Thursday, October 16, 2008

Arakan Victory


IN Burma by January 1944, the Japs had consolidated their grip up to the perimeter of their ‘42 and ‘43 conquests.
The war in Europe had not at that time turned in flood against Germany, for the main Allied forces had still to make their landing on the continent. But while they were not yet in that battle they might safely be counted out of this one. This year, therefore, was for Japan the Now or Never. The Jap High Command decided to carry the war into India, and to break up the base where powerful armies and air and sea fleets were building up for the coming Allied general assault on Japan.
The Allies, meanwhile, suffered a change of plans. Before Teheran these had included immediate amphi­bious operations somewhere in South East Asia, but at that conference SE Asia Command’s landing craft were allocated to European waters and as the Supreme Commander has disclosed, were actually employed to force the Anzio bridgehead. Accepting this severe deprivation, Lord Louis Mountbatten still resolved to place the most aggressive interpretation on the instruction to “defend the frontiers.” The Fourteenth Army Commander, Lieut-General Sir William Slim, KCB, CB, DSO. MC., was ordered to clear the Akyab peninsula as far south as possible so as to command the mouth of the River Naff for sea supply and secure the Maungdaw-Buthidaung road. The available troops were 15 Indian Corps, commanded by Lieut ­General Sir Philip Christison, KBE, CB. MC.
A glance at the map shows how the Arakan campaign of ‘44 was dominated by the outstanding feature known as the Mayu Range. This range physically split the front; the plan of the enemy was to use it tactically to split the army which occupied it. A captured enemy Order of the Day signed by Colonel Tana­hashi says of it: “The Mayu Range is a fortress given to us by Heaven, to furnish us with defences, obstructions and concealments, with water, with quarters, with supplies of building materials unlimited. Indeed a thing of immense value. Its mountains and rivers will shortly become an unforgettable new battleground.”
East of the Mayu Range lies the Kalapazin Valley. Bearing in mind the lesson of the Arakan cam­paign of 1943, (when the Japs struck up this valley, crossed the Range and fell upon the L of C of our troops attacking Akyab along the coastal belt) General Slim proposed to advance not only down the Kalapanzin us well as the coast but also to throw out a fur­ther flank screen in the distant valley beyond the next mass of hills, namely; the Kaladan Valley. The 81 West Afri­can Division were assigned this important task. They not only guarded the Kaladan but their presence there compelled the enemy to divert troops towards it which he urgently needed for his plan to “Invade India.” The first appearance of these magnificent-looking warriors in the Arakan had an unexpected and most uplifting effect upon their British comrades in the line. There is evidence that it had a correspondingly, depressing effect upon the enemy.
To link the two main forces in the coastal belt and Kalapanzin Valley it was necessary to make something more than the trails which ran through the passes of the Mayu Range. There were two; the Goppe Pass. a mule track. and that other more famous Ngakyedauk Pass, then unfit even for mules, Ngakyedauk has since entered into the immortality of soldiers’ language as the “Okeydoke’ To a Bradford lad in the West Yorks “Okeydoke” recalled beautiful Buttertubs Pass as it threads its’ way from Wensleydale to Swaledale; to a Scot from Inverness with the KOSB’s it resembled his beloved Glen Shiel. Gunners who ranged on “Okeydoke,” and infantrymen who slogged it out there with rifle and bayonet and grenade, found something homely of their own there. It was an illusion, for the Arakan bears no likeness to Britain, but it comforted men in lonely and desperate hours.
The sappers and miners of 7 Indian Div. equipped with bull-dozers and pneumatic drills, graded its slopes, widened its rock ledges and smooth­ed out its elbow bends, making the pack-road capable of bearing the armour, guns, and supply columns of an invading army. As the engineers and road-builders reached the banks of the Kalapanzin river the dusty battalions of British and Indian infantry, followed by long columns of motor transport, began threading their way up the steep slopes at the western entrance. Corps Commander Christison was building up his two-fisted attack.
His plan was to force the enemy to fight on as broad a front as possible. He had 5 Indian Div west of the Range and 7 Indian Div east of it. They shared the crest, which, running parallel as it dees to the British main L of C from north to south, was the axis of advance. Pressing equally all along the front, 15 Corps now began their steady forward movement. They had to fight hard, and learned to match their cunning against the enemy’s before they came up against his main positions. These covered the 15-mile Maungdaw-Buthidaung road which tunnels the Mayu Ridge and provides the third great artery be­tween one side of the mountain and the other. The tunnel area was especially strongly fortified.
Maungdaw fell to the British on 8 Jan, but Razabil was a harder net. This is a natural fortress in the foot­hills between the Mayu Range and the sea, commanding the road. Bomb­ers of the Strategic Air Force from the newly-created and integrated Eastern Air Command (Maj-General George E. Stratemeyer) pounded this bastion with concentrated weight, medium artillery shelled it and “General Lee” tanks, deployed for the first time in Arakan, lent their support. Much of the fortress area fell and Jap casualties were considerable, but the central position held. The Corps Commander decided to switch the main weight of his assault to Buthidaung in the Kalapanzin sector, while maintaining strong local attacks on Razabil. He was able to do this with comparative ease because his foresight had provided him with that invaluable lateral communication, “Okeydoke Pass”
But somebody else had plans. Enter Lieut-General Hanaya, Jap Com­mander in the Arakan. He proposed to invade India, and had a meticu­lously worked-out time-table for that design. The British pressure on his front now compelled him to accel­erate his movements. In charge of his striking force he placed Colonel Tanahashi, victor of Arakan, l943. The Jap plan was both to break up the British-Indian advance and to split the entire front, sealing off the eastern half not only from its western partner but from its own L. of C. The seizure of “Okeydoke” would achieve both these objects. On the night of ¾ February Taniahashi struck.
So confident was he that his blitz krieg would succeed that he threw in almost all his available forces. leaving only one battalion in reserve. When heavy losses fell upon him therefore, he had no replacements at his command. He even brought up gunners without their guns reckon­ing to capture ours. The Jap troops had orders not to destroy our vehicles, which would be required for the march on India.
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A few days before the enemy struck seaborne patrols had captured docu­ments in a raid behind the enemy’s lines which warned us of recently arrived reinforcements from the Solomons. From this and other signs Christison sensed trouble. The tanks of 25 Dragoons) had been withdrawn from Razabil for maintenance. That same afternoon Christison ordered them over the “Okeydoke.” To deceive the Japs into believing that our armour still concentrated west of Mayu the Corps Commander sent up a squadron of reserve tanks continue operations at Razabil. At the same time one brigade of 7 Div was placed in reserve for the coming offensive. Both next day went into action to meet the new threat. The tanks came as a complete surprise to the Japs who did not know they were even in the valley.
Flooding over ‘Aaung Bazar by a 33-mile forced march, the Japs swept on to the heights of the Mayu Range north of the so-called 7 Div Admin Box at Sinzweva. This had a few days earlier become a Corps Administrative area supplying 7 Div, a brigade of 5 Div (who were the link between the two sectors of the front ), and a large number of Corps troops, includ­ing a couple of artillery regiments, ack-ack and anti-tank batteries and the tank unit. There were thus encamped there nearly 8.000 administrative troops, pioneers, sappers. Signallers. ordnance and medical units, mule companies, and native road builders, together with a considerable amount of equipment. Protection was organised to resist any interference up to a large’ scale raid. What now struck the Admin area, however, was a tornado of six thou­sand men. A further four thousand formed an outer ring.

