Chindits Memorial

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1470017
Date first listed:
10-Aug-2020
Statutory Address:
Victoria Embankment Gardens, Westminster, London, SW1A 2EX

Map

© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1470017.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 30-Jul-2021 at 14:37:11.

Location

Statutory Address:
Victoria Embankment Gardens, Westminster, London, SW1A 2EX

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Greater London Authority
District:
City of Westminster (London Borough)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ3030379931

Summary

Memorial, unveiled 1990, commemorating the Chindit Special Forces, which served in Burma under Major General Wingate in the Second World War.

Reasons for Designation

The Chindits Memorial, which stands in Victoria Embankment Gardens in Westminster, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a striking and well-executed tall Portland stone plinth topped by a bronze statue of a Chinthe with the Chindits badge, a portrait of Wingate and explanatory inscriptions.

Historic interest:

* commemorating the role of the Chindit Special Forces which served in Burma under Major General Wingate in the Second World War; the Chindit campaigns made a major contribution to eject the Japanese from Burma.

Group value:

* with the Ministry of Defence (Grade I) and 34 lamp standards and the Statue of Lord Trenchard (all Grade II).

History

The Chindit Special Forces took their name from the Chinthe, a mythical beast which stands guard outside Burmese temples. This was a deliberate choice as part of a “hearts and minds” strategy to enlist the support of local Burmese people in the areas they operated. The Chindits were drawn from the armed forces of the United Kingdom, Burma, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, West Africa and the United States of America. They were formed by Major General Orde Charles Wingate, DSO, 1903-1944, a British army officer born in India to a military family. One of the founders of modern guerrilla warfare, he specialised in creating military units which used these tactics, the best known such unit being the Chindit. He is widely recognised as an innovator, developing military tactics with great relevance today.

The Chindit Campaigns of 1943-1944 involved this multi-national Special Force which engaged the Japanese within enemy lines in Burma in the Second World War. These men were trained to penetrate deep behind Japanese lines, attacking supply depots, railways and other communication targets, which in reality meant long jungle marches without adequate food and water supplies in high humid temperatures with a constant fear of ambush and disease including malaria and scrub typhus. Wingate was killed on active service in Burma in March 1944 and the Chindits were disbanded in February 1945. The Chindit campaigns made a major contribution to the Allied effort to eject the Japanese from Burma.

The memorial was designed by architect David Price with the sculpture by Frank Forster. Forster (1952-2017) trained at Middlesbrough Art College, 1968-1969, and City and Guilds Art School, Kennington, London, 1974-1978. The land for the monument was acquired through contributions from former Chindits while the monument was sponsored by public donations. It was unveiled on the 16 October 1990 by HRH Duke of Edinburgh. Conservation work was carried out in 2016. There is a separate further memorial to the Chindits in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

In 2015 the British Army’s 77th Brigade was reformed and named in tribute to the original 77th Brigade which was the first of the Chindits. The formation badge of the revived 77th was based on the original Chindit Chinthe badge. In 2018 it was announced that the Cultural Property Protection Unit (CPPU) would be established within 77th Brigade tasked with protecting cultural property during times of armed conflict.

Details

Memorial, unveiled 1990, commemorating the Chindit Special Forces, which served in Burma under Major General Wingate in the Second World War.

MATERIALS: Portland stone, red granite and bronze.

DESCRIPTION: the memorial comprises a tall 4m high Portland stone tapering plinth with a bronze Chinthe, a Burmese guardian temple beast, on the top. The plinth is set on three red granite steps.

On the front of the plinth is the Chindit badge, the blue enamel crest of the Chindits Association, in a roundel. Below the badge is carved in incised lettering: THE CHINDIT BADGE/ PORTRAYING A CHINTHE, A MYTHICAL/ BEAST, GUARDIAN OF BURMESE TEMPLES/ FROM WHICH WAS DERIVED THE NAME/ CHINDITS, THEIR MOTTO BEING/ THE BOLDEST MEASURES/ ARE THE SAFEST/ IN MEMORY OF ALL WHO FOUGHT ON THE/ FIRST AND SECOND EXPEDITIONS INTO/ NORTH BURMA 1943 AND 1944/ WITH THE CHINDIT SPECIAL FORCES/ FORMED, TRAINED AND COMMANDED BY/ MAJOR GENERAL ORDE CHARLES WINGATE, DSO/ CHINDITS CAME FROM THE ARMED FORCES/ OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, BURMA,/ HONG KING, INDIA, NEPAL, WEST AFRICA/ AND THE/ UNITED STATES OF AMERICA/  AIR SUPPLY AND DIRECT OPERATIONAL/ SUPPORT WAS GIVEN BY/ THE ROYAL AIR FORCE/ AND/ IST AIR COMMANDO GROUP/ UNITED STATES ARMY AIR FORCE/ AND/ 10TH UNITED STATES ARMY AIR FORCE/ VICTORY WAS HASTENED BY THE CHINDITS/ DARING EXPLOITS BEHIND ENEMY LINES/ HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE VI/ GRACIOUSLY AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS/ TO/ [LIST OF 4 NAMES].

On the sides of the plinth is inscribed: THE FOLLOWING TOOK PART IN THE CHINDIT CAMPAIGNS 1943 – 1944: [LIST OF UNITS].

On the rear of the plinth is a blue plaque depicting a portrait of Wingate in a roundel, below which is inscribed: IN MEMORY OF/ MAJOR GENERAL/ ORDE CHARLES WINGATE, DSO/ 1903 – 1944/ COMMANDER OF THE CHINDITS/ KILLED ON ACTIVE SERVICE/ IN BURMA 24TH MARCH 1944/ “A MAN OF GENIUS WHO MIGHT WELL HAVE/ BECOME A MAN OF DESTINY” WINSTON CHURCHILL/ AN IMPORTANT INFLUENCE IN THE CREATION/ OF THE ISRAEL DEFENCE FORCES AND THE/ FOUNDATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL.

Sources

Websites
Chindits, accessed 4 April 2020 from http://www.chindits.info/
Imperial War Museum Register of War Memorials, accessed 2 March 2020 from https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/11348
The Chindit Society, accessed 4 April 2020 from https://thechinditsociety.org.uk/about-chindits
War Memorials Online, accessed 2 March 2020 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/112243/

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].