The Brave Shall Inherit the Earth

The Brave Shall Inherit the Earth


The Brave Shall Inherit the Earth is the motto of the Rajputana Rifles, the oldest rifle regiment in the pre-World-War-Two Indian Army. It is a fitting epitaph to this remarkable young officer who commanded the mortar platoon in 3/6th Rajputana Rifles during the 14th Army’s invasion of Burma in 1944.

Denis O’Leary came from a family of soldiers; his father was also RajRif. Just out of officer training, a practicing Catholic, handsome, athletic, twenty years old, Denis joined 3/6th Rajputana Rifles on the eve of Field Marshal Slim’s invasion of Burma in 1944.

This book is the story of his Regiment in that Homeric engagement. It is also about the close friendships formed in war between a British officer and his Rajput and Punjabi ‘Mussalman’ soldiers.

The Regiment ‘had been fortunate in our introduction to war. It had been a gradual process.’ Luckily Denis learnt quickly and by the time he came to his Kurukshetra – a decisive battle to hold Pear Hill against suicidal Japanese attacks during the Irrawaddy crossings – his mettle had been tested and forged.

During this battle, in which he won his first Military Cross, he was badly wounded by shrapnel and evacuated back to India for the rest of the war, only re-joining his beloved battalion in pre-Independence Burma, which this account also covers.

Denis O’Leary was a life-long soldier, he is a modest historian, he writes simply but eloquently. There are few books so hauntingly beautiful about something so savage as war.

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