Britain conquered Burma in three wars during the 19th century, defeating a Burmese empire that had not long previously been at the height of its powers. The Burmese king was exiled to India. The new territory was included in the British Indian Empire as two distinct zones: socalled Ministerial Burma (Burma proper) under a Lieutenant-Governor, and three Scheduled or Frontier Areas in the surrounding hill country, covering the lands of the Shan, Chin and Kachin ethnic groups as well as many Karen. These areas were separately ruled by the Burma Frontier Service. The population of Ministerial Burma was predominantly … (click below to continue reading Cribb and Li’s Prelude)
12 August. Following a two-day meeting with Burmese National Army district commanders, Burmese nationalist leader Aung San stops the agreed process of integrating BNA troops (now renamed Patriotic Burmese Forces) into the regular Burma Army and demands renegotiations. Frustration has been mounting over the treatment of PBF troops by British soldiers and officers of the Civil Affairs Service for Burma, CAS(B). Also notable has been the hostility shown towards Aung San by exiled British Governor Reginald Dorman-Smith and General William Slim, commander of the Allied campaign in Burma, their animosity alleviated by the personal support of the Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command (SEAC), Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten.
16 August. A three-day conference of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), the umbrella organization pushing for Burmese independence, begins at the Naythuyain Theatre on Kandawgyi Lake in Rangoon. With Aung San in the chair as acting president, the assembly calls for the establishment of a provisional national government and national elections for a constituent assembly after the end of the British military administration. Delegates also demand the rebuilding of a permanent Burmese Army with resistance troops and the Patriotic Burmese Forces at its core.
15 August. Just four hours after Emperor Hirohito’s broadcast ending the war, Japanese Ambassador Yamamoto Kuma’ichi explains and reassures Thai Prime Minister Khuang Aphaiwong about the surrender. He also raises no objections to news that Thailand’s Regent is planning to renounce the Thai–Japanese alliance.
16 August. Upon hearing of the Japanese surrender, forced labourers in North Borneo begin slowly working their way back home to Java. Elsewhere across the vast extent of Japanese-occupied Asia, tens of thousands of people drafted into supporting Japan’s war effort take their futures into their own hands and slip away from their masters. Many more must await repatriation after Allied troops arrive; they are stranded too far away from home. The fate of the many ‘comfort women’ forced into military brothels is also uncertain.
17 August. In a disturbing reminder of events leading up to the mass famine earlier in the year, flood waters breach dikes on the Red River upstream from Hanoi. Within days, 150 breaches are reported around the delta, about one third of Tonkin’s summer rice crop being inundated as a result. Its inability to deal with the situation dispels any remaining credibility that the royal government may have had. The floods also inhibit vehicle movement by both Japanese and Chinese troops, offering a temporary benefit to local insurgents.
10 August. Uncertainty about who will do what, and when, characterizes the entire region in mid-August. While the Philippines, for example, is beginning to rebuild after years of war and Japanese occupation, the country seethes with preparations for the invasion of Japan. U.S. military supplies pour in. Hospitals and other facilities are established in anticipation of the invasion efforts. Elements of the Philippine Army are also involved. Early but unconfirmed news of Japan’s surrender on the 10th results in premature celebrations in Manila, including the firing of weapons. Similar early celebrations erupt four days later when the U.S. Office of War Information newspaper Free Philippines prematurely announces the end of the war.
15 August. The operational boundaries of the British-led South East Asia Command (SEAC), based in Kandy and headed by Lord Louis Mountbatten, are extended to include southern Indochina and Thailand. Java, Borneo and Eastern Indonesia are also transferred from the American-led South-West Pacific Area, Australia made responsible for the latter two. With the war ended, SEAC’s primary tasks are to accept the Japanese surrender, disarm and repatriate Japanese troops, rescue and repatriate Allied POWs and internees, and eventually hand over the administration to civilian authorities. Except for Thailand, the restoration of colonial rule is assumed.
17 August. General Order No. 1, prescribing when, where and to whom Japanese forces may surrender, is approved by President Truman after having been hastily negotiated between the Allies. The formal surrender of Japan to the Americans takes priority, even though elsewhere this will leave a power vacuum until local surrenders can be accepted.