The speed of the Japanese advance into Malaya often depended on improvisation, which is shown here as soldiers hold up a makeshift bridge.
Asian Mainland!
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02/01/1942 British troops are outflanked by the Japanese at Kampar in Malaya and begin to withdraw to the river Slim.
04/01/1942 Chiang Kai-shek is appointed as Supreme allied commander in China.
07/01/1942 British forces continue to retreat south through central Malaya as the Japanese force a crossing of the river Slim. The British commander, General Arthur E. Percival, hopes to be able to hold at Johore until at least mid February.
11/01/1942 The Japanese 5th Division enters Kuala Lumpur, which is the main supply base for the Indian 3rd Corps. By this time Japanese forward elements are coming in to contact with the 8th Australian Division, which puts up fierce resistance, although Japanese amphibious landings to their south force them to retreat and ends British hopes of a protracted defence of Johore.
15/01/1942 The Japanese begin their invasion of Burma from Thailand, attacking up the Kra Isthmus. They quickly capture the British airfields around Tenasserim, enabling Japanese fighters to now escort bomber attacks against Rangoon.
19/01/1942 General Wavell warns Churchill that Singapore cannot be held as little had been done to prepare the landward facing defences. Churchill replies that Singapore must be defended and that 'no question of surrender be entertained until after protracted fighting among the ruins of Singapore city'. General Wavell orders General Percival to prepare Singapore Island for a siege. Japanese troop capture Tavoy as their advance continues in Burma.
20/01/1942 The Japanese 55th Division crosses the Thai-Burmese border from Raheng. They quickly threaten Moulmein in Burma, using the same tactics as in Malaya of outflanking British forces through the Jungle.
21/01/1942 General Joseph W. Stillwell is appointed as Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek.
22/01/1942 Reinforcements reach Singapore as an Indian Brigade is landed.
24/01/1942 More reinforcements arrive at Singapore to boost its defenses as the British 18th Division is landed.
25/01/1942 Thailand declares war on Britain and the US.
30/01/1942 The Japanese capture Moulmein and its airfield in Burma as the British forces evacuate and withdraw across the river Salween.
31/01/1942 British and Commonwealth forces complete their evacuation of Malaya and withdraw to Singapore Island across the causeway with the Japanese only 8 miles away. Singapore now has the equivalent of four divisions to defend it, but morale is low and there are serious shortages of weapons. An additional Indian Brigade is landed at Rangoon and sent to join the 17th Indian Division.
 
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04/02/1942
The British refuse to surrender at Singapore, heavy bombardment by the Japanese continues for 4 days.
07/02/1942 Lt. General Percival, the commander at Singapore, says city will be held to the last man. The Japanese launch a feint landing on Pulua Ubin Island to the east of Singapore.
08/02/1942 The Japanese land on the western side of Singapore Island, encountering only minimal resistance.
09/02/1942 By dawn the Japanese 5th and 18th Divisions have firmly established themselves on the island and begin to advance south-east towards Singapore city.
10/02/1942 Wavell makes his last visit to Singapore, but by now there was nothing he could do to alter the outcome.
11/02/1942 Japanese troops cross the river Salween in Burma. This caused concern for the commander on the 17th Indian Division, Lieutenant General John Smyth, who felt that his troops might be cut off. He urged Burma Army commander, Lieutenant General Hutton to allow him to withdraw across the river Sittang. However, he was ordered to hold firm on the river Bilin.
15/02/1942 Singapore surrenders to the Japanese, a decision prompted as much as anything by the plight of the 1,000,000 civilian inhabitants of the island. 9,000 British, Australian and Empire troops are killed and 130,000 captured, many of which will find themselves working as slaves on the notorious Burma-Thai Railway. The Japanese casualties amount to around 9,000 killed or wounded.
16/02/1942 The Australian Prime Minister Curtin, calls the surrender of Singapore ‘Australia’s Dunkirk’.
19/02/1942 Under increasing threat of being outflanked by the advancing Japanese, the 17th Indian Division is finally given permission to withdraw across the river Sittang.
23/02/1942 While the 17th Indian Division is withdrawing across the river Sittang, the Japanese launch an attack to capture the Bridge. Lieutenant General Smyth, orders the bridge to be blown, even though more than half his division has still to cross. The remnants of the 17th Indian Division, withdraw to Pegu, where they are joined by the 7th Armoured Brigade, which had recently arrived from the Middle East. For prematurely blowing up the bridge on the river Sittang, Lieutenant General Smyth is removed from command of the 17th Indian Division by General Wavell.
28/02/1942 Japanese are only 50 miles north of Rangoon.
 
