Posted on March 20, 2017
On this day, 72 years ago...
The city of Mandalay, Burma was under control of the Japanese, who had captured the it in 1942. The British set their sights on this important supply route and cultural center. William Slim’s British 14th army first secured the bridgeheads across the Chindwin River. Slim then devised a plan to trick the Japanese into thinking that his troops were headed for Mandalay, when in fact their goal was Meiktila, a main stop for Japanese troops for food and ammunition. Air superiority helped the British to knock out field guns and Japanese tanks and capture Meiktila.
Next the Gurkha Rifles of the Indian 19th Division advanced on Mandalay Hill. The British did not bomb Mandalay because of the beautiful pagodas. The Japanese fought from sewer tunnels, holding the hill for several days, before falling back to the fort of the city. A moat and heavy walls kept the British from Fort Dufferin, so the British planned a subterranean commando raid.
On March 20, 1945, the Japanese surrendered the fort and thus, the city of Mandalay to the British. Heavy loss of life, loss of heavy equipment and loss of public opinion made this a decisive defeat. As a result of this battle, the Japanese forces were cut off from supplies and Burmese forces turned against the Japanese.