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Churchill
12-21-2010, 12:15 AM
I'm not too well versed on this subject, so I thought I'd ask.

I know that the British and the Japanese were fighting in Burma for a couple years, but that nothing really amounted from it for Japan. It seems to me that it was kind of a wasted effort. If they really wanted to invade Burma and India, why not increase their chances of winning by throwing in what armored divisions they had? I'm pretty sure that the Chinese didn't have any major armored formations during Japanese occupation, so why keep them in a location where they couldn't do anything?

If, theoretically, Japan had successfully incaded India, what would they have done with it? The Indians were more numerous than the Japanese, so wouldn't that have created another China? Getting resources from India to Japan wouldn't have been easy either, what with raids from Ceylon or the Maldives.

I don't really see the point of the attack on Burma in the first place, unless they thought they could waltz through it like they did with Malaysia. I can see that they took the offensive on England before England could take the offense to them, but other than that, what reasons were there?

Rising Sun*
12-21-2010, 05:23 AM
Burma wasn't primarily about invading India. The Japanese wanted to cut off supplies through Burma to China while the Allies were trying to keep them flowing.

In March 1942 Japan reserved the conquest of India for later decision, with the result that it was never seriously contemplated after that as other events took priority.

Churchill
12-21-2010, 06:12 PM
So Burma was pretty much a theatre designed to deny the Allies an easy supply route into China...

Deaf Smith
12-21-2010, 08:02 PM
Yes that is it. They hoped to force China to make peace or surrender. But we kept them going (not unlike our aid to Russia.)

Deaf

Rising Sun*
12-21-2010, 08:27 PM
So Burma was pretty much a theatre designed to deny the Allies an easy supply route into China...

As it turned out after ambitions to invade India were shelved, yes.

However, the Allies still managed to supply China by air. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1733.html

Churchill
12-22-2010, 03:24 PM
Yeah, I remember reading about that somewhere, but the air supply route was kind of a waste, especially for the aeronautical branches trying to arm and fuel fighters.

Wizard
12-24-2010, 03:57 PM
I'm not too well versed on this subject, so I thought I'd ask.

I know that the British and the Japanese were fighting in Burma for a couple years, but that nothing really amounted from it for Japan. It seems to me that it was kind of a wasted effort.

Actually, Japan gained plenty from the conquest of Burma. Initially, Japanese Army leaders convinced themselves that the reason they couldn't seem to win complete subjugation of China was that the Western Allies were sending massive financial and military aid to the Nationalist Chinese. A blockade of, and finally occupation of, China's coast cut off all possible routes for that aid to be sent to China, except the route through Rangoon and northern Burma called the Burma Road.

In order to cut that route Japan needed to occupy Rangoon and the rest of Burma, which it did by the end of May, 1942, by routing all British troops in Burma. In essence, the defeat of the British in Burma was every bit as bad as the loss of Malaysia and Singapore.

Before the war, Burma had exported large amounts of Rice and other foodstuffs to India and Arabia. The Japanese, of course wanted this rice for themselves, so that was a second reason for taking Burma. In addition to rice exports, Burma produced raw rubber and other commodities which were useful to the Japanese.

Finally, Burma acted a defensive buffer between potential attack from the British in India and shielded Japan's ally (and supplier of rubber and rice) Thailand, as well as Malaysia and Singapore. Burma was an extremely difficult country in which to wage offensive war. There were very few roads or railways, and all the major rivers run north and south making east-west military operations problematical. Logistics was also very difficult in Burma; this was one reason why the Japanese built the infamous Death Railway between Bangkok and Rangoon.


If they really wanted to invade Burma and India, why not increase their chances of winning by throwing in what armored divisions they had? I'm pretty sure that the Chinese didn't have any major armored formations during Japanese occupation, so why keep them in a location where they couldn't do anything?

The Japanese did have armor formations in China, mostly brigades. There was no need for them in Burma since the Japanese beat the British quite handily without armor.


If, theoretically, Japan had successfully incaded India, what would they have done with it? The Indians were more numerous than the Japanese, so wouldn't that have created another China? Getting resources from India to Japan wouldn't have been easy either, what with raids from Ceylon or the Maldives.

It's difficult to say what Japan would have done with India besides incorporating it into it's Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere (GEACPS) and attempting to exploit the country, much as the British did. Certainly just denying the British access to Indian goods, foodstuffs, clothe, jute, small arms and ammunition manufacture would have been a significant blow to the Allies.

As for Indians opposing the Japanese as the Chinese did, they probably wouldn't have, at least in the beginning. Britain was obliged to keep more troops in India controlling the people of India than it had fighting the Japanese. Indians wanted their freedom from the British Empire and there were several insurrections in India during the war. In addition, the British government, 1943, caused a full scale famine in Bengal in which as many as three million Indians perished. So despite the propaganda, there was no love lost between the Brit6s and the Indians. British policies in war-time India were also a major source of contention between the US and Britain


I don't really see the point of the attack on Burma in the first place, unless they thought they could waltz through it like they did with Malaysia. I can see that they took the offensive on England before England could take the offense to them, but other than that, what reasons were there?

See above; India and Burma were major trouble spots in the British Empire due to British exploitation of these two countries prior to, and during the war. Japan hoped to deny Britain the raw materials, manufactured goods and man-power produced by those countries. Japan was successful in this endeavor in Burma but much less so in the case of India.

