1942 - 1945
Aftermath of World War Two in Myanmar
No need to live in the past, but as Myanmar steps up its relations with big powers around the world, it may be useful to remember that those same big powers turned the country into a giant battlefield in the 1940s. Half a million American, British, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and other soldiers fought in Burma, leading to the devastation of almost every single city and town, every port, airport, train station, oil field and factory. Over 200,000 soldiers died, together with an unknown number of civilians. The war left behind an economy in ruins and a country awash in guns, leading directly to the civil wars that followed. And in thinking of WW2 in Burma, we often forgot the role of the Chinese. In April 1942, as the British were in full retreat, three Chinese armies (the 5th, 6th, and 66th Armies grouped as the "Burma Expeditionary Force") entered the country on the orders of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek to try to stem the Japanese invasion. It would be three years before Lashio was retaken by the Allies.