Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

The 1950s at Home and Abroad

Legendary American jazz musician Count Bassie in Myanmar

The legendary American jazz musician Count Bassie, with actor Win Oo and others, in Rangoon.

Kalaw railway station c. 1952

(photo credit: Burton family collection)

Near Goodliffe Road with a view of the Reclining Buddha c.1952(photo credit: Burton Family)

22 January 1909 - 25 November 1974
Birthday of U Thant

U Thant was born on 22 January 1909 in Pantanaw. The photograph on the left is U Thant as a student at Rangoon University c. 1928. The second is U Thant in 1970 as Secretary-General of the United Nations.

20 January 1910
The birth anniversay of U Nyun

U Nyun, one of Myanmar's most distinguished public servants, was born on 20 January 1910 and was educated at Rangoon, Oxford and London Universities. He served in the ICS and then as a senior civil servant in the independent Burma government, before joining the UN in 1953. From 1959 - 1973 he was the Executive Secretary of UN ECAFE (now ESCAP), working directly under Secretaries-General Dag Hammarskjold and U Thant. U Nyun was one of many trained and experienced Burmese...

Queen of Hlihin

The photograph shows our neighbours to the north: a queen of the Hlihin in what is today western Yunnan c.1945. The Hlihin were an independent people who speak a language related to Burmese; their homeland was absorbed into the Peoples Republic of China in the 1950s.

The future in 1946

(The caption reads "A Flying Boat of the Future Over Rangoon"). This 1946 advertisement was for the new Saunders-Roe "Princess" flying boat which came into service in 1951. The "Princess" was the largest all-metal flying boat ever constructed. I'm not sure if it ever actually flew to Rangoon. Other flying boats landed in front of Strand Road.

Sule Pagoda Road in the 1950s.

May 1950
Prime Minister, Daw Mya Yee and Daw Khin Kyi in England in 1950

In May 1950, Prime Minister U Nu in England, accompanied by his wife Daw Mya Yee and General Aung San's widow Daw Khin Kyi. During his days in London, Oxford, and elsewhere, U Nu tried hard to paint as rosy a picture as possible of the situation in Burma. He said peace was likely 'within a year' and encouraged British aid and investment. An article in the Spectator magazine (link below) however painted a very different (and more realistic) picture....

Indian and Burmese leaders

These are two photographs from an early visit (in 1951). The first shows Pandit Nehru coming greet U Nu at Palam Airport (now Indira Gandhi International Airport). U Nu is to the left, already surrounded by journalists. The second photograph is from the same trip, with U Nu and Pandit Nehru together with President Rajendra Prasad (the first President of India). U Nu was then 45 years old and had been PM for three years. He and Pandit Nehru were...

A visit to to Rangoon by Princess Alexandra of Kent, cousin of Queen Elizabeth in 1951

An interesting perspective: Burma on a 1952 Cold War map

An interesting perspective: Burma on a 1952 Cold War map, first published in 1952 in Time Magazine. It was meant to highlight the communist threat to Asia. Perhaps it also shows most clearly than normal maps Burma position as China's bridge to the Bay of Bengal.

1953 - 1985
Richard Nixon’s visits to Myanmar

Richard Nixon, as Vice-President of the United States of America, visited to Myanmar in 1953. The US papers at the time all reported on his confrontation with left-wing and anti-American demonstrators at Pegu (it was Thanksgiving Day and the Burmese were also able to rustle up a turkey for lunch). Fewer reported on his trip to the Shwedagon. He and Pat Nixon wrote in the register: "For years we have heard of it, and we have previously seen pictures of...

17 April 1953
U Myint Thein Delivered One of the Best Performance in UN History

On 17 April 1953 at the United Nations, Justice U Myint Thein brilliantly laid out the Burmese government's charge against Kuomintang aggression. Over the past several years, more than 10,000 Nationalist troops under KMT General Li Mi had crossed into Burma, and were by 1953, with active US intelligence support ("Operation Paper"), pushing west across the Salween and threatening all the Shan states. The KMT was also building up a massive trade in opium. The Burma Army, then facing communist...

March 1953
Foreign advisors and officials of Myanmar

Foreign development advisors and aid officials are nothing new to Myanmar. Here's a photograph from March 1953 showing Prime Minister U Nu with chief advisor Louis Wallinsky (far left) and consultant Robert Nathan (in centre, in Burmese costume). ICS U Hla Maung is on the far right. It could be said that the hard work dozens of Burmese officials and businessmen, combined with reasonable government policies and the help of these international experts, had brought a fair degree of prosperity...

From another presidential visit

Vice President Richard Nixon at Government House, Rangoon in 1953 with Miss Irene Ba U, President Dr Ba U and Mrs Nixon.

Rangoon 1953

March 1953 - 1957
Census of 1953-57

The Government of Burma held a national census over several stages between 1953 and 1957. The Census Commissioner was ICS U Kyaw Khine. He was assisted by the (US AID funded) UN census adviser Milton Lieberman. In this 1953 photo they are asking the first census question to President Dr Ba U at the President's House. (Sorry for the poor quality of the photo).

Downtown Rangoon 1953

December 1954
Prime Minister U Nu’s visit to China in 1954

Despite the many ups and downs of Sino-Myanmar relations in modern times (including the Beijing backed the communist invasion of 1967), all Myanmar leaders since independence have made several visits to our giant eastern neighbour. This is a photo of U Nu with Mao Zedong during U Nu's first trip in December 1954. The Prime Minister's party included U Thant, Col Aung Kyi, U Myint Thein, and U Win Pe. Chairman Mao was likely surprised by U Nu's frankness on...