Battle of Yenangyaung

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Battle of Yenangyaung
Part of the Burma Campaign
Japanese Conquest of Burma April-May 1942.jpg
The Japanese conquest of Burma (the left red arrow represents Japanese movements to Yenangyaung)
Date11–19 April 1942
Result Allied victory

Flag of the Republic of China.svg  China
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom

Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Republic of China Army.svg Sun Li Jen
Flag of the Republic of China Army.svg Liu Fangwu
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg John Anstice
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg James Scott
War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg Shozo Sakurai
Units involved

Flag of the Republic of China.svg Chinese Expeditionary Force

  • 38th Division
    • 113th Regiment
Flag of the British Army.svg 1st Burma Division
Flag of the British Army.svg 7th Armoured Brigade
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg 33rd Division
Flag of the Republic of China.svg : 1,121
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg : 7,000
Casualties and losses
204 killed
318 wounded
20 missing
700 killed

The Battle of Yenangyaung (Chinese : ; pinyin : Rén ān qiāng jié ; literally: 'Great Victory at Yenangyaung') was fought in Burma, now Myanmar, during the Burma Campaign in World War II. The battle of Yenaungyaung was fought in the vicinity of Yenangyaung and its oil fields.

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

British rule in Burma Historical time period

British rule in Burma lasted from 1824 to 1948, from the Anglo-Burmese wars through the creation of Burma as a Province of British India to the establishment of an independently administered colony, and finally independence. The region under British control was known as British Burma. Various portions of Burmese territories, including Arakan, Tenasserim were annexed by the British after their victory in the First Anglo-Burmese War; Lower Burma was annexed in 1852 after the Second Anglo-Burmese War. The annexed territories were designated the minor province, British Burma, of British India in 1862.



After the Japanese captured Rangoon in March 1942, the Allies regrouped in Central Burma. The newly formed Burma Corps, commanded by Lieutenant General William Slim and consisting of British, Indian and locally raised Burmese troops, attempted to defend the Irrawaddy River valley, while the Chinese Expeditionary Force (in Burma) defended the Sittaung River valley to the east. After the Japanese captured Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, they were able to use divisions released by these successes and captured trucks to reinforce their army in Burma and launch attacks into Central Burma.

The Burma Corps ('Burcorps') was an Army Corps of the Indian Army during World War II. It was formed in Prome, Burma, on 19 March 1942, took part in the retreat through Burma, and was disbanded on arrival in India in May 1942.

William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim former Governor-General of Australia

Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim,, usually known as Bill Slim, was a British military commander and the 13th Governor-General of Australia.

Irrawaddy River river in Burma

The Irrawaddy or, officially, Ayeyarwady River is a river that flows from north to south through Myanmar. It is the country's largest river and most important commercial waterway. Originating from the confluence of the N'mai and Mali rivers, it flows relatively straight North-South before emptying through the Irrawaddy Delta into the Andaman Sea. Its drainage basin of about 404,200 square kilometres (156,100 sq mi) covers a large part of Burma. After Rudyard Kipling's poem, it is sometimes referred to as 'The Road to Mandalay'.

One of the Japanese objectives in the Irrawaddy River valley was the Yenangyaung oil fields. The battle for the oil fields started on 10 April [1] and continued for a week. The Japanese attacked 1st Burma Division on the Allied right and 48th Indian Infantry Brigade at Kokkogwa at night in a storm and were repulsed with heavy casualties. [2] On the next day, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment (2nd RTR) was in action near Magwe at Thadodan and Alebo. From 13 to 17 April, the British fell back under attacks by the Japanese. On several occasions Japanese roadblocks split the Burma Frontier Force (an internal security force acting as infantry), 1st Burma Division, the British 7th Armoured Brigade HQ and 2nd RTR into three forces.

Yenangyaung City in Magway Region, Myanmar

Yenangyaung is a city in Magway Region, Myanmar. Yenangyaung is located in central Myanmar on the Irrawaddy River, 363 miles from Yangon. Yenangyaung is the fourth biggest city in Magway Division. There are Yenangyaung Degree College and Yenangyaung Government Technical Institute in Yenangyaung. No(1)Basic Education High School was one hundred years old in January 2015. A beautiful stream called Pinn Chaung flows in the north.General Aung San gathered his secondary level education at this city.

The 48th Infantry Brigade, was raised as the 48 Indian Infantry Brigade, in October 1941, at Secunderabad, India. After an initial tenure with 19th Indian Infantry Division, it was transferred to the 17th Indian Infantry Division. In World War II it participated in the Burma campaign and in April 1942 was attached to 1st Burma Division. After the war the brigade returned to India as an independent brigade, and was located at Dhond in August 1947. After India gained Independence in 1947, 48 Indian Infantry Brigade was re-designated as 48 Infantry Brigade. Since then 48 infantry brigade has seen action Goa in 1961, as part of 17 Infantry Division; in the 1962 War in Kameng Frontier Division, Arunachal Pradesh, as part of 4th Infantry Division; and in the 1971 war, as part of 7th Infantry Division. Since the 1970s, 48 Infantry Brigade has been located in Ferozpur, Punjab, as part of 7 Infantry Division.

