’. Rodger was – not very surprisingly – ‘the only passenger disembarking at Rangoon’, and after the all-clear had sounded, he checked into the one hotel still open, the Minto Mansions. In his memoir, Red Moon Rising (1943), he writes, ‘There in the dingy hallway, trunks and packing cases were piled high. ’ As he sat down to dinner that evening, the air raid siren sounded again.