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First Burma Campaign (Hardback)

The First Ever Account of the Japanese Conquest of 1942

WWII Frontline Books Japan & the Pacific Front Frontline: WWII Military

By Col E C V Foucar
Frontline Books
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781526783219
Published: 30th August 2020

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Shortly after the British and Indian forces had withdrawn from Burma in the face of the Japanese onslaught in 1942, Colonel E.C.V. Foucar MC was instructed to undertake a ‘special duty’, namely seek out documentary material and information from the various officers involved in the First Burma Campaign. The final element of Foucar’s task was to write an account of the fighting, based on these many eyewitness accounts, for the Director of Military Training.

This fascinating narrative sets out the challenging geographical, climatic and political conditions the British were faced with in Burma as war became an increasing possibility throughout 1940 and 1941, before turning its attention to the dramatic events when the Japanese launched their ground assault on the country in January 1942.

There followed the ‘Disaster’ at Sittang Bridge, the fateful evacuation of Rangoon, and the march to the River Irrawaddy in an attempt to try and secure the north of Burma and its oilfields. But the loss of Rangoon meant the army was cut off from its supply base and the troops faced starving to death. With the Japanese closing in on the beleaguered British force, the decision was taken to abandon Burma and try to reach India. ‘The odds were we might escape either the Japanese, the failure of our supplies, or the monsoon, but our chances of avoiding all three were slender,’ declared General Alexander. His commander, General Wavell, wrote that, ‘operations were now a race with the weather as with the Japanese and as much a fight against nature as against the enemy’.

Along nothing more than rough country tracks up rugged hills and across rickety bridges constructed only of brushwood or bamboo the ragged, disease-ridden troops battled to reach India just as the monsoons broke. This, one of the most dramatic tales of the Second World War, was first described in detail by Colonel Foucar just after the events described and is now available for all to read.

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About Col E C V Foucar

Born in 1894, during the First World War EMILE CHARLES VICTOR FOUCAR was serving in the London Regiment as a Second Lieutenant when he was awarded the Military Cross, this being announced in The London Gazette on 26 September 1917. After the war, Foucar returned to Burma where he as a lawyer based in Rangoon; he was the fourth generation of his family living in the country. Rejoining the Army in the Second World War, by 1942 had risen to the rank of Colonel. In October that year, he was appointed to a General Staff post for the purpose of assembling the records and writing a narrative of the First Burma Campaign.

Perfect Partner

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Winston Churchill was under pressure. The Soviets felt that they were fighting the Germans by themselves. Stalin demanded that Britain should open a second front to draw German forces away from the east. Though the advice Churchill received from his staff was that an invasion of France would not be possible for at least another year, the British Prime Minister knew he had to do something to help the Russians. The result was a large-scale raid upon the port of Dieppe. It would not be the second front that Stalin wanted, but at least it would demonstrate Britain’s intent to support the Soviets…

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