The Burma Campaign

The Post-War Burma Rifles

Six battalions of The Burma Rifles were formed for the new Burma Army between 1945 and 1946-47, including the reorganised 2nd Battalion, veteran of the 1942 campaign and both Chindit operations.  At independence all six transferred to the new Union of Burma Armed Forces. 

These units should be viewed as belonging to a new ‘regiment’ and not reincarnations of the British colonial regiment, The Burma Rifles.  The colonial regiment ceased to exist in the summer of 1942, when all but one battalion were disbanded.  The remaining battalion, the 2nd Burma Rifles, was converted to the role of a reconnaissance battalion and served on both Chindit operations in 1943 and 1944.

The new battalions formed between 1945 and 1947 had no regimental centre or depot.  In most cases recruits were taken directly in to the battalions which were also responsible for their training.  Officers received some training by being attached to other units, notably battalions of The Burma Regiment.  The Burma Regimental Centre moved from Hoshiarpur in India and by 1946 had been established at Maymyo for some time where it also acted as a depot and training centre, with its own Training Battalion at Myingyan.  Also at Maymyo was the 1st Reinforcement Battalion, The Burma Regiment and on 24th January 1946 the mainly Gurkha 2nd Reinforcement Battalion arrived at Meiktila from India.  On 1st January 1946, the Burma Army Officer's Training School (O.T.S.) opened at Maymyo.  The main focus of all these organisations was primarily the training of the new Burma Rifles battalions.[1]

1st Burma Rifles

The majority of the 1st Burma Rifles defected to the Communist cause in August 1948.

2nd Burma Rifles

The veterans of two Chindit operations were reorganised to form a regular infantry battalion of the new Burma Army.  The 2nd Burma Rifles fought Karen insurgents at Nyuanglebin in April 1949.

3rd Burma Rifles

The 3rd Burma Rifles fought in the Delta, in the Arakan and against the Karens at Insein, Pegu and Toungoo in 1949-50.

4th Burma Rifles

The 4th Burma Rifles took part in Operation "Flush" in 1947 and fought insurgents at Pegu in 1949 and in the Delta area around Bassein during 1949 and 1950.

5th Burma Rifles

The 5th Burma Rifles fought on the government side in the Arakan in 1948 and at Insein and Pegu in 1949.

6th Burma Rifles

The 6th Burma Rifles fought on the government side during the Karen Conflict of 1949-1950, at Thazi and in the Pegu District.

  17 November 2017

[1] “Epilogue in Burma, 1945-48”, McEnery J.M., Spellmount (1990)