WHAT WAS THE FIGHTING ABOUT?
During World War Two, Japan decided to invade many surrounding countries, including China and many countries that were controlled by the US, UK, Netherlands and France. Japan’s first main action was to attack America’s naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 December 1941. This devastating raid was the reason why America joined in the war, which it had been sitting out until that point.
At the time, Burma (now known as Myanmar) was part of the British Empire, and Japan invaded the country in January 1942. By May, British troops had been forced to pull back so far that they crossed the border with India – a distance of around 1,000 miles, which was the longest retreat in British history.
As the Allies fought back, many of the battles were brutal and bloody, often leading to hand-to-hand combat. Kohima in northeastern India saw some of the most intense fighting, including the famous Battle of the Tennis Court, where Allied and Japanese forces were separated by the width of the tennis court at the house of Deputy Commissioner Charles Pawsey, a British official who helped to rule the local area.