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02/03/1942 General Wavell reassumes post as C-in-C India and Burma. Burma is now cut off from the Southwest Pacific.
03/03/1942 General Chiang Kai-shek meets General Wavell in Burma.
05/03/1942 General Sir Harold Alexander arrives at Rangoon to take over command of Burma Army from Lieutenant General Hutton. Wavell had given Alexander orders to hold Rangoon at all costs. Immediately, orders were issue for the 1st Burma Division to counter-attack the Japanese from the north and 17th Indian Division which had be reinforced was to attack east of Pegu. Both attacks failed and Alexander realised that Rangoon could not be held. He ordered that Rangoon be evacuated and his troops withdraw north to the Irrawaddy Valley to regroup.
06/03/1942 Japanese cut all roads north of Rangoon, trapping the British at Pegu.
08/03/1942 Rangoon falls to the Japanese as the British forces escape to the north. The 17th Indian Division was now holding the Irrawaddy area and the 1st Burma Division the upper Sittang valley. The Chinese Expeditionary Force were farther north, with the Fifth Chinese Army defending Mandalay and the 6th Chinese Army was at Toungoo and defending the Burmese province of Shan.
09/03/1942 US General Stilwell becomes Chiang Kai-shek’s Chief of Staff.
12/03/1942 The British evacuate their garrison from the Andaman Islands, just off the Burmese coast south of Rangoon.
19/03/1942 General Bill Slim is appointed as commander of the 1st Burma Corps, which covers all British, Indian and Burmese troops in Burma. This left General Alexander to concentrate on co-ordination with the Chinese.
20/03/1942 Japanese troops, reinforced by the 18th and 56th Division which had arrived by sea at Rangoon a few days earlier, attack the 6th Chinese Army near Toungoo in Burma.
23/03/1942 Japanese troops capture the Andaman Island.
24/03/1942 The British Government refuses to hold an inquiry into the loss of Singapore during a Lords debate.
28/03/1942 In response to General Stilwell's request for a British counter-attack to relieve the pressure on Chinese forces around Toungoo, Alexander orders the 1st Burma Corps to attack at Paungde and Prome in the Irrawaddy valley.
30/03/1942 The 6th Chinese Army abandons Toungoo, and fails to destroy the bridge over the river Sittang as well. This leaves the way to the Chinese border wide open for the Japanese Army. The abandonment of Toungoo also exposed 1st Burma Corps left flank, whose attacks in the Prome area had been turned back by the Japanese. It was therefore forced to withdraw towards the Yenangyuang oilfields.
 
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01/04/1942 The Japanese force the Chinese out of Toungoo, north of Rangoon.
02/04/1942 British retreat from Prome, upper Burma.
03/04/1942 Japanese aircraft bomb Mandalay in central Burma, killing 2,000. They met no opposition from the RAF as all its aircraft had by now been withdrawn to India.
09/04/1942 Mahatma Gandhi arrested in India.
10/04/1942 British negotiations in India break down.
12/04/1942 Japanese troops capture Migyaungye in Burma, which exposes the western flank of 1st Burma Corps at put the oilfields at Yenangyuang under threat.
15/04/1942 The British begin to destroy the oil wells at Yenangyuang. The 1st Burma Division with the help of the 38th Chinese Division, manages to extricate itself from a pocket south of Yenangyuang, before being completely surrounded.
23/04/1942 Churchill tells the House of Commons of disasters in Japanese war.
29/04/1942 Japanese troops capture Lashio, thereby cutting the vital 'Burma Road' supply route into China.
30/04/1942 The British 1st Burma Corps completes its withdrawal over the Irrawaddy at Mandalay in Burma.
 
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01/05/1942 The Japanese capture Monywa and Mandalay. The fall of Monywa was especially serious as this threatened to cut off the British withdrawal towards India. This turned a reasonably well organised withdrawal, in to a headlong retreat as British troops tried to avoid being cut off.
04/05/1942 Akyab on the Burmese coast is abandoned by the British.
05/05/1942 The Japanese advance into China along the Burma Road.
08/05/1942 Japanese troops capture Myitkyina in northern Burma.
11/05/1942 British retreat across Chindwin completed.
15/05/1942 British forces retreating from Burma reach the Indian frontier. General Stilwell crosses the border in to Assam in India.
20/05/1942 The rearguards of the 1st Burma Corps cross the border from Burma into India. Once this is complete, the 1st Burma Corps is disbanded.
21/05/1942 Japan allows International Red Cross representatives to visit British prisoners.
24/05/1942 General Stilwell arrives in Delhi.
29/05/1942 The Chinese are defeated by Japanese forces at Kinhwa in Chekiang province south of Shanghai.
 
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30/07/1942 Chinese recapture Tsingtien in Eastern Chekiang, cutting off the Japanese at Wenchow.
 
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01/08/1942 Japanese establish a puppet government in Burma.
30/08/1942 Chinese claim the recapture of the whole of Kiangsi, which was captured in last Japanese offensive.
 
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21/09/1942 British forces begin their first land counter-offensive against the Japanese in Arakan, western Burma.
 
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20/12/1942 The Japanese bomb Calcutta for the first time.
21/12/1942 British troops cross the Burmese border from India and head southeast towards Akyab.
 

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