The Battle That Turned Britain's War in the East
The untold story of one of WW2's most extraordinary and significant battles which marked the turning of the tide of the war in the jungles of Burma
'A first-rate popular history of a fascinating and neglected battle . . . James Holland is a master of spinning narrative military history from accounts of men and women who were there and BURMA ’44 is a veritable page-turner' BBC History
In February 1944, a rag-tag collection of clerks, drivers, doctors, muleteers, and other base troops, stiffened by a few dogged Yorkshiremen and a handful of tank crews managed to hold out against some of the finest infantry in the Japanese Army, and then defeat them in what was one of the most astonishing battles of the Second World War.
What became know as The Defence of the Admin Box, fought amongst the paddy fields and jungle of Northern Arakan over a fifteen-day period, turned the battle for Burma. Not only was it the first decisive victory for British troops against the Japanese, more significantly, it demonstrated how the Japanese could be defeated. The lessons learned in this tiny and otherwise insignificant corner of the Far East, set up the campaign in Burma that would follow, as General Slim’s Fourteenth Army finally turned defeat into victory.
Burma '44 is a tale of incredible drama. As gripping as the story of Rorke's drift, as momentous as the battle for the Ardennes, the Admin Box was a triumph of human grit and heroism and remains one of the most significant yet undervalued conflicts of World War Two.
“Holland is good on the mechanics of warfare and gives a thrilling blow-by-blow account of the fighting, which will please military buffs. There are also crisp vignettes of the commanders . . . But it is the voices of the fighting men that lift this book above the level of a simple battle narrative. Holland has a good ear.”
“Up there with Rorke’s Drift . . . in rescuing the Battle of the Admin Box from oblivion, Holland has performed a signal service for all the men who fought – and died – in its defence”
“In this superb account of an obscure but decisive battle fought in almost indescribably difficult jungle terrain, the always excellent James Holland tells a tale of heroism and grit to match any in the annals of war”
The Mail on Sunday
“Vivid . . . military historian James Holland conjures the heroism and horror of this gallant stand by a motley force of doctors, clerks and other base troops against highly trained Japanese infantry.”
“A gripping account of one of the war’s lesser-known episodes”
“Holland is excellent at conjuring up the sights, sounds and smells of combat in the Arakan’s inhospitable terrain . . . Too many histories of the Second World War revisit the same old battles: Dunkirk, El Alamein, D-day and Arnhem. It is refreshing, therefore, to be reminded of one of the lesser known yet still highly significant engagements. Burma ’44 is a brilliant exploration of how and why the British turned the tide in the East”
“This book not only reveals previously unknown facts, it also makes one proud of the British achievement, both by the ‘clerks and orderlies; and by senior commanders”
“A smashing battle history . . . The fear and tension of jungle combat are tangible in this pacey narrative of how British and Indian troops won their first decisive victory over the Japanese”
BBC History Magazine