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Authors: Tim Harper,Christopher Bayly

Forgotten Wars

BOOK: Forgotten Wars
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Forgotten Wars




Forgotten Armies: Britain’s Asian empire and the war with Japan


Forgotten Wars

The End of Britain’s Asian Empire


an imprint of





Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2y3
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
(a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Mairangi Bay, Auckland 1310, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published 2007

Copyright © Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper, 2007

The moral right of the authors has been asserted

All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright
reserved above, no part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system,
or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior
written permission of both the copyright owner and
the above publisher of this book

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-0-14-190980-6


List of Illustrations


Some Key Characters


Prologue: An Unending War

1. 1945: Interregnum

The New Asia

The last journey of Subhas Chandra Bose

Nations without states

Three weeks in Malaya

The fall of Syonan

2. 1945: The Pains of Victory

Burma intransigent

India: the key

Bengal on the brink

The reckoning

3. 1945: A Second Colonial Conquest

‘Black Market Administration’

A world upside down

Liberal imperialism and New Democracy

‘Malaya for the Malays, not the Malayans’

4. 1945: The First Wars of Peace

The crescent regained

Britain’s forgotten war in Vietnam

Britain and the birth of Indonesia

Freedom or death in Surabaya

5. 1946: Freedom without Borders

The passing of the Malayan Spring

Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat

British and Indian mutinies

Dorman-Smith’s Waterloo

A new world order?

6. 1946: One Empire Unravels, Another Is Born

The killing begins

Britain’s terminal crisis in Burma

The burial of the dead

Business as usual in Malaya

7. 1947: At Freedom’s Gate

The last days of the Raj

The crescent fragments: Bengal divided

Tragedy in Rangoon

Disaster approaches

8. 1947: Malaya on the Brink

The crescent fragments: orphans of empire

Malaya’s forgotten regiments

The strange disappearance of Mr Wright

‘Beware, the danger from the mountain’

A people’s constitution

9. 1948: A Bloody Dawn

Boys’ Day in Burma

The genesis of communist rebellion

A summer of anarchy

Karens and Britons

India recedes, India reborn

10. 1948: The Malayan Revolution

A third world war?

The frontier erupts

Calls to arms

Sten guns and

The road to Batang Kali

11. 1949: The Centre Barely Holds

Britain, India and the coming of the Cold War

The centre barely holds

The battle for the

Freedom and revolution

The generation of 1950

Epilogue: The End of Britain’s Asian Empire

Freedom, slowly and gently

Freedom from fear?

