The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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The Andaman Islands lie between Sumatra
and Burma and
separate the Bay
of Bengal from the Indian
are part of the island
arc making up most of the Netherlands
East Indies, but they were British
possessions in 1941.
There are about 200 islands in the group
with a total area of
about 2500 square miles. The islands are rugged and jungle-clad,
with few inhabitants. Earthquakes are frequent. The
significant settlement is Port
Blair, which had
only primitive facilities in 1941. The islands were defended by a single Gurkha battalion in December 1941, and this was withdrawn shortly after war broke out.
A battalion from 18
the Andamans on 23 March 1942, just prior to Nagumo's raid into the Indian Ocean. Forces based on
the islands were well-placed both to protect the sea lane from Rangoon to Singapore and to provide
reconnaissance into the
eastern Indian Ocean.
On 19 January 1943, a force of six British scouts
landed on Middle Andaman Island and carried out a daring 32-day
reconnaissance, covering 130 miles and mapping the defenses around Port
Blair. They reported that Japanese brutality had turned the population
against the occupiers and recommended oganizing a guerrilla campaign, but there were
no resources for this at the time.
At the Cairo conference
in November 1943, the British proposed an operation to retake the
Andamans, BUCCANEER, but with assault shipping already committed to
the Normandy invasion
and operations in the Pacific, the plan was
dropped. The islands remained in Japanese
hands throughout the war.
The Japanese treated the civilian population of the
Andamans with great harshness. In July 1945 about 300 civilians, mostly
the elderly, women, and children who
could not work, were forcibly transported to Havelock Island (92.988E 11.975516N), an
uninhabited island with no significant food suppy, and were left to
starve. Only eleven were left to be rescued on 21 September 1945. On 13
August 1945 some 750 civilians were transported to Taimugli Island (92.535E 11.576N) and
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