Creations in wood & words

Words as art and art as words

Mike Calvert – A Chindit

Logline: The conventional soldiers dislike of the unconventional. Chindits never die, they go to heaven and regroup.  They’ve already been to hell!

Short Synopsis: The degree to which Brigadier Mike Calvert led very risky attacks he became known as “Mad Mike”, because of his habit of laughing loudly in moments of greatest danger. This fearless, physically tough, heavy drinking, hard fighting idealist-the acknowledged expert on guerrilla warfare was recommended for the V.C. Astonishingly it was quashed at a senior level. He was hated by his superior officers and festering in their minds was another battle he never saw coming, and was ill prepared for.

Montgomery said of him, ‘He’s the only officer who gave me a straight answer.”  In 1952 he is set-up, court-martialled on trumped-up charges? Dismissed from the Army without pension or any other benefits. Friends turn away from him. He falls from favour into obscurity. Despite all this Brigadier Calvert wrote ‘Prisoners of Hope’ considered a War classic and lectured at Manchester University on guerrilla warfare. Ending his days as an alcoholic dependant on Social Security. Who hated him so much and had the power to do this? Earl Mountbatten.

A series of haggard, sunken cheeked, pain wracked faces are ëcircledí by the light from flashlights as one by one the eyes in the faces look up showing their horror, despair or fatalism, while their lips form ëthank yousí, ëOh Godí or remain closed.  The sharp staccato of pistol shots echoes across the screen.
British officer v.o.
Step on it lads, the Japs will have overrun this place in no time.

SEGUE:  The sound of boots running becomes the drone of a USAF MUSTANG fighter bomber flying over the mist enshrouded jungle as the morning sun dissipates the mist.
After several low flying sweeps the Mustang climbs to safer heights.

The specks of TWO Eagles high above, hitching a ride on thermal currents.
Jungle foliage threatens to engulf the Pagoda and its many outbuildings as the air shimmers under the hot sun.  Palm trees, exotic trees and vines, filled with all kinds of invisible but vocal wildlife, mesh as far as the eye can see.

The wind is in the palm trees and/the temple bells they say/come you back you British soldier/come you back to Mandalay.

Monkeys screech, hidden by the dense foliage their voices strident in the otherwise silent landscape.
Suddenly the monkeysí voices are still replaced by the drone of a Mustang air plane.

A large gun arcs around getting a fix on the Mustang.  A SOLDIER opens the breach while another SOLDIER thrusts in a shell and slams the breach shut.  A second later the shell blasts out seeking the Mustang.

USAAF veteran pilot Colonel JOHN COCHRANE is sweating as he pulls on a damp stub of a cigar.  He watches as a shell explodes nearby giving him a fix on the Japanese gun position.

You guys will never learn.  Now I gotcha.
The Mustang banks, diving toward the Japanese gun placement, flying at tree top height.  Two rockets blast from under the Mustangís wings.  Seconds later the gun placement EXPLODES.
A multitude of screeching birds of all colors flap over the smoking jungle umbrella.

On Cochraneís lap is a well used map.  He scans it, shakes his head.  Taps the fuel gauge where the needle settles on 1/4 full.
Scotty, you receive me, over?

Loud and clear.  Whatís cookiní?

If those Chindit Limeys are down there, either the Japs have killed ëem, or theyíve starved to death.  Put the coffee on.  Back in twenty.  Over and out.
The Mustang banks, breaks off search as birds resettle in the trees.

In dirty, ripped sweat-stained jungle clothing, a dozen Japanese SOLDIERS are searching for something.
Some distance away, hidden in the dense undergrowth a small skinny bunch of CHINDITS have stopped to rest; everyoneís out of breath.

To a man they wear stained, filthy uniforms and are all unshaven and haggard looking.
Two Chindits Sergeants, RIGGS and BOWEN, sit propped up against a tree, both have untreated leg wounds.
Brigadier MIKE CALVERT bends down, pulls a piece of busted pencil from a ripped breast pocket, licks the lead, starts writing something on a small piece of paper and hands it to them.

