The Arakan was chosen again as the first real test of changes made in the organisation, equipment and tactical training of troops in India Command, given the low readiness of formations in Assam. The 15th Indian Corps's offensive - Operation CUDGEL - like that the year before, had Akyab Island and its surrounding airfields as its objective. No alterations were made when on 15-16th November, moreover, overall command of operations was switched from GHQ India to SEAC. As initially envisaged it involved an amphibious operation - Operation BULLFROG - by 2nd Division on the Mayu Peninsula intended to trap the forward Japanese 55th Division before the advancing 15th Indian Corps. The amphibious element was cancelled early in January 1944, however, as landing craft were unavailable leaving 15th Indian Corps to advance southwards and destroy the Japanese forces in northern Arakan and ultimately capture Akyab Island. The first phase of this offensive involved the capture of the small pOl1 of Maungdaw and then the strong Japanese defences running along the 16-mile metalled road linking Maungdaw-Buthidaung scheduled for mid-January 1944, to secure communications through the Mayu Range and make possible operations in the Kalapanzin Valley. To defeat the experienced Japanese 55th Division overwhelming force was to be employed reflecting continued real concerns about ComlTIonwealth troops' combat effectiveness and the vital importance of securing an early victory to build a tradition of success. The 15th Indian Corps, after Slinl's reassumed comlnand in June 1943 had been hurriedly reconstituted at Ranchi with the three best available divisions in India Conlmand. Two divisions - 7th Indian and 5th Indian - ~'ere allocated to operate astride and along the sumlTIit of the Mayu Range, while two brigades of 81 st (WA) Division, commanded by Major-General Cyril Woolner, provided distant flank protection, operating on a very light scale of equipment and supplied from the air, in the Kaladan Valley. The 26th Indian Division fornled corps reserve, although still recovering frOlTI fighting during the lTIOnSoon. An unprecedented quantity of artillery, tanks and engineers was lTIade available, as increasing supplies reached SE Asia, due to lingering doubts about whether ComlTIonwealth troops would fight and the anticipated difficulties of attacking fortified Japanese positions. In particular. 6th Medium Reginlent, equipped with

5.5" Medium Guns, bolstered the divisional artillery to provide a means of destroying Japanese bunkers while tanks were also made available in the shape of the 25th Dragoons. The RAF also allocated dedicated ground attack aircraft from 224 Group with Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers and Hurricanes on call.