SUMMER EXHIBITION – Gurkhas, VJ Day and the end of the Second World War

SUMMER EXHIBITION – Gurkhas, VJ Day and the end of the Second World War

01 August 2020

Beginning in late 1941 after the surprise Japanese assault on the American positions at Pearl Harbour, the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War saw Allied forces rapidly pushed back from their colonial possessions. At its peak the Japanese Empire controlled huge swathes of the Chinese mainland, Malaya, much of Indochina, the majority of the Pacific islands west of Hawaii (including the Philippines) and was seemingly a single successful offensive away from fully conquering Burma and launching an invasion of India.

However, these achievements had been reached through a massive overextension of supply lines and expenditure of crucial resources that Japan could not easily resupply. Burma provided the perfect opportunity to provide raw materials and opportunity to threaten Chinese territory from the south and a springboard to invade India. Having achieved success in Burma in 1942, by 1944 the resupplied, rearmed and now experienced Allied, including Gurkha, forces began a slow but powerful pushback from the Indian border into Burma, through such key battle-sites as Meiktila, Mandalay and Rangoon, which became the main focus for Allied troops in the Far East.

This campaign saw some of the most punishing conditions Allied soldiers would be exposed to during the war as well as a fanatically determined opposing force. This exhibition will cover the conclusion of the war in Burma, the details of General Slim’s masterstroke which proved so decisive from January to March 1945, and the subsequent role that Gurkha units played in the lead up to VJ Day.

© The Gurkha Museum Trust Winchester - Registered Charity Number 1169920 (formerly 272426)