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Allowing Sleeping Burmese Dogs To Lie by Scott Palter

Author says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Final Sword Productions. Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

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In the generalized waste and slaughter that was a world war the Burma front 43-45 has to rank among the more wasteful. Taking Burma made sense for Japan. It cut Chiangís supply line through Rangoon [although this became redundant with the successes of the initial Japanese naval-air attacks; there was simply no way even after Midway the allies could have forced convoys through to Rangoon in the face of Japanese surface and air attack].

However the multiyear British effort to retake Burma was a major push to nowhere.  The UK had promised its South Asian dependencies independence after the war.  So Churchillís wish to erase the memories of Singapore aside, it was a push to nowhere for no special reason beyond inertia and imperial pride.  Let us presume that when British 14th Army is formed its tasks are defending India and providing cover for FDRís silly Ledo Road and China fixations [ending those requires a FAR more elaborate ATL].  What changes?

For the crucial years 1943-44 you only free up two British infantry divisions.  The Indian and African divisions would have been needed to defend India and the Indian-US-Chinese road construction group building the silly road to Stillwellís Chinese-American forces in far north Burma.  Indeed in the very short run the two British divisions will probably have to be replaced with 3-4 more African colonial divisions [the manpower for these was available if anyone could have found a use for them and the Free Polish Forces had enough surplus officers to stand them up].  However in addition to the two divisions one frees up a corps worth of landing craft tied up in the Arakan campaigns, enough transport aircraft to double what was in the Med and enough shipping to support an additional army [a defensive force covering the mountains of eastern Assam takes FAR less shipping than supporting offensives over those mountains into Burma].  Again what changes?

First Churchillís Aegean Campaign in 1943 now has enough shipping and amphibious lift to avoid the disasters of OTL.  Instead the British get a firm lodgment in the Aegean and take the Peloponnesus.  Odds say they donít make it past Corinth [a natural bottleneck] but between the two they can besiege Crete.  Probably the Germans will refuse to be starved out but the use of Crete as an airbase ends.  Germany will pull out planes it cannot get fuel to.  The gain on convoy air attacks not made in turn pays for the campaign.

Second an extra corps worth of amphibious lift means Anzio goes in with four divisions in the initial wave instead of two.  The silly plan still may not work but it now goes from absurd to a die roll.  There is now a 40-50% chance that the German line is unhinged and falls back past Rome.  IF that happens Italy drains off reserves from Ukraine and France at a crucial time.  Even if it doesnít you donít get the hell that was Anzio before Diadem ended the problem the following spring.

Third [the big one]: the extra landing craft and shipping mean the Provence landings can go in with Normandy instead of later.  This is worse for the forces landing in Provence who will have to contend with three first rate German mech divisions instead of one as in OTL.  However it means Normandy will have to deal with two fewer which may just get Monty to Caen before the lines harden.  In OTL every mech division in France except one was pulled to fight in Normandy and most were thrown in against the Empire.  Here Adolph the Idiot must split forces.  The man was never very good at setting priorities leaving a possibility that refusing to retreat anywhere he loses everywhere.  Too many contingent factors to be sure but likelihood is a war shorter by 2-3 months.

As for Churchillís prestige victory Ė in point of fact no one in the East noticed that Burma had been retaken as the British gave it up within the year.  So there pretty much is no downside.  The worst case is the Japanese prove more skillful than OTL and knock the British out of Assam.  This is a net plus for the allies as it ends FDRís silly China campaigns and frees US 14th Air Force for deployment elsewhere.

© Final Sword Productions 2010

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