End Game Burma, Michael Pearson

End Game Burma, Michael Pearson

Slim's Masterstroke at Meiktila

The long war in Burma, which began so badly for the British, was finally ended by Slim and the 14th Army's triumphant campaign on the Irrawaddy in 1945, which saw the Japanese forced out of Mandalay and Rangoon. Pearson argues that this campaign deserves to be much better known, as it tends to be overshadowed by the defensive battles at Imphal and Kohima. His argument is a convincing one - Slim's plan was an audacious one, for a major offensive largely supplied from the air and fought at a great distance from his main bases.

Pearson does a good job of presenting the Japanese side of the battle, which began with a rare example of a large scale retreat as the Japanese commander pulled back to the Irrawaddy, abandoning the western part of Burma. The battles around Meiktila were Slim's response to this move, and were intended to cut off the Japanese armies further to the north.

I would have liked to see a more detailed description of the forces available to Slim, who commanded a multinational force with Indian, Ghurkha and African troops present in large numbers - of the five infantry divisions in his two corps, four were Indian and one British.

This is a useful account of one of Britain and the Empire's less well known but most impressive victories during the Second World War, and goes a long way towards justifying the author's claims for importance of the campaign.

1 - Learning the Lessons
2 - The Long Road Back
3 - One More River to Cross
4 - Meiktila: The Capture
5 - The Road from Mandalay
6 - Meiktila: The Defence
7 - Rangoon and the Final Battles

Appendix I: IV Corps Order of Battle, February 1945
Appendix II: XXXIII Corps Order of Battle
Appendix III: 15th Army Order of Battle
Appendix IV: Estimate of Japanese losses

Author: Michael Pearson
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 150
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010

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