On this day in 1942, Rangoon came under the control of the Burma Independence Army (BIA) and the Imperial Japanese Army. British Governor Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith had withdrawn his forces from Rangoon on March 1, knowing that the two armies were marching on the city. Formed in Bangkok by the “30 Comrades” led by General Aung San, the BIA had entered Myanmar in three columns with the Japanese Army and arrived in Rangoon in early March.
On March 5, the BIA made the decision to take control of Rangoon. The army’s Dawei column marched from Hmawbi Township at dusk on March 7 and occupied Rangoon at around 10 am on the following day after encountering some resistance.
Formed with only 100 or so troops, the BIA’s ranks swelled to some 40,000 in Rangoon. It was Myanmar’s first national army since the abdication of the country’s last monarch, Thibaw, in 1885.