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Burma



FIRST STAMPS India October 1854.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 1 April 1937.


CURRENCY

Indian to 1942 and in 1945-53.
15 October 1942, 100 cents = 1 rupee.
1953, 100 pyas = 1 kyat.



The kings of Ava broke free of the Chinese in 1765-9 and extended their rule until in 1785 Burma had a common frontier with India. Assam was annexed in 1816 but designs upon the Ganges delta precipated the First Burmese War (1824-7) with Britain. Arakan and Tenasserim were annexed to Bengal in February 1826. War again broke out in 1852 and resulted in the annexation to India of the province of Pegu. British Burma was made a separate administration on 31 January 1862. Control of the Andaman Islands was added in 1864 and of the Nicobar Islands on their annexation in 1868.


The discovery of secret intrigues betwen Ava and France led to the Third Burmese War (1885), in which Mandalay was quickly occupied. The suppression of dacoity and piracy in Upper Burma took several years, but on 1 January 1886 Burma became the largest province of the Indian Empire.


On 1 April 1937 Burma was transferred to direct British rule. Largely occupied in 1942 by Japanese forces, who encouraged independence as a puppet on 1 November 1942, it was recaptured before the end of World War II. A period under British Military Administration was followed by rapid moves towards real independence (4 January 1948), upon which Burma left the British Commonwealth. It fell to a military revolutionary council in 1962. After a referendum in 1973, it became a one-party socialist republic. It continues as a Country that is run as a Military Dictatorship and seeks to exclude foreigners.


Postal History
A postal service developed from the military needs of the First Burmese War. It depended on Bengal. By 1827 Akyab PO was established and by 1837 there were four sub-offices (Kyouk Phyoo, Ramree, Sandway and Moulmein). Handstamps are known from 1838. A postmaster was appointed at Rangoon soon after its capture in 1852, and the posts extended to Pegu province. There were 22 POs with numbered cancellers of the Bengal circle, including Port Blair in the Andaman Islands (opened February 1860).


A separate Pegu circle in 1861 gave place to the British Burma circle in 1862. The posts were hardly used except by foreign residents, and district posts proved unnecessary until 1874. Internal communication by runner and riverboat remained slow and difficult for many years. Mail to Europe was routed via Calcutta into the Indian posts. Residency PAs were opened intermittently between 1869 and 1885 at Mandalay and Bhamo while they were still in the kingdom of Ava.


TPOs on river steamers and railways were operated from 1887. The regular Indian airmail from England reached Akyab and Rangoon in October 1933 and soon extended to Singapore.


In World War II the Burma Independence Army reopened the postal service in May 1942 with the authority of the Japanese. The Japanese directorate-general took over in August, but returned control in November 1942. There were 1094 POs in 1975.


Imperial troops operating in Burma in 1941-5 used stamps of India.


Japanese occupation stamps (from May 1942) bear peacock overprints or are inscribed in Japanese or in Burmese.



India & Burma 1852-1942
Click map for larger view


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