2nd Royal Tank Regiment

The 2nd Royal Tank Regiment was an armoured regiment of the British Army. It was part of the Royal Tank Regiment, itself part of the Royal Armoured Corps and the 1st Mechanized Brigade.

On 15 April, Lieutenant General Slim gave orders for the oil fields and refinery to be demolished. [3] The situation became so critical that General Harold Alexander, commanding the Burma Army, asked Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, the American commander of the China Burma India Theater and Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek, to move the Chinese 38th Division immediately into the Yenaungyaung area.

Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis British military commander and field marshal; Governor General of Canada

Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis,, was a senior British Army officer who served with distinction in both the First World War and the Second World War and, afterwards, as Governor General of Canada, the 17th since Canadian Confederation.

Joseph Stilwell United States Army general

Joseph Warren Stilwell was a United States Army general who served in the China Burma India Theater during World War II. His caustic personality was reflected in the nickname "Vinegar Joe".

Chiang Kai-shek Chinese politician and military leader

Chiang Kai-shek, also known as Generalissimo Chiang or Chiang Chungcheng and romanized as Chiang Chieh-shih or Jiang Jieshi, was a Chinese politician and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and then in Taiwan until his death. He was recognized by much of the world as the head of the legitimate government of China until 1971, during which the United Nations passed Resolution 2758.


On 16 April, almost 7,000 British soldiers, and 500 prisoners and civilians were encircled by an equal number of Japanese soldiers from the IJA 33rd Division at Yenangyaung and its oil field. The 33rd Division had cut the Magwe road between Slim's two divisions, who were now about 50 miles (80 km) apart. The 1st Burma Division was hampered by large numbers of wounded men and was short of water. Major General James Bruce Scott, commanding the 1st Burma Division, telephoned General Sun Li-jen, commanding the Chinese 38th Division, asking for rescue soon after the 38th Division entered the area.

33rd Division (Imperial Japanese Army) division

The 33rd Division was an infantry division of the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Bow Division. The 33rd Division was raised in Utsunomiya, Tochigi prefecture, simultaneously with 32nd, 34th, 35th, 36th and 37th Divisions. Its headquarters were initially in Sendai. It was raised from conscripts largely from the northern Kantō prefectures of Tochigi, Ibaraki and Gunma.

Major-General James Bruce Scott was a British Indian Army officer who commanded the 1st Burma Division during the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942.

Sun Li-jen Chinese general and politician

Sun Li-jen KBE was a Chinese Nationalist (KMT) general, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, best known for his leadership in the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War. His military achievements earned him the laudatory nickname "Rommel of the East". His New First Army was known as the "Best Army under heaven" and credited with effectively confronting Japanese troops in the 1937 Battle of Shanghai and in the Burma Campaign, 1943–1944.

Fires at Yenanguang as the British destroyed equipment and facilities YenangyaungDemolitions.jpg
Fires at Yenanguang as the British destroyed equipment and facilities

General Sun requested to lead his entire division to the rescue of 1st Burma Division, but General Lo Cho-ying, commanding the Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma, refused. On 17 April, General Sun instead led his 113th Regiment with only 1,121 men, of which only 800 were combat personnel, in the rescue mission. Because the Chinese had no artillery or tanks, Lieutenant General Slim assigned the 7th Armoured Brigade, commanded by Brigadier John Anstice, to General Sun. The brigade consisted of two regiments (battalions) of M3 Stuart light tanks and a battery of 25-pounder guns. [4]

Brigadier (Brig) is a senior rank in the British Army and the Royal Marines. Brigadier is the superior rank to colonel, but subordinate to major-general. It corresponds to the Rank of brigadier general in many other nations.

Brigadier John Henry Anstice DSO & Bar was a British Army officer who commanded numerous brigades during World War II.

M3 Stuart 1941 light tank family

The M3 Stuart, officially Light Tank, M3, was an American light tank of World War II. It was supplied to British and other Commonwealth forces under lend-lease prior to the entry of the U.S. into the war. Thereafter, it was used by U.S. and Allied forces until the end of the war.

For the next three days the Chinese attacked southwards. The temperatures reached as high as 114 degrees Fahrenheit and a pall of smoke from the demolished oil wells and refineries hung over the battlefield. [5]

Meanwhile, 1st Burma Division fought its way to and across the Pin Chaung river where they met with the relief column on 19 April. On the next day, the Chinese force attacked south toward Yenaungyaung and Pin Chaung. The attack caused the Japanese to suffer heavy casualties, but the Allied forces were too weak to hold the oil fields and had to retreat to the north. [6]


The 1st Burma Division had lost most of its heavy equipment and was exhausted and disorganised. Many of its Burmese troops had deserted.

King George VI rewarded Sun Li Jen with the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and honoured the Regiment Commander Colonel Liu Fangwu and some other officers with medals.

See also


  1. Slim, p.64
  2. Slim, p.64
  3. Slim, p.72
  4. Slim, pp.71-73
  5. Slim, p.74
  6. Slim, p.83


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