Japanese conquest of Burma

Electrical equipment and oil installations at Yenanguang being destroyed

Electrical equipment and oil installations at Yenanguang being destroyed

The Japanese conquest of Burma was part of the Burma campaign there. During the Pacific War s in World War II Allied units fought there against troops of the Japanese Empire and its allies. The fighting in Burma (now Myanmar) began in January 1942, just weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent entry of the United States. The Japanese troops of the 15th Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Shojiro Iida, passed in mid-January 1942, the border between Thailand and occupied them in 1941 by the British Burma. Within weeks, they were able to reach the Burmese capital Rangoon. Target of the Japanese attack on Burma was to cut off the on the eastern foothills of the Himalayas extending replenishment and supply lines between British India (British Raj) and held by Chinese Kuomintang troops at Chungking Northern Territory to in this way the since 1937 to terminate permanent Second Sino-Japanese War. With the rapid Japanese advance, the British and Indian troops of the British Commonwealth, and some units of the Chinese Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek, who took part in the fighting in March 1942, almost completely wiped out within a few months. They were forced to retreat to the Chindwin River and thus give Burma.


British-Indian troops had conquered Burma in 1885 as a result of the Third Anglo-Burmese War. The country was a year later incorporated into the colony of British India. The ruling Konbaung dynasty was deposed, and the country’s government took over a British Governor-General, the Secretary of State for the Colonies was under the. Several smaller uprisings in the country were crushed 1895-1932 by the British colonial power. The largest rebellion of Saya San rebellion broke out in 1930 and two years later was destroyed by the subsequent execution Saya San. After the rebellion, the British government was no longer challenged. 1937 Burma was officially separated from British India. A new constitution and the status of the Burmese crown colony should give greater opportunities to participate in the management of their country.

Simultaneously with the separation of British India but grew up in Burma and the nationalist activities, especially among the student Dobama-Asiayone movement (“We-Burmans Association”, informally called Thakins). The movement was in 1940 with the Japanese in close contact. End of 1941 was set up a 1,000-strong force from Exilburmesen in Bangkok under Japanese protection. It served as a training ground for the future expansion of collaboration Burmese armed forces in 1941 attempted the Burmese nationalist Prime Minister U Saw in talks with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt to reach the Burmese independence. After a denial was issued in from both sides, U Saw tried to contact the Japanese to agree to the independence of the country after a Japanese invasion. However, he was intercepted and arrested by British intelligence.

Military situation of the Commonwealth

End of the 1930s was the British army in Burma, which had previously been part of the Indian Army, in a single unit, the Burma Army, which consisted of British and Indian soldiers combined. The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 was seen by Burmese nationalists as an opportunity to force concessions from the British colonial power in return for the support of the war effort. Others, including the anti-colonial movement under Thakin Kodaw Hmaing, opposed any support for the war, and the Thakins were waiting for an impending Japanese invasion, which should liberate Burma from British rule. After the occupation of France by the German Truppenim 1940, the British Governor-General Archibald Cochrane, more weapons and ammunition, artillery e tried to obtain tank and plane e for the Burma Army because he thought they would in the event of a Japanese invasion the enemy forces can not withstand. However, supplies from the United Kingdom decreased noticeably since all produced weapons were needed to defend against the expected German invasion of the British Isles. Governor Cochrane could therefore only on the material of the Indian Army to fall back.

Troops of the Commonwealth

End of 1941, the Burma Army was only one infantry division with three brigades:

•1 Burmese Infantry Division

◦1 Burmese Infantry Brigade

◦2 Burmese Infantry Brigade

◦13th Indian Infantry Brigade

The Division Headquarters was stationed in Toungoo, spread their brigades to the south of Burma and the Shan State. Commander of the division was Major General James Bruce Scott.

The Japanese invasion of Thailand in December 1941 (which led to the signing of a secret treaty of alliance between Japan and Thailand) intensified the military situation in Burma clear. Now the entire western border of the country was threatened by an invasion.

In January 1942, shortly before the Japanese invasion, a second infantry division, the 17th Indian, moved from India to Burma. This had been set up in summer 1941 and was originally intended for use in Iraq. Due to the Japanese invasion of Malaya was the 17th Division still divided before their departure, two brigades were shipped to Malaya, the third was to defend the country of Burma. She was stationed in Moulmein and took over the command of all troops in southern Burma. Its commander was Major General John Smyth.

The associations that were stationed in Burma in early 1942, consisted of about 50,000 soldiers, including 4,621 officers. Around 30,000 Indian soldiers (mostly Sikh and Gurkha) or Burmese origin. The remaining soldiers and almost the entire officer corps were, as was usual, British. Except for the British units, the remaining troops were, however, insufficiently trained and armed.

In November 1941, the Royal Air Force in Burma stood at only 69 modern fighter aircraft P-40 Warhawk, Hawker Hurricane 28 seconds and about 30 Brewster Buffalo are available. Not all machines were operational and many were inferior to the Japanese aircraft in the air. After the first Japanese air raids on Rangoon and other cities Hurricanes and a type Bristol Blenheim bomber squadron were moved from the Middle East to Burma. In the Group 221 combined units of the RAF under the command of Air Vice Marshal Donald F. Stevenson. In addition, a season of the American Volunteer Group of Rangoon was in use.

UK and, as part of the Lend-Lease Act, the United States provided Governor Cochrane promised to March 1942 to provide for an adequate armament, and the first shipments arrived from India at the beginning of January.

Burma was in January 1942, the defense ABDACOM under the leadership of former British commander in India, Archibald Wavell. Wavell continued its previous chief of staff in India, Lieutenant-General Thomas Hutton, as a commander in Burma, whose headquarters was Rangoon.

Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma

Among the British troops, which in 1941 were in the country, sent by Chiang Kai-shek Chinese troops arrived in February and March 1942, the Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma. This force was to help the British, Burma to defend against an invasion to maintain the replenishment and supply route from North China Burma to Chungking. The soldiers who came to Burma in early 1942, were reinforced by two other Nationalist Chinese armies during the campaign. The Chinese Expeditionary Force was to early March 1942, under the command of Chiang Kai-shek, after Militärabgesandten under the American General Joseph Stilwell.

Japanese preparations

Even before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of the war plans for invasion and conquest of Southeast Asia were formulated at the Imperial War Office in Tokyo. The Imperial General Staff began already in February 1941 determines the final conquest plan. The Philippines, several American bases in the Pacific such as Wake Iceland and the Mariana Islands, the Dutch East Indies, British Malaya, Singapore, British Borneo and Burma should be attacked a few days after the declaration of war. Burma has many petroleum sources around the city Yenangyaung. This represented a major resource war for the Japanese war industry dar. In addition, Burma produced linen, rubber and large quantities of rice.

Since Burma occupied directly to French Indochina and Thailand, by Japanese troops in 1940, adjacent to British bases in Burma were in the direct area of the Japanese forces. The attack on Burma had as quickly as possible after the declaration of war take place before the British could even launch an attack against Indochina. In addition, it was essential to cut off the enemy troops in Burma by the British fortress Singapore to prevent the replenishment and supply lines of the defenders of Singapore. Therefore, the invasion of Burma was a necessary consequence of the war shortly after opening.

Plan of attack

The Japanese General Staff had prepared a detailed plan of operations in October 1941.

This provided as follows:

•First, the British associations should be attacked in the south. They should be cut by a pincer movement of the remaining soldiers in the north. After Rangoon should be taken.

•After the capture of Rangoon, the remaining British troops should be forced through a series of coordinated attacks and air attacks on the defensive and distracted by a further advance. Then should the main cities of the north, such as Mandalay and Sagaing be taken.

•Finally, the fleeing Britons should be pursued and battered near the Indian border completely.

The plan was endorsed by the Minister of War Tojo and Emperor Hirohito. To interrupt the communication with Singapore, and the border area between Burma and Malaya should be taken by Japanese troops. Simultaneously with the Japanese advance heavy bombing of Rangoon, Mandalay, and the major transportation artery of the Burma Road should be made.

Intended troops

For the conquest of Burma was the 15th Army, from the 33rd, and 55th Infantry Division was provided. This unit consisted of about 38,000 men and was under the command of Lieutenant General Shojiro Iida. It was well-trained soldiers, mostly veterans, who had mostly moved to Thailand from China and Manchukuo. Most soldiers, however, were only equipped with relatively simple Arisaka Type 99 rifles, and the number of artillery and machine guns was particularly low. Supply problems also occurred, since only a few trucks and motorized units were available. There was a lack of telecommunications equipment, tanks, telephones, large-caliber ammunition and other goods, and because of the scarcity of radio equipment was the link between the individual associations very prone to failure.

Also fought alongside the Japanese invaders in Burma and the Thai Northwestern army. Their troops were supplied by the Japanese with arms and ammunition, transport and artillery.


The Japanese invasion of Burma can be divided according to the Japanese plan of attack in two different phases.

The first phase included the first ever Japanese offensive. The Japanese troops were able to conquer the entire southern Burma (Tenasserim) and several important cities, such as Moulmein and Kawkareik secure. They defeated the British and Indian troops in battle by the river and Bilin but in another battle at the bridge of the Sittang, they could not completely encircle and destroy. On 7 Yangon was taken in March 1942 by the Japanese. In the second phase, the British troops withdrew to the north of Burma and were expelled by the Japanese troops followed them after several skirmishes finally out of the country.

First phase

Advance on Rangoon

Invasion of Japanese troops

The 33 Division began its attack on 16 January at 19:00 clock with an attack on the left flank of the British line of defense. The British commander in the area, General James Bruce Scott was surprised by the Japanese advance, and his troops could not long withstand the attack and were still at night in complete disarray at the retreat. The 33 Division then went on to pursue to ask the British to the few transitions of the Salween and encircle. Scott succeeded until the next day to gather his troops and organize a counterattack, but this failed. Scott then decided to retreat and finally did away with his two ailing divisions completely the area. On 19 January reached the British one of the few bridges across the Salween and retreated to the other side of the river. This was the breakthrough by the left wing of the British the Japanese had succeeded.

The 55th Division launched their attack against the British right wing, the 17th of the Division was held on the morning of 19 January. They first encountered stiff resistance and suffered some heavy losses. Only after the tactical successes of the 33 Division on the evening of the same day these troops also managed to break the British front and conquer with a battalion Victoria Point. In the next few days the first Japanese airfield was by Japanese pioneers and Chinese forced laborers in Victoria Point built on Burmese soil. The important city of Tavoy fell on the night of 19 Taking Tavoys the Japanese cut the British off all exit routes, making an escape by land was no longer possible. Among the soldiers of the 17th Division now panic broke out, and they received the following day the order to bring about lake safety. 4700 soldiers escaped to 23 January on several transport ships to Rangoon.

On the British side there was great confusion these days. The first Japanese air attacks against Victoria Point and the towns Mergui and Moulmein had interrupted the telephone lines. The only source of information was the operational capable aircraft reconnaissance squadron of the RAF in Rangoon. Following the heavy defeats of his troops asked General Thomas J. Hutton, commander of the British forces in southern Burma to be allowed to go to the General Staff in Yangon for permission to form a flexible warfare. He even considered a complete retreat near Moulmein. This request was denied him; Hutton was instructed to defend every inch of ground south of the Salween River.