Whatís this Sir?

Give this to the Jap C.O.  Good luck.  Iíll buy you a drink in London.
Calvert and the patrol disappear into the jungle.

Shit or bust I sípose.
Some time later Riggs and Bowen are dozing when an angry Japanese soldier kicks their feet and hollers at them.

On your feet.  Up, Up, Up!
Despite struggling to get to their feet the two Chindits are assailed by another Japanese soldier.  Now two Japanese soldiers are kicking the weak and injured men.
An annoyed OFFICER steps forward and starts shouting.
Riggs beckons with open hands.

(Strong Cockney accent)
We donít understand mate.

A Japanese SOLDIER boots Riggs and Bowen to the ground.  They groan trying to hide their obvious pain.
The other two Japanese soldiers grab them by the hair and haul them to their knees as the Officer draws his sword, takes a stance, starts Bushido sweeping sword movements.

The SWISH the blade makes is chilling.  Riggs manages to pull the piece of paper from a pocket.
Believing heís going for a weapon, one of the Soldiers rifle butts his face.  Riggs goes down and lies motionless in the dirt. The Soldier grabs the paper and hands it to the Officer whose anger heightens as he reads it.  He screws it up, tosses it at Bowen who picks it up and stuffs it in his pocket.
dissolve to:

On screen:  July 17, 1997, london

Ext. London street – day
A gleaming, chauffeur driven, late model Bentley stops outside a shop whose sign proclaims it to be : Olde London Shop – SPINK – founded 1666, 69 Southampton Row.
Two sprightly, smartly dressed men, early 70s, ex Army Sergeants Riggs and Bowen get out, walk briskly through the entrance.
The car pulls away.

PEOPLE  are lining up to get in, Riggs and Bowen join the queue for catalogues.  After paying Riggs scans the pages, fingers a number.

SUPER: Catalogue number 111.  Medals or Brigadier Michael Calvert.  DSO with bar.
Riggs nods his head to Bowen.  They enter the room, sitting near the back.
A grey-haired, barrel-chested, thick-set old man in civilian clothes that have seen better days, leans on his walking stick as heís led to the front row.  Slowly he sits on a chair, sighs, relieved to sit.
Fidgeting, he unbuttons his jacket.  Taps up a folded handkerchief in his jacketís breast pocket.  The jacketís cuffs are frayed.  Scuffed suede leather patches cover the elbows.  The check-shirt collar is worn.  Despite his somewhat tatty tweed suit – itís obvious itís of a good cut and quality.
He is 82 year-old ex Brigadier MICHAEL CALVERT.

SIMON JEFFREY auctioneer, raps his Gavel on the Lectern.  The audience chatter slowly fades.  Simon scans the audience.  Fingers through pages of the dayís auction list.

Good morning and welcome ladies and gentlemen.  We have a full day for you, the feature of which, and a passion of mine, World War Two memorabilia, which we will get to in about an hour or so. So, without further delay I will begin.
Some time later.

And now ladies and gentlemen. One of the finest collections of World War Two memorabilia Spink has ever had the pleasure to auction.  Catalogue number One-hundred-and-eleven describes a set of medals awarded to one of Englandís most distinguished soldiers.  I refer to Brigadier Michael Calvert.
Simon Jeffrey hits the lectern with his gavel.

On a long table (the bench) the court members sit in military uniforms.  In the centre: the PRESIDENT Brigadier MORGAN and JUDGE ADVOCATE in civilian clothes. O.C. BARNETT.  Other members, two to either side of them: Lt. Col. MITFORD, Lt. Col. GARINER-BROWN.  Lt. Col MUNN. Lt. Col PALMER.
The PROSECUTOR: Lt. Col. CAMPBELL and the DEFENDING COUNSEL Mr. GRIFFIN-JONES stand, behind their respective tables, in front of the bench.
Everyone sits silent, waiting.
Mike Calvert is brought before the court, he stands next to Griffith Jones.
Brigadier Morgan looks at Calvert who seems to be swaying on his feet.

