In December 1941, the Japanese invasion of Burma (now Myanmar) opened what would be the longest land campaign fought by the British in the Second World War. It began with defeat and retreat for Britain, as Rangoon fell to the Japanese in March 1942. But the fighting went on, over a varied terrain of jungles, mountains, plains and wide rivers, until the Japanese forces surrendered in August 1945.
Some 100,000 African soldiers were taken from British colonies to fight in the jungles of Burma against the Japanese.They performed heroically in one of the most brutal theatres of war, yet their contribution has been largely ignored, both in Britain and their now independent home countries.
In the villages of Nigeria and Ghana, these veterans are known as ‘the Burma Boys’. They brought back terrifying tales from faraway lands. Few survived, even fewer are alive today.
Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips travels to Nigeria, Burma and Japan to find a Nigerian veteran of the war and to talk to those who fought alongside him as well as against him. He even finds the family that saved the life of the wounded veteran in the jungles of Myanmar.
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