Japanese advance on Rangoon

After the withdrawal of the British from Mergui and Victoria Point decided the British General Staff in Rangoon, a new line of defense (Main Line of Resistance) in the area to build Moulmein Kawkareik. The task of General Hutton was transferred to hold this line with his troops in all cases. This put him into conflict with his chief of staff Smyth, who believed that one should continue to withdraw up to the Sittang river to gather there in the peace forces for a counter-attack and later to reorganize. In this conflict Hutton continued, supported by the British General Staff, with its uncompromising stance through. The British troops then withdrew from southern Burma to the new line of defense. It was among the units retreating through the continuous bombing of the Japanese Air Force in significant casualties.

The 16th Indian Brigade, which was already stationed in Kawkareik, was born on 22 February attacked by the Japanese and forced out of the place. Their retreat proved chaotic and could not be stopped by the commanding officers. All other attacks against Japanese first failed due to the fierce resistance of the British.

Despite the desperate defense by General Hutton’s soldiers also Moulmein finally fell on 30 January. Around 11,000 British soldiers were able to leave the city on cargo ships, but 4,000 more soldiers were killed or became prisoners of war.

Battle of the River Bilin

By conquering Moulmeins and Kawkareiks the British line of defense finally collapsed. General Hutton ordered his troops to cross the Salween and to retreat to the Bilin River. The Indian soldiers, the position of the Bilin River against the soldiers of the 33 Division, which had crossed the river on a pontoon bridge, should hold the superior force of Japanese could not withstand for long. After three days of fighting, the position eventually had to be abandoned. The remains of Hutton’s troops retreated then in complete resolution to Sittang back. The long battles but there were also signs of exhaustion on the Japanese side, and the 33 By the 55th Division had be replaced. The advance on Rangoon could not be completed as planned due to these delays. There were other difficulties. The dense jungle and heavy rains hindered rapid progress, was also an orderly and regular supply of Japanese troops soon no longer possible. Thus, the Japanese advance on Rangoon came first to a halt.

Battle of the Bridge Sittang

After the Battle of Bilin Hutton Smyth was granted permission to withdraw the Sittang and the exhausted troops of the 17th Indian Division began a forced march to reach the last intact bridge as quickly as possible. The 800-meter-long steel railway bridge over the Sittang was prepared by pioneers on the crossing by military vehicles and precautionary provided with explosives.

Two Japanese regiments, however, succeeded the following day to advance quickly. Thus, they threatened to reach the bridge earlier than the British troops and cut off this way. The British also suffered from severe water shortages and were mistakenly bombed by enemy aircraft, as well as by our own, which led to the failure of many vehicles. On 21 February even got the British headquarters in the village of General Smyth Kyaikto under attack. However, the Indian 48 Brigade was on the same day reach the bridge and began to cross. As Smyth feared the intervention of Japanese airborne troops, he summoned a Gurkha regiment to the west side of the bridge to protect against these attacks. Meanwhile, the Japanese had reached the eastern range front of the bridge and started a fierce fire, the number of Indian medics were killed at the end of the bridge. The bridge itself was not hit.

General Smyth was now faced with a difficult decision. He ordered the demolition of the bridge on, could two of his brigades were still embroiled in a battle of retreat along the road, not cross it. In the other case the bridge into the hands of the Japanese threatened to fall, which would thus free path to Rangoon. The fight was always confusing. The individual soldiers were now trying to get through on your own to the bridge. In the British series now in chaos. After a defense of the bridge seemed impossible, General Smyth was in the belief that a second brigade was now safely get across the river, on 23 February at 5:30 clock command to detonate. The charges were detonated shortly thereafter and brought the structure to collapse. The remaining soldiers remained, even after all suitable for crossing boats had been destroyed as a precaution to cross no other choice than to Sittang floating or self-made rafts, which was only a few. Individual Britons were killed or became prisoners of war. Smyth was replaced after this “disaster” by Brigadier David “Punch” Cowan as division commander.

After the battle was the 17th Infantry Division from only 3,484 soldiers, about 40% of its original strength. Although the Japanese troops could destroy the enemy division, but they had a faster rise to important Rangoon. The demolished bridge could be set by the Japanese pioneers in just six hours later repaired, so that the Japanese could Sittang the short cross within a few days at full strength. At the subsequent rise in Yangon, the Japanese troops contributed about one-third of the left by the British soldiers at Sittang material with them.

Conquest of Rangoon

Battle of Pegu

Meanwhile, General Wavell had left the ABDACOM and had returned to his post as commander in chief in India. General Harold Alexander had taken Huttons items and Smyth had been replaced by Cowan. Two fresh brigades 63 Indian and UK 7 Armoured Brigade, were landed in Rangoon. Alexander had given the Japanese superiority decided not to defend Rangoon, but he wanted to at least show the Japanese a strong defense readiness through a secured and held just under resistance retreat.

On the afternoon of 2 March were all still capable of fighting troops by M3 Stuart tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade (Brigadier John H. Astice) and troops of 63 Infantry Brigade had been strengthened, taking their positions in the new Main Line of Resistance against Rangoon. However, several Indian organizations that have already been attacked by Japanese troops, who were supported by Type 95 Ha-Go tanks, their positions were not filled. As a result, the Japanese first made ​​a breakthrough, British infantry and tank units now tried reamed the Japanese troops at Pegu. Fire fighting flared up, the view and the radio communications were poor. The battle, however, was quite confusing: the British troops were finally ordered to withdraw by Pegu after Hlegu to there to the other units of the 7th To meet Armoured Brigade. Meanwhile, Pegu had been completely destroyed by the Japanese, and those coming in British infantry who went through the place, came under fire repeatedly isolated Japanese snipers.