Do you object to be tried by me as President, or by any of the officers, whose names you have heard read over?

I have no objection.
The President, Members and Judge are duly sworn in.
Barnett looks at Calvert.

Major Calvert, it is proposed that at your trial the proceedings shall be taken down by a shorthand writer who has been appointed by the court.  He is Mr. R.W. Barnett of the Directorate of the Army Legal Services of the War Office, whom you see on your left.
Calvert doesnít look at the man.

Do you object to him acting as shorthand writer.
I have no objection.
Barnett is sworn in, other formalities end as follows:

Do you object to either of these officers acting as interpreters?

I have no objections.

Major Calvert, you are described in the charge-sheet as the accused, Number 58046 Major James Michael Calvert, DSO, Corps of Royal Engineers, attached Commander Royal Engineers, Hanover, an officer of the regular force.  Is that a correct description?

That is correct. This position did not warrant my Brigadier rank.

So be it Major. You are charged on this charge-sheet with four charges, all of which are laid under section 41 of the Army act.  The first charge alleges when on active service committing a civil offence, that is to say, gross indecency to section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, in that you at Soltau on a date unknown in or about the month of April 1952, being a male person, committed an act of gross indecency with Lothar Gebien, a male person.  Are you guilty or not of the first charge?

Not guilty.
Three other almost identical charges are read, naming three more German teenagers: Egon Schneider, Host Bartels, Heinz Furhop.
Calvert pleads not guilty to all three.  We move forward as Barnett concludes his last statement.

… that you have been prejudiced thereby, or on any ground that you have not had sufficient opportunity for preparing your defence?

I do not wish for an adjournment.
Barnett acknowledges Calvert with a slight nod.

Major Calvert you may be seated.  Colonel Campbell, do you make an opening address?
Calvert sits down, moistens his lips with his tongue.  Griffith-Jones seeing Calvertís discomfort, eases a glass of water towards him.  Calvert sips some water, dries his lips with a handkerchief.
Lt. Col. Campbell stands.

I do sir.  Gentlemen, before I outline to you the persecutionís case, may I be permitted to say something of a rather personal nature?

Campbell looks at the bench.

Of course.

Thank you sir.

Campbell drinks from a glass of water.  Clears his throat, then turns over a page of his documents.  Looks at Calvert an arm outstretched toward him.

That Major Calvert comes before you with this tremendous record of service to his country should find himself today in this predicament, whether he is guilty or whether he is innocent, must be a source of distress to all who know him and all who know of him.  May I say that I, as prosecutor, share that sense of distress in the fullest measure and that the burden of prosecuting this case before you, as it is unfortunately my duty to do, weighs heavily indeed upon my shoulders.  Thank you.  Now sir, if I may deal with the case itself.  At the time these offences are alleged to have been committed Major Calvert was then Lieutenant Colonel and he was Commander Royal Engineers stationed at Soltau.

… inevitably you as a court, must and, in fact, the prosecution invite you to do so – view everything these young men have said before you with the gravest suspicion.  You will not act upon it, as I say, without that corroboration required by law and without the greatest degree of certainty in your minds.  During the course of that investigation the officer with Major Calvert present in his quarters found in a locked drawer which the Major opened, a German magazine circulated amongst men who are either practising homosexuals or are inclined to homosexual activities….

…shortly after these alleged indecent acts are to have taken place at Major Calvertís flat, a series of burglaries occurred in the annex to the headquartersí mess of this brigade.  Major Calvert himself had several things taken, his wallet, his revolver, some ammunition and a sweater.  The four prosecution witnesses I have spoken about were arrested by the German police as authors of these crimes.  Two are to be charged over these offences, two others are not.  That concludes the prosecutionís case sir.
Campbell sits down and takes a long drink of water.

Mr. Griffith-Jones.
The court erupts as people talk among themselves.