Rising Sun*
12-25-2010, 09:28 AM
Churchill,

There's a fairly concise but still comprehensive description of the Burma campaigns here: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-C-Burma45/index.html

Churchill
12-27-2010, 02:20 AM
Certainly just denying the British access to Indian goods, foodstuffs, clothe, jute, small arms and ammunition manufacture would have been a significant blow to the Allies.

Did the Indians really produce that much towards the war effort? The conflicts between the British and the Indians, at least to me, would have lowered the chances of a successful industrial and supply base for Britain.

Also, thanks RS, that was informative.

Wizard
12-27-2010, 08:49 PM
Did the Indians really produce that much towards the war effort? The conflicts between the British and the Indians, at least to me, would have lowered the chances of a successful industrial and supply base for Britain.

Also, thanks RS, that was informative.

Actually, the answer is yes, India produce massive amounts of foodstuffs and other commodities for the UK. Besides food and textiles, India also manufactured large amounts of ammunition and small arms for Britain, and fielded more than 2.000.000 troops under British command which were clothed, fed, and largely armed by India.

In her book, "Churchill's Secret War", Madhusree Mukerjee, on page 104, quotes an entry in Leopold Amery's diary for September 16, 1942, "Winston Burbled away endlessly, the general theme being that it was monstrous to expect that we should not only defend India and then have to clear out but be left to pay hundreds of millions [pounds Stirling] for the privilege. The Secretary of State for India strove to explain that the debt had little to do with the defense of the colony, but arose from it's contribution in manpower and materials to the war in the Middle East and North Africa."

Eight days later, Amery wrote in his diary, "It is an awful thing dealing with a man like Winston who is at the same moment dictatorial, eloquent, and muddleheaded. I am not sure that I ever got into his mind that India pays for the whole of her defence including the British forces in India, or that there is no possible way of reducing those accumulating balances except by stopping to buy Indian goods or employing Indian soldiers outside India."

Though Churchill continued to worry about Britain's accumulating debt to India, the materials sent to the UK from India continued to flow, until, at war's end, India was a major creditor of Britain, reversing the traditional situation.

Churchill
12-27-2010, 11:31 PM
Ah...

But if India fielded so many troops, where were they stationed? As garrison troops in India, the Middle East and other such locations? If a few more had been sent to North Africa, I'd think that the Commonwealth forces could've won that much easier due to overwelming manpower... Though Rommel's defensinve strategies were top notch, so I guess that it would have had less of an impact than I think it should have.

Wizard
12-28-2010, 01:58 AM
Ah...

But if India fielded so many troops, where were they stationed? As garrison troops in India, the Middle East and other such locations? If a few more had been sent to North Africa, I'd think that the Commonwealth forces could've won that much easier due to overwelming manpower... Though Rommel's defensinve strategies were top notch, so I guess that it would have had less of an impact than I think it should have.

I'm not sure I understand your point.

India fielded over 2,000,000 troops under BRITISH COMMAND. They were stationed wherever the British war cabinet directed them to be stationed. That included India, Burma, Malaysia, Iraq, Iran, Arabia, North Africa and other British controlled regions around the world.India suffered more casualties than any other Commonwealth country during WW II.

There were at least three Indian divisions involved in the fighting against Rommel's forces in North Africa. In addition, Indian troops defeated the Italians in Somalia and several Indian divisions participated in the fighting Italy and the Middle East. The Indian troops were hardly all relegated to "garrison duty", and numerous Vitoria Crosses were awarded to Indians in WW II.

See; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India_in_World_War_II

If the Indian troops lacked impact (which is a highly questionable conclusion), it was because of the incompetence of the British War Office and War Cabinet in using them effectively. It's probably just a matter of Indian troops being slighted because they were "colonials".

Nickdfresh
12-28-2010, 08:03 AM
Not just Indian soldiers were thought of as second-rate 'colonials.' I think some think that even British Anglo officers who served in the Indian Army, such as Gen. Auchinleck, were considered unfit for command of the British Army. While he was by no means a great commander, I think some of his successes are often muted in favor of Monty--in no small part because he was perceived as an 'Indian General' first, and a British Officer second...

Wizard
12-28-2010, 12:32 PM
Not just Indian soldiers were thought of as second-rate 'colonials.' I think some think that even British Anglo officers who served in the Indian Army, such as Gen. Auchinleck, were considered unfit for command of the British Army. While he was by no means a great commander, I think some of his successes are often muted in favor of Monty--in no small part because he was perceived as an 'Indian General' first, and a British Officer second...

That could very well be. The very poor showing of half trained Indian troops, and their British officers in Malaysia and Burma certainly didn't help. On the other hand, there were bright spots, like the Gurkha Rifles, who even though from Nepal, were part of the Indian Army.

My brother-in-law is a retired British Army Colonel, but I have never had an opportunity to discuss such issues with him. He has mentioned that the "taint" of having commanded Indian troops soured the careers of more than one of his colleagues.

Churchill
12-31-2010, 01:58 AM
Its a shame that Colonial troops were seen as lesser soldiers when that wasn't the case. I guess that's just how Imperial Britain worked though...