Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion

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9780952108313: Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion
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This frank account of the clash of two empires in 1942 is, uniquely, researched deeply from both sides. It throws a completely new light on an important but little-known campaign of World War II. The co-authors, one of whom served in the campaign, describe clearly why Japan went to war, why Burma was attacked, and why Britain was so unprepared for their assault. Churchill, reluctant to believe that Japan would risk entering the war, had in April 1941 altered Britain's strategical priorities so that the defence of Malaya and Singapore was at the bottom of the pile. Burma was commanded from Singapore and was at the bottom of their pile. However, the capture of Burma, because it covered the only remaining supply line to China, was one of the main aims for which the Japanese went to war. The paradox thus arose that whereas the capture of Burma was a top priority for Japan, its defence was the lowest priority for Britain. Churchill did not realise the extent of his misjudgement until after the Japanese war had started, and it was then too late to remedy it.

Acting on carefully laid plans, the Japanese invasion force, using novel and unexpected tactics, forced the small multi-racial and hastily-assembled British force into a stubborn retreat, the longest in British history. In the first phase they used an infantry blitzkrieg to capture Rangoon. They then brought in additional divisions, heavy artillery and tanks and defeated the Chinese with a more orthodox mechanised blitzkrieg. The extraordinary features of the many battles; the savage close-quarter fighting; the ferocious night-attacks in the forest; the gruelling marches; the blazing heat; the mistakes, the disasters and the heroism; all make an amazing and dramatic story. Tribute is paid to the substantial help given by the Chinese forces, commanded by General Joseph W. Stilwell, US Army. The plight of the refugees, and the constant struggle against disease and thirst, form a backcloth to the front-line action. The 29 coloured maps explain clearly, for the first time, what really happened in each of the many battles.

Uniquely for the Allies in World War II, the British fought for the last ten weeks without re-supply and for the last two months without air support. Greatly helped, however, by the bold handling of their tanks, diverted to Burma when Singapore fell, they blocked repeated Japanese attempts to annihilate them, and marched back to India as veterans. The lessons they had learned the hard way would be used to achieve Burma's reconquest two years later. General Wavell commented that "in the circumstances they put up a remarkable performance and showed a fine fighting spirit." Due tribute is paid to the RAF and the American Volunteer Group (the 'Flying Tigers') for their heroic and successful battles in the air, against overwhelming odds, before their final inevitable defeat.

This book reveals that, in the initial advance to capture Rangoon, the margin of success for the invaders was very slight. If the British had prepared even a modest defence earlier, they might well, with Chinese help, have inflicted a very severe reverse on the Japanese, with incalculable effect on the war in the East at this stage. The story is an important addition to the history, not only of the Burma war, but of World War II.

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Review:

An absorbing book that will make every reader ponder in a more enlightened way about a campaign 57 years ago... which no-one has researched with such imagination or with such excellence. -- Lieutenant-General S.L.Menezes, PVSM, in the Journal of the United Services of India.

Major-General Ian Lyall Grant, with the co-operation of Dr Kazuo Tamayama, has, in this book, written what must henceforth be regarded as the most authoritative account of an unfortunate campaign... There have been other accounts, but none which have benefited so much both from the detailed representation of the Japanese action and from the author's personal experience... This book makes an important contribution to the history of the Second World War. -- Foreword by Field Marshal Lord Carver, GCB, CBE, DSO, MC.

This beautifully produced volume covers the Japanese invasion and the long withdrawal through Central Burma and back to India... [The author] has had unprecedented access to Japanese sources, the bulk of them previously unknown in this country... Despite his personal involvement, this is a commendably objective account of a most difficult campaign... [It] is a first class book, excellently written and of absorbing interest to all those who want to know what really went on in those early days of the war against Japan. -- General Sir George Cooper, GCB, MC, in the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, June 1999.

This book [has] a magisterial quality that is unlikely to be surpassed. It is remarkably well-researched, well-written, mapped and illustrated. It brings to light events which hitherto had seemed inexplicable... [It] is highly recommended. -- Major-General James Lunt, CBE, The Army Quarterly and Defence Journal, April 1999.

This book provides a most objective and comprehensive account of the First Burma Campaign... the two authors have produced a history which is likely to be as close to the truth as is possible... What a fascinating campaign it was. [This account] is likely to remain the final word on the campaign for many years to come. -- The Royal Engineers Journal, August 1999.

Together [the authors] have produced this masterpiece of campaign history, giving us the clearest possible picture of the events of the First Burma Campaign... For any reader with a love of military history, and for any student of war, it is a book to treasure. -- British Army Review, Fiftieth Anniversary Issue, June 1999.

From the Publisher:

A book to treasure and a must for anyone interested in the war against Japan.

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Grant, Ian Lyall, Tamayama, Kazuo
Published by Zampi Press (1999)
ISBN 10: 0952108313 ISBN 13: 9780952108313
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Ian Lyall Grant; Kazuo Tamayama
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ISBN 10: 0952108313 ISBN 13: 9780952108313
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