A few hours before dawn on 6 February the Japs attacked 7 Div H.Q. Div Commander Maj-General F.W. Messervy, C,B.. DSO., with his staff, narrowly escaped capture—or, more probable, massacre. Grenade in hand he led a party along the bed of a chaung to, the Admin area, where he re-formed his HQ. Fresh parties kept coming in for several days, and throughout this period a Soldiers’ Battle raged. Signallers, sappers, cooks, clerks, all seized the rifle and fought like veteran infantry. Gradual­ly the enemy was halted, though not before he had practised appalling atrocities against our wounded.

Tanahashi pressed on round the flank and rear, towards the Goppe Pass. He did not in fact reach Goppe; a little short of it, he ran into 18 Mule Company, who stood their ground resolutely and engaged him. Tanahashi, believing that Goppe Pass must be strongly held, and urgent to capture Bawli Bazar (15 Corps HQ) and cut the Bawli - Maung road, decided to storm straight over the 2,000-foot Range between Goppe and “Okeydoke.’ He burst through a large concentration of British rear echelons on the western slopes of the Mayu where he was again fiercely challenged. But driving on with barbaric energy, he reached the road where he blew up bridges, set fire to dumps, way-laid convoys, and finally dug-in in the nearby jungle from where he kept traffic under con­tinual fire. In the end his raiders had to be liquidated to the last man. The Japs’ success in interfering with our L of C was less than they had hoped, for much of the supply of the troops on the western side of the Mayu continued to pour in by sea.

However Tanahashi scored when he detached a force to double back along the crest of the Range to cut “Okeydoke” Pass, linking up with another Jap column which had push­ed through from the south east. The wedge had been driven between 5 Div and 7 Div. and the latters supply route severed.

Tokyo went to town on the news. The giant presses roared, showing the East with their headlined triumphs, “Victory! Victory Annihilation! The British Are Trapped! The British in Full Flight!’ Night and day the Jap radio blared “The March on Delhi has Begun.” Tanahashi, Victor of Arakan, will be at Chittagong within a Week’ “New British 14th Army Destroyed in One Thrust.” Traitors drew up proclamations for parades under the walls of the Red Fort and Tokyo Rose crooned persuasively to the Allied troops in the Pacific “why not go home? Lt’s all over in Burma.’ It really appeared to the Japanese that everything was in the bag, and so it was. Unfortunately for Tanahashi the neck of the bag was still open.

He had forgotten the AIR.

Through the Air would pour the stores and supplies which were denied land passage. The troops thus “trapped.” instead of yielding their ground, ditching their equip­ment and seeking to escape across the hills, would hold fast and hold on with sheer guts, certain that within measurable time the power would be brought them to drive the enemy from his encircling lines. Meantime, on General Slim’s orders, both the supplies to sustain such en­circled” troops and the aircraft and air crews to carry them and had been assembled and were ready to go in. Ten days’ rations for 40,000 men had been already packed and dump­ed against exactly such an emergency by Fourteenth Army’s “grocer” Maj.­General Alf Snelling; the first of the series of similar services which this remarkable organiser was able to do the army in this rear of continuous fighting.

Nor on the combat side was the Army Commander caught napping by Tanahashi’s violent recoil to his initial offensive. General Slim had placed 26 Indian Division (Maj­General C. E. N. Lomax, CB, DSO, MC. at Chittagong to cover the road to India. This officer in particular had deserved well of the army for his conspicuous work in building up the morale of his division unit by unit in patrol work during the long dishearten­ing period after the Arakan failure of ‘43. Still further back, in Calcutta, another division was brigaded and ready to move forward on requirement. Such dispositions are not completed overnight, and they are a sufficient answer to the ignorant jibe that Arakan 1944 was one more example of “waiting for something to hit us”.

