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Third Battle of Arakan file photo [15207]

Third Battle of Arakan

12 Dec 1944 - 28 Feb 1945


ww2dbaseIn late 1942, the Allies attempted to attack the Arakan region of Burma; this offensive was beaten back with heavy casualties. The second attempt to invade the same region would not be until Dec 1944, and the advances were much swifter for the Anglo-Indian troops. The coastal city of Akyab was captured by 2 Jan, and the village of Kangaw followed on 2 Feb, though achieved with much sacrifice in lives.

ww2dbaseOn 21 Jan 1945, Anglo-Indian forces landed on Ramree island just off the Burmese coast with intention of occupying and establishing airbases on those islands. The invasion was preceded by a bombardment by the battleship Queen Elizabeth and the light cruiser Phoebe, while carrier Ameer's aircraft spotted for them; B-24 Liberator and B-47 Thunderbolt aircraft from the No. 224 Group RAF also participated in the pre-invasion attacks. One hour later, the Indian 71st Brigaded landed unopposed. On 22 Jan, the British 4th Infantry Brigade landed to reinforce the beachhead, followed by the 26th and 36th Brigades. On 26 Jan, Royal Marine forces landed on Cheduba and found it unoccupied. While the Japanese did not challenge the landing at Ramree Island, a defense is depth was planned to fight the invaders on this 2,300-square kilometer island in the Bay of Bengal. As the weight of four British and Commonwealth brigades pressured the first line of defense, 900 Japanese troops fell back to the second line of defense, as planned. To do so, the group must cross a 16-kilometer-wide swamp. The lack of food and water, tropical diseases, poisonous insects, and crocodiles wore away Japanese ranks over the next several days. When the British and Commonwealth troops finally flanked the swamp several days later, they found and captured only 20 Japanese soldiers. Legend told that a big portion of the Japanese soldiers were killed by crocodiles, and the story was made popular by the Guinness Book of Records which noted the event as "The Greatest Disaster Suffered from Animals". This event was greatly disputed, however, as it was unclear how many were lost to disease or starvation instead of crocodile attacks. There were also claims that a group of Japanese soldiers, about 500 in size, escaped the island undetected, therefore noting that the scale of crocodile attacks must be much smaller. Finally, scientists generally regarded it impossible for Ramree Island to host such a large population of crocodiles to kill so many Japanese troops, as the island's ecology simply did not allow it.

ww2dbaseWith the major Japanese bases secured by the end of Feb 1945, the Anglo-Indian XV Corps released some of its units. Although the Arakan region in Burma was considered conquered by the Allies, Japanese resistance at An and Taungup in the area would continue for some time longer.

Frank McLynn, The Burma Campaign

Last Major Update: Feb 2012

Third Battle of Arakan Timeline

12 Dec 1944 Allied troops attacked the Arakan region of Burma.
31 Dec 1944 Japanese troops evacuated Akyab (now Sittwe), Burma.
2 Jan 1945 Anglo-Indian XV Corps captured Akyab (now Sittwe), Burma without resistance.
12 Jan 1945 Men of the British No. 42 (Royal Marine) Commando landed in southeastern Myebon Peninsula, Burma.
21 Jan 1945 Indian 26th Division landed on Ramree Island, Burma.
22 Jan 1945 Anglo-Indian troops began assaulting Kangaw, Burma. Meanwhile, off the coast, additional troops were disembarked on Ramree Island and Royal Marine commandos landed at Daingbon Chaung on the coast.
26 Jan 1945 Anglo-Indian troops landed on Cheduba Island, Burma; the landing was unopposed.
2 Feb 1945 Anglo-Indian troops captured Kangaw, Burma.
28 Apr 1945 In Burma, the XV Corps, which had been leapfrogging islands along the coast, reached and captured Taungup.


British 3rd Commando Brigade landing in Arakan, Burma, Jan 1945Royal Marines landing on Cheduba Island, Burma, 26 Jan 1945

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. myteedogg says:
11 Nov 2008 05:30:36 AM

after all the war and personal crimes the *** did it seems that some of them got what they should have...wonder how many crocks died from indigestion ...
2. JWF says:
14 Sep 2009 07:51:44 AM

Wow, yes war crimes were quite common in this unfortunate WORLD WAR. I am not Japanese. You can't just say all of them were evil, they were just fighting for their country. Wouldn't you do the same? Plus, I think the Japanese got plenty of punishment for their crimes. (you know after the United Stated dropped NOT 1 but 2 atomic bombs on them.)By the way I am not Japanese.
3. lenny hitler says:
17 Dec 2009 06:48:23 PM

Most of the ordinary japanese soldiers were conscripts,if they refused to fight in WW2, they would have probably been shot . So they were in a pretty bad situation in the first place.

So i for one, have sympathy for these poor people, force to fight in a war they didn't want, and couldn't backout from.

In relation to what happened to the 900 japanese soldiers on Ramree island,number 1, it's certainly not a war crime by the British
navy as they(the Japanese) were asked repeatedly to surrender, but steadfastly refused ,as is there custom,unfortunately. This lead to the subsequent disaster for the japanese. And as far as i know, no one is accusing the British navy or army of any such war crime, including the Japanese them- selves.

But lastly,to the people who demonstrate such glee, for the massive suffering that afflicted those ordinary japanese soldiers on Ramree Island.If you had witnessed such horrors, that afflicted those japanese soldiers ,in the night of 19 february 1945 ,maybe you wouldn't be so gleeful and happy, at their horrific deaths, because the British soldiers and sailors,who where very tough fighters, and who had suffered so massively, at the hands of the japanese,and who witnessed what happened, certainly weren't gleeful and happy to see their demise and fate.
Even though they(the Japanese) where their mortal enemy, the ordinary British soldier knew, it could just as easily have been them being eaten by crocodiles.

So try and show a bit of humanity and empathy if you can ,and if you can't,well, it doesn't eactly show you in a good light does it.

p.s by the way, i'm British.
4. RANDALL1957 says:
7 Jan 2010 07:29:11 AM

to JWF I wish we could have had a hundred A-BOMBS prior to the Coral Sea battle, then we wouldn't have had to lose a single soldier or sailor after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Don't hate me because I love my armed forces more than I love the enemy.
5. JUMARDI says:
24 Jan 2010 09:54:07 AM

have they recorded the crocodile that attack them
6. RDR says:
6 Jan 2011 12:48:35 AM

My uncle was on patrol in the Northern part of Okinawa & went down a lil path to a hut to look around & found Maps all over the place & 1 Big one on the wall that showed the USA divided by the Mississippi river
East of there was occupied by the Germans West of it was occupied by the Japanese Can You imagine what IF...RD
7. Anonymous says:
11 Jun 2011 09:42:28 PM

They should really make a movie about this battle of ramree.
8. tofo says:
13 May 2012 06:30:44 PM

Hey RANDALL1957,
Your an example of what Oscar Wilde said,
"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious"

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Third Battle of Arakan Photo Gallery
British 3rd Commando Brigade landing in Arakan, Burma, Jan 1945Royal Marines landing on Cheduba Island, Burma, 26 Jan 1945

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