Operation Rathunt

This was a British light naval sweep against Japanese coastal shipping and positions in the area of Gwa on the Arakan western coastal area of Japanese-occupied Burma (27/28 October 1944).

Starting on 27 October, this was the first undertaking of the autumn fighting season in the region after the end of the monsoon, and began with the departure from St Martinís Island of ML-412, ML-413, ML-419 and ML-844. Early on the following morning ML-412 was disabled by a fractured exhaust pipe and had to return to base, but the rest of the force continued and sighted Foul island just before dusk on 28 October. At 18.000 the three motor launches began their approach to Gwa, but 30 minutes later heavy rain obscured the coast and it was considered impracticable to enter Gwa bay under such conditions. The craft therefore halted and waited for the weather to clear. About 20.20 it was possible to get under way once more, and 19 minutes later the launches entered Gwa bay in close formation. A green signal flare was immediately fired from the hill opposite the entrance.

No craft of any kind could be seen either in the bay or in the chaung (creek) to the south, but in the bay’s north-eastern corner four fishing canoes were seen paddling vigorously towards the eastern shore. One of these was overtaken before it could reach the shallows, and while the Burmese occupant declared that he knew nothing of any Japanese naval craft in the area, he did state that there were many guns around the southern beach. The launches therefore approached this area, but there was no fire that might have revealed the Japanese gun positions.

At 22.45 the launches left Gwa bay and swept to the north along the coast. Soon after this ML-844 reported striking a submerged object: forced to stop one engine, she was ordered to carry on independently to a previously arranged rendezvous position. The plan was to enter Andrews Bay and to carry out a bombardment of the jetty area, and by 03.00 the launches had reached Money Point without sighting any craft. The moon had then set, and visibility was so poor that considerable difficulty was experienced in entering Andrews Bay. Once inside, the launches searched the bay for shipping but found nothing, and the force stopped opposite Lontha Jetty at 03.55. A flare lit the jetty area and revealed what appeared to be a few small boats lying up on the beach, so the launches bombarded the area for 15 minutes before departing.

The two launches overtook ML-844 on 28 October, and the craft reached St Martinís Island just after dark.