The main aim of Alexander, to let the Japanese in the belief that Rangoon would be defended, however, was reached. On 6 March has ordered the evacuation of Rangoon, the British goal was to be on the road crossing at Taukkyan towards Prome, about 300 kilometers north of Rangoon to withdraw.

Conquest of the capital

After this battle of the Burma Army was on the 7th March ordered the evacuation of Rangoon. The British squadron of the RAF and American aircraft of the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) had been involved in the previous weeks in fierce dogfights, which many had been destroyed. Japanese bombers had flown since early February, successful air strikes against the city and thereby destroyed or damaged many facilities. Especially the port facilities at the mouth of the Irrawaddy delta were destroyed by enemy attacks. General Alexander and General Wavell arranged on 7 March, when already left the town about 4,000 soldiers, one of the most important military installations in mines. About 400 Allied Pioneers remained in the city to bring the charges. In all retreating soldiers of the Burma Army was from 7 Added March desertion to the enemy under penalty of death.

On the same day the Japanese assault against Rangoon began with the bombing by dive bombers and fighter planes. Also massive bombardment from field artillery and mortars was smaller. At 9:00 clock the broad ground offensive was opened. The motorized units of the 55th were Division immediately prior to the city center, while the infantry secured the surrounding hills against slight resistance. 8 March reached the first Japanese tanks, accompanied by infantry and bikes the docks on the banks of the Irrawaddy, and were able to secure the entire city. In the afternoon met Iida in the city, occupied with some buildings in the center of the bar and established his headquarters there.

Japanese tracking operations

General Iida then ordered several units to weaken the marching on of the only passable road towards Prome enemies by smaller attacks. Several mines were placed on the road and the air attacks against the British took over the 7th To March. Most of the vehicles were destroyed by the British, with several hundred men perished. On the evening of 6 March had the Japanese troops of the 214th Infantry Regiment, a strong roadblock north of Taukkyan built. Now, could the entire Burma army evacuated Rangoon, to be stopped. Small skirmishes on the morning of 7 March near the lock cost about a hundred Indian soldiers life. The Japanese troops were able to hold the lock so far. General Iida hoped the entire enemy force by the advance of 33 Division to encircle the sides of the road like that. Alexander, however, had meanwhile ordered several attacks in order to escape the encirclement. About 5500 soldiers of the 7th Armoured Brigade, the 7th And Gloucestershire Hussars Regiment were moved to the front to take the lock by a frontal attack. Other reserves arrived there. Than before the lock finally about 6000 soldiers and sixteen tanks were gathered together, they began their first attack. The tanks and 400 infantrymen attacked at first, but suffered heavy losses and were forced to retreat after a few minutes struggle. The Japanese troops on the lock probably suffered no losses. Only after a few hours could attack the British troops again. These troops were repulsed and suffered heavy losses, some British could take several enemy foxholes, without being able to proceed further. On the evening of 7 March went two British companies against the enemy positions on, but also the attack was repulsed.

8 March the British troops could carry out further attacks against the enemy lock. The tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade were due to operating margins, prolonged bombardment by Japanese artillery and enemy air attacks are not used, and therefore had to attack the allied infantry troops of the 1st Sikh Infantry Regiment without any support from the tracked vehicles. But this British advance was halted by the Japanese troops, the Indian soldiers suffered further losses. A little later was a very short but precise bombardment of the ban by the British guns, making several defenders were killed and some enemy defensive positions were again occupied by the attacking Gurkhas and Sikhs.

A few hours after this successful penetration of the Indian soldiers also more fresh British troops could reach the front line. A final assault against the enemy lock was carried out by other units of the Sikhs, and ultimately could the enemy positions around the streets of Taukkyan be saved. The Japanese troops were ordered to retreat and then fled into the jungle.

Second phase

Resistance in Central Burma

British march to Prome

The Japanese leaders were aware of the difficult circumstances of the battered British troops around Rangoon. Alexander had decided after the breakthrough to Taukkyan, with its tired and demoralized soldiers to march to the town of Prome to obtain position and there to collect the Burma army. The American C-47 were the Allies in Prome with weapons, ammunition, food and fuel supply from India, which General Alexander could equip its new units and possibly launch a counterattack. In addition, the Flying Tigers had a runway near the city, and thus granted the permanent British aerial reconnaissance and protection against enemy attacks.

On 6 March held U.S. General Joseph Stilwell in Chungking his first conference with Chiang Kai-shek, the Generalissimo of the Chinese armed forces. The U.S. had previously decided to combine their activities in the Asian region under one responsible commander and the former military attaché in Beijing with this office. Chiang familiar Stilwell almost immediately posted to the leadership of the Chinese troops in Burma. Such an arrangement was clearly acceptable for him to be used as Chinese forces under a British commander. The American Bar Stilwell struck his quarters on in Maymyo.

To protect the rights of the
Allies in Prome ago flank attacks, General Alexander Stilwell asked to occupy the city of Toungoo and fix it. 8 March 1942, the 200th marched Chinese division in Toungoo, and immediately began the fortification works. To the fighting strength of 200 To strengthen division and thus to keep the right flank of the Allies, the Chinese were fitted by Hump aircraft in the shortest possible time with new weapons, armor and pioneer material. By reference to Burmese civilians to build a fortified defense line was operated, and the 200th Division turned to mobile reserves. Several Chinese and British engineers improved since the condition of the access road to Mandalay and the railway line, which had been badly damaged by Japanese air attacks.

