The Japanese did not renew their offensive after the monsoon ended. In practice, both government and army were strictly controlled by the Japanese authorities. On the Allied side, operations in Burma over the remainder of and in were a study of military frustration. Britain could only maintain three active campaigns, and immediate offensives in both the Middle East and Far East proved impossible through lack of resources.
The Middle East was accorded priority, being closer to home and in accordance with the "Germany First" policy in London and Washington. The Allied build up was also hampered by the disordered state of Eastern India at the time. There were violent "Quit India" protests in Bengal and Bihar ,  which required large numbers of British troops to suppress.
There was also a disastrous famine in Bengal , which may have led to 3 million deaths through starvation, disease and exposure. In such conditions of chaos, it was difficult to improve the inadequate lines of communication to the front line in Assam or make use of local industries for the war effort. Efforts to improve the training of Allied troops took time and in forward areas poor morale and endemic disease combined to reduce the strength and effectiveness of the fighting units.
Nevertheless, the Allies mounted two operations during the — dry season. The first was a small offensive into the coastal Arakan Province of Burma. A division advanced to Donbaik, only a few miles from the end of the peninsula but was halted by a small but well entrenched Japanese force. At this stage of the war, the Allies lacked the means and tactical ability to overcome strongly constructed Japanese bunkers.
Repeated British and Indian attacks failed with heavy casualties. The exhausted British were unable to hold any defensive lines and were forced to abandon much equipment and fall back almost to the Indian frontier. The second action was controversial.
Under the command of Brigadier Orde Wingate , a long-range penetration unit known as the Chindits infiltrated through the Japanese front lines and marched deep into Burma, with the initial aim of cutting the main north-south railway in Burma in an operation codenamed Operation Longcloth. Some 3, men entered Burma in many columns.
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They damaged communications of the Japanese in northern Burma, cutting the railway for possibly two weeks but they suffered heavy casualties. From December to November the strategic balance of the Burma campaign shifted decisively. Improvements in Allied leadership, training and logistics, together with greater firepower and growing Allied air superiority, gave Allied forces a confidence they had previously lacked.
In the Arakan, XV Indian Corps withstood, and then broke, a Japanese counterstrike, while the Japanese invasion of India resulted in unbearably heavy losses and the ejection of the Japanese back beyond the Chindwin River. The training, equipment, health and morale of Allied troops under British Fourteenth Army under Lieutenant General William Slim was improving, as was the capacity of the lines of communication in North-eastern India.
An innovation was the extensive use of aircraft to transport and supply troops. SEAC had to accommodate several rival plans, many of which had to be dropped for lack of resources. Amphibious landings on the Andaman Islands Operation "Pigstick" and in Arakan were abandoned when the landing craft assigned were recalled to Europe in preparation for the Normandy Landings.
Orde Wingate had controversially gained approval for a greatly expanded Chindit force, which was given the task of assisting Stilwell by disrupting the Japanese lines of supply to the northern front. Chiang Kai-shek had also agreed reluctantly to mount an offensive from the Yunnan. Under British Fourteenth Army, the Indian XV Corps prepared to renew the advance in Arakan province, while IV Corps launched a tentative advance from Imphal in the centre of the long front to distract Japanese attention from the other offensives.
When the staff at Southern Expeditionary Army were persuaded that the plan was inherently risky, they in turn found that Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo was in favour of Mutaguchi's plan. This was composed largely of Indian soldiers who had been captured in Malaya or Singapore, and Indians Tamils living in Malaya.
Both Bose and Mutaguchi emphasised the advantages which would be gained by a successful attack into India. With misgivings on the part of several of Mutaguchi's superiors and subordinates, Operation U-Go was launched. Stilwell's forces designated X Force initially consisted of two American-equipped Chinese divisions with a Chinese-manned M3 Light Tank battalion and an American long-range penetration brigade known as " Merrill's Marauders ". In the Thai Phayap Army invasion headed to Xishuangbanna at China, but were driven back by the Chinese nationalist force.
The Japanese 18th Division was repeatedly outflanked by the Marauders and threatened with encirclement. In Operation Thursday , the Chindits were to support Stilwell by interdicting Japanese communications in the region of Indaw. A brigade began marching across the Patkai mountains on 5 February Soon some twelve Chinese divisions of , men,  under General Wei Lihuang , were attacking the Japanese 56th Division. The Japanese forces in the North were now fighting on two fronts in northern Burma. On 17 May, control of the Chindits passed from Slim to Stilwell.
