Off the coast of Rakhine State, Myanmar, previously known as Burma, lies Ramree Island (Ramri Island). This area that goes by different names is more known for its grisly role in one of the more unique battles during World War II than it is its monikers. The story of the Ramree Island Massacre would end having claimed hundreds of lives. Facing unfavorable conditions, the Japanese Imperial Army was in a situation so bad that being between a rock and a hard place would have been a vacation.
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Ramree Island Massacre: Crocodiles 1 Japanese Imperial Army 0
Ramree Island in WW2 found itself in the middle of a battle nearing the end of the war. While battling British troops, the Japanese troops would be faced with quite the dilemma.
British forces were looking to secure an airbase near Ramree Island. This would be used to attack Japanese forces further, but there were many enemies in the area securing the island.
The Japanese Imperial Army fought for six weeks using thousands of troops in a battle that exhausted both sides without any progress being made.
But the stalemate would see momentum once the British Royal Marines and the 36th Indian Infantry Brigade were able to take advantage of their enemy’s position by outflanking them.
The result would split the Japanese fighters into two groups. One group became an isolated faction consisting of around 1,000 troops.
British forces were able to reach out and communicate with the group, asking the Japanese fighters to surrender. They refused.
Instead, a miscalculated maneuver was decided that would take a deadly turn for the group. With no way to regroup, the Japanese troops would embark on an 8-mile trek through a swamp.
The swamp had all the characteristics you would expect, packed with mud and nasty terrain that was impossible to move swiftly across. It was also filled with plenty of crocodiles.
For these reasons, Allied Forces allowed the group to move that way and just sort of waited for the inevitable outcome. The Ramree Island Crocodile Massacre would claim the lives of an estimated 900 Japanese troops.
The Saltwater Crocodile
Southeast Asia and parts of Oceania are known for their wildlife, including the saltwater crocodile. While humans may find making it through a swamp difficult, to them, it’s just another day in the muck.
Saltwater and brackish water sources are where you can find the largest reptiles on the planet, with males capable of growing just under 1,000 lbs and as long as 20 ft.
They are predators and, as such, act accordingly. Saltwater crocodiles hunt many different types of prey and are actively looking to make a meal out of a human given the opportunity.
At night, many of the Ramree Island crocodiles were able to use their surroundings to their advantage to get the upper hand on their prey. The Ramree Island Massacre was an all too shining example of this technique.
Though there are some disputes about what happened in those mangrove swamps, some editions of the Guinness Book of World Records credited the event as the largest attack by crocodiles on humans.
Ramree Island Massacre Deaths Disputes
Reports point to a variety of other deaths during the Ramree Island Massacre. These came from other deadly threats in the swamp, including snakes, scorpions, and mosquitos.
There was also exhaustion, dehydration, and starvation. Some reports “only” account for about 500 deaths. This would mean Ramree Island Massacre survivors could reach as high as 480 by these accounts.
No matter what caused the deaths, or how many there were, the undisputed truth is that vile diseases, cruel wildlife, and the brutal nature of war killed several hundred people.
Watch the Ramree Island Massacre Movie
If you’re looking to explore the story further, you’re in luck, as there’s a film based on the World War 2 crocodile massacre.
Amazon Prime Video subscribers can watch Saltwater: The Battle For Ramree Island on their favorite streaming devices.
While the content is a stark difference from the growing popularity of Lyle Lyle Crocodile, this film starring Glenn Salvage will get your adrenaline pumping for nearly an hour and a half.
The Ramree Island Massacre is an odd place in history and can serve as a reminder of the challenges our own military faces. Their sacrifice and danger go far beyond facing an enemy, as troops are exposed to a number of elements. Yet another reason to be thankful for the U.S. military.
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