The JUDGE hits his gavel on its base.

Order in the court!  Anyone not complying will be directed to the exit forthwith.  …  You may proceed.
He nods in Michael Calvertís direction as he sits erect, as his Lawyer Griffith-Jones stands and delivers his defense speech.

That man sitting there is not perfect.  He is fourteen stone five pounds of trouble.  And he has other problems.  Brigadier Calvert is a fighter, a brawler, and an alcoholic to boot.  With that on your side, it is little wonder heís sitting right here.  But heís not here as a result of any of these traits.  No gentlemen, heís here because some petty high ranking Army officers are jealous of this soldier.  They hadnít either the guts or courage that this man has in abundance.  They donít like the way he fights; and, thank God they donít.  If they did weíd probably be talking German or Japanese, thatís if any of us were still alive, because Britain would have lost the war.  But we didnít lose, because of fighters like Brigadier James Michael Calvert, DSO with bar.  He curses, speaks his mind, and this offends some senior officers.  Clever, certainly,  pugnacious even, this man never fitted in.  His type of fighting was novel and suspect by many Army officers in the forties.  Such men had been taught along traditional lines, face-to-face battle, relying on tight discipline and orderliness.

The audience is still as the auctioneer continues.

Brigadier Calvert is still regarded as the soldier who founded a British tradition thatís been the bedrock of armed forces worldwide.  I refer to the SAS.  Brigadier Calvert is with us today.
Riggs and Bowen stand, begin applauding vigorously as others join in.  The full room is standing, clapping.  Simon is surprised at the response.
He descends from the stage, eagerly walks to Calvert, helps him to his feet, despite difficulties in standing upright, Calvert does so with Simonís aid.
Calvert turns to face the crowd, buttons his jacket, waves his stick, nods in appreciation, smiles broadly.

One MAN, about Calvertís age, remains seated. He is MAJOR-GENERAL KIRBY Retired.

Thank you.
Simon returns to the stage as Calvert sits back down.

That was totally unexpected. Brigadier Calvert asks me to thank you ladies and gentlemen.  Brigadier Calvertís medals are impressive by any standards.  Referring to the list youíll see Brigadier Calvert was awarded thirteen medals, plus the DSO with Bar.  A total of fourteen. And they include: two DSOs and bar, The American Silver Star, the French Legion díHonneur, and the Belgian Order of Leopold. My father fought alongside this fine soldier in World War Two. Will someone start the bidding at Ten thousand pounds?
He smiles and scans the audience.  The seated gentleman raises his hand.

Do I hear Ten thousand five hundred?
Simon points gavel to interested party.

Thank you sir.
After a few more bids Simon is familiar with those interested.  He looks at each, scans audience, and smiling points gavel at the same Man.

Do I hear Eleven thousand pounds?
Quickly the price increases, as eager BIDDERS raise their numbered cards.

Eighteen thousand pounds ladies and gentlemen.  Once, Twice, Thrice.  Sold for eighteen thousand pounds.  Youíre number sir?
Simon stubs gavel closing proceedings.

That, ladies and gentlemen concludes our sale for today.  Our next one is in three weeksí time.  I look forward to seeing you all again.  Thank you, and a safe journey home.
Bowen leans toward Riggs.

Thatíll please the old boy.  Now they can ëang in his Regimentís ëeadquarters.

Letís go and tell ëim theyíre staying in England.  Itíll put his mind at rest.
Bowen and Riggs shuffle through the crowd toward Calvert.  Unexpectedly the elderly bumptious-looking man who remained seated, steps in front of them.
He is retired Major-General KIRBY.  An obstinate Royal Engineersí staff officer.  On his jacket are Medal ribbons.

Nameís Kirby, Major-General, retired.  I wanted those medals so they can hang in the Regimentís H.Q.

And what Regiment might that be?

Royal Engineers.

We got a betta outfit than that.

And who might that be?