The Chindits now moved from the Japanese rear areas to new bases closer to Stilwell's front, and were given additional tasks by Stilwell for which they were not equipped. They achieved several objectives, but at the cost of heavy casualties. By the end of June, they had linked up with Stilwell's forces but were exhausted, and were withdrawn to India. The capture of Myitkyina airfield nevertheless immediately helped secure the air link from India to Chongqing over the Hump.
By the end of May, the Yunnan offensive, though hampered by the monsoon rains and lack of air support, succeeded in annihilating the garrison of Tengchong and eventually reached as far as Longling. Strong Japanese reinforcements then counterattacked and halted the Chinese advance. Ranges of steep hills channelled the advance into three attacks each by an Indian or West African division. The Corps then prepared to capture two railway tunnels linking Maungdaw with the Kalapanzin valley but the Japanese struck first.
A strong force from the Japanese 55th Division infiltrated Allied lines to attack the 7th Indian Infantry Division from the rear, overrunning the divisional HQ. Unlike previous occasions on which this had happened, the Allied forces stood firm against the attack and supplies were dropped to them by parachute. In the Battle of the Admin Box from 5 to 23 February, the Japanese concentrated on XV Corps' Administrative Area, defended mainly by line of communication troops but they were unable to deal with tanks supporting the defenders, while troops from 5th Indian Division broke through the Ngakyedauk Pass to relieve the defenders of the box.
Although battle casualties were approximately equal, the result was a heavy Japanese defeat. Their infiltration and encirclement tactics had failed to panic Allied troops and as the Japanese were unable to capture enemy supplies, they starved. After capturing the railway tunnels, XV Corps halted during the monsoon. One division was in reserve at Imphal. There were indications that a major Japanese offensive was building.
Slim and Scoones planned to withdraw and force the Japanese to fight with their logistics stretched beyond the limit. However, they misjudged the date on which the Japanese were to attack, and the strength they would use against some objectives. The Japanese Fifteenth Army consisted of three infantry divisions and a brigade-sized detachment "Yamamoto Force" , and initially a regiment from the Indian National Army.
Mutaguchi, the Army commander, planned to cut off and destroy the forward divisions of IV Corps before capturing Imphal , while the Japanese 31st Division isolated Imphal by capturing Kohima. Mutaguchi intended to exploit the capture of Imphal by capturing the strategic city of Dimapur , in the Brahmaputra River valley. If this could be achieved, the lines of communication to General Stilwell's forces and the airbases used to supply the Chinese over the Hump would be cut.
The Japanese troops crossed the Chindwin River on 8 March. Scoones and Slim were slow to order their forward troops to withdraw and the 17th Indian Infantry Division was cut off at Tiddim. It fought its way back to Imphal with aid from Scoones's reserve division, supplied by parachute drops.
Imphal was thus left vulnerable to an attack by the Japanese 15th Division from the north but because the diversionary attack launched by Japanese in Arakan had already been defeated, Slim was able to move the 5th Indian Division by air to the Central Front. Two brigades went to Imphal, the other went to Dimapur from where it sent a detachment to Kohima. The Japanese launched several offensives during the month, which were repulsed. Progress was slow, as movement was made difficult by monsoon rains and IV Corps was short of supplies.
Instead of isolating the small British garrison there and pressing on with his main force to Dimapur, Sato chose to capture the hill station. The siege lasted from 5 to 18 April, when the exhausted defenders were relieved. By now, the Japanese were at the end of their endurance. Their troops particularly 15th and 31st Divisions were starving, and during the monsoon, disease rapidly spread among them.
Lieutenant-General Sato had notified Mutaguchi that his division would withdraw from Kohima at the end of May if it were not supplied. In spite of orders to hold on, Sato did indeed retreat.
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Mutaguchi and Kawabe continued to order renewed attacks. The Imphal operation was finally broken off early in July, and the Japanese retreated painfully to the Chindwin River. It was the greatest defeat to that date in Japanese history. They had suffered 50—60, dead,  and , or more casualties  Most of these losses were the result of disease, malnutrition and exhaustion.
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The Allies suffered 12, casualties, including 2, killed. By the end of November, Kalewa had been recaptured, and several bridgeheads were established on the east bank of the Chindwin. The Allies launched a series of offensive operations into Burma during late and the first half of The command on the front was rearranged in November Although the Allies were still attempting to complete the Ledo Road , it was apparent that it would not materially affect the course of the war in China.
The Japanese also made major changes in their command. Kimura threw Allied plans into confusion by refusing to fight at the Chindwin River. Recognising that most of his formations were weak and short of equipment, he withdrew his forces behind the Irrawaddy River , forcing the Allies to greatly extend their lines of communication. This time the Japanese were far weaker, and retreated before the steady Allied advance. They evacuated Akyab Island on 31 December Landing craft had now reached the theatre, and XV Corps launched amphibious attacks on the Myebon peninsula on 12 January and at Kangaw ten days later during the Battle of Hill to cut off the retreating Japanese.
There was severe fighting until the end of the month, in which the Japanese suffered heavy casualties. Most of the Japanese garrison died during the Battle of Ramree Island. XV Corps operations on the mainland were curtailed to release transport aircraft to support Fourteenth Army. NCAC resumed its advance late in , although it was progressively weakened by the flyout of Chinese troops to the main front in China.
Five days later, Chinese troops on the command's left flank captured the city of Bhamo. NCAC made contact with Chiang's Yunnan armies on 21 January , and the Ledo road could finally be completed, although by this point in the war its value was uncertain. This was a blow to British plans as it endangered the prospects of reaching Yangon before the onset of the monsoon, expected at the beginning of May.
Although the Japanese retreat over the Irrawaddy forced the Allies to completely change their plans, such was the Allies' material superiority that this was done. There was heavy fighting, which attracted Japanese reserves and fixed their attention. In the open terrain of Central Burma, this force outmanoeuvred the Japanese and fell on Meiktila on 1 March.
The town was captured in four days, despite resistance to the last man. The Japanese tried first to relieve the garrison at Meiktila and then to recapture the town and destroy its defenders. Their attacks were not properly coordinated and were repulsed. By the end of March the Japanese had suffered heavy casualties and lost most of their artillery, their chief anti-tank weapon. They broke off the attack and retreated to Pyawbwe. It fell to 19th Indian Division on 20 March, though the Japanese held the former citadel which the British called Fort Dufferin for another week.
Much of the historically and culturally significant portions of Mandalay were burned to the ground. Though the Allied force had advanced successfully into central Burma, it was vital to capture the port of Rangoon before the monsoon to avoid a logistics crisis. In the spring of , the other factor in the race for Rangoon was the years of preparation by the liaison organisation, Force , which resulted in a national uprising within Burma and the defection of the entire Burma National Army to the allied side.
In addition to the allied advance, the Japanese now faced open rebellion behind their lines. They began by striking at a Japanese delaying position held by the remnants of the Japanese Thirty-Third Army at Pyawbwe. The attackers were initially halted by a strong defensive position behind a dry waterway, but a flanking move by tanks and mechanised infantry struck the Japanese from the rear and shattered them. From this point, the advance down the main road to Rangoon faced little organised opposition. An uprising by Karen guerillas prevented troops from the reorganised Japanese Fifteenth Army from reaching the major road centre of Taungoo before IV Corps captured it.
This scratch formation held up the British advance until 30 April and covered the evacuation of the Rangoon area. The original conception of the plan to re-take Burma had envisaged XV Corps making an amphibious assault on Rangoon well before Fourteenth Army reached the capital, in order to ease supply problems. This operation, codenamed Operation Dracula, was postponed several times as the necessary landing craft were retained in Europe and finally dropped in favour of an attack on Phuket Island , off the west coast of Thailand.
Slim feared that the Japanese would defend Rangoon to the last man through the monsoon, which would put Fourteenth Army in a disastrous supply situation.
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He therefore asked for Operation Dracula to be re-mounted at short notice. On 1 May, a Gurkha parachute battalion was dropped on Elephant Point, and cleared Japanese rearguards from the mouth of the Yangon River. Sorry, but we can't respond to individual comments. Recent searches Clear All. Update Location. If you want NextDay, we can save the other items for later. Yes—Save my other items for later.
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