In the chaotic aftermath of Burmese independence, Britain officially maintained a policy of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of its former colony. However, the conservative dissatisfaction with what was perceived as a hurried independence soon found expression in "The Friends of the Burma Hill People," an organization founded in London in 1947 in support of the Karen nationalist movement. This paper aims at shedding new light onto the internal dynamics and motives underpinning the underground activities of the group, focusing on its charismatic founder: Lieutenant Colonel John Cromarty Tulloch, Force 136 veteran and ardent supporter of the Karen independence cause. By relying on archival material from the British Library's India Office Records, recently declassified Secret Service personal files, as well as on Tulloch's wartime memoirs, this paper serves a twofold purpose. First, it sets to offer a new degree of accuracy in reconstructing the dynamics and connections of Tulloch's network, providing a more nuanced insight of the motives and strategies of the "Friends of the Burma Hill People". Second, it challenges the widespread tendency either to dismiss Tulloch's endeavor as the machinations of a nostalgic veteran, or of interpreting it within a Cold War logic. Instead, it highlights the role played by colonial narratives of "martial race" and "loyalty" in fuelling British conservative opposition against the new Burma–which are well and alive to this day.


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pp. 263-298
Launched on MUSE
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