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Orders of Battle


Bookstore - UK

Modern Burma

British & Commonwealth Orders of Battle Website


These pages contain order of battle information for the Burma Campaign, 1941-1945, historical details and other items of interest.


The Current Situation In Burma

To help understand the background to the conflicts within present day Burma, you may find these sources of interest - please click here - Modern Burma Since 1946.



What's New    updated 12 October 2017

Messages Home: Lost Films of the British Army
The hour-long history documentary focuses on recently rediscovered World War II footage, which reveals British soldiers
fighting in Burma recording filmed messages to their loved ones back home.   20th June 2016
The author of this website, Steve Rothwell, contributed some of the research behind the soldiers' stories told in this programme.
For more information on the "Calling Blighty" films see the North West Film Archive project and search the
database to see the original films made and sent home to loved ones.
1st Battalion, The Burma Regiment
A new, full account of the 1st Battalion which served at Kohima, Burma and Sumatra.   12th October 2017
* Book *: "Not Forgetting the 9th; The War Diary of Sgt. Cyril Grimes, 1944-1945"
The diaries of Sergeant Cyril Grimes who served with the 9th Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment     14th August 2017
in Burma 1944-1945.  Click this link to open a PDF summary of the book.
The 3rd Chin Rifles
Post-war served as the Chin Hills Battalion then, briefly, as the 1st (Chin Hills) Anti-Tank/Mortar Regiment before 
reverting to an infantry battalion.  Retitled as the 3rd Chin Rifles in 1949.   7th August 2017
6th Battalion, The Burma Rifles
A much revised account of the action at Tavoy, with situation maps.  26th July 2017
Northern Shan States Battalion, Burma Frontier Force
Added details of the Chin Hills Battalion detachment at the Shweli Bridge action in May 1942.  1st May 2017
The 1st Chin Rifles
The 1st Chin Rifles was one of the first Government units to be engaged at Insein in January/February 1949. 26th April 2017
2nd Battalion, The Burma Regiment

A history of this battalion of the Burma Regiment which in 1946 fought Chinese deserters. 12th April 2017

* New Book *:  Reporting the Retreat: War Correspondents in Burma
There were some twenty-six accredited war correspondents covering the campaign, and

Click the link above or below to be taken to Amazon for further details (opens in new window).

The 7th Burma Rifles

Group photograph of officers and G.C.O.s of the battalion dating from late 1940 or during 1941.  22nd November 2016

The 1st Burma Rifles

A history of this battalion of the new Burma Rifles regiment, formed for the new Burma Army in 1945. 14th September 2016

The 3rd Burma Rifles

A history of this battalion of the new Burma Rifles regiment, formed for the new Burma Army in 1945. 8th September 2016

The 2nd Burma Rifles

The veterans of two Chindit operations were reorganised to form a battalion of the new Burma Army.  31st August 2016

The 3rd Battalion, The Burma Rifles

Added details of the battalion's actions at the Sittang Bridge, February 1942.  30th August 2016

The 4th Burma Rifles

A history of this battalion of the new Burma Rifles regiment, formed for the new Burma Army in 1946. Revised 24th August 2016

The 5th Burma Rifles

A history of this battalion of the new Burma Rifles regiment, formed for the new Burma Army in 1946.  Revised 24th August 2016

The 6th Burma Rifles

A history of this battalion of the new Burma Rifles regiment, formed for the new Burma Army in 1947.  Revised 31st August 2016

The 2nd Chin Rifles

A brief history of this battalion of the new Burma Army, raised from the Western Chin Levies in 1945.  Revised 24th August 2016

The New Burma Army 1945-1949

A history of the planning raising and post-independence operations of new Burma Army.  25th July 2016

What's New - Archive - click here


The Burma Campaign - Introduction

The campaign was the longest fought by the British in the Second World War.  In December 1941 it began, for the British, with disaster, retreat and irreversible loss of face in front of the subject population. It ended, in August 1945, in triumph with the total defeat of the occupying Japanese army.

Why was the campaign fought? Allied aims were to keep open an overland supply route to the Chinese, thus pinning down a large Japanese army, and to re-conquer a part of the British Empire. However by the time the Burma road had been reopened and extended the war was nearly over and aircraft had taken over, carrying more  supplies over the "Hump" than could be carried by land. Furthermore, once reconquered, Burma soon became independent and within three years had left the British Commonwealth, being the first country to do so.

And yet the campaign was not a failure. It had to be fought to ensure that the Japanese had no opportunity of securing any kind of peace with the United States and her Allies by virtue of possessing a large mainland empire. A Japanese invasion of India was key to achieving such a position and the defence of Burma was key to the defence of India. There can be few who would accept that the displacement of the British Empire by that of the Japanese was in the long term interests of the local populations, especially given that the British had already committed themselves to a process that would, in time, grant independence.

In the end Japan suffered her greatest defeat on land in her history and the chief instrument of that defeat was the Indian Army. Largely officered by Britons but manned by representatives of every race from pre-partition India, the Indian Army had a unique character and in 1945 achieved its finest hour, setting many proud traditions for the current Indian and Pakistani armies. Fighting alongside the Britons, Indians and Gurkhas, there were also East and West Africans, Burmese, Karens and Kachins, Americans and Canadians, and Chinese.

The story of the Burma campaign is multi-facetted. The fighting took place not only in jungle but in mountains and across the arid Burmese plain, baked as dry as a desert in the summer sun. Men often fought face-to-face and hand-to-hand but the campaign became very much a modern war seeing the airlifting of entire divisions, aerial re-supply, landings by glider, casualty evacuation from small jungle airstrips and the deployment of landing craft in support of sea borne invasions and river patrols.

The country and its climate were the enemy of both sides. Disease and infection could and did decimate armies - tick-borne scrub typhus, malaria, leeches and "jungle ulcers" representing just a few of the medical hazards faced by the combatants. Nor must one forget the monsoon - a period of months when the rain falls in steady sheets day after day, creating conditions where a soldier’s clothing would literally rot off his back.








Major Subjects

Burmese Battleground Burma Army 1937-1943 New Burma Army 1945-49 Officers & Men - Burma Army Researching Ancestors British Army in Burma Campaign Outline Orders of Battle Links UK Book Store Modern Burma Since 1946


with acknowledgements to Louis Allen.



Please e-mail Steve Rothwell with comments, additional information and requests for help

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British & Commonwealth Orders of Battle Website