Burma campaigns

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(January 1942–August 1945)

In 1942 two Japanese divisions advanced into Burma (now Myanmar), accompanied by the Burma National Army of Aung San, capturing Rangoon, and forcing the British garrison to begin the long evacuation west. The Japanese reached Lashio at the southern end of the ‘Burma Road’, thus cutting off the supply link from India to Nationalist China. They captured Mandalay (May 1942) and the British forces under General Alexander withdrew to the Indian frontier. During 1943 there were attempts to reassert control over the Arakan, but these failed, although General Wingate with his Chindit units organized effective guerrilla activity behind Japanese lines, where an originally pro-Japanese population was becoming increasingly disillusioned. Early in the spring of 1944 heavy fighting took place in defence of Imphal, when an attempted Japanese invasion of Assam/Northern India was deflected in a series of bloody battles, of which Kohima was the most important. In October a three-pronged offensive was launched by British, Commonwealth, US, and Chinese Nationalist troops, and in January 1945 the Burma Road was re-opened. By now a discontented Aung San had contacted Mountbatten and in March his troops joined the Allies. Rangoon was finally captured on 1 May 1945.

Subjects: Second World War.

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