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Meiktila 1945: The Battle to Liberate Burma (Campaign) Paperback – 28 May 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (28 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841766984
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841766980
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 19.1 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 491,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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First Sentence
On 22 June 1944, troops from the British 2nd Infantry Division, advancing down the Kohima-Imphal road from Kohima, linked up with Indian infantry from the 5th Indian Infantry Division coming out of Imphal. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Lyman on 1 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent account of the decisive battle in Burma in 1945 by General Slim to wrest control of the Irrawaddy - and thus seal the fate of Burma as a whole - from General Kimura's Burma Area Army. The Meiktila battle was a core element of what Kimura described as Slim's 'masterstroke' that decided the war in Burma. I used this book personally to support a battlefield tour of the Meiktila area with 14th Army veterans in 2005.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MJB on 20 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
This covers the little known decisive campaign in the recovery of Burma. Following the 14th Army's successful defence at Imphal and Kohima the Commonwealth forces went on the offensive and never gave the Japanese a chance to recover. It gives a vivid account of how Slim outmanoeuvred the Japanese with a successful feint across the Irawaddy in a race against time to reach Rangoon before the monsoon. It also acknowledges the tenacity of the Japanese and some of the military difficulties they faced at this time of the war. Having lost virtually all their equipment on the retreat and with no chance of replacing it they remained a formidable foe. I would recommend this Osprey campaign title, it is high time this theatre of operations was more widely covered. A campaign title on Imphal and Kohima, and some of the lesser known Chinese operations would make good companion volumes !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas W. Johnson on 4 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an easy read. Well written, short, lots of maps, diagrams and pictures. The book covers the crossing of the Irrawady; the race to take Meiktila; and Cowan's agressive offensive defense strategy. I enjoyed the book. I found it a quick read but covered the subject thorougly.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. C. J. Hemmings on 29 April 2009
Format: Paperback
A very informative and factual account of the conflict in Burma during the second world war. I bought the book because I thought it might mention the medical corp in which both my parents served from 1944 to 1946. They met in Meiktila and were married in Rangoon in 1945. My son just visited Burma in April and found the register of their marriage in St John's church.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Classic Set-Piece Attack on an Isolated Foe 25 July 2004
By R. A Forczyk - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edward M. Young, an aviation history, provides an excellent summary of the little-known Meiktila campaign in Burma in 1945 in Osprey's campaign series #136. Indeed, this volume is well suited for study by professional officers and military academics in regard to a classic set piece operational-level offensive. Young's narrative is crisp and workmanlike, and well supported by maps and illustrations. However, readers should be aware that the author is attempting to summarize six months of operations over a large theater into only 96 pages, and this reduces some of the detail that might shed greater light on facets of the campaign. Furthermore, the author has not provided much detail on the crucial role of logistics, which undermines his campaign narrative in certain areas. Nevertheless, Meiktila 1945 is certainly worth having for anyone interested in analyzing operational level combat in the Second World War.

Young begins with a rather lengthy introduction that sets the strategic background to the campaign. While Young views the US and British differences over Burma as essentially related to the Chinese, this leaves out the very important consideration that the Americans felt that Burma was a waste of resources and that the British were pressing to reconquer Burma for parochial reasons. While the British army in Europe was running out of infantry, General Slim was committing 24 British battalions to reconquer Burma; these troops could have done more good in Europe than the Burmese jungles. Furthermore, if the land routes to China were no longer threatened after the failure of the Japanese offensive against Imphal-Kohima in March-June 1944, why reconquer Burma? A key fact that Young omits in this strategic debate is the logistical fragility of Slim's entire plan of operation - the entire plan would be anemic at best. Why take this strategic risk when Burma was nothing more than a strategic buffer for the Japanese empire? Capture of Rangoon would not render any immediate advantage to the Allies. Young's sections on opposing commanders and opposing plans are quite good, although the idea that the Meiktila campaign was an exploitation of the Imphal-Kohima victories overlooks the fact that the British gave the Japanese over six months to retreat into Burma and lick their wounds - hardly a pursuit.

The section on opposing armies is decent, although a bit vague in some important areas. While noting that the Japanese were weak in armor and airpower, and that their infantry and artillery were at only 50% strength, Young doesn't seem to appreciate that the Japanese army in Burma was effectively isolated by February 1945 due to the US submarine campaign and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Indeed, the Japanese army in Burma received no replacements after November 1944; with Macarthur and Nimitz approaching the Japanese home islands, Burma was effectively written off. While Young claims that the "decisive weapon in the Meiktila battles proved to be the tank," it would be fair to say that the Allied "center of gravity" was air transport, of which 85% was American. Without his C-47s to provide air supply, Slim would never have crossed the Irrawaddy River. Young mentions that Allied edge in air power but fails to specify that they actually had a better than 13-1 superiority over the Japanese in Burma. Thus, Allied air supremacy enabled air resupply that allowed for operational maneuver, while the Japanese were effectively unable to replace their losses or maneuver much. The result of all these converging factors was an "overmatch" campaign where the Japanese had few viable options, which is important to keep in mind when reading Young's narrative (if Japanese intelligence had deduced Allied intent to seize Meiktila, could they have stopped it?).

Meiktila 1945 includes six 2-D Maps (the Burma Front on 1 November 1944; Operation "Extended Capital"; IV and XXXIII Corps crossings of the Irrawaddy River; the armored thrust to Meiktila; the defense of Meiktila; the advance on Rangoon) and
three 3-D Birds-Eye View maps (7th Division crosses the Irrawaddy; the Battle for Meiktila; the defense of Meiktila). There are also three color battle scenes: crossing the Irrawaddy; fighting in Meiktila; and clearing Wetlet.

There is no doubt that General Slim planned and executed an excellent set-piece campaign in reconquering Burma in early 1945; but the British were also beneficiaries of good luck. Young notes that the British crossing of the Irrawaddy River fortuitously struck the boundary between the two Japanese armies and that Japanese C³I was abysmal. The fact that the Japanese failed to detect British road-building efforts through the jungle indicate incredible incompetence. Slim was able to get his 7th Division across the Irrawaddy with some difficulty and it is interesting that he took 13 days from crossing the river to reaching the main objective at Meiktila. While Slim's concept of an "armored dash" to Meiktila was sound, the fact that it took nearly two weeks to cover 80-odd miles indicates that it was no "blitzkrieg". Yet, if the British had dropped all or part of the Indian 50th Airborne brigade on the approaches to Meiktila, this might have prevented the Japanese rear area troops from establishing roadblocks.

Once Meiktila was captured in March 1945, Slim was in the strongest position in warfare: a strategic offensive with a tactical defense. Since the British were sitting on their supply lines, the Japanese were forced to counterattack at Meiktila but the effort was piece-meal and they ruined two divisions in the process. Young fails to mention that Slim's 14th Army was experiencing significant logistical shortfalls at this point and the British were rapidly approaching a culminating point if the Japanese did not fold in central Burma. Perhaps the only viable Japanese strategy in Burma would have been to stay on the defense until the rainy season stopped the British in their tracks, but this would have violated the offensive spirit of Japanese doctrine.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good for Staff Officers but a dull read for a foot soldier 5 Sep 2013
By william heaton - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It did little to explain the circumstances of the foot soldier in a reasonably detailed manner. Most military veterans from other areas I am sure would like to know how and why. I am interested in Marines and U.S. Army in the Pacific and there is a plethora of material available. Unfortunately Osprey tends to look at the over all battle with little of the small incidents that always take place in any given fight. I found it dull but accurate.
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