The six regiments of the 200th Division of General Dai landing defended a section of 40 km around the city, where they should also keep the railway line and the road to Mandalay. Each unit had only 600 men in the first place and another 900 in reserve, so that the front line was busy too thin around Toungoo. In case of an enemy attack that everyone expected, so get a hold of this perimeter appeared almost impossible.

Meanwhile, the British had decided to equip their units in Burma with a corps headquarters. On 16 March met with General William Slim on an airfield in Magwe to take over the command of the newly formed Burma Corps. This was the 17th Indian Division, Burma’s first Division and the British 7th Armoured Brigade summarized. Slim took over command of the corps on 19 March Allanmyo. According to the new arrangement Slim was responsible for the defense of Irrawaddy valley, while the Chinese people should defend the valley of Sittang under Stilwell.

Japanese operations along the Bago-Toungoo road

On 7 March 33 the troops were Division advance on the road Bago Toungoo, where they encountered no resistance. The following day the first rain, which had silted up quickly and the way the Japanese advance was stayed. The headquarters of the 15th Army in Rangoon is recorded on the 9th March: “A fast moving mechanized units off the main streets is because of baseless and worse ways as a result of the bad weather is not possible”.

From mid-March, the 33 came Division just a few kilometers in the hour ahead, while the associations of 55 Division, which was marching towards Prome, were established.

On 17 March 33 reached the Division of the environment Toungoo, and immediately became involved in minor skirmishes with Chinese troops. On the morning of 18 Chinese units for the first time in March opened fire against Japanese scouts near the place Tachiao. After several hours, attacked three Chinese armored car into a battle and drove the Japanese soldiers, but the same evening attacked again. The national revolutionary army put off and retired on the same evening in the village Tachiao back.

The Japanese troops marched into Tachiao the next morning. After they had taken the town, the Japanese units in the protection of motorized troops could march at the head in the direction of Toungoo. The place was also taken Pyu. The Japanese taught in Pyu a military hospital and a supply station and reinforced the troops already on the road to Toungoo, by other units.

Battle Oktwin

The Chinese units near Oktwin, a few miles from the fortified town of Toungoo, were on the morning of 20 March attacked and almost immediately rolled over. The Japanese soldiers came to the smaller battle against the enemy positions to Oktwin ago, and after a few hours they started a fire exchange Banzaiangriff. So they broke through the Chinese lines, and could push a little later, the last line of defense to Oktwin. By noon of 23 March, the Japanese troops finally took the town and drove the Chinese forces in the direction of Toungoo before it. On the same day the already ailing 1 Battalion of the 600th Chinese Regiment almost completely destroyed in the intense battles. The fighting had claimed huge losses, both in Chinese and in the Japanese, but in spite of the dead Japanese troops advanced further into the direction of Toungoo.

Towards the end of March, the Japanese succeeded on their bases in Burma to distribute the units of the Royal Air Force by continued airstrikes from the country. Although some British bomber squadrons of Assam from further intervened in the fighting, the air superiority of the Japanese was now overwhelming thanks to the gains obtained after the fall of Singapore.

Battle of Toungoo

The Japanese troops were by the arrival of the troops of the 56th Infantry Division was strengthened, bringing 33 Division returned to garrison troops to Rangoon. The remaining troops at the front, the units of the 55th and 56 Division, began on 24 March with their attack against the city Toungoo. After two unsuccessful and costly attacks the 56th was Division 28 March push the Chinese lines and suggested several gaps in the enemy’s defense. This made the Chinese control over the important bridge of Sittang, the exhausted troops of General Dai Anlans was the only remaining free withdrawal route, endangered and the 200th Division was the danger of being surrounded.

General Dai landings decided to discuss the situation along with several high Chinese officers to delay a withdrawal of its troops still to hold the position. In the event of an evacuation Toungoos the right flank of the British troops would be smashed in Prome and General Alexander’s soldiers would have to leave the city, despite their exhaustion. Nevertheless, the Chinese troops had to raise to rest after a further vain attempt to resist to the British soldiers in Prome time to evacuate most of the city. General Dai commanded landing on 29 March finally an outbreak, and the Chinese were forced to retreat by a successful counter-attack. The Japanese soldiers were expelled from the vicinity of the bridge during the 200th Division crossed the river under heavy fire. The bridge had been so damaged by the enemy’s volleys, that she could not bear the Chinese trucks and heavy guns, so the heavy equipment and much of the artillery ammunition in Toungoo were left behind. The British troops, whose right flank was thus fallen, evacuated the same day the city of Prome, and went also back to Yenangyaung.

Operations to Yenangyaung

The exhausted British troops who had fled Rangoon, had settled after a long march north to Prome, where a line of defense against the pursuing Japanese troops had been re-established. Alexander and Wavell hoped the city to keep for several weeks in order to reorganize the troops under their command. However, the Chinese defeat in the Battle of Toungoo moving the two commanders to abandon the position in Prome to weiterzumarschieren towards Yenangyaung. The 33 Division was only a few miles behind the British rearguard during the retreat and there were some firefights. Until the afternoon of the 10th April was all British units occupy their positions at Yenangyaung.

