Japanese conquest of Burma

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Japanese conquest of Burma
Part of the Burma Campaign of World War II
IJA 15th Army on border of Burma.jpg
Troops of Japanese Fifteenth Army on the border of Burma
DateJanuary – May 1942
Location
Burma
Result

Axis victory

Territorial
changes
Japanese occupation of Burma
Thai occupation of Shan State
Belligerents

Allies:
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom

Flag of the Republic of China.svg China
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States

Axis:
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan

Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand
Commanders and leaders
Strength
Flag of the Republic of China.svg 95,000 [1]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg 42,000–47,000 [2]
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg 85,000 [2]
Flag of the State of Burma (1943-45).svg Grew to 12,000 [3] and peaked at 18,000 [4] -23,000 [5]
Casualties and losses
  • Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg
    4,597 casualties [6]
    117 aircraft [13]

The Japanese conquest of Burma was the opening chapter of the Burma Campaign in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II, which took place over four years from 1942 to 1945. During the first year of the campaign, the Japanese Army (with aid from Thai Phayap Army and Burmese insurgents) drove British Empire and Chinese forces out of Burma, then began the Japanese occupation of Burma and formed a nominally independent Burmese administrative government.

Burma Campaign Series of battles fought in the British colony of Burma, South-East Asian theatre of World War II

The Burma Campaign was a series of battles fought in the British colony of Burma, South-East Asian theatre of World War II, primarily involving the forces of the British Empire and China, with support from the United States, against the invading forces of Imperial Japan, Thailand, and collaborator units such as the Burma Independence Army, which spearheaded the initial attacks against British forces, and the Indian National Army. British Empire forces peaked at around 1,000,000 land and air forces, and were drawn primarily from British India, with British Army forces, 100,000 East and West African colonial troops, and smaller numbers of land and air forces from several other Dominions and Colonies.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

Thailand Constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia

Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup in 2014 established a de facto military dictatorship.

Contents

Pre-war situation

Before the Second World War broke out, Burma was part of the British Empire, having been progressively occupied and annexed following three Anglo-Burmese wars in the 19th century. Initially governed as part of British India, Burma was formed into a separate colony under the Government of India Act 1935. Under British rule, there had been substantial economic development but the majority Bamar community was becoming increasingly restive. [14] Among their concerns were the importation of Indian workers to provide a labour force for many of the new industries, and the erosion of traditional society in the countryside as land was used for plantations of export crops or became mortgaged to Indian moneylenders. [15] Pressure for independence was growing. [16] When Burma came under attack, the Bamar were unwilling to contribute to the defence of the British establishment, and many readily joined movements which aided the Japanese.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

British Raj British rule on the Indian subcontinent, 1858–1947

The British Raj was the rule by the British Crown on the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947. The rule is also called Crown rule in India, or direct rule in India. The region under British control was commonly called India in contemporaneous usage, and included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom, which were collectively called British India, and those ruled by indigenous rulers, but under British tutelage or paramountcy, and called the princely states. The whole was also more formally called the Indian Empire. As India, it was a founding member of the League of Nations, a participating nation in the Summer Olympics in 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932, and 1936, and a founding member of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.

Government of India Act 1935 1935 UK parliament act

The Government of India Act 1935 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It originally received Royal assent in August 1935. Until 1999, it was the longest Act (British) of Parliament ever enacted at that time. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 surpassed it in length. Because of its length, the Act was retroactively split by the Government of India Act, 1935 (Re-printed) into two separate Acts:

  1. The Government of India Act, 1935, having 321 sections and 10 schedules.
  2. The Government of Burma Act, 1935, having 159 sections and 6 schedules.

British plans for the defence of British Far Eastern possessions involved the construction of airfields linking Singapore and Malaya with India. These plans had not taken into account the fact that Britain was also at war with Germany, and when Japan entered the war, the forces needed to defend these possessions were not available. Burma had been regarded as a military "backwater", unlikely to be subjected to Japanese threat. [17]

Singapore Republic in Southeast Asia

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%. The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founder Lee Kuan Yew.

