Burma

How to find forgotten heroes in South East Asia

Rangoon War Cemetery

The little visited Rangoon War Cemetery

The Kohima Epitaph

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”*

In November 2013 an article in the UK newspaper “Daily Mail” related the fact that most of the 300,000 wars graves in the UK remain unvisited, including that of Cabin Boy Reginald Earnshaw, killed off Norfolk in 1941 at the age of 14 when the SS North Devon was sunk. The largest UK war cemetery gets 10 visitors (at most) a day (Brookwood Military Cemetery with 1,601 Commonwealth burials from the First World War and 3,476 from the Second World War).  Many military cemeteries are also undeservedly little visited, and the many sites of battles.   Read more

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The forgotten Mergui Road – the Japanese escape route of 1945

Sing Khon border crossing

Sing Khon border crossing

By 1944 the tide of the war in Burma was turning. Non combatant units, including headquarters staff,  Japanese civilians and members of the Burmese puppet government began an exodus of lower Burma and Rangoon in late April 1945. It was organised panic. The majority of the armed Burmese turned against their former allies and hundreds of Japanese were killed on their flight south to Thailand. Prior to this the  Japanese High Command in Rangoon had ordered the construction of a road, the Mergui Road – from Pratchaub Khiri Khan through Tenasserim to Mergui ( Myeik) on the south Burma coast to aid their escape. Allied prisoners were used, but the majority were  Asian labour – the Romusha. Few of those survived. Read more

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Japanese cemetery in Yangon – a place for reflection for all

Japanese Cemetery Yangon

Japanese Cemetery Yangon

It was bravery rather than the cruelty of the Japanese which was stressed by two prominent British opponents, British Field Marshal Sir William Slim and  Lt. General Arthur Percival at a joint conference after the war.  They had different experiences in dealing with the Japanese; the former initially defeated in 1942 and  then becoming a victor in 1945, the latter defeated in 1942 in the greatest defeat suffered by the British army, which led to his incarceration in Manchuria until release in 1945.

Slim and Percival agree

Slim and Percival agreed that the Japanese enjoyed an audience for their actions – such as officers exhibitions of swordsmanship at the expense of prisoners, military or civilian, man,woman or child. Read more

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Hsin Gyone Fort near Mandalay

The entrance to the Hsin Gyone Fort, Innwa.

The entrance to the Hsin Gyone Fort, Innwa.

The following is the engraving on the stone epitaph “The fort, also called the Innwa Fort was built in 1874 A.D. during the reign of King Mindon, under the supervision of Crown Prince Kanaung, Minister U Kaung and minister U Pho Hliang, Lord of Yaw and with the assistance of Italian engineer Commotto. It forms a third in the triangle of three forts, the other two are Asay Gan fort (Sagaing Fort) on the western bank of the river Ayayarwaddy and Thabyaytan Fort on the eastern bank, a few miles below Amarapura. These forts were built to defend against the invaders via the river.”  Read more

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Thapyaytan Fortress at the side of the Ava Bridge, Mandalay.

Thapyaytan Fortress, Mandalay

Thapyaytan Fortress, Mandalay

The following is a precis of the insuction tablet found in the fort. “The Thapyatan fortress is located at the east of the Ayeyarwady River, and north of the Dotehtawadi River, where there were two villages, Thapyaytan Ywa-ma and Thapyaytan Ywa-galay. Built on the orders of King Mindon, construction was assisted by Comoto Peree (sic) and Mole Nari(sic) of the Italian Navy and the cooperation of Myanmar engineers. Construction started in 1874 and finished in 1878.
The fort is 400 feet long from east to west, with a breadth of 352 feet at the south and 492 feet at the north. It has three tiered brick walls with the inner brick wall being 20 feet high. The northern gate is 16 feet 6 inches wide.

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Sagaing Fortress or Asaykhan Fortress

Sagaing Fortress entrance

Sagaing Fortress entrance

This is a translation of the stone tablet inside the Fort which gives it’s history

“It is located at the Asaykhan Quarter of Sagaing which is on the south west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. It was built during the reign of King Mindon under the direction of Comoto Peree (sic) and Moie Narie (sic), the French and Italian engineers assigned to assist Myanmar Engineers and the labour force.The King gave express responsibility to Minister Kinwong to oversee the  propject, designed to protect the kingdom from both domestic and foreign enemies. Read more

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The Shwenandaw Monastery – formerly the Golden Teak Palace.

The Golden Teak Monastery Mandalay

The Golden Teak Monastery Mandalay

Shwenandaw Kyaung  Monastery was constructed during the completion of the Mandalay Palace between 1859 and 1860. It is the only surviving wooden building from the original palace at Mandalay, most of which were destroyed during the Japanese bombing of 1942.

As was traditional, when the capital was moved to Mandalay on the orders of King Mindon, most of the existing palaces in the former capital were dismantled and re-built, and this was the case here. It taken from Amarapura Palace and re-erected as  the northern section of the King’s private apartments – the Glass Palace. Read more

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The Golden Rock – The Kyaik-ti-yo

The Golden Rock

The Golden Rock

It is situated about 200 kms. east  of Yangon, on the road to Mawlamyine and has now become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites and therefore tourist targets in the country. It’s present  popularity was not always so. It is 1100 metres above sea level and until recently it as reached by pony or more usually by a stiff hike up the mountain.  This used to take at least two days.

The previous military government decided to build a road ( another is now being constructed to avoid the present queues of truck going either down of up, which have to wait in passing places for whichever has the right of way).

 

 

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Pyin oo Lwin

The former garrison church , All Saint's Anglican Church

The former garrison church , All Saint’s Anglican Church

This town was made famous as the summer capital of the British to escape the the heat of Rangoon and Mandalay as it lies over 1000 metres above  sea level. The route from Mandalay is just under 50kms long, over goods roads which rise steeply, and many make a day trip from the old royal capital, while others make it a base to travel further on, possibly by slow train over the Goteik Viaduct  towards the old Shan capital of the Shan saopha of Hsi-paw.

When the British were advancing on Mandalay during the 3rd Anglo Burmese war in 1885, there was a plan for King Thibaw to escape to Pyin oo Lwin or Shwebo, but he decided to stay in his palace.

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Director : Mel Gibson.
Producer : Terry Benedict, Paul Currie, Bruce Davey, William D. Johnson, Bill Mechanic, Brian Oliver, David Permut.
Release : October 7, 2016
Country : Australia, United States of America.
Production Company : Icon Productions, Permut Presentations, Pandemonium, Cross Creek Pictures, Vendian Entertainment, Demarest Media.
Language : 日本語, English.
Runtime : 140
Genre : Drama, History, War.

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