Mike Calvert
Overview
 
James Michael Calvert DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 and Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

 (6 March 1913 – 26 November 1998) was a British soldier involved in special operations
Special operations
Special operations are military operations that are considered "special" .Special operations are typically performed independently or in conjunction with conventional military operations. The primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The degree to which he led very risky attacks in person led to his becoming widely known as "Mad Mike". Calvert was court-martialled and dismissed from the Army in 1952. He subsequently attempted to take up careers in engineering, writing and academia.
Calvert was born at Rohtak
Rohtak
Rohtak City is a Municipal Corporation in Rohtak district that styles itself as the "Heart of Haryana". It is located 70 km Northwest of New Delhi and 210 km South of the state capital Chandigarh at the NH 10...

 in India, son of a member of the Indian Civil Service.
Encyclopedia
James Michael Calvert DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 and Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

 (6 March 1913 – 26 November 1998) was a British soldier involved in special operations
Special operations
Special operations are military operations that are considered "special" .Special operations are typically performed independently or in conjunction with conventional military operations. The primary goal is to achieve a political or military objective where a conventional force requirement does...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The degree to which he led very risky attacks in person led to his becoming widely known as "Mad Mike". Calvert was court-martialled and dismissed from the Army in 1952. He subsequently attempted to take up careers in engineering, writing and academia.

Early career

Calvert was born at Rohtak
Rohtak
Rohtak City is a Municipal Corporation in Rohtak district that styles itself as the "Heart of Haryana". It is located 70 km Northwest of New Delhi and 210 km South of the state capital Chandigarh at the NH 10...

 in India, son of a member of the Indian Civil Service. He was educated at Bradfield College
Bradfield College
Bradfield College is a coeducational independent school located in the small village of Bradfield in the English county of Berkshire.The college was founded in 1850 by Thomas Stevens, Rector and Lord of the Manor of Bradfield...

 and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.

He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

 in 1933, and for a time was the Army's middleweight
Middleweight
Middleweight is a division, or weight class, in boxing. Early boxing history is less than exact, but the middleweight designation seems to have begun in the 1840s. In the bare-knuckle era, the first middleweight championship fight was between Tom Chandler and Dooney Harris in 1897...

 boxing champion. He read for the Mechanical Engineering Tripos
Tripos
The University of Cambridge, England, divides the different kinds of honours bachelor's degree by Tripos , plural Triposes. The word has an obscure etymology, but may be traced to the three-legged stool candidates once used to sit on when taking oral examinations...

 at St. John's College
St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college's alumni include nine Nobel Prize winners, six Prime Ministers, three archbishops, at least two princes, and three Saints....

, Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

. After graduating in 1936, he was appointed to the Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 Royal Engineers. In this post, he learned Cantonese. He also witnessed the Japanese
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 attack on Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

 and the Rape of Nanking, which made him one of the few officers who truly appreciated the threat posed by the Japanese.

When the war broke out, Calvert briefly commanded a detachment of Royal Engineers in the campaign in Norway
Norwegian Campaign
The Norwegian Campaign was a military campaign that was fought in Norway during the Second World War between the Allies and Germany, after the latter's invasion of the country. In April 1940, the United Kingdom and France came to Norway's aid with an expeditionary force...

, then trained Commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

 detachments in demolition
Demolition
Demolition is the tearing-down of buildings and other structures, the opposite of construction. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserving valuable elements for re-use....

 techniques in Hong Kong and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. In Australia, along with F. Spencer Chapman, he assisted with training Australian commandos
Commandos
Commandos is a stealth-oriented real-time tactics game series, available for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. The game is set in the Second World War and follows the escapades of a fictional British Commandos section. It leans heavily on historical events during WWII to carry the plot...

 who formed the first Australian Army Independent Companies at Wilsons Promontory
Wilsons Promontory
Wilsons Promontory is a peninsula that forms the southernmost part of the Australian mainland and is located at . South Point at is the southernmost tip of Wilsons Promontory and hence of mainland Australia...

, Victoria in 1941. He was then appointed to command the Bush Warfare School in Burma, training officers and NCO
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

s to lead guerilla bands in China for operations against the Japanese.

The Japanese invaded Burma in early 1942. Calvert and others from the school raided Henzada
Henzada
Hinthada is a city located on the Irrawaddy River in Ayeyarwady Region, Burma . In the 1983 census the city itself had a population of 82,005. By 2010 it had grown to 170,312...

 by riverboat after the fall of Rangoon as a deception operation to convince the Japanese that Australian reinforcements had reached Burma. Calvert then spent a period of time touring Burma with Orde Wingate. After the Bush Warfare School closed, Calvert was sent with 22 men from the school and a few hundred men separated from their units to guard the Gokteik Viaduct thirty miles east of Maymyo. (The Allied Commander in Chief, General Archibald Wavell apparently hoped that Calvert would use his initiative and demolish it, in spite of orders from the civil government to keep it intact. For once, Calvert obeyed orders.)

After retreating from the viaduct, Calvert participated in a deception operation involving the loss of a set of false papers to the Japanese. Calvert's unit finally retreated to India at the very rear of the army, often behind the Japanese lines.

Chindit Operations

In India, he reunited with the equally unorthodox Wingate, and the two became firm friends. Calvert led one of the company-sized columns in Operation Longcloth, Wingate's first Chindit operation in 1943. This was a long-range penetration operation behind enemy lines, which put great demands on the endurance of all who took part. Calvert was awarded the DSO for his achievements on the operation.

He commanded 77th Indian Brigade in Operation Thursday, the much larger second Chindit operation. On March 5, 1944, his brigade spearheaded the airborne landings deep in the Japanese rear. They then captured and held a position codenamed White City which blocked Japanese road and rail communications to their northern front, for over two months.