British Malaya Former set of states on Malay Peninsula

The term "British Malaya" loosely describes a set of states on the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore that were brought under British hegemony or control between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Unlike the term "British India", which excludes the Indian princely states, British Malaya is often used to refer to the Federated and Unfederated Malay States, which were British protectorates with their own local rulers, as well as the Straits Settlements, which were under the sovereignty and direct rule of the British Crown, after a period of control by the East India Company.

Lieutenant General Thomas Hutton, the commander of Burma Army with its headquarters in Rangoon, had only the 17th Indian Infantry Division and 1st Burma Division to defend the country, although help was expected from the Chinese Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek. During the war, the British Indian Army expanded more than twelve-fold from its peacetime strength of 200,000 but in late 1941 this expansion meant that most units were undertrained and ill-equipped. In most cases, such training and equipment as the Indian units in Burma received was for operations in the Western Desert campaign or the North West Frontier of India, rather than jungles. The battalions of the Burma Rifles which formed most of the 1st Burma Division were originally raised as internal security troops only, from among minority communities in Burma such as the Karens. They also had been rapidly expanded, with an influx of Bamar soldiers, and were short of equipment and consisted mainly of new recruits.

Yangon Metropolitan City in Yangon Region, Myanmar

Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is the capital of the Yangon Region and commercial capital of Myanmar. Yangon served as the administrative capital of Myanmar until 2006, when the military government relocated the administrative functions to the purpose-built city of Naypyidaw [nèpjìdɔ̀] in central Myanmar. With over 7 million people, Yangon is Myanmar's largest city and its most important commercial centre.

Republic of China (1912–1949) 1912–1949 country in Asia, when the Republic of China governed mainland China

The Republic of China (ROC) was a sovereign country that existed between 1912 and 1949 in what is now the People's Republic of China. It was established in January 1912 after the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. The Republic's first president, Sun Yat-sen, served only briefly before handing over the position to Yuan Shikai, the leader of the Beiyang Army. Sun's party, the Kuomintang (KMT), then led by Song Jiaoren, won the parliamentary election held in December 1912. However, Song was assassinated shortly after and the Beiyang Army, led by Yuan, maintained full control of the Beiyang government. Between late 1915 and early 1916, Yuan Shikai was the self-proclaimed Emperor of China before abdicating due to popular unrest. After Yuan's death in 1916, the authority of the Beiyang government was further weakened by a brief restoration of the Qing dynasty. Cliques in the Beiyang Army claimed individual autonomy and clashed with each other during the ensuing Warlord Era.

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.

Japanese plans

Japan entered the war primarily to obtain raw materials, especially oil, from European (particularly Dutch) possessions in South East Asia which were weakly defended because of the war in Europe. Their plans involved an attack on Burma partly because of Burma's own natural resources (which included some oil from fields around Yenangyaung, but also minerals such as cobalt and large surpluses of rice), but also to protect the flank of their main attack against Malaya and Singapore and provide a buffer zone to protect the territories they intended to occupy. [18]

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.

Cobalt Chemical element with atomic number 27

Cobalt is a chemical element with the symbol Co and atomic number 27. Like nickel, cobalt is found in the Earth's crust only in chemically combined form, save for small deposits found in alloys of natural meteoric iron. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal.

An additional factor was the Burma Road completed in 1938, which linked Lashio, at the end of a railway from the port of Rangoon, with the Chinese province of Yunnan. This newly completed link was being used to move aid and munitions to the Chinese Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-Shek which had been fighting the Japanese for several years. The Japanese naturally wished to cut this link. [19]

Burma Road road in Myanmar

The Burma Road was a road linking Burma with the southwest of China. Its terminals were Kunming, Yunnan, and Lashio, Burma. It was built while Burma was a British colony in order to convey supplies to China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Preventing the flow of supplies on the road helped motivate the occupation of Burma by the Empire of Japan in 1942. Use of the road was restored to the Allies in 1945 after the completion of the Ledo Road. Some parts of the old road are still visible today.

Lashio Town in Shan State, Myanmar

Lashio is the largest town in northern Shan State, Myanmar, about 200 kilometres (120 mi) north-east of Mandalay. It is situated on a low mountain spur overlooking the valley of the Yaw River. Loi Leng, the highest mountain of the Shan Hills, is located 45 km (28 mi) to the south-east of Lashio.

