In December 1941, as the Japanese army led by Yamashita scythed through Malaya to capture Singapore, Britain’s defence of its Asian colonies collapsed. Poor preparation and inadequate leadership saw the British exposed to a new type of warfare in the Far East, a Japanese blitzkrieg that proved every bit as effective as Hitler’s in France the previous year.
When the Japanese advanced into Burma and approached the gates of India and China, Churchill and his generals had little idea how to counter the seemingly unstoppable offensive. Defeat seemed inevitable. Yet only four years later, the Japanese army would be in full-scale retreat. A crushing victory would be achieved by Britain and her allies.
From Malaya and Burma to India and China – across jungle, mountain and desert prairie – the Burma campaign proved the longest continuous campaign of the Second World War. In The Generals, highly acclaimed military historian Dr Robert Lyman examines the role of military leaders on both sides and analyses the roles they played in the desperate struggle that has become known as ‘The Forgotten War’.
The personality of each commander directly influenced the outcome of battles, the formulation of strategy and the determination or otherwise of troops to fight to the bitter end. Through the stories of Yamashita, Percival, Hutton, Irwin, Mountbatten, Stilwell, Mutaguchi and Slim, Lyman tells the gripping and heroic story of the war in the Far East.