Flawed memories

A flawed inheritance




List of Illustrations

1. Surrendered Japanese troops in Burma, August 1945 (Imperial War Museum)

2. Japanese troops clearing the Singapore Padang before the surrender ceremony, 12 September 1945 (Imperial War Museum)

3. Lt General Seishiro Itagaki signing the surrender, Singapore, 12 September 1945 (Empics)

4. Mountbatten announces the surrender of the Japanese in Singapore, September, 1945 (Corbis)

5. A forgotten army: surrendered Japanese in north Malaya, November 1945 (Empics)

6. Seagrave’s return, 1945 (Getty)

7. Leclerc and Gracey with Japanese sword of surrender, Saigon, 1945 (Corbis)

8. Soldiers of the Parachute Regiment, Java, 1945 (Imperial War Museum)

9. Bengal sappers and miners watch the reprisal burning of the village of Bekassi, Java, 1945 (Imperial War Museum)

10. Imperialism’s return? Christison in Java, 1946 (Getty)

11. Sukarno addresses an ‘ocean’ rally, Java, 1946 (Getty)

12. Charisma and revolution: Sukarno, Java, 1946 (Getty)

13. Nehru’s arrival at Kalling Airport, Singapore, April 1946 (Imperial War Museum)

14. Macdonald inspects the Malay Regiment, Kuala Lumpur, 1946 (Imperial War Museum)

15. Dorman Smith leaves Burma, June 1946 (Imperial War Museum)

16. Muslim rioters and the corpse of a Hindu, Calcutta, August 1946 (Corbis)

17. India’s interim government at their swearing in, Delhi 1946 (Corbis)

18. Aung San and Attlee, London, January 1947 (Getty)

19. Aung San and family, 1947 (Popperfoto)

20. The Mountbattens in Delhi, eve of independence, August 1947 (Getty)

21. Celebrating independence in Calcutta, August 1947 (Getty)

22. Ending the Burmese days: Rance and Burma’s president, January 1948 (Corbis)

23. Communist suspect, Malaya
. 1949 (Imperial War Museum)

24. Bren gun and stengah: rubber planter in Malaya, 1949 (Getty)

25. Chinese peasants being arrested by Malay policemen, April 1949 (Getty)

26. Dyak trackers in Malaya,
. 1949 (Imperial War Museum)

27. The sultan expects: the ruler of Selangor inspects Malay special constables on rubber estate, 1949 (Imperial War Museum)

28. Hearts and minds: a propaganda leaflet drop, 1948 (Imperial War Musuem)

29. Imperial Twilight: Drinks party at Malcolm MacDonald’s residence, Bukit Serene, 1949 (Getty)

30. Fighting during the Karen insurgency, 1949 (Getty)

31. The quiet man: Ne Win in London for military training, 1949 (Corbis)

32. The man with the plan: Templer with the Home Guard, Kinta, 1942 (Getty)

33. Bandung spirits: Nasser, Nu and Nehru celebrating the Burmese Water Festival, 1955 (Corbis)

34. Chin Peng at Baling, December 1955, with his old Force 136 ally, John Davis (Corbis)

Some Key Characters

Abdul Razak bin Hussein
(b. 1922). Malay politician. Served in the war as a district officer; studied law in London, where he became a close associate and political ally of Tunku Abdul Rahman. Succeeded him to become second prime minister of Malaysia, 1970–76.

Amery, Rt Hon. Leopold, MP
(b. 1873). Conservative politician. Secretary of state for India and Burma, 1940–45.

Attlee, Rt Hon. Clement Richard
(b. 1883). Labour politician. Deputy prime minister, 1942–5; prime minister, July 1945–1952; defence minister to 1946.

Auchinleck, General Claude
(b. 1884). Commander North African Front, 1940–42, Commander-in-Chief, India, 1943–7; co-ordinated India base for the Burma campaign.

Aung San, Thakin
‘Bogyoke’ (General)
(b. 1916). Leading Burmese revolutionary. Commander of Burma Independence Army, 1942; defence minister under Ba Maw, 1943–5. President of Anti-Fascist People’s Front Freedom League; member of Governor’s Executive Council 1946–7. Assassinated July 1947.

Ba Maw
(b. 1893). Lawyer, politician and prime minister of Burma, 1937–9. Emerged as main collaborator with Japanese in 1942 and became ‘Adipadi’ (first man) of independent Burma in 1943. Fled to Tokyo; imprisoned by Allies 1945; returned to Burma in 1946; interned following 1947 assassinations.

Boestamam, Ahmad
(b. 1920). Born Abdullah Sani bin Raja Kechil. Malay novelist, journalist and politician. Founder and leader of
Angkatan Pemuda Insaf, 1946–8. Detained 1948–55. Founder Partai Rakyat and leader of Socialist Front in parliament after 1959. Detained again during ‘Confrontation’ with Indonesia.

Bose, Subhas Chandra
(b. 1897). Bengali politician and radical leader within Forward Bloc of Congress. Arrested by British 1940, fled to Berlin 1941. Took over leadership of Indian National Army and Free India government 1943. Retreated from Imphal with Japanese in 1944. Presumed dead in plane crash, August 1945.

Burhanuddin al-Helmy, Dr
(b. 1911). Leader of Malay Nationalist Party, 1945–7. Detained after Nadrah riots and on release became leader of Parti Islam Se-Malaya. Detained again during ‘Confrontation’ with Indonesia.

Chiang Kai Shek
(b. 1887). Chinese nationalist leader and ‘generalissimo’ of Chinese armies fighting Japan since 1936; drawn into fighting in Burma during 1942 to keep the ‘Burma Road’ open. Pressed for Allied campaign against Burma, 1943–4. Fought and lost civil war with Mao Zedong, 1946–9.

BOOK: Forgotten Wars
11.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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