Yunnan Province

Yunnan is a province of China. Located in Southwest China, the province spans approximately 394,000 square kilometres (152,000 sq mi) and has a population of 47.368 million. The capital of the province is Kunming, formerly also known as Yunnan. The province borders the Chinese provinces Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, and the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as the countries Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar.

The Japanese Fifteenth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Shojiro Iida, was assigned the mission of occupying northern Thailand, which had signed a treaty of friendship with Japan on 21 December 1941, and attacking the southern Burmese province of Tenasserim across the Tenasserim Hills. The army consisted initially of the highly regarded 33rd Division and the 55th Division, although both divisions were weakened for several weeks by detachments to other operations.

Burmese insurgents

As the threat of war grew, the Japanese sought links with potential allies in Burma. In late 1940 Aung San, a Burmese student activist, made contact with Suzuki Keiji in Amoy and was flown to Japan for talks. He and several other volunteers (the Thirty Comrades) were later given intensive military training on Hainan Island.

The Burma Independence Army was officially founded in Bangkok on 28 December 1941. It consisted initially of 227 Burmese and 74 Japanese personnel. [20] but was rapidly reinforced by large numbers of volunteers and recruits once they crossed into Burma as part of the main Japanese invasion.

Japanese capture of Rangoon

The first Japanese attack on December 14, 1941, against Victoria Point, almost the most southerly point of Burma, was expected and was not contested. The second attack was a small probing raid directed at a police station in southern Tenasserim, which was repulsed. The Japanese 143 Infantry Regiment (from 55th Division) then launched overland attacks on the airfields at Tavoy and Mergui in Tenasserim. The airfields were difficult to defend and reinforce, but Burma Army HQ had been ordered to hold these outposts because of their importance to the defence of Malaya. The Japanese forced their way over the steep jungle-covered Tenasserim Range, and attacked Tavoy on 18 January. The defenders, the 3rd and 6th battalions of the Burma Rifles, were overwhelmed and forced to evacuate the town in disorder. Mergui was evacuated before it was attacked.

Rangoon was initially defended relatively successfully against Japanese air raids, by small RAF detachments reinforced by a squadron of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers". The majority of the airfields were between Rangoon and the Axis advance and as the Japanese gained use of the airfields in Tenasserim, the amount of warning the Rangoon airfields could get of attack decreased, and they became more and more untenable.

On 22 January 1942, the main body of the Japanese 55th Division began the main attack westward from Rahaeng in Thailand across the Kawkareik Pass. The 16th Indian Infantry Brigade of the 17th Indian Division guarding this approach retreated hastily westward. The Japanese division advanced to Moulmein at the mouth of the Salween River which was garrisoned by the 2nd Burma Infantry Brigade. The position was almost impossible to defend, and had the River Salween, almost 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide, behind it. The 2nd Burma Brigade was squeezed into a progressively tighter perimeter, and eventually retreated over the river by ferry on 31 January after abandoning a large amount of supplies and equipment. Part of the force was left behind in Moulmein and had to swim the river. [21]

Sittang Bridge

The 17th Indian Division fell back northward. They attempted to hold the Bilin River and other fallback lines as they did so, but had too few troops to avoid being continually outflanked. The division eventually retreated toward the bridge over the Sittang River in general disorder. The retreat was delayed by incidents such as a vehicle breaking through the bridge deck, air attacks (including, allegedly, accidental attacks by the RAF and AVG), and Japanese harassment. [22] The delays allowed Japanese parties to infiltrate to the bridge itself, and the poorly organised defence of the bridge was in danger of collapsing. Fearing that the bridge would fall intact to the Japanese who would use it to advance on Rangoon, the divisional commander, Major-General "Jackie" Smyth, VC, ordered it to be blown up on the morning of 23 February 1942, with most of the division stranded on the enemy-held side. [23]