However, an Indian brigade gave way that night back at the Japanese attacks. The Japanese print was after a few hours around the front so strong that other British forces were pushed back. On 13 April almost the entire left flank of the British army was rolled up and the Japanese began an intense bombardment of the oil wells, which began to burn under heavy smoke. The fighting ended soon in a wild melee or bayonet attacks. The Japanese launched a heavy artillery bombardment of the British defenses and Japanese dive bombers attacked the British lines of cars and troop concentrations on behind the lines. Soon the British operations center sank into utter chaos. A radio operators and telephone operators by giving wrong commands, allowing multiple units erroneously retreated or even attacked and were wiped out.

The burning oil wells obstructed the view of the British soldiers and the Japanese attacks drove that day back almost all the enemy troops. On 15 April decided to prevent it falling into enemy hands General Slim to light the still-intact oil wells. His troops began to initiate a slow retreat, which was made ​​very difficult by Japanese artillery fire.

Soon several British units were attacked by the Japanese, had to stop and were surrounded. Among these troops was also General Slim and his staff all telephone lines had been cut and the various units could be achieved only with runners. Chinese units under General Sun Li-jen (38th Division) intervened in the battle, while some British infantry and tank units of the now almost completely encircled Burma Army attempted to push back the collapsed Japanese troops near the village of Thadodan.

Firefights between the tanks and Japanese anti-tank batteries flared up, and after another brief exchange of fire, the Chinese infantry, who tried to liberate the town of Magwe of the Japanese liberate a retreat corridor for Slim’s troops succeeded in some British tanks, a gap in the open right flank of the Japanese units, while the tanks and other British units secured the corridor. Two Japanese counterattacks were repulsed at high enemy losses. Although the battle was quite confusing, succeeded to the encircled British, a little later, departing through free corridor to the northeast, and thus to deprive the enemy pincer attack. As the Japanese troops through one last coordinated attack on the right flank the gap closed and expelled the last British tanks were only two Indian infantry battalions and four battalions of Burmese troops who surrendered a few hours later in Yenangyaung boiler. The British troops of the Burma Corps, which had the boiler can leave, retired in great disorder towards Mandalay back. General Slim unsuccessfully tried to rally his troops and set up a new defense line north of Yenangyaung, but his units are not obeying the British officers and so he issued on 19 April, a week after the Japanese attack on Yenangyaung had begun, the command to finally retire to Mandalay to meet there on the other units of the scattered British Burma Army.

The Burma Army had to leave behind all their heavy equipment in battle, along with their batteries QF of Old Ordnance 18 pounder n and three Stuart tanks and several trucks and some anti-tank guns and large quantities of ammunition and explosives, the pioneer departments

Retreat to Mandalay

After the evacuation of the boiler Yenangyaung of the Burma Army and Slims Burma Corps was shattered by Japanese air attacks and artillery shelling into smaller units. Only the 1 Division of Burma Corps was able to establish a unified defense against the advancing enemy, but General Slim was ordered to leave his still-combat troops to march off towards Mandalay. General Slim protested, as he believed, his exhausted and scattered units were not able to go to Mandalay, but General Alexander ordered him to take up a forced march and on the evening of 21 April sat down the first column of the Division, the only remaining operational formation in the Burma army in motion towards Mandalay. Japanese air raids destroyed almost all the trucks and the British and Indian units were forced to take a walk. The Japanese artillery of 33 The Division had gone into Yenangyaung in position on the same day began an intensive bombardment of the enemy’s troops march route, the 1st Division suffered heavy losses and terrible at the water – food was hit and drug enmangel. The Japanese artillery shelled the road to Mandalay for two days, and even air strikes were flown against the enemy units: the first Division and the remaining troops of the Burma Corps suffered enormous losses and were attacked in part by Burmese guerrillas of the National Burmese army, although these attacks did not lead to heavy losses. However, several Burmese soldiers of the Burma Corps deserted after the fighting with the guerrillas and returned to their villages.

After two days of shelling presented the Japanese guns, which now together with the main associations of 33 Division had advanced to within a few kilometers from Meiktila, their fire and the British and Indian troops of the Burmese Army were on 26 April Mandalay reach. But they had as a result of enemy air attacks about 500 men lost, another 200 had deserted and about 300 soldiers had died of dehydration or beriberi, whereby the strength of the first Division and thus of the entire Burma Corps, however, now operational in about 3000 perfectly exhausted soldiers had been reduced. These troops had lost most of their ammunition and all remaining artillery batteries and trucks. Most of the soldiers had their infantry weapons, guns lost in most cases, Lee-Enfield.

Japanese attack on the 6th Army

The Chinese 6 Army, the 200th Division was placed under, came to Burma in mid-February and was ordered by General Stilwell immediately after Toungoo. But only General Dai Anlans 200 Division could reach Toungoo, and when all hope was lost for a victory in the battle and General had asked for landing permission to evacuate the city, was the 6th Commissioned army, to keep the only line of defense in front of Mandalay and Lashio, which was in the Shan State against enemy attacks.

On 24 April joined the 56th Japanese division, which had arrived after the victory of Toungoo in full force to the front, as well as the motorized reconnaissance columns of the 55th Division on the offensive against the Chinese 6 Army in Shan State. The associations of 6 Army were extended through the dense jungle and could, as the Japanese assumptions, a coordinated attack against the left wing of the Chinese troops did not withstand. The main force of China’s reserve, about 4,000 men in three regiments was stationed in Taunggyi, where General Stilwell set up his command post and communications center. The Chinese artillery and a motorized battalion were stationed behind the main line of defense as operational reserve, but poor infrastructure in the area prevented rapid movement of troops. A division of the Chinese infantry, six regiments of the reserve had been a few days earlier reassigned from Taunggyi and some scattered units of the 200th Division dug along the main streets of a static defense system, and were coordinated as in Toungoo of British and Indian military engineers and pioneer departments. The main Chinese troop concentrations were in the villages Mawchi, Bato and Loikaw.