Meantime in the Admin area none sat down to wring his hands over his fate but all set to work like men to shape it. Maj-Generai Messervy brought in the West Yorks, who later renforced by a company of KOSB’s and a battalion of 2 Punjabs. With tanks and artillery a formid­able Protected “box’ was very rapidly built up. Tanks and guns formed a protection for HQ, hos­pitals and soft vehicles. Later the “box’ was ringed with barbed wire. Every man was told bluntly what the situation was and of the further steps being taken by the Corps Commander to meet it. From Supreme Commander Lord Louis Mountbatten came a heartening message telling them that he had directed powerful reinforcements towards them.

Immediate evidence of his resources was what the garrison saw with their own eyes in the sky above them. Jap Zeros had at one time been a fairly common sight in Arakan. The recent arrival of the Spitfires over the front had changed that. These Spitfires were the first starting innovation in Burma produced by the new South East Asia Command. But on the eve of Tanahashi’s thrust the zeros re­turned to the scene. Jap documents revealed that the Jap Air Command believed that if the RAF fighters could be “drawn” into combat they could be wiped out. Though the Japs did not give close air support to their ground troops they appeared over the battle area many squadrons at a time, looking for trouble with our fighters.

They did not return home disappointed. The Allied fighters of Third Tactica1 Air Force, then com­manded by Air Marshal Sir John Baldwin. KBE, CE, DSO, rushed at them. The air was filled with dog fights. Ten days after their first challenge the Jap fighters broke it off. Three Spitfires had been lost. Third TAF’ claimed 65 Jap fighters destroyed, probably destroyed, or damaged. Thereafter the Allied fighters flew in close support, solitary strafing or recce as they pleased and practically unimpeded. During the height of the aerial battle the huge, and mostly defenceless aircraft of Troop Carrier Command flew between the sky fights and the roof of the jungle to deliver vital stores of war to the troops fighting it out in the savage hand-to-hand battles on the ground.

These supply operations were under the direct command of US Brigadier-General William D. Old, pioneer of the China ‘Hump’ route and none could have desired or chosen a mere energetic and intrepid leader. When the fist flight of heavily laden Dakotas was driven back General Old stepped up to the pilots seat of the next flight and led them in himself. The planes were attacked, gunned, and some of the crews hit, but the goods got through.

The job grew:- By night as well as by day the supply aircraft rose from the Allied airfields. The crews simply turned their aircraft round and flew again. They slept barely five hours in the 24. The ground crews serviced them, the RIASC supplied them, all-round the clock. Many boarded the loaded planes then and flew; some­times unescorted, over the Jap lines to help the supply-droppers heave out their vital cargo into the narrow target areas of the besieged ‘boxes’. It was magnificent “Combined Ops”. The pilots of the supply crews were themselves “combined.” British, American. Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, South African and Indian.
Five hundred sorties carried 1,500 tons into battle. With food, ammunition and weapon replacements came cigarettes, kit, oil, petrol and ‘Jane floating down in SEAC daily news­paper from the skies, even beer (and one thrice-blessed unit got a whole formation’s ration). Tanks, waiting for fuel, watched drums of it cas­cading down on parachutes. Before the aircraft left the tanks were moving into action.
The huge twin-engined aircraft were sitting birds for enemy fighters and ground fire. But only one was lost and she, too, delivered her goods. In such circumstances “encirclement” becomes a technical phrase.
Arakan, indeed, carried forward logically, and demonstrated in the fire of battle, the soundness of that revolutionary technique of land-air war which so seized Wingate’s audacious mind. Casting about always to find a means to overcome the advantage the Jap held in his jungle mobility. Wingate had said “the vulnerable artery is the L of C winding through the jungle. Have no L of C on the jungle floor. Bring in the goods, like Father Xmas, down the chimney.” Many considered this crazy but not ‘the men at the head of South East Asia Command, who shared with him these ideas concerning the mobility not merely of raiding columns but of entire jungle army corps. The RAF had never once failed during Wingate’s first footslogging march into Burma in 1943 to find their supply-drop site and to deliver their loads. Upon this basis Fourteenth Army were now building a completely new concept of jungle logistics. Arakan was its first vindication.
But meantime, down in the bowl of the Admin Box, under the guns of the enemy on the surrounding hills, men were only conscious of the fact that a most desperate battle called for every ounce of guts and endurance that the British and Indian soldier could pull out. All day long thick clouds of smoke rose from the “box” and the sound of explosion reverberated round the hills as first one and then another ammunition or petrol, dump blew up. Three times stocks of ammuni­tion were reduced to a dangerously low level. Luckily, the Japs did not realise it and the tireless airmen quickly replaced each loss. But the enemy continued also to pour in art unceasing torrent of mortar bombs, grenades and shells of every calibre. Snipers roped to trees and even “built” into tree trunks, took pot-shots at regular intervals but each shot brought forth such a volley of fire from the box’ that very few enemy snipers lived long enough to do much harm.
The casualty stations overflowed while a depleted medical staff laboured like demons—or shall we say like angels with demoniac energy— to cope with the growing number of dysentery and malaria patients, as well as the wounded.
The devotion of the doctors and their orderlies was truly moving. Some of them paid the final, terrible price of duty. It was impossible to hold every point in strength, and one night in pitch darkness, the enemy overran the medical dressing station on the edge of the “box.” They burst in upon the place, shouting and howling like dervishes. But their savagery was not that engendered by battle. Forty-eight hours after occupying the dressing station a senior Jap officer entered and ordered all wounded to be massacred. Orderlies and patients tried to escape by crawling out on their bellies in the darkness through a deep nullah. Some of the patients were too weak, and others too severely wounded even to stir on their stretchers. The Japs went from bed to bed bayoneting every man that showed the least sign of life Their heartrending cries and groans were heard by their com­rades beyond the nullah, helpless to rescue them.
The doctors fared no better. The Japs lined up six and in cold blood shot every one dead with a bullet through his ear. One MO, who was carrying out an operation in a dug-out at the time, owes his life and that of his patient to the fact that he had so efficiently blacked-out” his underground sur­gery that Tanahashi’s tribesmen passed by without noticing it. Another had the presence of mind to fake death when he saw what was happening by falling flat on his face and daubing himself with blood. In the ‘box.’ whenever the account of these horrors was repeated, a hush would fall over the company. Among those who listened were men whose best pals had been with the 80-odd wounded whom Tanahashi butchered.
Night was the cover the Japs sought to work under darkness their chief ally Regularly as the sun fell over the Range these sub-humans donned yet more hideous face-masks and came slithering through the rank grass, whining weird animal calls to keep touch with each other. Then, the bravest defender had to steel himself at his post and remember the Night of the Massacre. Spirits sank with the sun- and rose again as he rose. Men who had never seen the inside of a church since their choir days invoked God’s mercy and His strength. Many scribbled their home addresses on scraps of paper for their mates to drop a line home to the “missus” or “my girl” or “the old folk just in case anything should happen.
In the ‘box’ everything was shared. One officer, handy with a needle and thread, gave all his spare time to stitching buttons on shirts and slacks for anyone that asked the service from Lieut-Colonels to Lance­ Corporals. Many shared more—their thoughts with lonely comrades. Some would get to thinking that folks at home might miss their letters and imagine the worst and they would begin worrying. They had to be cheered up, and they were. Then there was sometimes the thought that though the air-supply had not failed yet, perhaps. . . .? Men sick to death of biscuits and bully would put a bit aside in their kit as tho’ it were manna. Sleep was safest at the bottom of a slit-trench with the rats.
By day the Japs were less formid­able. One suicide squad came in against a post in traditional Impe­rial sacrifice style. Within two minutes only one remained alive and he was too terror-stricken to move. They displayed the usual Japanese lack of resilience. They tried to use a chaung as a rendezvous simply be­cause it was marked as such in their Operation Orders. A British infantry unit had captured it but as this was-_ NOT in the orders the Jap NCO s still came to use it for their rendez­vous. Not a single one lived to pass on his instructions.
But the time for the counter-stroke was now at hand, and Tanahashi’s troops were tiring. Ten days had been set for their task, and ten days’ rations issued for it. They had carried out the plan—and the British had not fled, had not even withdrawn anywhere from the Admin Box from their for­ward positions in Kalapanzin Valley or from their line on the western side of the Range.

