First Burma Campaign

First Burma Campaign

Author
Colonel E C V Foucar MC. Introduced by John Grehan
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
Colonel Foucar was appointed to a General Staff post in 1942 for the purpose of collating and writing a narrative of the First Burma Campaign.

The book opens with a very comprehensive and detailed description of the geographical, political and climate of Burma at the time, as war was becoming a very real possibility in 1940-41. This book is his incredibly detailed account of the fighting using documentary evidence and information from the officers involved, plus many eye witness accounts.

The action goes from the Japanese assault in January 1942 to the Battle of Sittang Bridge, which was a disaster and on to the evacuation of Rangoon and the march to the river Irrawaddy to try and secure the North of Burma and the oilfields. The loss of Rangoon meant that there was no supply line to the troops. The Japanese moved inexorably closer and closer until the decision was made to retreat from Burma and attempt to get to India.

The starving, disease-ridden troops were not only fighting the Japanese but also the rugged terrain and the monsoon as they made their way through the jungle towards safety.
General Alexander declared that "The odds were that we might escape either the Japanese, the failure of our supplies, or the monsoon, but our chances of avoiding all three were slender".

The Commander, General Wavell wrote that, "Operations were now a race with the weather as with the Japanese and as much a fight against nature as against the enemy".

A gruelling account of a not very well known campaign, I enjoyed the read.

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