The attack of the first Japanese battle group, an independent unit of the 56th Division of Colonel General Masao Watanabe broke through on the morning of 24 April at 7:30 clock, the Chinese defense lines of the last units of the 200th Division a few miles from Loikaw. The 4th Reconnaissance battalion (mot) ventured into the back room and was already on the same day with the other units of the 56th Division occupy several villages near the town. The first Battle group destroyed the following day two Chinese battalions of the 200th Division, were attacked by the Japanese Chi-Ha tanks and several Spähpanzerwagen and fled because they did not have any anti-tank guns. On the same day the 200th was a smaller position Division and was set on fire by the Japanese troops. General Stilwell was in Taunggyi first without news from the front. The collapse of the 56th Division in the field of Chinese reserve front of General Liao Yaoxiang. After he had brought his few reserves for early use, he reported on 25 April to Stilwell that the situation was extremely serious and that had several Chinese units already destroyed or fled. General Watanabe could therefore operate relatively freely and initially turned some departments of motorized troops to the northeast in the direction from Taunggyi to here with the troops of the 55th Meet division, which competes against the right wing of the Chinese and reached after a few hours Loikaw. On the left wing, the units of the 56th were Division against stronger Chinese resistance before, but the losses were low and the Chinese units were forced by artillery shelling and air strikes to retreat. The motorized units were able to advance no further because of poor infrastructure and the state of the muddy paths and only the infantry could penetrate. Loikaw and several smaller towns were 26 April from the 55th Division occupied and thus the Chinese front finally collapsed. The Japanese troops marched toward Taungyyi and drove the Chinese scattered units that started only a few counter-attacks before it. The Chinese troops of the 6th Army suffered huge losses and the Japanese artillery began on 27 April, the shelling of Taungyyi; General Stilwell and his staff then left the city. Chinese units of the 200th Division attacked the Japanese forces a few kilometers from the city, but she was thrown back with heavy losses. On the same day the Japanese troops could occupy Taunggyi and destroyed two Chinese battalions at Loilem: the 6th Army was thus almost completely destroyed. The operational reserve and the surviving soldiers of the front units were forced to retreat toward Lashio under Stilwell’s command, but they were destroyed by Japanese air attacks and only Stilwell, a few members of his staff and some senior officers, with about 150 men of the 6th Army could reach Lashio four days later. The entire 6 Army lost in less than a week of about 25,000 and 23,690 men had to complete their artillery, all ammunition, all trucks and technical devices leave in Loikaw or Taunggyi. The Japanese troops suffered less serious losses and had about 350 deaths complain. They took the first May some bridges over the Irrawaddy and could a few hours later continued their advance towards Lashio. The backup and purge the conquered territory took over the 55th Division, whose headquarters was established in Taunggyi and even destroyed some smaller Chinese groups in the following weeks.

End of the campaign

The right flank of the Allied front in front of Lashio and Mandalay in Taunggyi and Loikaw was the complete destruction of the 6th Army breached. By thus resulting gap broke the entire 56th And some regiments of the 55th Division Division. These troops were divided as follows: approximately 8000 troops of the 56th Division, supported by a motorized reconnaissance unit of the same column should proceed in Lashio, while the remaining two regiments of the 56th and the troops of the 55th Division against the Chinese bases of the 66th Army north of Taunggyi, near the Chinese border with Yunnan, were advancing. The task of these units, it was the Chinese 66 Army, by the destruction of the 6th Army had been weakened and also under fuel – and suffered a shortage of ammunition, encircle, thus taking the starting points of the Yunnan-Burma Road and to break the Allied supply route to China. The units of the 56th Division encountered no enemy resistance, since the entire Chinese troops had been wiped out in the area, and could Lashio on 30 Reach of April. Some of the scattered Chinese and British troops, who were gathered in the city, tried to stop by a coordinated counterattack against the left flank of the advancing Japanese this and to defend the city, but their attack was broken by artillery fire and a Japanese advance could push back the survivors in the City. However, the last defenders were by a short urban warfare and constant artillery fire echoed from the buildings, and fell into Japanese prisoner of war. In this short battle to Lashio, the Japanese troops of the 56th suffered Division 100 casualties, while the Chinese and allied troops lost more than 600 men. The surviving soldiers were driven by persecution Japanese troops in the jungle and were able to join together in a few days to a larger group that marched to the Indian border.

Mandalay conquest and retreat of the Burma Army

British troops of the Burma Corps (Gen. Slim), could leave the Yenangyaung, were to man from the surgical staff of the Burma Army in Mandalay, ordered new defensive positions in front of the city to repel a Japanese advance. But the English troops had lost all motor vehicles and guns and a large part of the ammunition already in retreat. Therefore, the fully depleted Indian and British soldiers were the well-fortified position in front of the city against some attacking Japanese units of 33 Division, supported by aircraft not last long, and they were forced to retreat after three hours of fighting in the city. The Japanese high command of the 33rd Division even during the battles by infantry forces of the 18th Replace Division to clear the former unit for a possible push towards India. But the 18 Division was tough because of British resistance in the Greater Mandalay, which had not yet been cleared of all British units stationed there, but slowly, and the first units were only on 2 May seep into the city. The main buildings were bombarded for hours and the Japanese troops worked their way slowly towards the city core, under the protection of machine guns and tanks before. But the British resistance was particularly weak and the Japanese troops were from the following morning advance much faster. The last organized units of the 1st Burma Division, Burma Corps, two Indian battalions were left in the city to a defense to try, but she had on 3 May evacuate the last quarter and joined the rest of the Burma Army, which marched along the Burma Road in the direction of Assam. Of the British and Indian soldiers of the army had hardly any one weapon, only forty vehicles were still present to the scattered troops suffered water and food shortages and several men died of beriberi, s sunstroke and malaria. After the completion of the battles for the British positions at the Mandalay Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo and the high command of the 15 were Army believes that the opponent had no significant forces to defend Burma’s more, as all British troops had been smashed in the country. The following day the conquest of Burma was proclaimed by various magazines, especially by the Asahi Shimbun in Japan.