Calvert led several counter-attacks against encircling Japanese forces in person. On March 17 he led a bayonet charge which degenerated into a free-for-all, which Calvert later described as "just like an officers' mess guest night". On April 13 he commanded a much larger attack involving most of the brigade. He learned that a friend (Major Ian MacPherson) had been killed and his body left in the Japanese positions, and his Brigade Major
Brigade Major
In the British Army, a Brigade Major was the Chief of Staff of a brigade. He held the rank of Major and was head of the brigade's "G - Operations and Intelligence" section directly and oversaw the two other branches, "A - Administration" and "Q - Quartermaster"...

 had to threaten him with a revolver to prevent him returning alone to retrieve it.

In May, the Chindit brigades moved north. The monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 had broken and floods impeded the Chindits' operations. In June 1944, Calvert's brigade was ordered by the American General Joseph Stilwell
Joseph Stilwell
General Joseph Warren Stilwell was a United States Army four-star General known for service in the China Burma India Theater. His caustic personality was reflected in the nickname "Vinegar Joe"...

 to capture the town of Mogaung
Mogaung
Mogaung is a town in Kachin State, Myanmar. It is situated on the Mandalay-Myitkyina railway line.-External links:* Falling Rain Genomics, Inc.* Maplandia.com...

. Although his men were greatly weakened by shortage of rations, exhaustion and disease, he succeeded in doing so against desperate Japanese defenders, by the end of the month. His brigade had suffered 800 battle casualties in the siege; half of its strength. Of the remainder, only 300 men were left fit to fight.

On receiving orders to move to Myitkyina
Myitkyina
Myitkyina is the capital city of Kachin State in Myanmar , located from Yangon, and from Mandalay. In Burmese it means "near the big river", and in fact "Myitkyina" lies on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River, just below from Myit-son of its two headstreams...

, where another Japanese garrison was holding out, he closed down his Brigade's radio sets and marched to Stilwell's army's headquarters in Kamaing
Kamaing
Kamaing is a town in the Kachin State of the northernmost part of the Union of Myanmar.-External links:*...

 instead. A court martial was threatened, but after he and Stilwell finally met in person and Stilwell appreciated for the first time the conditions under which the Chindits had operated, 77th Brigade was evacuated to India to recover. Calvert was awarded a bar to the DSO for the second Chindit expedition.

SAS Operations

Calvert was then evacuated to Britain on medical grounds (ironically following an accidental injury) in September 1944. In March 1945 he was appointed to command the Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 Brigade and held this appointment until the Brigade disbanded in October 1945.

After the war, he attended the Army's Staff College
Staff college
Staff colleges train military officers in the administrative, staff and policy aspects of their profession. It is usual for such training to occur at several levels in a career...

. After passing the course, he was appointed to a staff post as Lieutenant Colonel in the Allied Military Government in Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

. He was then selected in 1950 to command the Malayan Scouts engaged in operations against Communist insurgents in Malaya
Malayan Emergency
The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

. Although he held the local rank of Brigadier
Brigadier
Brigadier is a senior military rank, the meaning of which is somewhat different in different military services. The brigadier rank is generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general....

, he nevertheless led several patrols and operations in person. However, the Malayan Scouts were not subject to proper selection procedures and never lost an early reputation for poor discipline. Calvert's exertions meant that he was invalided home in 1951.

Later career

Calvert reverted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and was posted to an obscure staff billet in the British Army of the Rhine
British Army of the Rhine
There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine . Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, one after the First World War, and the other after the Second World War.-1919–1929:...

. While there, he was accused of an act of indecency, court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

led and forced to leave the Army under a cloud. He was also prone to alcoholism
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...

 by this point in this life. He several times tried to rebuild a career as an engineer, in Australia and Britain.

Eventually, he was appointed Research Fellow at Manchester University in 1971 to write "The Pattern of Guerrilla Warfare", which was never finished. He died in 1998.

Up until his death he was a supporter of The Chindits Old Comrades Association and other charities for the support of ex-servicemen.

The World at War television documentary

Calvert is interviewed concerning Burma operations in episode 14, “It’s A Lovely Day Tomorrow – Burma (1942-1944)”, of the acclaimed British documentary television series, The World at War
The World at War (TV series)
The World at War is a 26-episode British television documentary series chronicling the events of World War II. It was produced by Jeremy Isaacs, narrated by Laurence Olivier and has a score composed by Carl Davis...

.

Honours and awards

Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 5 August 1943, 18 May 1944

Silver Star
Silver Star
The Silver Star is the third-highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy....

 (United States) 19 September 1944

King Haakon VII's Cross of Liberty (Norway) 19 March 1948

Commander of the Order of Leopold II with Palm
Order of Leopold II
The Order of Leopold II is an order of Belgium and is named in honor of King Léopold II. The decoration was established on 24 August 1900 by Leopold II as king of the Congo Free State and was in 1908, upon Congo being handed over to Belgium, incorporated into the Belgian awards system...

 (Belgium)

Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm
Croix de guerre
The Croix de guerre is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts...

 (Belgium) 14 May 1948

Published works

  • Fighting Mad, Pen and Sword Books, paperback, ISBN 1-84415-224-3
  • Prisoners of Hope, Pen and Sword Books, 1952, paperback, ISBN 0-85052-492-X
  • The Chindits, Ballantine Books, paperback, ISBN 0-345-23502-9

External links


Other sources

  • Mad Mike: A life of Brigadier Michael Calvert, by David Rooney, Pen & Sword Books Ltd. 1997, ISBN 0-85052-543-8
  • Jon Latimer, Burma: The Forgotten War, London: John Murray, 2004 ISBN 0-7195-6576-6
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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