History of Southeast Asia

History of Southeast Asia

Episode 42: The Retreat Through Burma

April 01, 2018

This year three holidays fall on April 1: April Fool's Day, Easter and Passover. Now you have another reason to celebrate; Episode 42 is now available! This episode begins coverage of the Burma campaign, a nasty jungle war that would go on between Japan and the Allies for the rest of World War II in the Pacific. Today we will see the Japanese conquest of Burma (modern Myanmar), from December 1941 to May 1942. The conquest did not take five months because of Allied resistance, as was the case in the Philippines, but because of the rugged terrain and the size of the territory that was to be occupied.

I was hoping that I wouldn't need a map for the next episode, but so many place names are mentioned that it now looks necessary. This one shows the Japanese advance (red) in Burma/Myanmar in April 1942, and the escape routes used by the Allies to evacuate the British colony (blue). Source: Ibiblio.org.

Here General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell leads his staff and a group of soldiers, as they retreat from Burma to India, in May 1942. The good news is that there were 114 people in the group, and Stilwell did not lose a single one. Source: History.army.mil.

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