Asia 1939-1945: Burma

What should we remember about the 'Forgotten Army'?

In May 1945 Nazi Germany surrendered and the war in Europe was over. However, conflict was still raging in the Far East. Today, many veterans who survived that conflict feel that the campaigns in Europe are remembered and they are the forgotten forces. What can we do to put this right?


Your task

Your task is to put together a presentation with the title - Burma: The Forgotten Forces? Insert a new slide if there is not enough room to say what you have found out. Use or adapt the following plan for your presentation:

  • Slide 1: Title: Burma: The Forgotten Forces?
  • Slide 2: Background
    For more on the Burma Campaign see this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwtwo/burma_campaign_01.shtml
  • Slide 3: Who fought on the Allied side?
    Which national forces were involved in the conflict?
  • Slide 4: What did the men and women's services do?
    What were the roles of the various services?
  • Slide 5: What conditions did they face?
    What dangers and difficulties did they have to deal with?
  • Slide 6: Were the Burma forces forgotten at the time?
    What was the attitude of the Allied governments to this conflict?
  • Slide 7: Why do some veterans feel forgotten now?
    What do some witnesses feel about this?
  • Conclusion: Why it is important to remember the Burma campaign and the people who served in it?

Use this Power Point template for your presentation


British and Indian members of the Women's Auxiliary Service (Burma) and the nursing service shown supervising the unloading of stores, 1945.

Catalogue ref: AIR 23/3598

Women on the Burma front; AIR 23/3598

What is this source?

This source is a part of a collection of official press photographs taken by army photographers. Many such photographs were taken and released to the public to support the role of the armed forces.

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The official caption of the photograph describes the women as "helping to win the war on the Burma Front".


What’s the background to this source?

WW2 broke out in Europe in 1939. In the Far East war broke out on December 7th 1941 when Japanese forces destroyed the US fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The Japanese quickly followed up this victory with attacks on British held possessions in Malaya, Singapore and Burma. There were real fears that the Japanese would reach India. However, troops from Britain and many parts of the Empire fought a hard campaign to stop the Japanese advance by May 1942. It was not until late 1943 and early 1944 that the Allied forces began to drive the Japanese back. Rangoon, capital of Burma, was finally taken in May 1945.

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Burma was a key territory for the Japanese because the Allies used road networks through Burma to supply the Chinese forces fighting Japan. The fighting conditions in this campaign were some of the toughest in any campaign of the war.


It's worth knowing that..

The main British force in the Burma campaign was the Fourteenth Army commanded by General Slim. The Fourteenth Army was a truly multinational force made up of British, Indian (including Ghurkas), West African, Australian and New Zealand troops. British and Indian members of the Women's Auxiliary Service and the nursing service also served alongside this army as shown in this photograph.

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The largest group in the Fourteenth Army were the Indian troops. There were also British and USA air forces in the Burma campaign.


How will you use this source?

  1. What can you see in the photograph?
  2. Why do you think this photograph was taken?
  3. Is there any evidence in this source that the forces serving in Burma felt forgotten?
  4. What points from this source will you use in your presentation?

Use this Power Point template for your presentation

Now open the source box