Veterans from Myanmar Remember WWII

During the Second World War, soldiers from Myanmar helped the Allied British to achieve victory in multiple military conflicts. They were passionate and dedicated in their service, and were revered by many of their British comrades. They primarily helped the British to fight the forces of Japan, and were ultimately successful. Many soldiers were of the belief that without the help they received from Myanmar, the struggle would have been much more difficult than it already was.

Many veterans from the small region are able to look back on their days in the Second World War with a measure of glory, feeling that they contributed to something much greater than themselves. They performed many duties aside from just aiding the British in the fighting, also helping to defend equipment stocks. The Myanmar soldiers also journeyed into the wilderness and gathered renewed stocks of equipment which were deposited there by airborne supply transports. While there were many British soldiers who felt that their Burmese helpers were invaluable, and the helpers themselves took pride in their work, they eventually parted ways as the British left them behind.

That does not stop the veterans from taking pride in their experiences. Many of them had undergone ordeals for which they could be prideful, even if they did not always receive fully adequate respect. For instance, many of the soldiers from Myanmar once helped to catch a tiger that had been stalking around their campground after sunset. Even if the Burmese soldiers could have received more respect from the British, the Karen people know that their service was important, the Aljazeera reports.

The Karen people did not aid the British because of how much they enjoyed living under colonial rule. In fact, the degree to which many of them despised Great Britain was a contributing factor in Japan’s ability to easily invade Myanmar in the first place. Nonetheless, thousands of their people eventually helped the British to fight off the Japanese. In the end, while the British ultimately left them behind once their part was played out, there were many Britons who believed that the Karen people had earned their liberation.

Veterans from Myanmar are aware that the political climate of Burma at the time was not in their favor, and many of them do not hold that against the British. For those more enlightened soldiers, the fact that their dedication to service helped to sway some of the British toward their cause for freedom is enough to show that Myanmar pulled its weight in the conflict.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE