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Wartime in Burma: A Diary, January to June 1942
by Muang Wa Theippan
edited by L. E. Bagshawe and Anna Allott
Ohio University Press, 2009
eISBN: 978-0-89680-471-5 | Paper: 978-0-89680-270-4
Library of Congress Classification D811.5.W118 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 940.53591092

This diary, begun after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and covering the invasion of Burma up to June 1942, is a moving night-by-night account of the dilemmas faced by the well-loved and prolific Burmese author, Theippan Maung Wa (a pseudonym of U Sein Tin) and his family. At the time of the Japanese invasion, U Sein Tin was deputy secretary in the Ministry of Defense. An Oxford-trained member of the Indian Civil Service, working for the British administration on the eve of the invasion, he was living with his wife and three small children in Rangoon; he felt threatened and extremely fearful of the breakdown of law and order that would follow the invasion.

Wartime in Burma is a stirring memoir that presents a personal account of Theippan’s feelings about the war, his anxiety for the safety of his family, the bombing of Rangoon, and what happened to them during the next six chaotic months of the British retreat. Eventually the author and his family left Rangoon to live in a remote forest in Upper Burma with several other Burmese civil servants, their staff, and valuable possessions—rich pickings for robbers. His diary ends abruptly on June 5, his forty–second birthday, when he was murdered by a gang of Burmese bandits. The diary pages, scattered on the floor of the house, were rescued by his wife and eventually published in Burma in 1966.

What survives is a unique account that shines new light on the military retreat from Burma.

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