The Tenasserim is the southernmost region of Burma, located on the west coast of the northern Kra Peninsula. The area was rich in tin and tungsten deposits, which were shipped out through the ports of Tavoy and Mergui.
The Japanese invaded the Tenasserim in January 1942 in order to cut the air bridge to Malaya and bring their own fighters forward to escort bomber raids against Rangoon. Wavell insisted on attempting to defend the Tenasserim airfields with a few battalions from 2 Burma Brigade, but the scattered forces were vulnerable to defeat in detail and the British were quickly ejected by the Japanese.
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