ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

The Second World War and the City of Chittagong: bringing back the forgotten long march


Afrin Azrin - University of Edinburgh, School of History, Classics & Archeology, Edinburgh, United Kingdom


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


 The geostrategic location of Chittagong as a port and frontier city made it a center of war during WWII. Chittagong became unhabitable for almost the entire period of war. The people of Chittagong were asked to leave the city. All the educational institutions were turned into military barracks. At the same time, many people from India and Chittagong working in Burma were struck there. They tried to leave Burma after the Japanese occupation. A painful journey from Burma to Chittagong was the result. The Bengali middle classes from the western part of Bengal wrote some memoirs of these events, but the experience of the Chittagonians were hardly reflected there. It is often referred to as the ‘forgotten long march’ (Tinker, 1975). This paper will concentrate on bringing back the memory of that journey of the Chittagonians people and it will try to establish it in academia using mostly oral history methodology and primary sources. The memory of the abandoned families and businesses of Chittagonians in Burma (present days Myanmar) and how they dealt with the situation during and after the war will also present in this paper. This war worked as a major disruption between Chittagonian and Burmese relations. This disruption is still continuing between Bangladesh and Myanmar.