Illustrated London News May 15, 1943—General Alexander

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THE BRITISH “ALEXANDER THE GREAT”: GENERAL SIR HAROLD ALEXANDER, WHOSE SUPERB STRATEGY IN THE BATTLE OF AFRICA HAS BEEN HAILED BY OUR ALLIES AND BY NEUTRAL STATES AS EPOCH-MAKING.

A second triumph has come to General Alexander; with Montgomery in the field, he planned the campaign that started at El Alamein, and now, as chief strategist of the Tunisian campaign, he has used the men of the Eighth Army, the First Army, the Second American Corps and the Corps d’Afrique with brilliant results. He has completely out-generalled von Arnim and helped to bring about the repaying of the Dunkirk debt.  General Alexander was appointed C.-in-C., Middle East, in 1942, after fighting, as G.O.C., Burma, the brilliant delaying action which saved India by giving us time to reorganise. It was he, too, who was in command at last on the beaches of Dunkirk, and on that occasion as well, no  little credit is due to him as a master strategist. Now these bitter memories will be wiped out, and he has the satisfaction of knowing the enemy are suffering the same as our men at Dunkirk.

Reading the above, which is from my original edition of The Illustrated London News, 15th May 1943, the one thing that strikes me above all is the clue the last sentence gives about the reality of Dunkirk. Only the brain-dead would not have realised that that episode of the war had been an unmitigated disaster.

© Sarah Vernon

February 1943 (2)

Pacific Paratrooper

"Warm Reception" by Jim Dietz of the Guadalcanal Cactus Air Force. “Warm Reception” by Jim Dietz of the Guadalcanal Cactus Air Force.

7-18 February – Chiang Kai-shek agreed to use his forces in the Burma campaign, but as usual, this was in exchange for a promise of even more US financial aid.  Mahatma Gandhi started his 21-day hunger strike in India in his non-violent opposition to British policies in his country.

Chindits 1943 Chindits 1943

The 47th and 55th Indian Brigades were beaten back at Donbaik in the Arakan peninsula.  The Chindits opposed the enemy for the first time on the 18th in Burma and advanced.  They managed to cut the Japanese railroad line between Mandalay and Myitkyina.

New Guinea New Guinea

12 February – the Allies initiated the Elkton Plan; a campaign designed by MacArthur to eject the Japanese from New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomons.  This would isolate the enemy headquarters at Rabaul.  (The original plan included capturing Rabaul, but was scrapped…

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VJ Day – in gratitude

A post about a Burma veteran written by his grandson and published in 2010.

George Blogs

August 15 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of VJ Day, the day that Japan surrendered, the official end to the Second World War. My Grandad was serving in Burma – now 92 his memories of that time are as vivid today as they were the first time round. My Grandad often says that he went to war as a boy and came back a changed man. He was, and is, a quietly reflective person; he’d admit himself that he’s a worrier, a sensible type; he’ll also readily acknowledge that he has only lasted this long with the support of my Gran, a solid tower of strength for him during and after the war. I can not begin to imagine what he must have been through, what he saw, what he had to live with. I know that my Gran discourages him from discussing the war nowadays as she feels it…

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Fepows

Pacific Paratrooper

F Force enroute to the Burma Railroad, by Otto Kreeft F Force enroute to the Burma Railroad, by Otto Kreeft

Fepows – Far Eastern POWs

Countless films and books concerned with the Second World War have, through the decades, concentrated on Europe and the Holocaust and the Far East prisoners of war have barely been mentioned.  The official 5 volumes of British history for this war include only 10 pages devoted to the subject, compared to the Australian history with 170 pages.

sketch by Jack Chalker, Fepow;British Army, Konyu, Thailand sketch by Jack Chalker, Fepow;British Army, Konyu, Thailand

Japan’s army conquered the Far East in 1941-42.  Prisoners were taken from Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaya, Thailand, Java, Sumatra, Ambon, New Britain, Celebes, Guam and the Philippines.  According to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, Japan took more than 50,000 British and Australian troops in Singapore alone; 42,000 Dutch (N.E.I.); 10,000 British in Java and 25,000 Americans in the Philippines and then transported to the mainland camps.

The Japanese government made…

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