On the contrary, the British were fighting back with growing violence, and had re-occupied Taung Bazar; what was worse fresh troops were coming up from the north. This was not in Honourable Operations Orders, either.

The forward brigades of 7 Div had stood firm the whole of the time and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy as well denied him opportunity to supply his assault troops or return southwards with casualties.
Like the troops in the Admin Box these front-line forces were also sup­plied entirely by air. One brigade constructed an air-strip on the banks of the Kalapanzin from which wounded were flown out of the battle area by light Allied aircraft under the protection of riflemen and machine­ gunners who kept the enemy at bay. General Christison’s plan to complete the destruction of Tanahashi’s enter­prise fell into two parts. Phase I was to clear the main Allied L and C (the Bawli-Maungdaw road), Phase II was to clear “Okeydoke” and crush the now thoroughly, mauled Jap striking force to pieces against the anvil of the intact British positions in the Kalapanzin Valley. The hammer was Maj-General Lomax’s “Tiger heads” (26 Div) now advancing from Chittagong. It includ­ed those Arakan veterans, the Lin­colns and the Wiltshires. Indeed, within a very short time of the original “encirclement” the advance elements of this force were already at grips with the most northerly force of the enemy.
The Japs fought it out resolutely but the “Tiger-heads” broke all resistance along the road, destroying or driving the invaders back over the forest of Mayu Range into the Kalapanzin Valley. A battalion of the 18 Royal Garhwal Rifles were the first to arrive, and they took post at the western end of “Okeydoke” to block any further Jap irruption on to 5 Div’s positions. They played a not­able part in the final clearing of the Pass in the last battle at Pont 1070. Meanwhile, the 8 Gurkhas and a battalion of 16 Punjabis steadily swept the spine of the Range clean of Japs, killing scores and herding the re­mainder down into the Kalapanzin for despatch there by troops defending the Admin Box.
For this purpose General Lomax had been laboriously building up his forces in the valley. His only L of C was the Goppe mule track. But in due course both his own 26 Div and also 36 Indian Div (Maj-General F. W. Fest­ing, DSO) were fully mustered for the final settlement. The Japs generally were in a wretched state by this time. The defenders of the Admin Box had taken savage toll of them—a preliminary count revealed that more than 1100 had been’ buried in this area alone. Two forward brigades of 7 Div, which with a brigade of 5 Div. had never relinquished their positions and had also already exacted their price, now blocked the retreat of the enemy.
Trapped themselves now, and with no transport planes to feed and muni­tion them. the Japanese began to suffer the full pains of siege. Heavy bombers dived on their bunkers and fighters gunned their foxholes. When the planes went home for fresh bomb-loads the artillerymen relieved them, and when they in turn paused the tank gunners open­ed up. The diary of a Japanese Intelligence Officer which fell into our hands recorded that Tanahashi’s Brigade Group had gone seven days without rations and had existed on wild yams and water. Another entry noted that the owner himself had gone 10 days without food, tho’ even at the end of that time he had reported himself as able to dig bunkers. The enemy, of course. looted what he could from the villages, but he was elsewhere described as being so short of food that he was eating monkeys.

