Southern Asia 1939: World War II and the Day of Deliverance

Political map of South & Southwest Asia on 22 Dec 1939 (Arrival of the New Order: World War II and the Day of Deliverance), showing the following events: Islamic rebellion in Xinjiang; Marco Polo Bridge Incident; Siam becomes Thailand; Germany invasion of Poland; India enters World War II; Resignation of Indian Congress; Day of Deliverance.

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, the Viceroy of India followed Britain by declaring war on Germany. Offended that it had not been consulted before the declaration, the Indian National Congress resigned its provincial seats in protest. However this action pleased Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his All-India Muslim League, who proclaimed a 'Day of Deliverance' to celebrate the resignations and the end of the dominance of Congress in India.


Changes to the map 1 April 1937–22 December 1939

Second Sino-Japanese War: The Japanese have begun their invasion of China, conquering much of the north and east of the country.

Xinjiang Wars: Following an Uyghur rebellion, the Soviet-supported government of Xinjiang has established control in the south and expelled the Ma family from the province.

Republic of Hatay: Hatay has been transferred from French Syria to Turkey.

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.

Indian Empire

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.

Main Events

2 Apr–15 Oct 1937 Islamic rebellion in Xinjiang

Resenting the rise of Soviet influence in Xinjiang and fearing Governor Sheng Shicai, Divisional General Mahmut Muhiti flees Kashgar. Muhiti’s departure triggers a revolt among the Uyghurs of southern Xinjiang, which Ma Hushan and the 36th Division exploit to seize Kashgar. In response, 5,000 Soviet Red Army troops with air and armored support intervene in August, allowing Sheng Shicai to crush the rebellion and expel the Ma family from the wikipedia

7 Jul 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident

On the night of 7 July 1937 Japanese forces based at Fengtai crossed into Chinese territory to conduct military exercises, but ended up exchanging fire with Chinese troops at Wanping. Further clashes occurred later that night and over the next day, most notably at Marco Polo Bridge on the outskirts of Beiping (Beijing). By the 11th these confused skirmishes had escalated into a full-scale battle in which Beiping and Tianjin fell to Japanese forces, making them the first shots of the Second Sino-Japanese wikipedia

24 Jun 1939 Siam becomes Thailand

In the first of a series of Cultural Mandates issued by the government of Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsonggram during his first period as Prime Minister and military dictator, the Kingdom of Siam is officially renamed as the Kingdom of Thailand. From now on in English, the country is called ‘Thailand’ and the people called ‘Thai’.in wikipedia

1 Sep 1939 Germany invasion of Poland

Using several German-staged incidents as casus belli, Nazi Germany struck Wieluń, Poland, with the Luftwaffe at 04:40 on 1 September 1939—the first blow of World War II. Five minutes later, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on a Polish military transit depot in the Free City of Danzig, with Germany launching an all out attack on Poland’s northern, western, and southern borders later that wikipedia

3 Sep 1939 India enters World War II

Victor Hope, Marquess of Linlithgow and Viceroy of India, declares the British Indian Empire at war with Germany, entering the Second World War alongside the United Kingdom. The action is done without consultation with the Indian National Congress, causing resentment among Indian wikipedia

22 Oct–23 Nov 1939 Resignation of Indian Congress

After debating Viceroy Linlithgow’s unilateral declaration of war with Germany on behalf of the British Indian Empire, the Indian National Congress led by Jawaharlal Nehru calls upon all Congress ministries to tender their resignations. As a result the ministries of all eight provinces won by Congress in 1937 resign and, on 23 November, Congress reaffirms its demand for the recognition of India’s independence at wikipedia

22 Dec 1939 Day of Deliverance

In response to the mass resignation of the Indian National Congress following British India’s declaration of war on Germany, All-India Muslim League President Muhammad Ali Jinnah declares 22 December 1939 to be a “Day of Deliverance” from Congress. Despite appeals from Congress leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi to cancel the divisive event, the day is celebrated across India by Muslim League supporters and other opponents of wikipedia