The Chindits.  Sícuse us, we gotta meet a real soldier, our C.O.  Maybe youíve ëeard of ëim Brigadier Michael Calvert, DSO and Bar.  Was you who denied him the Victoria Cross wasnít it?  One of the desk-top Curry Colonels, safe on your arse, in India.  Whilst Brigadier Calvert was at the sharp end.  With us.  Leading from the front as always.

Youíve obviously not read the true account of the war against the Japanese?

And who might be the author of it?  Not you by any chance?
Riggs moves right into Kirbyís face.

Youíre the bastard who crucified the Chindits Commanding Officer Major-General Orde Wingate in your book, ainít ya?
Bowen steps up alongside Riggs.

I read the lot mate.  Itís a hatchet job by a little man like you who couldnít compete with him in the military argument or in battle.  Itís misfired.  Get ëold of Brigadier Peter Meadís account, Orde Wingate and the ëistoriansí.  Mead was there at the sharp  Not like you, hundredsí of miles away in India, behind a bloody desk!
Bowen, Riggs start to move.  Bowen turns, stares at Kirby.

I donít normally swear.  But in your case itís deserved.
Riggs then stops, returns to Kirby.  Putting his nose against Kirbyís heavily veined bulbus red nose.

Youíre the bastard in Delhi who knocked back the Brigadierís V.C. recommendation.

ON SCREEN: Officerís mess, General Headquarters, Delhi, 1944

Large ceiling fans swirl as Indians flit around tables serving drinks, clearing glasses.  Stuffy 50 year old Staff Director, Major-General Kirby, several senior staff OFFICERS and Lt. SHAW, a junior officer relax.

These scruffy eccentric beachhead commando cowboys are the biscuit.  Wingate eats raw onions.  Whatís the British Army coming to?

Theyíre just unconventional sir.
Kirby ignores Shawís remark.

This is no way to run a campaign.  We have to show the Nips weíre in charge by conventional tactical warfare.  Calvertís laid back on discipline and thinks nothing of tearing off with his men, on mad skirmishes at the front, would you believe.  Apparently you can smell his unit miles away.  (Laughing)  No doubt when the enemy arrive in force theyíll pick up the strong odors, and thatíll be the end of these two-ragged arse Cavaliers.  Iíve no doubt the Japanese commanders will not lose any sleep.

Their Longcloth campaign was a complete success.  Not forgetting the Chindits walked over fifteen hundred miles during that op.
Kirby tries pressuring this junior intelligence officer.

Wingate and Calvertís defiance of all military conventions and behavior is disgraceful.  Neither makes any effort to win friends; heaven knows men like these two need them up here.
Kirby smirks as he glances for approving nods and signals the Indian waiter for refills for everyone.

I didnít realize war was about making friends… Sir.

Given sufficient rope and theyíll dangle.  Everything I hear is unbecoming of a British Army officer. After talking to Wingate, Iím convinced heís not a sufficiently balanced commander.  90 percent of his ideas are dangerous and absurd.
The waiter returns with a tray full of glasses and hands them around.
Hear!  Hear!
Not in sequence


Calvert sits alone at a table by a window.
A man ALBERT DUNN enters and looks around. Dunn recognizes Calvert and walks over to him.
Mr. Calvert?

Yes.  Please call me Mike.  No-oneís called me mister for years.  You are Dunn?
Dunn notes Calvertís glass is empty.

You can do with another.  With ice I believe?

Yes. Thank you.
Dunn returns with a double for Calvert and a Guinness for himself.

From what you said on the phone, you seem to know a lot about me.

Special Investigation Branch knows a great deal about a lot of people without their knowledge Mike.  I retired a couple of years ago.  Gives me time to fish.

The real kind or tíother?!
They both laugh.

So what did you want to see an old soldier about?  Presumably you were not in Burma?

North Africa. Not so rough as Burma.

Donít tell me you want to write my life story!

Afraid not Mike, but someone will sometime.  Your two books are already considered the best on the Burma campaign.

Youíve read them?

