|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
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.
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forces were withdrawn north into Central Burma linking up on with a powerful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.
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
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.
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.
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
29th April, the
Japanese captured Hsipau cutting the railway to
Mandalay, another vital Allied link.
May, Kalewan, west of Mandalay and within striking distance of Imphal in Assam,
months, the Japanese had effectively driven out the British from Burma and were
poised on the border with India.