Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

British Burma (1826-1942)

Historic Events

From the Great Depression to Riots and Rebellions

In the 1930s, Burma was in crisis. Burma was then a province of British India.  Under a new ‘dyarchy’ system, the government included ministers chosen by the Legislative Assembly, which included both elected and non-elected Members.  Elections had been held in 1922, 1925, and 1928 and were contested by an array of new political parties.  The focus of all the political parties was constitutional change and ‘home-rule’. At the same time, life for ordinary people was going from bad to...

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The legendary Gertrude Bell spent a couple of weeks in Burma in early 1903.

Gertrude Bell, the near legendary British adventurer, archeologist, administrator, and spy (apparently to be played by Angelina Jolie in an upcoming Ridley Scott bio-pic) - spent a couple of weeks in Burma in early 1903. Very little survives from the trip except a few letters home and this photograph, of a "Burmese girl", taken by Gertrude Bell herself. The girl is said to be Traditional Dance Performer Ma Htwe Lay. 

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The Bahai community of Myanmar

Leaders of the Mandalay Bahai community in 1930. The Bahai are one of Myanmar's smallest and perhaps least known religious minorities. There are an estimated 80,000 Bahai in Myanmar. Bahai is a world-wide religion of about 5 million people (mainly in Asia, Africa and the America) that was founded in the mid-19th century. Baha’i faith believes in one God and believes that many founders of world religions, including the Buddha, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Mohammed, are all manifestations of God....

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People in Mandalay being 'vaccinated' against the plague by a British physician in the early 1900s.

A bubonic plague pandemic killed more than 15 million people around the world (mainly in India and China) in the early 1900s. It originated in Yunnan and killed thousands in Rangoon and Mandalay between 1905-6. My great-grandfather, U Maung Maung Gyi of Mandalay was one of those who died from the plague in 1906. He was then in his 40s. I recently found this photograph of people in Mandalay been 'vaccinated' against the plague by a British physician. The 'vaccination'...

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A mysterious Burmese prince?

The photograph is from the (UK) National Portrait Gallery. Only a handful of Burmese have ever had their portraits there. He is listed as "Prince Maung Maung Gyi" a great-grandson of King Mindon. Elsewhere, he is listed as a grandson of Thibaw (which is impossible). His father is listed as "Prince Maung Maung U", but the name of his grandfather (Mindon's son) is listed as "unknown". He was born in 1902 and in 1922 seems to have been embroiled in...

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U Tin Tut, one of the most important figures in modern Burmese history

U Tin Tut, one of the most important figures in modern Burmese history, was born on 1 February 1895. He was educated at Dulwich and Queen’s College Cambridge. A star rugby player (he captained his college team), he was after Cambridge called to the English bar and became as well a King’s Commissioned officer in the (British) Indian army. He was also the very first Burmese to join the hallowed ranks of the elite Indian Civil Service.Over the 1920s and...

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London - Rangoon direct on Imperial Airways 1935.

During the first couple of decades of commercial aviation flying from England to Australia always meant stopping in Rangoon.

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A little Burma in England: the "British Empire Exhibition" of 1924-5

A little Burma in England. The "British Empire Exhibition" of 1924-5 was the largest exhibition ever staged anywhere in the world, attracting over 27 million visitors to Wembley (near London). The exhibition covered hundreds of acres and included "Palaces" dedicated to Engineering, the Arts, and Industry, as well as "Pavilions" showcasing the different countries in the empire. Australia, Canada and India had the biggest pavilions, followed by Burma, New Zealand, Malaya, and South Africa. The Burma Pavilion was partly designed...

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Dr San C. Po, the leading Karen political leader of his time

Dr San C. Po, the leading Karen political leader of his time was born near Bassein (Pathein) on 4 October 1870. He travelled to the US at age 14, eventually studying medicine at Albany (and becoming the first "Burmese-American", before returning to Burma and later renouncing his US citizenship to enter Burmese politics). He was a medical doctor and writer, as well as a politician and Karen nationalist, serving for many years in the Legislative Council. He was knighted in...

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Myanmar women win right to have representative at Burma Roundtable Conference

Miss May Oung (Daw Mya Sein) attended the 1931-2 Burma Round Table Conference in London. The Governor Sir Charles Innes had first selected 20 delegates from Burma - all men. But under pressure from various women organizations and others, and following a mass rally of Burmese women in Rangoon, he agreed to the inclusion of Miss May Oung. Educated at Rangoon and Oxford, Daw Mya Sein was then 27 years old. She was the daughter of the renowned Arakanese barrister...

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