In 1942, the answer would have been, "because Britain didn't have enough troops." They were then weak "everywhere" along the line.

But by early 1944, after two years of the Burma Campaign, Britain and its allies (America and China) had an overall superiority of troops and equipment on the Burma front. Why, then, did Britain allow Japan to have a local superiority in the middle of the line while the main British forces were concentrated further south, opposite Arakan, Burma, and American and Chinese forces at the north end of the line, aiming for Southwest China.

  1. Was General Slim employing a "Cannae" like strategy of luring in the Japanese into a trap in the center, and then closing in on the flanks? Elements of this actually occurred during the campaign.

  2. Did the British somehow underestimate local Japanese strength in the center of the line, despite their overall superiority?

  3. Did the British, for "imperial" reasons give greater priority to recovering Burma than to protecting India and the "Over the Hump" air link to China further north?

  • Why the scare quotes around the word "everywhere"? Do you mean to suggest it wasn't really everywhere but that that's what people would have said then? – Michael Hardy Apr 27 '16 at 20:02
  • @MichaelHardy: I meant "that's what people would have said then." – Tom Au Apr 27 '16 at 20:25
  • It seem that the Allies again, as in the Malay Peninsula 2.5 years earlier, underestimated the Japanese ability to move large numbers of troops long distances through forbidding terrain. No great plan, no great conspiracy, simply an underestimation that ultimately worked to the Allied advantage due to their vastly greater resources. – Pieter Geerkens Apr 28 '16 at 3:03
  • 2
    @PieterGeerkens: Sounds like saying "the Germans aren't going to move into/through the Ardennes in force, so no need for more than a nominal defense force there." – Tom Au Apr 28 '16 at 12:40


Meanwhile, the commander of the British Fourteenth Army, Lieutenant General William Slim, belatedly realised (partly from Japanese documents that had been captured at Sangshak) that a whole Japanese division was moving towards Kohima.[15] He and his staff had originally believed that, because of the forbidding terrain in the area, the Japanese would only be able to send a regiment to take Kohima.[1][16][17]

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