Many of the men of the 17th Division who were trapped on the Japanese-held side of the river made their way across to the west bank by swimming or on improvised rafts, but had to abandon almost all their equipment, including most of their small arms. This later led some to question the decision to blow the bridge, arguing that the river itself did not offer much of an obstacle to the Japanese, and that more harm than good was achieved, as it resulted in the stranding of two brigades and delayed the Japanese capture of Rangoon by ten days at most. [22]

Fall of Rangoon

Though the Sittang River was in theory a strong defensive position, the disaster at the bridge left the Allied forces too weak to hold it. General Archibald Wavell, the commander-in-chief of the ABDA Command, nevertheless ordered Rangoon to be held. He was expecting substantial reinforcements from the Middle East, including an Australian infantry division. On 28 February, he formally relieved Hutton (although Hutton had officially already been superseded in command by General Harold Alexander), and on the following day he sacked Smyth, who was in any case very ill. [24]

Although the Australian government refused to allow its troops to be committed to Burma, some British and Indian reinforcements, including the British 7th Armoured Brigade (equipped with new M3 Stuart tanks) [25] and the 63rd Indian Infantry Brigade, landed in Rangoon. Alexander ordered counter-attacks against the Japanese at Pegu, 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Rangoon, but soon realised that there was no hope of defending Rangoon. On 7 March, the Burma Army evacuated Rangoon after implementing a scorched earth plan to deny the Japanese the use of its facilities. The port was destroyed and the oil terminal was blown up. As the Allies departed, the city was on fire.

The remnants of the Burma Army faced encirclement as they retreated north from the city, but broke through the Taukkyan Roadblock as the result of an error on the part of the local Japanese commander. Colonel Takanobu Sakuma, commanding the Japanese 214th Infantry Regiment, had been ordered to block the main road north from Rangoon to Prome while the main body of the 33rd Division circled round the city to attack from the west. The retreating British and Indian troops were thrown back when they attempted to break through Sakuma's road block. Alexander ordered another attack but found the Japanese had gone. Not realising that the British were evacuating Rangoon, Sakuma had withdrawn the road block, as ordered, once the 33rd Division reached its intended positions. [26] Had he not done so, the Japanese might have captured General Alexander and much of the rest of the Burma Army.

Japanese advance to the Salween and Chindwin

Electrical equipment and oil installations at Yenanguang being destroyed as part of the "scorched earth" policy, in the face of the Japanese advance YenangyaungDemolitions.jpg
Electrical equipment and oil installations at Yenanguang being destroyed as part of the "scorched earth" policy, in the face of the Japanese advance

After the fall of Rangoon, the Allies tried to make a stand in central Burma. It was hoped that the Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma, commanded by Luo Zhuoying and consisting of the Fifth Army (commanded by Du Yuming) and the Sixth and Sixty-sixth Armies, could hold a front south of Mandalay. The Chinese armies each had approximately the strength of a British division but comparatively little equipment. Meanwhile, the newly created Burma Corps which had been formed to relieve Burma Army headquarters of the day-to-day responsibility for operations and consisted of 1st Burma Division, 17th Indian Division and 7th Armoured Brigade, defended the Irrawaddy River valley. Supplies were not immediately a problem, as much war material (including material originally meant for shipment to China) had been evacuated from Rangoon, rice was plentiful and the oilfields in central Burma were still intact, but no proper land routes from India existed and only the recapture of Rangoon would allow the Allies to hold Burma indefinitely.

The Allies hoped that the Japanese advance would slow down; instead, it gained speed. The Japanese reinforced their two divisions in Burma with the 18th Division transferred from Malaya and the 56th Division transferred from the Dutch East Indies after the fall of Singapore and Java. They also brought in large numbers of captured British trucks and other vehicles, which allowed them to move supplies rapidly using southern Burma's road network, and also use Motorised infantry columns, particularly against the Chinese forces. The Royal Air Force wing operating from Magwe was crippled by the withdrawal of the radar and radio-intercept units to India [27] and the Japanese soon gained supremacy in the air. Unopposed Japanese bomber fleets attacked almost every major town and city in the Allied-held part of Burma, causing widespread destruction and disorder. The rapidly expanding Burma Independence Army harassed the Allied forces, while many Bamar soldiers of the Burma Rifles were deserting.