Yes.  Prisoners of Hope is a classic.  As opposed to Kirbyís biased account.  That man should never have made Sergeant, let alone a General.  But thatís not why I rang Mike.
Pausing, Dunn swigs down some Guinness.

Gruener Jaeger.  I donít like opening such a wound.  But my conscience wouldnít let me keep quiet about it any longer.

Please Mr. Dunn, itís dead and buried, but it still haunts me every single night and most of my days.

It was a put-up job Mike.  You were set up.

Not in sequence
Itís twilight, we see a LONE Eagle winging his way back to his eerie, and have an eagleís eye view of a gathering mist shrouding the jungle.
At ground level we see soiled headgear, floppy hats, marking the graves of two fallen Chindits.  The hats are perched on a 12 inch high wood cross.

A photograph of Major-General Orde-Wingate from (front cover Peter Meadís Bio)
Narrator v.o.
Guarding the entrance to the mighty Burmese Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is a pair of mythical lions.  A legend says that Chinthe, or Lion, denotes courage and strength on the ground.  Our Commanding Officer, Brigadier Orde-Wingate mispronounced the word as Chindit, and it got stuck in the pages of World War II history.  Wingate added the Eagle to the Chindit badge because of its supremacy in the sky.  Chindits never die, they go to heaven and regroup.  Weíve already been to hell!

The end

Title List

Title List

Ron’s other work : completed screenplays and stories, in various lengths and genres.

Unless otherwise stated all are Ron’s ideas and concepts. Screenplays are co-written with co-writer and friend:

Aimee Lamb. As you see there is a mountain of writing here,

and at my age I decided to ‘get’ these written. This could not have been done with out Aimee Lamb.



1  Mad Mike and The Chindits * Action/Drama

2  The Legend and Adventures of Tae & Kwon *# Animation or live Martial Art AND ebook

3  Nazi Gold and the Reinhardt Memorandum* Action/Drama adapted  from book, Nazi Gold

4  The Healing Bullet + @  Drama. Florey, Penicillin.

5  The Letter * Drama/Ghost

6  Cast of Eagles * Adult Drama/Adventure

7  Where the Devil says Goodnight *# Adult Drama.

8  Saddle the Wind *# Children/family Adventure – also available as an ebook

9   Black Star-Diamond * @ Fiction/fact based Adventure

10 The Ghost & the Harley * @ Comedy Adventure

11 The Amy Johnson Story* Action/Drama

12 Hitler and Women * Drama adapted from book

13 Walt, Bill & Booma *# Children Animation or live

14 Pentad & the Real Wizards Handbook@* Animation or live – 5 Wizards

15 The Giants’ Playground*#  Disaster/Action Adventure

16  The Sea Witch * Adult/Children Adventure

17 Can’t fight? Wear a BIG Hat+ Action/Crime/ Martial Arts

18 Outnumbered * Action Afghanistan Snipper (short)

19 Stratofortress* Action

20 A Smuggling we will go* Adventure/Action

21 Doodlebugs, Dutch Arrows and Bomb Alley#Drama/Adventure WW11 fact



1  The Garbologists*

2   Walt, Bill and Booma*

3  Jungle Katz* family adventure

4  Pentad and the Real Wizards Handbook+

5  The Lighthouse Keeper– Maurice Bonce+

6  Unicorn Island+

7  The Mushies+

8  Spud Le Page+

9  Beezwaks+

10 Kites+


#    Manuscript written

*    Screenplay written

+    Part written


1  Dartmoor Bogs* Drama

2  An Appointment with Fear* Drama/Ghost

3  Day of the Dolphin Drama

4  A Vase None-fiction+ L/Ent

5  The Tsunamis* Disaster

6  Been a Nice Year of Roses*  Comedy/Drama

7  The HRH Daimler Comedy #

8  There goes my Knighthood #  Comedy

9  The Penalty *# Drama Soccer, penalty shootout Africa

10 Unicorn Island+ They’re alive-honest

11. A.Cockling

12. B52 Strato-fortress