The British attack was pressed home relentlessly by a pincer move­ment from both sides of the Range. Between them, they left very little of the “March on Delhi.” or on Chitta­gong either. The Admin Box battle ended when Major Ferguson Hoey led the assault of the Lincoins on Point 315 overlooking it. He fell as it was captured, gaining the VC.

The three weeks’ siege was raised. The breaking of the enemy’s strangle­hold on “Okeydoke” followed shortly after by the capture of Hill 1070. It required ten days’ fighting with tank and artillery support to liquidate deep Jap bunkers in this knife-edge feature with its conical peak. Even after it was thought cleared a land­slide caused by the bombing and shelling, unearthed another score of the enemy.

Then at last the convoys ladened with food rolled once more down the slopes of “Okeydoke” to the relieved army. At the head rode Mai-General’ H. R. Briggs, DSO, OBE. Commander of 5 Div. coming to congratulate his fellow divisional commander Maj ­General Messervy, on his magnificent stand. The Battle of Arakan was virtually over, and the Fourteenth Army stood triumphant on its first great battlefield.

They had smashed No. 1 Japanese invasion of India; scored the first major British-Indian victory over the arrogant enemy, killed 4,500 of his finest troops (the figure later rose to nearly 7.000). Even more vital ‘the British and Indian soldier had set up a man to man superiority over the Japanese soldier in the field.

The strategy of the Jap High Command had been completely frustrated. Our troops on the Southern Front had been neither driven out nor annihilated; the road to India had not been forced; the reserve divisions covering the Central Front hadn’t been suck­ed into the struggle and used-up. They remained intact ready to deal with Part II of the Japanese invasion for which strong enemy forces were already massing along the Chindwin.

Above all the Allies had demon­strated their mastery of a new way of jungle warfare—the land-air tech­nique of combat and supply. In the coming battles on the Central Front entire divisions (5 Div and 7 Div) would be transported by air from Arakan to Assam to reinforce the troops already meeting and break­ing the new Japanese offensive. Thus Arakan itself a great defensive vic­tory, directly paved the way towards another and ‘far greater defensive operation which developed into a triumphant Allied offensive along all three fronts.

The enemy was not allowed to rest in Arakan. No victory is complete without pursuit, and Christison pressed fiercely upon the beaten enemy. To Messervy went orders to destroy the remnant of the invading forces. With what grim satisfaction did the commander and troops of the “encir­cled and annihilated 7 Div” execute this order.

By the time the monsoons broke on the Southern Front in June we had taken the fortress of Razabil as well as the commanding heights around Buthidaung and the strategic tunnels linking either side of Mayu Range. - Our ships sailed unimpeded up the Naff River. Lieut-General Christison thus established a forward line which could be held with a minimum of troops throughout the malarial season while the RAF, ope­rating from all-weather air-strips, continually harried the Jap monsoon quarters.

“The enemy has been challenged and beaten in jungle warfare,” said the Prime Minister in a special message to Supreme Commander Lord Louis Mountbatten and the Fourteenth Army on the morrow of this great victory “His boastfulness has received a most salutary exposures”


Arakanese, the real owner of Mahamyatmuni Image.

All Arakanese were strong and pround Buddhist People.

Arakanese chronicle records that more than six million shrines and pagodas flourished in Mrauk-U.

The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called "Rakhaing-pray" by its own peoples, Rakhaing-thar (Arakanese). The Arakanese history records the early Arakanese to migrate in Arakan and settled down in their true land since time immemorial.

The Arakanese (Rakhaingthar) heroically lived in their ancient homeland of Arakan state devoting to safeguard the two essential qualities, namely nationality (Amyo) and morality (Sila).

The detail of Arakanese historical recorded Age has been started from B.C. 3325 by King Marayu.

The word Rakhaing (Rakhine) means, “one who keeps his own race.” They are a strong and proud Buddhist people and claim to be one of the first groups to become followers of the Buddha in Southeast Asia.

Arakan is comprised of the four provinces of Dhanyawady (Mrauk-U), Maegawady (Man Aung), Dwarawady (Sandway), Rammawady (Rann Bray) and 12 Bengal cities including Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). Decca (present capital of Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka) area as far a field as Mushidabad (near present day Calcutta) was most of the time under Arakanese rule.

The area of Arakan was about 20,000 sq. ml. till the British period. But, Burmese ruler, without the Arakanese people's consent, split up a north western Arakan Hill Tracts area bordering India and a southern most part of Arakan (from Kyauk Chaung River to Cape Negaris) from the Arakan mainland. Due to these partitions, the present day total area of Arakan was reduced to 18, 500 sq. ml and it comprises less than half of historic Arakan.

According to the Arakanese chronicles, the name Rakhaing (Rakhine) was originated from Pali word Rakhapura meaning the land of the people of Rakhasa (Rakhasa > Rakkha > Rakkhaing > Rakhaing) who were titled this name in honour of preservation on their national heritage (Amyo) and ethics or morality (Sila).

