Michael D. Leigh
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Evacuation and exile
in Conflict, politics and proselytism
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The mood in Mandalay changed abruptly in December 1941. The bricolage of fear, cynicism and nervous anticipation gave way to blind panic. Europeans were leaving Mandalay in droves, but Chapman insisted that the Methodist missionaries should stay and 'carry on as normal'. Meanwhile, Mandalay was heaving. 'Hundreds or thousands' of refugees had trekked in from Lower Burma. Chapman urged Burmese Christians to escape 'to distant villages' while they had the chance. Mandalay was bombed on 19 February 1942. Chapman tried to keep track of all the missionary families. Rangoon was already in the hands of the military authorities. Government offices, banks and commercial firms had been evacuated to Mandalay and Maymyo. Methodist missionaries played distinguished roles in the evacuation, although fact and fiction sometimes became confused in the chaos. The missionaries were demoralised and exhausted as they assembled in Calcutta between March and May 1942.

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Conflict, politics and proselytism

Methodist missionaries in colonial and postcolonial Upper Burma, 1887–1966


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