Pegu (96.499E 17.33N) is an important city and communications center in southern Burma. It is noted for its large number of pagodas and for a giant reclining statue of the Buddha some 200' (60m) long. The town straddles the Pegu River, which in 1941 was crossed by two railroad bridges just north of the town and a single highway bridge in the center of the town.

The city was stoutly defended by the Japanese in April 1945 in an effort to hold southern Burma and prevent the British from trapping Japanese forces to the west. British armor arrived at the edge of town late on 29 April 1945, but Cowan ordered 255 Indian Tank Brigade to hook around to the southeast and meet 63 Indian Brigade, coming down the east bank of the Pegu, at the highway bridge, while 48 Indian Brigade crossed to the west bank of the Pegu and seized the railway station. The defending 105 Independent Mixed Brigade, a scratch formation under Matsui Hideji, demolished the railway bridges, but enough of the northern bridge was still standing to allow a platoon to cross and seize a bridgehead. The Japanese counterattacked fiercely during the night of 30 April, but were gone the next morning.

The monsoon had begun on 29 April, and the rising water aggravated the loss of the bridges. Cowan had lost the race to Rangoon to the Operation DRACULA amphibious landings. On the other hand, the defense of Pegu could have been prolonged much further had not Matsui received orders to return to Rangoon and defend it to the death.

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Allen (1984)

Pearce and Smith (1990)

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