"The Zambu among the islands The Rakhine among the nations Such are their fames circulated. Virtuous as they are, and patriotic, Diligent in work and charitable to all- Equally liked deities and men; Let theirs be the coveted Nibbana".

Buddhism was introduced into Arakan during the lifetime of Buddha himself. According to Rakhine chronicles, Lord Buddha in his life time visited the city of Dhannyawadi (Grain Blessed) in 554 B.C. The Rakhine king Sandar Suriya (Sun Moon) requested Lord Buddha to leave the image of Himself. After casting the Great Image Maha Muni (Great Sage) Lord Buddha breathed upon it which resembled the exact likness of the Blessed One.

Arakanese were only believed in Buddhism. They didn't believe any other religions.

So, Arakanese Ethnic group have no Muslim, no Christian, no Hindu and no other religious people.

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Migrated People in Arakan:

The Rohingyas are not an indigenous ethnic group of Myanmar (Burma).We can confidently say that there has never been such an ethnic group throughout the history of Burma and also her state Rakhine. The people called Rohingyas are direct descendents of immigrants from the Chittagong District of East Bengal (present day Bangladesh). The British colonial officials called them Chittagonians in their administrative records. These Muslim people (Rohingyas) are not Arakan (Rakhine Pyay) origin and also can’t be called them as arakanese (Rakhine thar). They migrated into Arakan after the province was ceded to British India under the terms of Treaty of Yandabo concluded at the end of the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1826. Most of them settled down in the Buthidaung and Maungdaw Districts of Arakan State, the frontier areas near Burma’s border with Bangladesh. Their migration in the past usually happened during the agricultural season when Arakan faced the problem of the shortage of agricultural labourers. These Muslims, of mainly Bengali origin, were not culturally integrated and played a part in history of domestic conflicts in Myanmar after 1947. They then claimed an identity of their own and organized themselves in the so-called Rohingya movements. It is obvious that the term “Rohingya” was created in 1950s by the educated Chittagonian descendants from Mayu Frontier area (present day Buthidaung and Maungdaw Districts).

We didn't hear the word rohingyas before 1950 in our region and also didn't find any historical source materials in any language till then. Rohingya name was created by some of the Bengladeshi Muslim Extremist with the aim to occupy Arakan. Bengalis and Rohingyas squatters (people who come to our land to claim it as theirs) are trying to occupy our land. Arakan is our own land and our continent. This is not property of the Bengalis and Rohingyas or their descendants. Bengalis and Rohingyas squatters are today stealing not just our land; they are stealing our farmland, our forests and all of our other resources. They are also stealing our honor, our dignity, and our sense of being one Rakhine nation. And also their aim is to destroy our nation and religion, after that they will try to form Muslim country in our own land.

"So, we must protect our own land for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect our land for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees." Bravenet Hit Counter

Arakan News


Sunday, October 5, 2008


Mother's love is beyond measure.
Hence,the shade of her love is the most peaceful.

Under the shade of Mom's love,
I wish to live at the end of my life.

Mom we call in our daily life is only three alphabet.
But, it is the most auspicious one in the world.

