Fall of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a small group of islands situated in the Bay of Bengal south of Burma, housed the naval port of Port Blair. The garrison at Port Blair consisted of a 300-strong Sikh militia commanded by 23 British officers. On 23 Mar 1942, a Japanese force of one battalion of the 18th Division arrived, backed by a powerful naval fleet. The Sikh militia offered no resistance as they were hopefully out-numbered and out-gunned; they were disarmed and interned, though many of them re-enlisted in the Indian National Army headed by the Japanese-leaning Subhas Chandra Bose. The British officers were sent to prisoner-of-war camps in Singapore, while Chief Commissioner Waterfall, Deputy Commissioner Major A. G. Bird, and other British civilian leaders were imprisoned locally. The islands were placed under the command of Indian National Army Colonel Bucho. Militarily, Japanese aircraft began arriving on 26 Mar, and by the end of Mar 1942 the islands were garrisoned by 600 soldiers and an unknown number of policemen.
ww2dbaseDuring Japanese occupation, native accounts described atrocities committed by Japanese troops, but no official records of the atrocities existed. Local women were reportedly drafted into service as comfort women while men became forced laborers to construct a new airfield. An estimated 2,000 civilians of Port Blair were killed by the Japanese during the occupation, roughly 10% of the population. Deputy Commissioner Bird was known to have been executed by the orders of Colonel Bucho, but eyewitness reported a cruel execution, where his arms and legs were twisted and broken before he was beheaded by Bucho's sword.
ww2dbaseThe islands were nominally returned under Indian rule under the authority of Bose on 29 Dec 1943, though the Japanese retained effective control until the end of the war.
Fall of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Timeline
|23 Mar 1942||Troops of Japanese 18th Infantry Division landed at Port Blair, Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. The garrison of 300 Sikh militia and 23 British officers did not oppose the invasion.|
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