Bagan ( Pagan) is the second most popular tourist destination after Yangon in Myanmar. In 1945 Bagan was also an objective of the 14th Army, quickly following the retreating Japanese from their defeats at Imphal and Kohima, through the jungle towards the Irrawaddy. DTC Travel have a unique set of trips for visitors wanting to see the battlefields during this period, and we will explore one which tells of the crossing of the Irrewaddy
“The longest opposed river crossing attempted in any theatre of the Second World War”
General Slim noted in his memoirs that this action was “the longest opposed river crossing attempted in any theatre of the Second World War”. Here we detail the battle with the photos telling of the trip. Click of them to see the text descriptions.
The Japanese thought the allies were heading towards Mandalay, but actually they had several objective, one of the most important was to cross the river at Nyaung U and push on toward Meiktila and thus cut off Japanese supplies to the north. On 13th February, troops of the 4/5 Royal Gurkha Rifles occupied positions close to Pakokku , a village called Sinlan, They then proceeded to search and occupy Pakokku itself. With this operation they decimating nearly battalion strength of Japanese, and the allies had gained a foothold on the west bank of Irrawaddy river.
The allied crossing was over 200 miles long
The allied crossing was made on a wide front and at many locations, including a main attack at Nyaung U and a secondary crossing at Pagan (an ancient capital and the site of many Buddhist temples).
The British 7th Indian division suffered heavy losses in this assault – it could have been worse, the Japanese and INA had their boundary of responsibility at Nyaung U, so the Japanese did not reinforce the INS. Eventually, support from tanks of the Gordon Highlanders firing across the river together with massed artillery forced the defenders at Nyaung U to scatter or surrender.
Part 2 is here
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