The Burma Campaign

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Site Guide

Burma Campaign-Home

Burmese Battleground

Burma Army 1937-43

New Burma Army 1945-49

Officers & Men of the Burma Army

Researching Ancestors in the Burma Army

British Army in Burma

Campaign Outline

Kohima

Orders of Battle

Links

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 25 June 2016

Messages Home: Lost Films of the British Army
The hour-long history documentary focuses on recently rediscovered World War II footage, which reveals British soldiers
fighting in Burma recording filmed messages to their loved ones back home.   20th June 2016
The author of this website, Steve Rothwell, contributed some of the research behind the soldiers' stories told in this programme.
For more information on the "Calling Blighty" films see the North West Film Archive project and search the
database to see the original films made and sent home to loved ones.
9th (Reserve) Battalion, The Burma Rifles

A much revised and extended history of this holding battalion.  25th June 2016

4th Battalion, The Burma Regiment

A history of this battalion of the Burma Regiment which fought with the Northern Kachin Levies. 7th June 2016

The Karen Rifles

Brief history of the three battalions of the Karen Rifles, part of the new Burma Army from 1945-1949. 7th June 2016

The Kokine Garrison Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

Update to include details of companies recruited and trained by the Chin Hills Battalion, BFF. 23rd May 2016

The Southern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

Updates to include details of a company of the Battalion that came under command of Captain Thompson's party.  16th May 2016

Researching Ancestors in the Burma Army
Added details of the "British Army, Indian Volunteer Forces Long Service & Good Conduct Medal, 1915-1939"
register available on the FindMyPast web site.  Awards made to members of the Burma Auxiliary Force and its 
predecessors may now be found.  25th February 2016
The Burma Intelligence Corps - Platoon Histories 
Brief, fragmentary histories of each of the sixteen platoons of the Burma Intelligence Corps. February 2016
The Burma Intelligence Corps 
A much expanded history of this corps of interpreters.  February 2016
The 2nd Battalion, The Burma Rifles 
New details added describing the role of the Battalion with the Chindits.  6th November 2015
Indian Army Lists Online 
Added by FIBIS in September 2015 are links to the Indian Army Lists online at the Digital Library of India.  September 2015
The Burma Frontier Force

Minor updates to the histories of all battalions of the Burma Frontier Force.

The Burma Military Police

A revised general history of the Burma Military Police, 1937-42.

The Mandalay Battalion, Burma Military Police

A reconstructed history of the Mandalay Battalion, BMP.

The 1st and 2nd Rangoon Battalions, Burma Military Police

A reconstructed history of the 1st and 2nd Rangoon Battalions, BMP.

The Kokine Garrison Battalion, Burma Frontier Force

An addition to the story of the Kokine Battalion, BFF following the reorganisation after the evacuation from Rangoon.

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 New Burma Army 1945-49 Officers & Men - Burma Army Researching Ancestors British Army in Burma Campaign Outline Orders of Battle Links UK Book Store Modern Burma Since 1946

 

with acknowledgements to Louis Allen.

 

 

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

All content Copyright of the Burma Campaign web site - all rights reserved. 2015

British & Commonwealth Orders of Battle Website