By continuing to use this site without changing your cookie settings,
and for us to access our cookies on your device.
Title:SURRENDER OF JAPANESE TROOPS ON THE BANKS OF THE SITTANG [Allocated Title]
Film Number:JFU 351
Other titles:BRITISH ARMY OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
Summary: Japanese troops, probably of 53rd Division, 33rd Army, surrender their arms and equipment to men of 1st Battalion, 10th Gurkha Rifles (63rd Brigade, 17th Indian Division) on the banks of the River Sittang near Pegu, Burma.
Description: Japanese personnel seen wading across a flooded stream or river. A file of Japanese troops cross a railway bridge carrying a variety of arms and stores. Reverse angle shows the Japanese troops walking along the railway bridge with armed Gurkha troops lining their route. Japanese personnel wading across the stream. Troops enter a hut to deposit their equipment. Surrendered Japanese soldiers on an embankment by paddy fields. Japanese soldiers picking up ammunition crates and carrying them away on their shoulders; local Burmese civilians pass by. Japanese soldiers carrying shells. A Japanese soldier, wearing little more than a loincloth and carrying a bundle of clothing, crosses a paddy field with a number of swords on his shoulder. Section of footage, badly out of focus, showing Japanese (officers?) making a list. Japanese troops carrying shells. A long line of Japanese troops, still wearing their personal equipment and led by an officer who still has his sword, are led to a Ramp Cargo Lighter on the River Sittang. They board the lighter for transit across the river. On the (west?) bank of the Sittang the troops leave the lighter and board a train. The train is composed of a number of flatcars with a small shunter.
Production Details: War Office Directorate of Public Relations (Production sponsor)
SEAC Film Unit (Production company)
Higgins, K G (Production individual)
Personalities, Units and Organisations: Indian Army, 10th Gurkha Rifles, 1st Battalion (regiment/service)
Imperial Japanese Army, 33rd Army (regiment/service)
Imperial Japanese Army, 53rd Division (regiment/service)
Keywords: Sittang (River), Burma (geography)
Pegu, Burma (geography)
Surrender of Japanese Forces 1945, Burma, Second World War (event)
Burma 1942-1945 (theme)
British Army 1939-1945 (theme)
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 515 ft; Running time: 6 mins
Notes: Dopesheet does not give a precise location or date. The official history however would suggest that the location is the HQ of 1st Battalion 10th Gurkhas at Abya, and the date likely late August 1945. The surrender of Japanese forces in Burma was a protracted process that was made very difficult by the scattering of Japanese formations, tenuous or non-existent communications in inaccessible terrain, and the Japanese insistence on receiving orders from above before surrendering.
In the background when the Japanese troops cross the river the blown Sittang bridge is visible. It was demolished on 23 February 1942 in the face of the advancing Japanese but this resulted in two brigades of 17th Division being trapped on the far side. The blowing of the Sittang bridge remains a controversial and contested episode.
The dopesheet mentions that Japanese battalion commanders were permitted to retain their swords but junior officers were forced to surrender them. The issue of the surrender of swords was somewhat contentious, some feeling it was symbolically necessary to emphasise that the Japanese Army had been decisively defeated, while others believed that disgracing Japanese officers in front of their men would undermine discipline and make it impossible for them to control their soldiers in captivity. This was a particularly pressing issue as large bodies of Japanese troops were still stationed elsewhere in south east Asia with no Allied troops yet available to intern them.