The Allies were also hampered by the progressive breakdown of the civil government in the areas they held, and the large numbers of refugees. The flow of refugees began soon after the bombing of Rangoon in late December 1941 and increased to a "mass exodus" in February 1942 as the Indian (and Anglo-Indian and Anglo-Burmese) population of Burma fled to India, fearing both the Japanese and hostile Burmese. Middle-class Indians and mixed-race refugees could often afford to buy tickets on ships or even planes, while ordinary labourers and their families in many cases were forced to make their way on foot. [28]

The commander of Burma Corps, Lieutenant General William Slim, tried to mount a counter-offensive on the western part of the front, but his troops were repeatedly outflanked and forced to fight their way out of encirclement. The corps was gradually pushed northward towards Mandalay. The 1st Burma Division was cut off and trapped in the blazing oilfields at Yenangyaung, which the Allies themselves demolished to deny the facilities to the Japanese. Although the division was rescued by Chinese infantry and British tanks in the Battle of Yenangyaung, it lost almost all its equipment and its cohesion.

On the eastern part of the front, in the Battle of Yunnan-Burma Road, the Chinese 200th Division held up the Japanese for a time around Toungoo, but after its fall the road was open for motorised troops of the Japanese 56th Division to shatter the Chinese Sixth Army to the east in the Karenni States and advance northward through the Shan States to capture Lashio, outflanking the Allied defensive lines and cutting off the Chinese armies from Yunnan. With the effective collapse of the entire defensive line, there was little choice left other than an overland retreat to India or to Yunnan.

Allied retreat

Japanese advance and Allied retreat Japanese Conquest of Burma April-May 1942.jpg
Japanese advance and Allied retreat

The retreat was conducted in horrible circumstances. Starving refugees, disorganised stragglers, and the sick and wounded clogged the primitive roads and tracks leading to India.

At least 500,000 civilian fugitives reached India, while an unknown number, conservatively estimated between 10,000 and 50,000, died along the way. In later months, 70 to 80% of those who reached India were afflicted with diseases such as dysentery, smallpox, malaria or cholera, with 30% "desperately so". [29]

On 26 April the British, Indian and Burman forces joined the civilians in a full retreat. [30] The Burma Corps retreated to Manipur in India. At one stage, Alexander proposed that the 7th Armoured Brigade and one infantry brigade accompany the Chinese armies into Yunnan, but he was persuaded that the armoured brigade would quickly become ineffective once it was cut off from India.

The Japanese tried to cut off Burma Corps by sending troops by boat up the Chindwin River to seize the riverside port of Monywa on the night of 1/2 May. [31] The hastily reconstituted 1st Burma Division was unable to recapture Monywa, but allowed the rest of the Corps to withdraw to the north. [32] As the Corps tried to cross to the west bank of the Chindwin by ramshackle ferries to Kalewa, on 10 May the Japanese advancing from Monywa attempted to surround them in a "basin" encircled by cliffs at Shwegyin on the east bank. Although counter-attacks allowed the troops to escape, most of the Burma Corps' remaining equipment had to be destroyed or abandoned. [33]

Burma Corps reached Imphal in Manipur just before the monsoon broke in May 1942. The ad hoc Burma Corps HQ was disbanded and IV Corps HQ, which had recently arrived in India, took over the front. The troops found themselves living out in the open under the torrential monsoon rains in extremely unhealthy circumstances. The army and civil authorities in India were very slow to respond to the needs of the troops and civilian refugees. Although the front-line units had maintained some semblance of order, many improvised units and rear-area troops had dissolved into a disorderly rout. [34] The troops were in an alarming state, with "hair-raising stories of atrocities and sufferings". [35]

The British Civil Government of Burma had meanwhile fallen back to Myitkyina in Northern Burma, accompanied by many British, Anglo-Indian and Indian civilians. The Governor (Reginald Dorman-Smith) and the most influential civilians were flown out from Myitkyina Airfield, with some of the sick and injured. [36] The majority of the refugees at Myitkyina were forced to make their way to India via the unhealthy Hukawng Valley and the precipitous forested Patkai Range. Many died on the way, and when they reached India, there were several instances in which civil authorities allowed white and Eurasian civilians to continue while preventing Indians from proceeding, effectively condemning many to death. [37] By contrast, many private individuals such as the Assam Tea Planters Association did their best to provide aid.