Beginning of the Japanese occupation

General Iida was visited by Hisaichi Field Marshal Terauchi, Commander of the Southern Army, and his staff at his headquarters in Rangoon. Terauchi congratulated him for the success of the campaign and it was discussed whether an attack against the Indian and British troops who fled to Assam or even a new expedition to North India were taking in the realm of possibility. But the dawn of rainy season and the subsequent siltation of all navigable route to Assam and India, as well as some disturbing air attacks of the Flying Tigers, prevented the Japanese attack on India. On the Japanese side, now there was disagreement over the question of how the Japanese control over Burma could be secured in the future. Finally, the Imperial Japanese Army was Prime Minister Ba Maw, the task of forming a fascist government in Burma. Ba Maw then organized a cabinet and the new government of Burma was later recognized by several countries, among them the Third Reich, the Japanese Empire and several Japanese satellite state s, such as Thailand or Vietnam.

The Burmese population at the beginning of the welcomed Japanese troops as liberators from British colonial rule. A few months later, the ruthless exploitation of the country had performed as part of the Japanese war economy to great discontent among the population.

The Burma Independence Army (BIA), a para-military ical resistance movement which fought during the campaign against the British troops by side, the Japanese had grown unchecked since the beginning of the conquest in January 1942, and in some areas is also important official or even had criminal or warlord s explained to members. Under the Japanese occupation, it was now as Burma Defence Army (BDA) reorganized their assigned the status of a national army and it was financed by the Japanese puppet government of Ba Maw. The associations of the BDA, which had grown to 18,000 men strong in August 1942, but were in most cases from the Burma Army deserters Burmese, Thai soldiers and criminal gangs, occurred the names of the BDA. The army remained under the command of the Thirty Comrades, an elite Burmese resistance leader who had been trained by the Japanese troops. The most important of the Thirty Comrades was Aung San, who took over the military command of the troops of the BDA in 1945 negotiated with the Allies and then switched sides.

- Waste

The British army had suffered heavy losses during the fighting. After completion of the campaign and after the Burma Army had fled to Assam reported General Slim, commander of the Burma Corps, in a staff report the loss of his unit to General Alexander: in this report was the destruction of an entire organization, the first Burmese Division, the 4th after massive losses on May it was resolved. It was set up a few weeks later by General Slim again. The report also the loss of a total of 160 guns, 193 trucks and cars, and all ammunition was reported. In the course of the campaign, 23,121 men were killed and more than 9,000 Burmese troops had deserted or were captured by the Japanese troops. Also some British and about 200 Indian soldiers came in Japanese prisoner of war. Most of the Indian prisoners joined a few months after her internment of the Azad Hind of Subhash Chandra Bose. Given the fact that according to British specifications to protect the borders of Assam and Manipur in the event of a Japanese offensive in mid-May less than 15,000 British and Indian soldiers had been available, the message of General Slim not completely unlikely.

In Imphal, the capital of the Indian state of Manipur, and now the seat of the headquarters of the Burma Army led to the events of a crisis. On 19 May General Alexander stated publicly that the capital was threatened and asked in Delhi and Calcutta for military gain. Industries and small towns on the border with Burma were evacuated. Then broke out in the capital Delhi a panic and some inhabitants fled. In Imphal had on 25 May be explained the state of siege and martial law was imposed, but after the beginning of the rainy season it became clear that the Japanese troops would not attack before next summer. The Japanese assault on Imphal and Kohima was instead in the spring of 1944.

The Chinese army had suffered huge losses during the Japanese conquest of Burma. Since accurate information is not Chinese, it is reliant on the information report of the American General Joseph Stilwell, who, after the fighting, the destruction of two Chinese armies, the 6th and the 66th, hundreds of guns and vehicles reported. According to report, about 100,000 Chinese soldiers had come during the fighting killed while 30,000 were wounded and 2,000 fell into Japanese captivity, but precise details are lacking. On the Japanese side, fell during the six-month operation a total of about 8,000 soldiers, but also the exact number is unknown loss.

Also about 40,000 Burmese civilians died, mainly due to Japanese artillery fire and air strikes, but also from hunger, especially in the cities of Toungoo and Rangoon, and because of some Japanese massacre. The British troops destroyed during the retreat numerous infrastructure objects to slow the advance of the Japanese. The Chinese army disbanded after the defeat in places, and acted as bandits in Burma. The Burmese BIA massively plundered and ignited a feud with the ethnic in colonial times by the British preferred Karen.


•Piers Brendon: The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 Childer Jonathan Cape, London 2007, ISBN 978-0-224-06222-0..

•Daniel Marston: Phoenix from the ashes.The Indian army in the Burma Campaign. Greenwood Press, 2003, ISBN 0-275-98003-0.

•Frank McLynn: The Burma Campaign: Disaster into Triumph, 1942-1945 Yale University Press, 2011..

William Slim: Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945 Yale University Press, 1957.

Military operation in the Pacific War

Burma Campaign


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