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BOOK REVIEW ON
THE WAR IN BURMA
1.
Introduction.
`The War in Burma` is written by Col MG Abhyankar . This
book gives a complete picture of BURMA Compaign. The author has explained the
important aspects of the operations in logical sequence and in lucid style, bringing
out clearly the application of principles of war. The book was first published in 1955
and it had total 6 editions. The 6 th edition was published in 1981. The book is Printed
at Gayatri Offset Press New Delhi and published by Natraj Publishers, Dehra Dun.
2.
This book has total ten chapters. All the chapters of this book are well arranged
and give a continuous picture of many events as they took place. The strategical,
tactical and administrative problems were tackled and solved, have also been well
brought out. Chapter one describes the strategic concept while chapter two explains
the administrative problems faced during Burma Campaign. The other chapters
chronologically very describe the Southern Front- Arakan Operations, the Central
Front, the Northern Front, Chindit Operations, the Significance Of Air Power, Naval
Operations,. Problems Of Command And Control as well as Intelligence And Security
respectively. At the beginning of the chapters some relevant questions is given which
are important for the staff college entrance examinees. In each chapter the author
has also very clearly discussed the answer of those questions which would be very
helpful for the readers.
3.
This book reviews the operations launched by South East Asia Command
under the leadership of its Supreme Commander Lord Louis MountBatten for the
reconquest of Burma. In the Last edition of the book only essential maps has been
incorporated as certain accounts such as Kohima and Imphal battles or the assault
on Meiktila will always remain incomplete without maps.
4.

Aim. The aim of this paper is to review the book, `The war in Burma`.

5.
Chapter-1. In this chapter the author is discussing the strategic concept very
clearly. By the latter half of 1943 the Japanese had been for more than eighteen
months, masters of vast defensive arc covering their early conquests. This stretched
from the jungle-covered mountains of Northern and Western Burma across the sea to
the Andamans. The Strategic aim of the operations in Burma was :
a.
To develop, maintain, broaden and protect the air and supply link to
China.
b.
To eliminate the Japanese forces from Northern Burma as a prelude to
their total defeat in South East Asia.
6.
This Chapter has also covered Indian Command, European and Pacific
Theatres, China Theatre operations. First impression of F.M Viscount Slim in 'Defeat
into Victory' is also given at the end of this chapter.
7.
Chapter 2.
The major administrative problems has been discussed in
this chapter. It was therefore vital that solutions were found to the various logistical
requirements if they were not to interfere with projected operations. Such problems
confronting the Supreme Allied Commander could be listed as follows:
a.
Lines of Communication and Supply Bases.
b.
Long range Air Supply and Air Transport.
c.
Construction and Maintenance of roads, ports, railways, airfields and
Nodal points.
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d.
e.
f.

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Supply of Petrol to China.
Effects of monsoon on operations.
Incidence of tropical diseases.

