When the Burma campaign is discussed, the turning point battles of Imphal and Kohima are most often thought of. However General Bill Slim's bold but risky plan to outflank the Japanese on the Irrawaddy at Mandalay deserves far more credit.
With the Japanese withdrawing, Slim's 14 Army (with two Corps XXXIII and IV) risked a punishing crossing of the mighty Irrawaddy at Mandalay opposed by the main Japanese army. To avoid this it was decided to split 14 Army and send IV Corps on an arduous 300 mile march to seize the town of Meiktila, 85 miles south, a vital rail and road hub and the main Japanese administrative base.
Complete secrecy was essential if the Japanese realised they faced only one Corps rather than two, they might have counter attacked successfully. In this detailed analysis of this crucial maneuver the author describes the plan, the risks, the actions, the seemingly insuperable logistic problems, and the efforts to retain US air support (for which Mountbatten was largely responsible).
About the Author
Michael Pearson has had a lifelong interest in maritime history and shipping. He worked in the shipping industry in the city of London for over twenty years. He now researches history full time.