asiaticus wrote:Thanks for the info on the Japanese moves on Pyinmana and Loikaw. I was wondering how that worked. Got to get that book.
Finally found a copy of Burma 1942 : The Japanese Invasion
By Ian Grant in a local library. It had about two pages on the Japanese advance in the Shan States. It did have a color(!) map on that part of the campaign.
In general it is a fairly objective book, and its subtitle "Both sides tell the Story of a Savage Jungle War" summarizes its main strength; it has a Japanese second author and makes extensive use of Japanese sources. The same subtitle also reveals its limitations, as the Chinese side of the story is not really considered and the standard sources in English are used. For instance on p. 347 it was stated that "the figures for Chinese losses are not available and it is doubtful whether any such records were kept". Well, Chinese casualties estimates are widely available in Chinese works. For instance, one tabulation for the losses of the 5th Corps alone is as follows:
Forces directly attached to the 5th Corps 150000 1300 3700 10000
200th D 9000 1800 3200 4000
New 22nd D 9000 2000 4000 3000
96th D 9000 2200 3800 3000
Total 42000 7300 14700 20000
The first number is the initial strength, the second number is the number of combat casualties, the third number is the losses incurred during the retreat (mostly not due to enemy action), and the fourth number those who made it back. Note this is for the 5th Corps only, and the number already exceeds that of the total official British casualty figures in the campaign. The Chinese had paid dearly for their effort in Burma, and the 5th Corps was one of their best.
I am no expert of the Burma campaign, yet as I compare the viewpoints of the different sides the discrepancy is readily apparent.
For instance Stilwell's decsion to send the 200th D to Kyaupadaung was termed a 'bold' decision in this book; but to the Chinese it was a grave mistake as it showed that Stillwell (and Alexander) did not realize the impending disaster on the Chinese left flank. The 6th Corps defending the Shan states was not even close to the 5th Corps in terms of quality, and moving the 200th D to the wrong place is to me hardly the right move. Of course, the Chinese committed enough blunders themselves -- one of the most important one is the failure to blow up the bridge over the Sittang mentioned in many Western accounts (but not in the Chinese accounts). But dismissing the Chinese effort entirely (often with contempt) is not always fair.
To Grant's credit he included on p. 328 of Burma: 1942 the report "Lessons Learnt from the Burma Operation" published by the HQ 15th (Japanese) Army. The Japanese did not seem to such lopsided views of the Chinese:
"The British forces were superior in weapons, tanks, artillery and vehichles but their fighting spirit was inferior. They did not carry out aggressive actions and were lazy in digging trenches and positions. They were excellent at concentrating artillery, mortar and machine gun fire on the front line but were not good at jungle fighting. Commanders did not control their units well and coordination between units were poor. However they were persistent, and British officers believed in the superiority of the British Empire and were convinced of the final victory of Britain.
The Chinese forces in Burma showed remarkable fighting strength in the early stages, notably at Toungoo and Pyinmana which were comparable to the battles at Shanghai. Cooperation between the Chinese and British was loose"