THE BURMESE CONNECTION
Foreword by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A Arborfield AAS
February 1952 saw the start of
a new chapter in the story of the
It was apparent right from
the start that they had already undergone some military training, possibly at
a military school, much as in the
We have to remember that
these were lads, thousands of miles from home, who were going to undergo
technical training in, for them, a foreign language. Surely an undertaking that would daunt many
older soldiers. That they were
specially selected was shown by one, Ohn Thwin, who at the end of the three year apprenticeship
was awarded several accolades, namely, Best Progress in Education (Senior
Division), Trade Prize for Telecommunication Mechanics, Chief Instructor's
Cup for Technical and Educational Ability.
The Burmese lads themselves admitted that this may have been due in
some small way to the novelty effect, but those who knew them would not
totally accept that. They appeared to
all intents and purposes, a handpicked squad of lads.
They were monitored very
closely by the Burmese Embassy, who looked after their cultural needs. Food was supplied to them and tales abound
of them getting together for a cook-in.
They were greatly appreciative of the help and friendship that they
received from the British lads, many of whom took them into their homes for
short leaves and weekends. The
hospitality was returned to anybody who could get up to
It is not intended that
these pages should be a technically correct history of the Burmese
Apprentices, others will have recorded that side of them. Here we hope to record some of the more
human tales and many of the faces from those days, and to that end we welcome
any contributions from readers of their personal experiences with the Burmese
We also have to remember
that there were intakes of the Burmese lads at Chepstow and
The Closed Door policy
of the Burmese, or
Here would be a great place
to acknowledge the help given by Nyunt Shwe, 54B, Arborfield, in
putting together this account of the part the Burmese Apprentices played in
the lives of those who served with them.
The information he provided not only covered Arborfield
but also included the Chepstow and Harrogate Apprentice Schools. He is the focal point in Burma (Myanmar) for
many of the lads when they get together for their reunions as British Army
Apprentices. The ‘Today’ section
photos provide an update on the lads, some 60years plus after their
apprentice days. My sincere thanks to Nyunt Shwe for his part in
making this section possible.
Published: 1st April 2007
Revised: 1st August 2009
Latest Update: 1st October 2018.