The Japanese advance cut off many of the Chinese troops from China. Many of them also retreated via the Hukawng Valley route and subsisted largely by looting, further increasing the misery of the refugees. The Chinese 38th Division however, commanded by Sun Li-jen, fought its way westward across the Chindwin, arriving in India substantially intact although with heavy casualties. [38] The 23,000 [39] Chinese soldiers who had retreated into India were put under the command of the American General Joseph Stilwell, who had also made his way to India on foot, and were concentrated in camps at Ramgarh in Bihar. After recuperating they were re-equipped and retrained by American instructors. The remaining Chinese troops tried to return to Yunnan through remote mountainous forests but many died on the way.

Halt to operations

The Japanese 18th and 56th Divisions pursued the Chinese into Yunnan, but were ordered to halt on the Salween River on 26 April. [40] The Japanese 33rd Division likewise halted on the Chindwin at the end of May, ending the campaign until the end of the monsoon rains. In the coastal Arakan Province, some of the Burma Independence Army reached Akyab Island before the Japanese troops. However, they also instigated riots between the Buddhist and Muslim populations of the province. [41] The Japanese advance in Arakan ended just south of the Indian frontier, prompting the British military and civil authorities in and around Chittagong to implement a premature "scorched earth" policy which contributed to the Bengal Famine of 1943.

Shan States

On 21 December 1941, Thailand had signed a military alliance with Japan. On 21 March 1942, the Japanese agreed that Kayah State and the Shan States were to be under Thai control.

The leading elements of the Thai Phayap Army crossed the border into the Shan States on 10 May 1942. Three Thai infantry divisions and one cavalry division, supported by the Royal Thai Air Force, captured Kengtung on 27 May. The opposition had been the 93rd Division of the National Revolutionary Army, which was already cut off by the Japanese advance to the Salween River and was retreating. On 12 July, a Thai division began to occupy Kayah State. They drove the Chinese 55th Division from Loikaw, taking many prisoners.

The Thais remained in control of the Shan States for the remainder of the war. Their troops suffered from shortage of supplies and disease, but were not subjected to Allied attacks.

Panglong, a Chinese Muslim town in British Burma, was entirely destroyed by the Japanese invaders in their invasion of Burma. [42] [43] The Hui Muslim Ma Guanggui became the leader of the Hui Panglong self-defense guard created by Su[ who? ], who was sent by the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China. The Japanese burned Panglong, driving out the over 200 Hui households out as refugees. Yunnan and Kokang received the refugees from Panglong. One of Ma Guanggui's nephews was Ma Yeye, a son of Ma Guanghua and he narrated the history of Panglong including the Japanese attack. [44]

An account of the Japanese attack on the Hui in Panglong was written and published in 1998 by a Hui from Panglong called "Panglong Booklet". [45] The Japanese attack caused the Hui Mu family to seek refuge in Panglong but they were driven out again to Yunnan when the Japanese attacked Panglong. [46]

