Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Japanese in Burma

The fall of Malaya and Singapore left the Japanese free to turn their attention to Burma, where the British were to wage their longest Second World War campaign. Yet it was certainly not an exclusively British campaign, for Indian and African troops, along with combatants from many of Burma's indigenous peoples, fought in it, and American aircraft and special forces played their own distinguished part. Invasion proper began on January 19, 1942, the Japanese cut the land route between India and China in April, and by May the surviving defenders, now commanded by Lieutenant General “Bill” Slim, had reached the borders of India after a gruelling retreat. The photograph above, which just predates the Japanese invasion, shows Indian troops, upon whom the defence of Burma largely depended, marching past a pagoda.

The British destroyed much equipment m order to prevent it from falling into Japanese hands. Here the task of demolition goes on.

Although photographs like this were useful for propaganda purposes, this shot of Japanese entry into the southern Burmese town of Tavoy makes the point that many Burmese regarded Japanese invasion as an opportunity to escape British rule.

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