Unknown to the Allies, Pagan was the boundary between the Japanese Fifteenth and Twenty-Eighth Armies, and the the area north of Nyaung U was given to the Indian National Army to guard. As well as giving heavy resistance to the South Lancashire Regiment, here at Nyaung U they were fighting against 1/11 Sikh Regiment.
The 9th battalion, INA 4th Guerrilla Regiment was made up mostly of Tamils recruited from Malaya and there was heavy fighting in the sandy lanes surrounding and at the rear of the cliffs.
Now started door to door fight against the Japanese and Indian defenders, the surviving INA having regrouped and began a retreat into Bagan. The Japanese had administrative buildings at Nyaung U, including those of the Kempeitai (the military police).
Stubborn Japanese defence
As the battle progressed into Bagan ( Pagan) the Japanese gave a stubborn defence. They used pagodas as sniping posts and dug tunnels under temples, and it is a testament to the 14th Army’s effective action against these threats that little damage was made to these structures (there is no text to the following photos- they were taken during the evening to give a view of the spectacular panorama of the temples and pagodas at Bagan).
The Japanese gradually moved south, and the INA retreated towards Mount Popa. The allied forces advanced towards Meiktila, and there was an attempt by the Japanese to retake Nyaung U but it failed. The Japanese and INA were still a threat to the flank of the forces attacking Meiktila, but the INA had lost heart due to losses of personnel, disease and starvation and started to surrender in large numbers. Those who were found attempting surrender by the Japanese were beheaded or had their arms slashed by sword or bayonet, however, the majority surrendered at the village of Magyigan near Mount Popa.
The Irrawaddy crossing was successful and the momentum of the allies could not be stopped. The fighting moved south.