By Kyaukroe-Hlum Moe Khaing


RakhineRakhine comprises 7 ethnic groups.(1) Rakhine(2) Kamein(3) Kwe Myi(4) Daingnet (5) Maramagyi(6) Mro(7) ThetRakhine people formerly Arakanese, an ethnic group of Myanmar, are today recognized as a national race by the Burmese military government, and they form the majority along Rakhine State's coastal regions. They are approximately 4% or more of Myanmar's population but no accurate census figures exist.According to the Arakanese chronicles, the name Rakhaing (Rakhine) was originated from Pali word Rakhapura meaning the land of the people of Rakhasa who were titled this name in honour of preservation on their national heritage and ethics or morality. The word Rakhaing means, “one who keeps their own race.” They are a strong and proud Buddhist people and claim to be one of the first groups to become followers of the Buddha in Southeast Asia.CultureThe Rakhine are culturally different from the Bamar. They speak a language related to but different from Burmese. The Rakhine language, although mutually intelligible with standard Burmese, has certain differences in vocabulary. The Rakhine are predominantly Buddhists. One major reason for the cultural differences between the dominant Bamar and the Rakhine is their geographical isolation due to the Arakan Yoma (Chin Hills). The Rakhine have been influenced by Indian culture, and traces of Indian influence remain in many aspects of Rakhine culture, including its literature, music, and cuisine.HistoryThe people of Rakhine claim a history that began in 3325 B.C and also archaeological evidence has been found to support this claim. The first Independent Arakan Kingdom was established in 3325 B.C by King Marayu. Buddhism was introduced into Arakan during the lifetime of Buddha himself. According to Rakhine chronicles, Lord Buddha in his life time visited the city of Dhannyawadi in 554 B.C. The Rakhine King Sandar Suriya (Sun Moon) requested Lord Buddha to leave the image of himself. After casting the Great Image Maha Muni (Great Sage) Lord Buddha breathed upon it which resembled the exact likeness of the Blessed One.Ancient Dhannyawadi is located west of the ridge between the Kaladan and Lc-mro rivers. Dhannyawadi could be reached by small boat from the Kaladan via its tributary, the Tharechaung. Its city walls were made of brick, and form an irregular circle with a perimeter of about 9.6 kilometres, enclosing an area of about 4.42 square kilometres. Beyond the walls, the remains of a wide moat, now silted over and covered by paddy fields, are still visible in places. The re­mains of brick fortifications can be seen along the hilly ridge which provided protection from the west. Within the city, a similar wall and moat enclose the palace site, which has an area of 0.26 square kilometres, and another wall surrounds the palace itself.At times of insecurity, when the city was subject to raids from the hill tribes or attempted invasions from neigh­bouring powers, there would have been an assured food supply enabling the population to withstand a siege. The city would have controlled the valley and the lower ridges, supporting a mixed wet-rice and taungya (slash and burn) economy, with local chiefs paying allegiance to the king.Throughout the history of Arakan, and indeed the rest of early Southeast Asia, the king's power stemmed from his control of irrigation and water storage systems to conserve the monsoon rains and therefore to maintain the fertility and prosperity of the land. In ceremonies conducted by Indian Brahmins the king was given the magic power to regulate the celestial and terrestrial forces in order to control the coming of the rains which would ensure the continuing prosperity of the kingdom.Mrauk U Mrauk U Koe thaung temple Mrauk U Koe thaung pagodaHistorical PeriodsPeriodYearsRulerNotesDhanyawady - BC. 3325 - AD. 326The First DhanyawadyBC. 3325 - 1483King MarayuThe Second DhanyawadyBC. 1483 - 580King KanrazagreeThe Third DhanyawadyBC. 580 - AD. 326King Chandra SuriyaGautama Buddha, Himself, visited Dhanyawady and the Great Image of Mahamuni was cast, and Buddhism began professed in Arakan. Currency system by coinage is said introduced in Arakan economy.Vesali – Lemro - AD. 327 – 1430Vesali Kyauk HlaygaAD. 327 - 794King Dvan ChandraSambawakAD. 794- 818Prince Nga Tong Mong (Saw Shwe Lu)LemroAD. 818 -1430King Nga Tone MunThis period was the highest civilization in the Bay and highly prosperous with busy international trade with the west. Pyinsa, Purain, Taung Ngu and Narinsara, Laungkrat cities were flourished and gold and silver coinage was used in trade relation in Arakan in this period.Golden Mrauk-U - 1430 - 1784First Golden Mrauk-U1430 - 1530King Mun Saw MwanSecond Golden Mrauk-U1530 - 1638Solidified by King Mun Bun (Mun Ba Gri)Arakan reached at the zenith of the national unity and of the time of most powerful in the Bay in this period.Third Golden Mrauk-U Period1638 - 1784King Mahathamada Raza1785 - Armies led by the Crown Prince, son of King Bodawpaya, of the Konbaung dynasty of Burma marched across the western Yoma and annexed Arakan.Mrauk U Sakkyar Man Aung pagoda c 400 ad C 1000 Mrauk U Shittaung pagodaAn ancient stone inscription in Nagari character was discovered by renowned Archaeologist Dr. Forchhammer. Known as Salagiri, this hill was where the great teacher came to Arakan some two thousand five hundred years ago. Somewhere from eastern part of this hill, a stone image in Dhamma-cakra-mudra now kept in Mrauk-U museum, was found earlier in 1923. This relief sculpture found on the Salagiri Hill represents Buddha preaching King Canda Suriya belongs to 4th century A.D.; five more red sandstone slabs with the carving were found close by the south of this Salagiri Hill in 1986. They are the same type as the single slab found earlier in 1923.These sculptures provide earliest evident about the advent of Buddhism into Arakan; during the life time of the Buddha and these discoveries were therefore assumed as the figures of King Canda Suriya of Dyanawady, who dedicated the Great Maha Muni Image. These archaeological findings have been studied by eminent scholars and conclusion is that the Maha Muni was made during the king Sanda Suriya era.Cubic stone inscriptions record the peace making between the governor of Thandaway Mong Khari (1433-1459) and Razadhiraj the Mon Emperor in Arakanese inscription. This was found from a garrison hill at the oldest site of Parein. A stone slab with the alleged figure of the Buddha preaching, King Canda Suriya bored testimony to the Salagiri tradition, depicting of the advent of the Teacher to Dyanyawaddy.The crowing event in the history of Arakan was the Convention of the Buddhist Council at the top of golden hill of Vesali under the royal patronage of King Dhammawizaya in 638 AD. through joint effort of two countries, Arakan and Ceylon. This momentous triumph of the great council was participated by one thousand monks from Ceylon and one thousand monks from Arakan kingdom. Royal patronage has always been significant factor contribution to stability and progress of the religion in Arakan.The country had been invaded several times, by the Mongols, Mon, Bamar and Portuguese and finally the Bamar in 1785 when the armies led by the Crown Prince, son of King Bodawpaya, of the Konbaung dynasty of Burma marched across the western Yoma and annexed Arakan.The religious relics of the kingdom were stolen from Rakhine, most notably the Mahamuni Buddha image, and taken into central Burma where they remain today. The people of Arakan resisted the conquest of the kingdom for decades after. The year 1826 saw the defeat of the Bamar in the First Anglo-Burmese War and Arakan was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Yandabo. Akyab (Sittwe) was then designated the new capital of Arakan. In 1852, Arakan was merged into Lower Burma as a territorial division.Mahamuni BuddhaDuring the Second World War, Arakan was given autonomy under the Japanese occupation and was even granted its own army known as the Arakan Defense Force. The Arakan Defense Force went over to the allies and turned against the Japanese in early 1945. After the war, Arakan was the centre of multiple insurgencies which fought against British rule, notably led by the monks U Ottama and U Seinda.In 1948, Arakan became independent as a division within the Union of Burma. Shortly after, violence broke out along religious lines between Buddhists and Muslims. Later there were calls for secession by the Rakhine, but such attempts were subdued. In 1974, the Ne Win government's new constitution granted Rakhine Division "state" status but the gesture was largely seen as meaningless since the military junta held all power in the country and in Rakhine. In 1989, the name of Arakan State was changed to "Rakhine" by the military junta.Copyright

