39th Infantry Division (India)

39th Indian Infantry Division (originally the 1st Burma Division) was an infantry division of the Indian Army during World War II, which became a Training Division in 1943 after its recovery into India from Burma.

39th Indian Infantry Division
Active14 July 19411945
CountryBritish India
AllegianceBritish Crown
BranchBritish Indian Army
EngagementsBurma Campaign
Major General James Bruce Scott


The 1st Burma Infantry Division was formed 14 July 1941 at Toungoo in Burma. The Division was part of the British Burma Army.

On the outbreak of war, the division was commanded by Major-General James Bruce Scott. It consisted of the 1st and 2nd Burma Infantry Brigades, and the 13th Indian Infantry Brigade. Throughout the Japanese conquest of Burma, the division interchanged many units with its fellow Burma Corps component, 17th Indian Infantry Division. At various times the 7th Armoured Brigade, 16th Indian Infantry Brigade, 48th Indian Infantry Brigade, and 63rd Indian Infantry Brigade came under command of the division, though only the original three brigades finally entered India as part of the division at the end of the arduous retreat, reduced to fractions of their original strength.

The 1st Burma Division changed to an Indian formation at the end of the 1942 campaign. While the majority of the Burma Army was reconstituted elsewhere in India, the division headquarters was retained at the front.

The 39th division was soon re-roled as a Light Division with two infantry brigades and Mule and jeep transport companies. However this change happened more in name than in anything else as it never actually began to convert to an entirely mule and jeep based transport and supply system.

The decision to convert the division to a training role was undertaken in June 1943[1] after the poorly executed Arakan offensive when it was realised that the troops being sent into the field, both British and Indian, while not lacking conventional military fighting skills, lacked the necessary knowledge and training to operate in the Burmese jungle. The 39th was joined in its training role by the 14th Indian Infantry Division which had been the main operational unit during the Arakan offensive and had suffered badly both in terms of casualties and morale as a result.


106th Indian Infantry Brigade

113th Indian Infantry Brigade

Divisional troops

Assigned brigades

All these brigades were assigned or attached to the division at some time during World War II

Under command when Burma Division

Attached when light division

Attached when a training division


  1. Kempton, p. 137
  2. "1 Burma Division units". Order of Battle. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  3. Kempton, p. 145
  4. "39 Division units". Order of Battle. Retrieved 2009-10-22.


  • Kempton, Chris (2003). 'Loyalty & Honour' The Indian Army September 1939 - August 1947, Part I: Divisions. Milton Keynes: The Military Press. ISBN 0-85420-228-5.
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