Notes

  1. 1 2 Bradford, James. International Encyclopedia of Military History. Routledge, Sep 19, 2006, pg. 221
  2. 1 2 Facts on File: World War II in the China-Burma-India theater Retrieved 20 March 2016
  3. Bayly and Harper (2005) Forgotten Armies: Britain's Asian Empire and the War with Japan (London: Penguin Books)pp.170
  4. Bayly and Harper, pp.170
  5. Donald M. Seekins, Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar) (Scarecrow Press, 2006), 123–26 and 354.
  6. 1 2 3 Japanese conquest of Burma, December 1941 – May 1942 Retrieved 20 March 2016
  7. McLynn, The Burma Campaign: Disaster into Triumph, 1942–1945, pg. 67.
  8. Air Force Sixtieth Anniversary Commemorative Edition: The Flying Tigers pp. 33 Retrieved 20 March 2016
  9. 1 2 Allen (1984), p.638
  10. Beevor, Antony (2012). "16". The Second World War. Weidenfeld & Nicolson.[ page needed ]
  11. Tucker, Spencer C. (2003). The Second World War. p. 122.(includes 15,000 missing)
  12. Zaloga, Steven. "M3 and M5 Stuart Light Tank 1940–45". Osprey Publishing, Nov 18, 1999. Page 14. According to Zaloga, all but one tank of the two regiments of the 7th Armoured Brigade had been lost.
  13. Black, Jeremy. Air Power: A Global History pp. 108
  14. Allen, pp.13–15
  15. Allen, p.9
  16. Bayly and Harper, pp.81–96
  17. Jackson, pp.387–388
  18. Allen, pp.6–7
  19. Bayly and Harper, pp.3, 8, 14
  20. Bayly and Harper (2005), p.174
  21. Allen, pp.24–35
  22. 1 2 Allen, pp.648–650
  23. Allen, p. 3
  24. Allen, pp.48–49
  25. Zaloga, Steven. "M3 and M5 Stuart Light Tank 1940–45". Osprey Publishing, Nov 18, 1999. Page 14.
  26. Allen, pp.54–56
  27. Bayly and Harper, p.174
  28. Bayley and Harper (2004), p.168
  29. Tinker 1975, pp. 2–3; 11–12.
  30. Tinker 1975, p. 10.
  31. Allen, pp. 74–76
  32. Slim (1956), p.101
  33. Slim, pp.107–111
  34. Slim (1956), p.118
  35. Government of India 1945, p. 25.
  36. Bayly and Harper, pp.177–178
  37. Bayly and Harper, pp.187–188
  38. Slim, p.115
  39. Bayley and Harper (2004), p.196
  40. Allen, p.72
  41. Bayly and Harper, p.172
  42. Forbes, Andrew; Henley, David (December 2015). "'Saharat Tai Doem' Thailand in Shan State, 1941–45". CPA Media.
  43. Forbes, Andrew (CPA 2002). "A Forgotten Invasion: Thailand in Shan State, 1941-45". This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post.Check date values in: |date= (help)
  44. Wen-Chin Chang, p.122
  45. Wen-Chin Chang, p.124
  46. Wen-Chin Chang, pp.129-

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Fourteenth Army (United Kingdom)

The British Fourteenth Army was a multi-national force comprising units from Commonwealth countries during World War II. Many of its units were from the Indian Army as well as British units and there were also significant contributions from West and East African divisions within the British Army. It was often referred to as the "Forgotten Army" because its operations in the Burma Campaign were overlooked by the contemporary press, and remained more obscure than those of the corresponding formations in Europe for long after the war. For most of the Army's existence, it was commanded by Lieutenant-General William Slim.

Indian Army during World War II

The British Indian Army during World War II began the war, in 1939, numbering just under 200,000 men. By the end of the war, it had become the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men in August 1945. Serving in divisions of infantry, armour and a fledgling airborne force, they fought on three continents in Africa, Europe and Asia.

IV Corps (United Kingdom) defunct formation of the British Army

IV Corps was a corps-sized formation of the British Army, formed in both the First World War and the Second World War. During the First World War the corps served on the Western Front throughout its existence. During the Second World War it served in Norway and Britain until, after Japan entered the war and India was threatened with attack, it was transferred there.

South-East Asian theatre of World War II campaigns of the Pacific War in Burma, Ceylon, India, Thailand, Indochina, Philippines, Malaya and Singapore

The South-East Asian Theatre of World War II was the name given to the campaigns of the Pacific War in Burma, Ceylon, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indochina, Malaya and Singapore. Conflict in this theatre began when the Empire of Japan invaded French Indochina in September 1940 and rose to a new level following the raid on Pearl Harbor, and simultaneous attacks on Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Malaya on 7 and 8 December 1941. The main landing at Singora on the east side of the Isthmus of Kra preceded the bombing of Pearl Harbor by several hours. Action in the theatre officially ended on 9 September 1945.