Saturday, October 4, 2008

တိုင္းမွဴးေသာင္းေအး စစ္ေတြတြင္ ေပၚေပါက္ေသာ ဆႏၵျပပြဲမ်ား အေပၚ အျပစ္မျမင္
ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္ အေျခစိုက္ အေနာက္ပိုင္းတိုင္း တိုင္းမွဴးအျဖစ္ အသစ္ေရာက္ရွိလာသူ ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ေသာင္းေအးသည္ စစ္ေတြတြင္ ေပၚေပါက္ေနေသာ ဆႏၵျပပြဲမ်ား အေပၚ အျပစ္ျမင္သည့္ သေဘာမရွိေၾကာင္း စစ္ေတြကနိုင္ငံေရးေလ့လာ အကဲခတ္သူတဦးက ေျပာသည္။
သူက “က်ေနာ္တို႕ ျမိဳ႕မိျမိဳ႕ဖေတြကို လြန္ခဲ့တဲ့လ ၂၉ ရက္ေန႕က ဦးဥတၱမခန္းမမွာ အစည္းအေ၀းလုပ္ပါတယ္။ အဓိကေတာ့ စစ္ေတြမွာ ေရရရွိေရးမီးရရွိေရး ကိစၥ ေတြကို တိုင္းမွဴးကေဆြးေႏြးတာပါ။ ဒါေပမယ့္လည္း အရင္တိုင္းမွဴးေတြလို အစည္းအေ၀း လုပ္တိုင္း ဆႏၵျပပြဲေတြလုပ္ရင္ ဖမ္းမယ္ဆီးမယ္။ ျဖိဳခြင္းပစ္မယ္ဆိုျပီး ျခိမ္းေျခာက္တာေတြ လုပ္တာမရွိဘူး။ သူက စစ္ေတြအေျခအေနကို တိုးတက္ေကာင္းမြန္ေအာင္လုပ္ဖို႕ဘဲ ေျပာပါ တယ္။”ဟု ေျပာသည္။
ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္ စစ္ေတြတြင္ ရဟန္းေတာ္မ်ား ဆႏၵျပရန္ ၾကိဳးပမ္းမႈမွာ လြန္ခဲ့ေသာ ၂ လအတြင္း အနည္းဆံုး ေလးၾကိမ္ခန္႕ရွိခဲ့ျပီး စက္တဘၤာလ ၂၇ ရက္ေန႕က လမ္းေပၚထြက္ ဆႏၵျပနိုင္ခဲ့သည္။
အလားတူ စက္တဘၤာလ ၂၈ ရက္ေန႕ကလည္း နည္းပညာေကာ လိပ္မွ ေက်ာင္းသားမ်ားအေနျဖင့္ ေက်ာင္းကား မစီစဥ္္ေပးမႈအေပၚ ဆန္႕က်င္ကန္႕ကြက္သည့္ အေနျဖင့္ ၁၁ မိုင္ခန္႕ခရီးကို ေျခလ်င္ေလ်ာက္ကာ ဆႏၵျပခဲ့ၾကသည္။
ထိုသို႕ ၾကီးမားေသာ လႈပ္ရွားမႈ (၂) ၾကိမ္တိုင္တိုင္ ေပၚေပါက္ ခဲ့ေသာ္လည္း ရဟန္းေတာ္တပါးအား ေခတၱထိန္းသိမ္းေမးျမန္းရုံမွအပ အဖမ္းအဆီးမ်ား မရွိခဲ့ေၾကာင္း သိရွိရသည္။
“ရခိုင္အမ်ိဳးသားေတြ ဘာေၾကာင့္ စစ္အစိုးရအေပၚ မေက်နပ္မႈဳ တိုးပြားေနရသလဲဆုိတာကို အာဏာရွိအထက္လူၾကီးေတြ သိပါတယ္။ စစ္ေတြျမိဳ႕ေပၚမွာ လမ္းတ လမ္းမွ အေကာင္းမရွိဘူး။ သာမန္လမ္းေတြကိုထား ျမိဳ႕ထဲက အဓိကက်တဲ့ မင္းဗာၾကၤီးလမ္းဆိုရင္ ကတၱရာေစးေတာင္မရွိဘူး။ ေနရာတိုင္း ခ်ိဳင့္ခြက္ၾကီးေတြနဲ႕ သြားလာလို႕မရေအာင္ ျဖစ္ေနတယ္။ ျပဳျပင္တာမရွိဘူး။ ေရပံုမွန္မလာဘူး။ မီးက တေန႕ ၂ နာရီသာရတယ္။ ဗမာျပည္က ျမိဳ႕ေတြနဲ႕ ရခိုင္ျပည္နယ္အတြင္းက ျမိဳ႕ေတြ အပံုတရာကြာပါတယ္။” ဟု သူကေျပာသည္။
ယခုကဲ့သို႕ အစစအရာရာ ဖိႏွိပ္ခံေနရေသာ ရခိုင္ျပည္သူမ်ား အေနျဖင့္ နအဖစစ္အစိုးရ အေပၚဆန္႕က်င္လိုစိတ္ ျပင္းျပေနျခင္းမွာ အျပစ္တခုအျဖစ္ တိုင္းမွဴး ေသာင္းေအးက သေဘာထားပံုမရဟု အဆိုပါ နိုင္ငံေရးေလ့လာ အကဲခတ္သူက ေျပာၾကားသည္။