This book, using extensively fresh information from both British and Japanese sources, gives a uniquely comprehensive and frank account of the little known First Burma Campaign. The reasons for the British failure to anticipate the Japanese invasion of Burma, and the novelty and daring of the Japanese attack, are clearly described. Only after the assault on Malaya had started was the importance of Burma realised. Frantic efforts were then made to reinforce the tiny peace time garrison. It was too late, and it is now clear that a golden opportunity to inflict, with Chinese help, a major reverse on the invaders, was lost.
The extraordinary campaign which followed saw the hastily-assembled and multi-racial British force, fighting for the first time ever with Chinese allies, often unable to distinguish friend from foe. Outclassed by their resourceful and experienced opponents, but splendidly supported by British tanks, they resisted stubbornly on the long retreat to the Indian frontier. The many unusual features of the campaign; the ferocious night attacks in the forest; the savage close-quarter fighting; the blazing heat; the lack of relief; the relentless enemy pressure; the mistakes and the heroism; all make an amazing story. It was the longest and most arduous retreat in British history, not made easier by the total air superiority possessed by the enemy over the final two months. However, the British were more successful than is generally realised and the survivors marched into India as veterans. The tiny RAF force, supported by an American squadron, fought heroically and with remarkable success for two months before being overwhelmed by the two air divisions opposing them.
The lessons learned the hard way by the British in this retreat were to form the basis for Burma's reconquest two years later. Detailed coloured maps explain clearly, for the first time, what really happened in each of the many battles. As Field Marshal Lord Carver states in a thoughtful foreword, the book is an important addition to the history of World War II.
Illustrated with numerous black-and-white photographs and 32 maps, almost all reproduced in colour.
Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion by Ian Lyall Grant and Kazuo Tamayama. Published by The Zampi Press 1999. 416pp. Hardback with dust jacket. Dust jacket condition: Very Good - slight wear at extremities but largely a very nice copy. Book condition: Good - dark mark to fore-edge, slight bump at top of front cover. Otherwise tightly bound and clean throughout.