ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

In the name of God and His Majesty: Allied War Mobilisation in an imperial frontier during the Second World War


Naorem Deepak - Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi, History, NEW DELHI, India


44 – New archival traces of the Second World War in the India-Myanmar-Bangladesh borderland


 The history of the Second World War in the Indo-Myanmar-Bangladesh borderland, a former imperial frontier, is dominated by burgeoning research around the twin battles of Imphal and Kohima. This paper will instead look at surrounding regions such as the Lushai Hills (a former colonial administrative unit), which did not experience any major military encounters between the Japanese and the Allied forces. The region was however part of the ‘operational area’ and experienced extensive war preparation and military mobilisations, to halt any Japanese incursions in the region. Recruitment and mobilisation of the local population in colonial armed regiments and local defence forces were one of its most conspicuous aspects. The paper will explore the history and nature of these recruitments and mobilisation, and the deployment of Christianity and colonial knowledge during the process. It will also add to the recent research on the nature of the colonial state in the region during the war.

       The paper is based on the McCall papers, available in the British Library. Anthony Gilchrist McCall (1895-1978) served as the Superintendent of the Lushai Hills, Assam from 1931 to 1943, and was responsible for the defence of the district during the Second World War.