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Rangoon Cemetery is one of three Myanmar graveyards run by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which serves 23,000 graveyards and memorial sites in 154 lands and territories around the world. The Burma campaign included battles between the Allies and the Japanese Imperial Army after invading Burma in 1942.
Remarkable fights were fought with the advanced troops of Japan at Sittang Bridge, Bago and Pyay. Winning alliances in the Imphal and Kohima Battle on the 1944 India frontier were turning points in the Burma campaign that triggered a routine for Japan. In early May 1945, the Allies reconquered Rangoon.
While the tourist sector is continuing to expand, specialized businesses are focusing on travelers interested in the Burma campaign. Spirit of Repembrance of Great Britain, a battleground and memorial journey enterprise, cooperates with the Yangon Pegu Travels to provide trips to some of the most important Second World War locations in Myanmar.
"Second and third generations of travelers whose families struggled or participated in Burma during World War II are the primary targets," said Graeme Archer, Spirit of Roembrance vice president of sales. "They also have travelers looking for what we call'meaningful travel', where they can go to new and thrilling places that have a wealthy and diverse history," he said, and added that a programme for commemorative trips will be completed.
Next to the Kamaryut graveyard is the taukkyan wart cementery, about 25 kilometers northern of Yangon. With 6,374 tombs, it commemorates nearly 27,000 members of the Commonwealth Armed Services whose name is written in a large inscription. It also operates a military graveyard in Thanbyuzayat, the final station of the infamous Burma-Siam Death Railway, which the Japanese constructed under barbarous circumstances with Asian slave labourers and POWs and claimed hundreds of thousands of human life.
The Death Railway Memorial opened earlier this year near the ThanbyuzayatWar graveyard, about 65 km southward of the state of Mon state' s capitol, Mawlamyine, and about 365 km from Yangon. It contains the tombs of 3,149 Commonwealth and 621 Netherlands troops. "Yangon and Thanbyuzayat are the best achievable goals," says Marcus Allender, Pegu Travels Executive Vice President Marketing.
"Mon State allows visitors to connect with places like Mawlamyine and Hpa-an[the Kayin state capital], while Yangon also has its own colorful architectural and historical heritage," he said. Much of the most important fighting in the Burma campaign took place in isolated areas and Mr. Allender thinks there is room for excursions to places like Fort Hertz in Kachin state and Fort White in Chin state.
"For example, in the north of Chin State, the crop is very different from other parts of Myanmar," Mr Allender said. "There you can see the tragic hills over which the British have fallen back from the Japanese. An Australian whose dad and two uncle were taken prisoner by the Japanese in the autumn, John Boyd was a regular guest in Myanmar and Thailand.
There was an uncles, Bob Goodwin, who worked at the death train, who was writing three novels about his work. "The cruelties caused to our men during the Japanese-occupied period always drift home," said Mr Boyd. After the opening of the Death Railway Memorial the tour operators see great scope for more trips to Thanbyuzayat.
Khiri Travel Myanmar General Director Edwin Briels said Frontier was interested in creating routes that include the museums and its area. "He said it would be great if we could walk along the old track for a whole working days. He said the opening of the Myanmar-Thailand three-Pagoda Pass frontier would benefit from the five million visitors a year visiting Kanchanaburi, the terminal of the Death Line in Thailand and the location of another CWGC graveyard and the famed bridge over the Kwai River.
"That' s 20x the number of visitors to Bagan every year; it would be great if we could persuade just five per cent of them to go over the border," said Briels. Others say it is too early to offer trips that concentrate only on places related to the Burma campaign.
Exotissimo Travel Myanmar production managers Thomas Barrows said that visiting places like Taukkyan War Cemetery are on some of his routes, but only as stopovers on journeys to places like Bago and Mount Kyaikhtiyo. "The new Death Railway Memorial in Thanbyuzayat is a highly attractive attraction," said Mr. Barrows.
"It is already well known for the bridge over the Kwai River and not far from Mawlamyine.