Battle of Imphal battle fought in 1944

The Battle of Imphal took place in the region around the city of Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur in northeast India from March until July 1944. Japanese armies attempted to destroy the Allied forces at Imphal and invade India, but were driven back into Burma with heavy losses. Together with the simultaneous Battle of Kohima on the road by which the encircled Allied forces at Imphal were relieved, the battle was the turning point of the Burma Campaign, part of the South-East Asian Theatre of the Second World War. The Japanese defeat at Kohima and Imphal was the largest up until that time, with many of the Japanese deaths resulting from starvation, disease and exhaustion suffered during their retreat.

Operation Dracula

During World War II, Operation Dracula was the name given to an airborne and amphibious attack on Rangoon by British, American and Indian forces, part of the Burma Campaign.

Battle of Meiktila and Mandalay Engagements near the end of the Burma Campaign during WWII

The concurrent Battle of Meiktila and Battle of Mandalay were decisive engagements near the end of the Burma Campaign. Collectively, they are sometimes referred to as the Battle of Central Burma. Despite logistical difficulties, the Allies were able to deploy large armoured and mechanised forces in Central Burma, and also possessed air supremacy. Most of the Japanese forces in Burma were destroyed during the battles, allowing the Allies to later recapture the capital, Rangoon, and reoccupy most of the country with little organised opposition.

17th Infantry Division (India)

The 17th Infantry Division is a formation of the Indian Army. During World War II, it had the distinction of being continually in combat during the three-year-long Burma Campaign.

Battle of Yenangyaung

The Battle of 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.

Burma Campaign 1944

The fighting in the Burma Campaign in 1944 was among the most severe in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II. It took place along the borders between Burma and India, and Burma and China, and involved the British Commonwealth, Chinese and United States forces, against the forces of Imperial Japan and the Indian National Army. British Commonwealth land forces were drawn primarily from the United Kingdom, British India and Africa.

Fifteenth Army (Japan)

The Japanese 15th Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. It was involved in the invasion of Burma in December 1941 and served in that country for most of its war service.

Burma Campaign 1944–45

The Burma Campaign in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II was fought primarily by British Commonwealth, Chinese and United States forces against the forces of Imperial Japan, who were assisted to some degree by Thailand, the Burmese National Army and the Indian National Army. The British Commonwealth land forces were drawn primarily from the United Kingdom, British India and Africa.

Thirty-Third Army (Japan)

The Japanese 33rd Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army during the final days of World War II.

The Arakan Campaign of 1942–43 was the first tentative Allied attack into Burma, following the Japanese conquest of Burma earlier in 1942, during the Second World War. The British Army and British Indian Army were not ready for offensive actions in the difficult terrain they encountered, nor had the civil government, industry and transport infrastructure of Eastern India been organised to support the Army on the frontier with Burma. Japanese defenders occupying well-prepared positions repeatedly repulsed the British and Indian forces, who were then forced to retreat when the Japanese received reinforcements and counter-attacked.

The British Indian XXXIII Corps was a corps-sized formation of the Indian Army during World War II. It was disbanded and the headquarters was recreated as an Army headquarters in 1945.

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.

Battle of the Sittang Bend

The Battle of the Sittang Bend and the Japanese Breakout across Pegu Yomas were linked Japanese military operations during the Burma Campaign, which took place nearly at the end of World War II. Surviving elements of the Imperial Japanese Army who had been driven into the Pegu Yoma attempted to break out eastwards, to join other Japanese troops retreating from the British forces. The break-out was the objective of the Japanese Twenty-Eighth Army with support at first from the Thirty-third Army and later the Fifteenth Army. As a preliminary, the Japanese Thirty-third Army attacked Allied positions in the Sittang Bend, near the mouth of the river, to distract the Allies. The British had been alerted to the break-out attempt and it ended calamitously for the Japanese, who suffered many losses, with some formations being wiped out.

Saharat Thai Doem

Saharat Thai Doem was an administrative division of Thailand. It encompassed the parts of Shan State of British Burma annexed by the Thai government after the Japanese invasion of Burma.

Panlong Subtownship Subtownship in Shan State, Burma

Panlong Subtownship is a subtownship of the Wa Self-Administered Division of Shan State, formerly and conterminously part of Hopang District.

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