FEPOW Memorial Church



Philippines & Hawaii Malaya Java & Sumatra Burma Strategic Imperatives

1st January 1942 Japanese forces attacked Changsha, capital of the Chinese province of Hunan. This was an important strategic objective for the Japanese to facilitate the push into Burma and Malaya. Chinese forces repulsed the attack inflicting very heavy casualties.

20th January Japanese and Thai troops crossed the Burmese frontier forcing British troops back to Moulmein. Despite strong Japanese air support, RAF and American Volunteer Group Fighters inflicted heavy aircraft losses.

30th January Japanese forces in Burma occupied Moulmein forcing a British withdrawal to the west bank of the Salween River. Several incursions on different fronts led to the fall of Pegu, 40 miles north of Rangoon, despite close support from RAF, Indian and American Volunteer Group aircraft (later to be known as the Flying Tigers).

22nd February the Rangoon-Mandalay railway was cut, together with the road to China.

Rangoon was evacuated on 7th March and occupied by Japanese forces on 8th March. Before evacuating Rangoon, British Forces destroyed anything of potential value to the Japanese.

12th March after the fall of Rangoon, British forces were withdrawn north into Central Burma linking up on with a powerful Chinese force which had marched 800 miles from Yunnan.

19th March the Japanese pushed north to Toungoo on the Sittang, obliging the British to evacuate Tharawaddy on the Rangoon-Prome railway on 20th March.

At Pyu, 35 miles South of Toungoo, the Japanese encountered strong Chinese resistance but by outflanking the Chinese, they cut the Toungoo-Mandalay road, occupying Kyungon on 25th March. The Chinese held Toungoo until 31st March.

After evacuating Toungoo, the Chinese regrouped north of the town and launched a counterattack, recapturing Kyungon on 2nd April, which had been occupied by the Japanese on 25th March.

On the Irrawaddy front, the Japanese overran British positions South of Prome, occupying the town on 2nd April. This lay only 120 miles from the Yenang Yaung oilfields, the largest in Burma and a major Japanese objective.

3rd April Mandalay was heavily bombed by the Japanese.

13th April After the fall of Prome and Thatetmyo the Japanese reached Migyaungwe only 40 miles from Yenang Yaung.

6th May The oilfields were destroyed by retreating British forces. Chinese forces were forced to withdraw from Toungoo to Myohla.


19th April Japanese forces moved north towards Lashio on the Western end of the Burma Road, a vital link for Chinese war supplies. Despite sustained Chinese resistance, Lashio fell on 29th April.

Also on 29th April, the Japanese captured Hsipau cutting the railway to Mandalay, another vital Allied link.

By 14th May, Kalewan, west of Mandalay and within striking distance of Imphal in Assam, was taken.

In two months, the Japanese had effectively driven out the British from Burma and were poised on the border with India.                                Top