Southern Asia 1944: Battle of Imphal-Kohima

Political map of South & Southwest Asia on 15 Apr 1944 (World War II: The South-East Asian Theater: Battle of Imphal-Kohima), showing the following events: Operation Husky; Azad Hind; Second Arakan Campaign; Lebanese Independence; Cairo Conference; Tehran Conference; Azad Hind in Shaheed and Swaraj; Operation Thursday; Operation U-Go.

By the close of 1943 the British were ready for a new offensive against the Japanese in Burma, mounting a second round of Arakan and Chindit offensives, this time in conjunction with the Americans and Chinese. The Japanese countered by invading India in an attempt to knock out the British communications base at Imphal, but were repelled after several months fighting.


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

9 Jul–17 Aug 1943 Operation Husky

In July 1943, in Operation Husky, an Allied invasion fleet landed 160,000 troops of the US Seventh Army and the British Eighth Army on the southeast coast of Sicily, Italy, in the largest amphibious invasion to date. Despite facing some 300,000 Italian and German personnel, the invasion proceeded quickly. The British advanced through the eastern half of the island while the Americans swept through the west, with both forces meeting at Messina on 17 wikipedia

21 Oct 1943 Azad Hind

Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose formally announces the establishment of the Provisional Government of Free India, or Azad Hind, in Japanese-occupied Singapore. Bose is made Head of State and Prime Minister of the new government, as well as commander of the Indian National Army. With Japanese assistance, he sets about recruiting Indian POWs for the planned expulsion of the British from wikipedia

1 Nov 1943–12 Mar 1944 Second Arakan Campaign

British Indian forces cross the border into the Arakan region of Japanese-occupied Burma, occupying Maungdaw on 9 January 1944. A month later, the Japanese launch a counteroffensive (Operation Ha-Go), penetrating the British Maungdaw-Buthidaung line and attacking the XV Corps administrative area in what will become known as the Battle of the Admin Box. The battle lasts until 26 February, when the Japanese are forced to withdraw—the first major Allied victory in the Burma wikipedia

22 Nov 1943 Lebanese Independence

The Free French government yields to international and Lebanese pressure, recognizing the independence of Lebanon and releasing Lebanese politicians from imprisonment (where they have been held since denouncing the French Mandate on 8 November). However Lebanon remains under Allied occupation until the end of World War II, with the French garrison only withdrawing on 31 December 1946 following the signing of the Franco-Lebanese wikipedia

22–26 Nov 1943 Cairo Conference

President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China attended the Cairo Conference (codenamed ‘Sextant’) to discuss strategy against Japan. The Allies agreed to pursue the war until Japan’s unconditional surrender, to strip Japan of its conquests since 1914, to restore Manchuria and Taiwan to China, and to eventually recognize Korean wikipedia

28 Nov–1 Dec 1943 Tehran Conference

The “Big Three” Allied leaders—Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Franklin Roosevelt of the United States, and Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom—met at the Tehran Conference (codenamed ‘Eureka’) to discuss strategy against Germany. The meeting occured in the Soviet embassy in Tehran, Iran, and concluded with an American and British commitment to open a second front in Western Europe by 1 May wikipedia

29 Dec 1943 Azad Hind in Shaheed and Swaraj

By the terms of the Greater East Asia Conference in Tokyo, the Provisional Government of Free India (Azad Hind) is given limited governmental jurisdiction in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Upon the arrival of Azad Hind leader Subhas Chandra Bose, the islands are renamed “Shaheed” (“matyr”) and “Swaraj” (“self-rule”). Bose does not stay long, placing the islands under the governorship of A. D. Loganathan while he himself works on expanding the Indian National wikipedia

5 Feb–27 Aug 1944 Operation Thursday

On 5 February the Chindit 16th Brigade set off by foot from Ledo, Assam, to operate in the Pinbon-Pinlebu area of Japanese-occupied Burma. One month later, two more Chindit brigades were flown in to setup fortified bases and airstrips north of Indaw. At the same time General Stilwell’s US and Chinese troops took Maingkwan further north, with the two forces joining up to capture Myitkyina on 3 wikipedia

7 Mar–22 Jun 1944 Operation U-Go

In Operation U-Go, the Japanese Fifteenth Army under General Renya Mutaguchi crossed into India from Burma, aiming to isolate and capture the British military administration center at Imphal. The British Indian Army repelled the invasion, defeating the Japanese attacks at Imphal and Kohima. By June, the Japanese were in retreat, having suffered over 60,000 casualties to some 17,000 for the wikipedia