Sepoys against the Rising Sun

The Indian Army in the Far East and South-East Asia, 1941–1945


During the Second World War, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) suffered one of its greatest defeats in Burma. Both in Malaya and Burma, the bulk of the British Commonwealth forces comprised Indian units. Few people know that by 1944, about 70 percent of the Allied ground personnel in Burma was composed of soldiers of the Indian Army. The Indian Army comprised British-led Indian units, British officered units of the Indian princely states and the British units attached to the Government of India. Based on the archival materials collected from India and the United Kingdom, Sepoys against the Rising Sun assesses the combat/military/battlefield effectiveness of the Indian Army against the IJA during World War II. The volume is focussed on the tactical innovations and organizational adaptations which enabled the sepoys to overcome the Japanese in the trying terrain of Burma.


EUR €165.00USD $221.00

Biographical Note

Kaushik Roy is Guru Nanak Chair Professor in the Department of History, Jadavpur University, Kolkata and Global Fellow at Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway. He has published widely on conventional warfare and counter-insurgency in South Asia.

Table of contents

Preface xi
Acknowledgements xiii
List of Maps and Tables xiv
List of Abbreviations xvi
Glossary xx
Introduction 1
Maps 10
1 The Indian Army before the Far Eastern War 18
Introduction 18
Recruitment and Expansion of the Indian Army 18
Combat Experience and Modernization of the Indian Army 35
Conclusion 48
2 Fall of Hong Kong: 8 December–26 December 1941 50
Pre-war British Hong Kong 50
The Commonwealth Forces and its Opponent 51
The Battle 59
Conclusion 65
3 Disaster in Malaya: 8 December 1941–31 January 1942 66
Commonwealth and Japanese Forces in Malaya 68
Japanese Advance and Commonwealth Retreat 87
Reasons behind Commonwealth Military Failure 104
Conclusion 120
4 The Siege of Singapore: 4 February–15 February 1942 122
Introduction 122
Organization of the Defence 125
Retreat from the Beaches 133
Assessment 144
Conclusion 150
5 Collapse in Sarawak and Borneo: 16 December 1941–3 April 1942 153
Introduction 153
Defensive Preparations 154
The Invasion 155
Conclusion 159
6 Retreat from Burma: 11 December 1941–20 May 1942 160
Commonwealth Units in Burma and their Japanese Opponent before
the Invasion 162
The Long Retreat 170
Assessment 198
Conclusion 207
7 Reorganizing and Retraining the Indian Army: May 1942–February
1944 209
Lessons of Defeat 209
Training Infrastructure in India 215
External Influence 233
Hardware and Transportation 239
Organization for Victory 248
Conclusion 255
8 Jungle War in the Arakan: 1942–1945 256
Introduction 256
Defeat in the Arakan: February 1942–16 October 1942 258
The First Arakan Offfensive 263
Stalemate 276
HA GO Operation 283
Japanese Retreat in Arakan 293
Conclusion 300
9 Imphal and Kohima: March–July 1944 302
Introduction 302
Training, Equipment and Force Structure 302
Japanese Defeat in Imphal and Kohima: March–July 1944 315
Assessment 334
Conclusion 346
10 Endgame in Burma: August 1944–15 August 1945 349
Introduction 349
Combat Efffectiveness of the British and Indian Armies 349
Planning and Deployments of the Commonwealth and Japanese
Armies 364
Mandalay-Meiktila and the Race for Rangoon 370
Assessment 381
Conclusion 386
Conclusion 389
Bibliography 401
Subject Index 419
Military Units Index 433


All interested in British Imperial history and twentieth century South Asian history and also about the Second World War in Asia.


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