George Dunlop Papers relating to the Chindit Campaigns

Scope and Content

A small collection of papers of the soldier George Dickson Dunlop. These refer exclusively to his participation in the Chindit campaigns in northern Burma in 1942/3 (Operation Longcloth). The Chindits were a special force of British and Empire troops who undertook a guerilla campaign against Japanese forces in Burma. Their commander Orde Wingate was known for his unorthodox and controversial views on military operations, and the Chindit campaign has been the subject of intense historiographical controversy over its relative contribution to the campaign against the Japanese.

Dunlop's papers comprise some draft sections of a memoir of the Chindits campaign of 1943 (which does not appear to have been published, and correspondence with the Cabinet Office Historical Section about his involvement in Operation Longcloth as commander of Column 1. Dunlop supplied information to the Section for the official history of the Burma campaign. The latter were published in 1958 and 1961, and caused some controversy because of the critical views expressed about Wingate's leadership.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Dickson Dunlop was born in Calcutta in 1917. His family returned to Scotland following the death of his father in 1926 and his mother's remarriage. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy.

Dunlop studied at Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Royal Scots in 1937. After home postings, he served in Palestine, where he received the MC and was mentioned twice in dispatches. He then served in Hong Kong until given a posting to Burma in 1941, where he was enraged in special operations. It was here that Dunlop first met Orde Wingate, later famous for establishing Chindit groups to fight behind enemy lines. Dunlop became one of the first officers to participate in Chindit operations in Burma in early 1943 ("Operation Longcloth").

During 1942-3, the Japanese had driven the British practically out of Burma. Wingate, who was advising Archibald Wavell, the commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, believed that the Japanese had over-extended their forces and were vulnerable to counter-attacks, particularly as they did not have air superiority in Burma. He devised the idea of Long Range Penetration groups, which would establish bases in enemy territory and then attack Japanese communication and supply lines at vital points. This would weaken their position in anticipation of a new Allied offensive in Burma.

Originally, the Allies had hoped to launch this counter-offensive in Burma against the Japanese in 1943. This was cancelled, but it was decided to proceed with a Chindit campaign in Operation Longcloth, which commenced in February and continued into the summer of 1943. The nucleus of the Chindit force was the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade and its units were organised into columns (of around 300-350 soldiers) rather than typical brigades and battalions. Chindits did not use mechanised transport, but instead, carried their own equipment or relied on pack mules. A key factor in Chindit operations was regular resupply through air-drops, which in turn required good radio communications between land and air forces.

Operation Longcloth was intended to test Wingate's ideas by attacking Japanese communications east of the Chindwin river. Dunlop commanded Column 1, which was deployed in the southern section of the operations zone. This was one of two columns which undertook diversionary attacks on the Japanese, while the main Chindit operation took place to the north with a major attack on main north-south railway. The Chindits then proceeded to the east of the Irrawaddy river, where they found conditions unsuitable for their type of guerrilla operations. As the Japanese began to counter-attack, the decision was made to withdraw from Burma, with the columns left to make their own way back to India. Several columns suffered heavy casualties, and over a quarter of the original Chindit force was lost. However, Wingate received high level backing at the Quebec conference in August 1943 to plan major new operations in Burma. A new Chindit operation "Operation Thursday" commenced in March 1944, although Dunlop had by now left the force. He became an instructor in the Special Forces Training School in India, and later undertook a variety of training roles.

Post-war Dunlop continued his military service, working as a liaison officer during the Greek civil war (for which he received the MBE), and later had a senior staff role in the Northern Ireland District. This was followed by regimental postings to Berlin, Scotland, Korea, Egypt, and Singapore. From 1962 to 1965 he commanded the Singapore Guard Regiment during a period of increased tensions with Indonesia, for which he was awarded the OBE. Following this he worked at NATO's SHAPE headquarters and retired from the Army in 1967. In the latter part of his career, he headed the Scottish office of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. Dunlop married Aline Arthur in 1944 and they had three children.

Information in this note is largely based on the obituary in the Daily Telegraph 2 December 2000.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which may be subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the Act 2018 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for archiving and research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Acquisition Information

George Dunlop donated his papers to the University of Manchester Library in October 1974 (R131888).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


None expected.

Related Material

Major Dunlop also prepared an official report on Operation Longcloth after his return to India CAB 106/204.

The Library also holds the papers of Derek Tulloch TOW, the Brigadier General Staff of the Chindits and Peter Mead MOW, a staff officer at Chindit HQ. Both were notable defenders of Wingate in post-war historiographical controversies. The William Brockbank papers relating to medical aspects of the Chindit campaign (BCM  also cover related issues (although they focus more on Operation Thursday.

Geographical Names