The Burma Campaign

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Burmese Battleground

Burma Army 1937-43

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Campaign Outline

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Orders of Battle

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Bookstore - UK

Modern Burma

British & Commonwealth Orders of Battle Website

 

These pages contain order of battle information for the Burma Campaign, 1941-1945, historical details and other items of interest.

 

 

The Current Situation In Burma

To help understand the background to the conflicts within present day Burma, you may find these sources of interest - please click here - Modern Burma Since 1946.

 

 

What's New    updated 21 May 2015

F.F.7, Burma Frontier Force

A revised reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1942.

F.F.9, Burma Frontier Force

A reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1942.

F.F.3, Burma Frontier Force

A reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1940-1942.

F.F.4, Burma Frontier Force

A reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1941-1942.

F.F.2, Burma Frontier Force

A reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1940-1942.

Officers and Men of the Burma Army
A project by the author, Steve Rothwell, that lists primarily officers who served with units of the Army in Burma (Burma Army).
This page summarises from where the officers were found and provides an introduction to
F.F.6, Burma Frontier Force

A reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1942.

F.F.8, Burma Frontier Force

A reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1942.

F.F.5, Burma Frontier Force

A reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1941-1942.

F.F.1, Burma Frontier Force

A reconstructed history of this mobile detachment of the Burma Frontier Force, 1940-1942.

The Burma Frontier Force

Revised and expanded history of the Burma Frontier Force, 1937-1942.

The Chin Hills Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

Updates to the summary history of this battalion, 1937-1942.

The Myitkyina Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

A summary history of the battalion, transferred from the Burma Military Police in 1937 and headquartered at Myitkyina.

The Reserve Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

A summary history of the battalion, transferred from the Burma Military Police in 1937 and headquartered at Pyawbwe.

The Bhamo Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

A summary history of the battalion, transferred from the Burma Military Police in 1937 and headquartered at Bhamo.

The Northern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

A summary history of the battalion, transferred from the Burma Military Police in 1937 and headquartered at Lashio.

The Southern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

A summary history of the battalion, transferred from the Burma Military Police in 1937 and headquartered at Taunggyi.

The Kokine Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

A summary history of the battalion, raised in 1940 to provide guard detachments for R.A.F. aerodromes.

"Scenes on the Irrawaddy - 1st April 1942"

Wartime film including shots of men of the 2nd Battalion, Burma Rifles, the 1st Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment and 
their C.O., Lt. Colonel C.E.K. Bagot and a patrol from a Frontier Force Column, Burma Frontier Force 
and the officer in command, Captain J.O.V. Edwards (Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).

Officers and Men of the Burma Army
Officers of the Rangoon Battalion, BAF in January 1941.  Men of the 1st Coastal Battery, BAF, selected for transfer
to the Burma Intelligence Corps in February 1945.
What's New - Archive - click here

 

The Burma Campaign - Introduction

The campaign was the longest fought by the British in the Second World War.  In December 1941 it began, for the British, with disaster, retreat and irreversible loss of face in front of the subject population. It ended, in August 1945, in triumph with the total defeat of the occupying Japanese army.

Why was the campaign fought? Allied aims were to keep open an overland supply route to the Chinese, thus pinning down a large Japanese army, and to re-conquer a part of the British Empire. However by the time the Burma road had been reopened and extended the war was nearly over and aircraft had taken over, carrying more  supplies over the "Hump" than could be carried by land. Furthermore, once reconquered, Burma soon became independent and within three years had left the British Commonwealth, being the first country to do so.

And yet the campaign was not a failure. It had to be fought to ensure that the Japanese had no opportunity of securing any kind of peace with the United States and her Allies by virtue of possessing a large mainland empire. A Japanese invasion of India was key to achieving such a position and the defence of Burma was key to the defence of India. There can be few who would accept that the displacement of the British Empire by that of the Japanese was in the long term interests of the local populations, especially given that the British had already committed themselves to a process that would, in time, grant independence.

In the end Japan suffered her greatest defeat on land in her history and the chief instrument of that defeat was the Indian Army. Largely officered by Britons but manned by representatives of every race from pre-partition India, the Indian Army had a unique character and in 1945 achieved its finest hour, setting many proud traditions for the current Indian and Pakistani armies. Fighting alongside the Britons, Indians and Gurkhas, there were also East and West Africans, Burmese, Karens and Kachins, Americans and Canadians, and Chinese.

The story of the Burma campaign is multi-facetted. The fighting took place not only in jungle but in mountains and across the arid Burmese plain, baked as dry as a desert in the summer sun. Men often fought face-to-face and hand-to-hand but the campaign became very much a modern war seeing the airlifting of entire divisions, aerial re-supply, landings by glider, casualty evacuation from small jungle airstrips and the deployment of landing craft in support of sea borne invasions and river patrols.

The country and its climate were the enemy of both sides. Disease and infection could and did decimate armies - tick-borne scrub typhus, malaria, leeches and "jungle ulcers" representing just a few of the medical hazards faced by the combatants. Nor must one forget the monsoon - a period of months when the rain falls in steady sheets day after day, creating conditions where a soldier’s clothing would literally rot off his back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Major Subjects

Burmese Battleground Burma Army 1937-1943 Officers & Men - Burma Army British Army in Burma Campaign Outline Orders of Battle Links Sources UK Book Store Modern Burma Since 1946 George Macdonald Fraser Whats New Archive

 

with acknowledgements to Louis Allen.

 

 

Please e-mail Steve Rothwell with comments, additional information and requests for help

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British & Commonwealth Orders of Battle Website