Formation gallery will be closed for a private event on Saturday, 29 June 2024.

  • CLOSED
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
  • CLOSED
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

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Troops of the Royal West African Frontier Force in the Arakan, Burma, 1944

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The bigger picture

This painting shows infantry and artillery units of the 81st (West Africa) Division deep in the Burmese jungle receiving supplies by air drop. The rough terrain and lack of roads made air supply vital during the Burma campaign.

Soldiers from all corners of the Commonwealth contributed to the defeat of Japanese forces in one of the most gruelling theatres of the Second World War (1939-45).

True grit

The 81st and 82nd (West Africa) Divisions were formed in 1943 as part of a reorganisation of the Royal West African Frontier Force. They were composed of units from Britain's four West African colonies: the Gambia, Nigeria, the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and Sierra Leone.

Soldiers from both divisions served with distinction in Burma, showing incredible resilience in the face of extreme heat, disease, monsoons and a formidable enemy.

The artist Hugh Micklem served with the Headquarters of the 81st (West Africa) Division during the Second World War.

See it on display

Come and see this painting on display in our Global Role gallery, alongside other items that demonstrate the contribution of Commonwealth soldiers during the Second World War.

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