Southern Asia 1942: Indian Ocean Raid
The first three months of 1942 had seen the almost total defeat of the Allies in Southeast Asia, with Japan conquering Malaya and Singapore, southern Burma, and the Dutch East Indies. In an attempt to destroy the last British naval presence in the region, the Japanese launched a carrier force into the Indian Ocean. However, despite raiding the naval base of Colombo and destroying a number of ships, the Japanese failed to catch the main British force before it moved out of range.
Changes to the map 15 February 1942–5 April 1942
Indian Ocean Raid: The Japanese have occupied the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Japanese invasion of Burma: The Japanese have entered Rangoon and are advancing on Monywa and Mandalay. Chinese troops under American General Joseph Stilwell have moved in from the Burma Road to relieve the British along the Sittang River, but have been beaten back by the Japanese at Toungoo.
British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf
The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintained British India’s influence in a number of Gulf states from the 19th Century until 1947. These states were nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.
The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.
Trucial Oman was the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region were often called the Trucial States, and later became the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they had little unity, with no regional council until 1952.
The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, was comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.
The area under direct British rule was known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.
Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, were the hundreds of protectorates or ‘princely states’. These were indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others were either collected into agencies - which might in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fell under the sway of the provinces.
8 Mar 1942 Japanese capture of Rangoon▲
On 6 March General Sir Harold Alexander, unable to halt the Japanese offensive, begins the evacuation of Rangoon, capital of the British colony of Burma. The British forces regroup in the Irrawaddy valley to the north, leaving the Japanese to occupy Rangoon on 8 March.
8 Mar 1942 Allied surrender in Java▲
At 09:00, with the Japanese invasion forces advancing rapidly across Java, Hein ter Poorten, the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces in the Dutch East Indies, announces the surrender of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in Java. The Dutch Governor, Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer, and Lieutenant-General Ter Poorten meet the Japanese Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant-General Hitoshi Imamura, at Kalidjati that afternoon and agree to the capitulation of all the troops.
22 Mar–11 Apr 1942 Cripps’ mission▲
A British mission headed by Sir Stafford Cripps, a politician in the War Cabinet of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, arrives in Delhi, British India, to negotiate an agreement with both the leaders of the Indian National Congress and Muhammad Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League. Cripps promises to grant India dominion status and elections after the end of World War II, in return for cooperation during the war. However both parties reject his proposals, which had in any case not been approved by either Churchill or the Viceroy of India, who considered them too radical.
23 Mar 1942 Japanese seize Andaman Islands▲
Following the withdrawal of most of the British garrison of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on 12 March 1942, the Japanese land and occupy the islands. The British militia officers are sent to Singapore as POWs, while the Japanese recruit a number of the Indian militia and officials to their cause.
31 Mar–10 Apr 1942 Indian Ocean Raid▲
In Operation C, a Japanese fast carrier strike force under Chuichi Nagumo advanced into the Indian Ocean. Between 5 and 9 April they attacked the Royal Navy bases at Colombo and Tincomalee in Ceylon, sinking two cruisers, two destroyers, and the light aircraft carrier Hermes, while a Japanese cruiser force raided merchant shipping in the Bay of Bengal. However the British had been alerted, and managed to withdraw most of their fleet to the Maldives and the Persian Gulf.