On This Day

The Day Allied Commander Who Seized Myanmar From Japanese Forces Was Assassinated

By Wei Yan Aung 27 August 2020

Yangon — On this day in 1979, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the former supreme allied commander in Southeast Asia during World War II — who took the lead role in retaking Myanmar (then Burma) from Japanese forces, and signed an agreement in the Sri Lankan city of Kandy with independence hero General Aung San for the establishment of Myanmar’s military — was assassinated in an Irish bomb attack.

Mountbatten, who was 79 when he was killed, helped Gen. Aung San establish the country’s military after the war by combining separate forces established under British and Japanese rule.

At independence, Mountbatten – then viceroy of India – returned the Royal Lion Throne and other items belonging to King Thibaw, who was dethroned and exiled to India by the British.

The post-independence Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League government in return awarded him the title of Agga Maha Thiri Thu Dhamma, one of the country’s highest commendations.

A cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, Mountbatten often visited the independent state and had close ties to military dictator General Ne Win. When Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb in County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland, Gen. Ne Win tried to attend his friend’s funeral. But the trip was canceled when his airplane suffered from a flat tire in Singapore.

He, however, dispatched his navy chief, Rear Admiral Chit Hlaing, and six other officers to England to attend the funeral as a guard of honor.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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