8.
This chapter has discussed lines of communications and supply bases, long
range air supply and transport, construction and maintenance of roods, rivers, ports,
railways, air fields and nodal points.
9.
Chapter 3.
This Chapter has covered Arakan operations. The operations
are discussed chronologically in the following sequences:
a.
Topography, Enemy dispositions and intentions.
b.
Land operations- Battle of Adm Box.
c.
Amphibious operations operation Romulus and operation Talon.
d.
Causes of Japanese defeat.
e.
Air Supply.
10. A very good map of attempted invasion of India phase-1 is given. The causes of
Japanese defeat are also well narrated in this chapter.
11. Chapter 4.
The operations in the central front are discussed in this
chapter. The operations on the central front devide themselves into the following
distinct phases as various actions came in almost with a logical sequence, one after
another. They are:
a.
The Battle of Imphal and Kohima.
b.
Operation Capital.
(i)
Crossing of the Chindwin.
(ii)
Crossing of the Irrawady.
(iii)
Breakout from Meiktila.
c.
Operation Dracula.
d.
Pursuit across the Sittang.
12. Chapter 5.
The operation and actions taken by allied forces in the
northern front of Burma are discussed here. The operations in NCAC can be divided
into three phases:
a.
Advance from Ledo to capture Myitkyina.
b.
Securing of Irrawaddy line and link up with the Chinese Expeditionary
Forces.
c.
Advance to Mong Mit-Lashio line and link up with the Fourteenth Army.
13. The aim given to Supreme Commander South East Asia is to maintain and
enlarge contacts with china both by air route and by making direct contact in
Northern Burma by use of suitably organized and air-supplied ground forces of the
greatest possible strength. With this aim in view, Lieutenant General stilwell was
ordered to occupy Northern Burma upto the Mogaung-Myitkyina area so as to cover
the construction of the overland route to China. It was decided that Major General
Wingates special force should at the appropriate moment be brought in to cut the
enemy road and rail communication to his northern forces while the main Japanese
forces were to be contained by IV corps on the central front. The special forces
succeeded in the operation.
14. Chapter 6.
In this chapter the author has narrated Chindit Operation.
The late Major General Orde Charles Wingate who created the chindits, planned their
long-range penetration behind the enemy lines and gave guerilla tactics a new
character and outlook. Early in 1942, during the retreat from Burma Wavell had
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applied for his services to organize guerilla levies. Wingate drew from it necessary
deductions and set before Wavell a plan to carry Jananese tactics beyond their own
practice. He proposed a specially trained or organized brigade which should penetrate
deep into enemy territory and operate there by means of air supply and wireless
without depending on the normal military lines of communications. There are two
chindit operations. The first one took place in 1943 which had not been discussed
here. The second chindit operation has been narrated here that can be studied in two
parts:
a.
Operations in conjunction with the Fourteenth Army which is known as
operation Thursday.
b.
Operations in support of the Northern Combat Area Command (NCAC)
Forces where Stilwells forces had been linked up by 14 th Army of General
Wingate to establish land contact with India.
15. Air Supremacy plays a vital role in favour of the special force in these
operations. The special force succeeded in the operation. It was a new type and
dimension of war and new tactics that made victory possible.
16. Chapter 7.
In this chapter significance of air power has been discussded
very clearly. The contribution which air power made the victory of the Allied Forces in
Burma was both unique and significant. The air operations established beyond doubt
that the aeroplane was not primarily a bomb carriage but instead a new means of
transportation and supply around which warfare could be reshaped. Realizing the
situation of war Admiral Mountbatten integrated the British Empire Air Force and
united Air Force on 14 December and put under Air Chief Marshall Peirse who
became the Allied Air Commander-in-Chief with General Stratemeyer as his Secondin-Command. Stratemeyer was put in charge of the Eastern Air Forces fighting in the
Burma campaign.
17.

The author has discussed the significance of air power in conjunction


land operations fought on different fronts in the following manners:
a.
Organization of air forces in the South East Asia Command.
b.
Army/Air co-operation.
c.
Air operations- Local.
d.
Air Supply.
(i)
Air Support.
(ii)
Air Transportation .
e.
Air Operations- Long Range.

e.

with

Limitations of Air power.

18. Chapter- 8. The Naval operations is being discussed in this chapter. The
campaign in Burma was primarily as Admiral Mountbatten says an `Infantry mans
Battle and the scope of naval operations was therefore extremely limited. The Eastern
Fleet was generally responsible for security of sea communications in Indian Ocean.
19.

The naval operations in Burma were confined to:


a.
Amphibious operations like Romulus, Talon, Dracula, Zipper, Mailfist
and Roger.
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b.

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General Fleet operations.

20. Chapter 9.
In this chapter the author has narrated the problems of
command and control in South East Asia between October 1943 to February 1945. In
this chapter he has described the Chain-of- Command between the Supreme Allied
Commander of South East Asia and the combined Chiefs-of- Staff( Washington).
21. The system of Supreme Allied Command was established in various theaters of
war, such as Europe, Middle East and the Mediterranean.
22. Chapter- 10.
In this chapter the author has narrated Intelligence and
Security. Intelligence had still another aspect which was peculiar to the operations in
Burma and that was the need for inter service co-ordinations on intelligence matters.
The various problems which confronted the intelligence staff and the way they were
handled in practice during the campaign can be studied as follows:
a.
Intelligence Organization.
b.
Employment of Sources and Agencies.
c.
Enemy Appreciation.
23. Conclusion.
The war in Burma is a complete picture of Burma Campaign.
The author has discussed all the chapters chronologically very clearly and in a very
informative way. In the first chapter author has explained strategic concept and
chronologically has discussed the major administrative problems, operations in all
the fronts in details, significance of air power, problems of command and control and
finally intelligence and security. This book is helpful for all military leader to study as
military history subject.
24. Comments.
a.
The Author could have given more numbers of maps of each front with respect
of neighboring countries for better understanding.
b.
The author has incorporated the major administrative problems in the second
chapter just immediately after explaining the strategic concept. But it would be better
if the administrative problems were discussed at the later chapters, because initially
the readers remain more interested to know about the operation itself.
c.
The author could orient the readers with Burma in relation to India more
closely that would be more effective.
d.
At the end of each operation the author could write reasons of victory and
defeat for both Allied and Japanese forces.
e.
The author could include tactical lessons learnt and the principles of war
followed in each battle or chapter. This would more informative.

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BOOK REVIEWON
THE WAR IN BURMA

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