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361 Section V, A. THE FORGOTTEN ARMY Reproduced from Maung Maung, The Forgotten Army (Rangoon: Khitsan Press, 1946), inclusive of an article “The Burmese Guerillas” by an IndianArmy Observer, by permission of Daw Khin Myint, wife of the late Dr Maung Maung. Reminiscences Darkness fell in gentle showers. The sun dug his head into the heaving bosom of the Pegu Yomas, and from the west, a soft gentle breeze sprang up. Away out east, the Shan hills began to fade into a blur of black, the paddy fields lying in-between being turned into a dark, ominous ocean with spots of light twinkling here and there. A slice of a moon drew aside a curtain of clouds and appeared upon the sky’s stage. Stars popped up to keep her company. Together the moon and the stars waded in the furry foams of the sky’s rippling clouds and found fun in dripping their snowy ankles. Silence helped to make the darkness of the whole scene more sharp, more pronounced. A few stray rifle-shots sang out of the silence, into the darkness of the night. 05A DrMaung.indd 361 2/28/08 2:33:50 PM Reproduced from Dr Maung Maung: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot by Robert H. Taylor (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at 362 DR MAUNG MAUNG: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot We did not worry about those shots. We had been used to worse things than that in our Penwegon Camp. For the last two months, the Jap 28th Army that had been taking refuge in the Pegu Yomas, had started rolling down the hills in a mad, suicidal rush to safety across the Sittaung River. Long, endless columns of tired men who had once been soldiers, tottered down the muddy hills, mad with fright, weak with malaria and hunger — down they came into the paddy fields that had turned into swamps under the rains, on to the car road between Toungoo and Rangoon, right into the arms of waiting Death. The break-out Jap Army blundered into a barrage of artillery fire, air attack, and last but not least, the deadly sting of the Patriotic Burmese Forces. Frenzic with fear, they came on. Mad with a thirst for revenge, we fought them back. And for those last two months, it was a hellish scene. Days vibrated with cannon fire, the bombers’ drone and the bomb bursts, the Bren-gun carriers’ noisy roll, the heavy tanks ploughing into the fields in hot pursuit. We could see Jap columns split up as shells ate away mouthfuls, leaving gaps in the long, forlorn lines. Or the Japs would rush our positions hoping to sweep us off before we could sweep them. Brief skirmishes at point-blank range would ensue, and the sons of the Mikado would inevitably flee, chased by shells and light tanks. Days were always pregnant with thrills. At short intervals, the alarm would go up, we would take our arms and rush to our posts. Sometimes, something would turn out, and sometimes nothing. We would then return to the H.Q. Office, take to the desk and chair and start work again. Intelligence reports, operation orders, instructions from the 19 Ind. Div. H.Q., supplies for troops east of the Sittaung… and then, that alarm again. We ate alert. Slept alert. We worked with the alarm in our heads. The firing-line complex was there, yet, we kept cool. We could not afford to be excited. We slept the nights in disturbed dozes. At least once or twice, Jap stragglers would filter into our camp and raise havoc. It was a sickly business. The dark night through which you could see only a few feet ahead. Our men rushing out with rifles cocked and fingers itching at the trigger. And the Japs inside the camp. Perhaps, the chap moving next to you might be a Jap? A lump rose to your throat and you tried 05A DrMaung.indd 362 2/28/08 2:33:50 PM The Forgotten Army 363 to see the chap’s face and could not see. Wisely, you would move off to where safety might be, stopping short only when another thought came in questioning, “would you not bump into...


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