The horrors of war haunt everyone who has experienced a war no matter how small or big it is. But when it comes to World War II, there is nothing that can match it. THE MOST devastating war ever fought by humans is World War II. Apparently, we humans love to commit atrocities against each other. There should not be any doubt in our minds that we – the humans – are the worst creations of Mother Nature. It is because of this, there are times when nature decides to strike us in one form or other, rendering us completely helpless. Interestingly, nature barely thinks about who gets to receive her wrath.
World War II was no different. Nature did strike but not in form of a storm or a tsunami or an earthquake but in form of one of the most powerful jaws of animal kingdom – the crocodiles. The sheer brutality of the carnage is beyond our imagination. The stage for this terrible massacre was set in South Pacific. Though the event is not much spoken about, those who know about it and those who survived it describe it as one of the bloodiest massacres humankind has ever witnessed.
The Setup of Ramree Island Crocodile Massacre
World War II was nearing its end. The Japanese Imperial Army had invaded the Ramree Island in Burma located off the Bay of Bengal in 1942. In 1945 the Allied Forces unlocked the Burma Mission with the purpose of pushing the Japs out of Burma. Joint forces of 36th Indian Infantry Brigade and units of British Royal Marine were dispatched on 26th of January, 1945 for Ramree with two tasks:
- Push the Japs out.
- Build an airbase.
The Allied forces reached there but they were received with fierce resistance from the Japanese soldiers. What followed was a bloodbath by artillery shots and guns. However, the worst was yet to come! The Allied forces, after a heavy battle, managed to go around and flank the Japanese from all sides. Nearly 1000 Japanese soldiers were trapped. The Allied troops repeatedly asked the Japanese soldiers to surrender and lay down their weapons.
Unfortunately, the Japanese thought of surrender as good as death. They did not surrender and started chalking out escape routes. The only route they could see open was a tidal swampland sweeping over an area of 16 kilometers. The swampland was dense and was definitely not friendly. However, the Japs decided to cross it hoping that they will manage to merge with a larger Japanese troop stationed on the other side. So, the Japanese just selected the stage that will turn into the worst nightmare for them.
The Japs Enter the Swampland
With a beeline formation, the Japanese soldiers started crossing the swampland. They started off well but soon, the swamp filled with muck and dense vegetation played the dirty trick and slowed down the soldiers. The swamplands were not friendly. Beneath the muddy and sticky underbush slithered scorpions, snakes and of course poisonous spiders. And… adding to the misery were mosquito swarms. Still determined to cross over instead of surrendering, the Japanese soldiers continued and in the process, many of the soldiers started to succumb to the diseases brought down by the mosquitoes. For several days the Japs continued despite being troubled by no drinking water or food. In the meantime, the Allied forces sitting on the banks of the swamp were using artillery shells to make things more difficult for the Japs.
The Ramree Island Crocodile Massacre Unfolds
As if snakes, scorpions, spiders, mosquitoes and Allied bombs were not enough, the Japs met with something more dreadful, something no one likes to encounter even in their dreams. On a particular night when a few Allied soldiers were guarding the surroundings of the swampland, they heard screams – screams of panic and fear. The guarding allied soldiers heard frantic screams along with gunshots in the darkness of the night. So terrible were the screams that even the Allied soldiers winced and flinched with terror, completely forgetting that whatever was happening was actually happening to the enemies who were kind of hell-bent to kill them.
The Japanese were completely unaware of the fact that the swampland they were trying to cross was actually infested with crocodiles – big crocodiles of saltwater that could grow as long as 20 feet or more. The swampland didn’t have one or two of those nature’s most dreadful predators. There were numerous crocs who looked at the weak, tired and bloody Japanese soldiers as platter-full of dinner.
What followed is beyond our imagination. The crocodiles attacked from all possible directions and mercilessly tore apart all Japanese soldiers they could catch between their jaws. The soldiers tried to drive off the predators by randomly firing their guns in all direction but their attempts to defend themselves were just as futile as possible. What followed was the most terrible massacre by animals to this day. It was the bloodiest massacre of World War II that was not caused by humans.
Of the 1000 Japanese soldiers, only a handful of them managed to survive who later reported that the crocs simply appeared from nowhere. There was absolutely no way of knowing the direction from which the crocs would appear.
Later several reports came up which described that the night sky was not only choked by the mosquito swarms but also with the screams of the doomed soldiers who were dragged down into the murky waters by the ravenous aggressors. The sounds of snapping jaws, human cries and random gunshots filled the air with a sense of terror that even engulfed the safely stationed Allied troops. Of course, the Japanese troops would have been better off had they surrendered but they sealed their own fates the moment they decided to cross the swampland.
So, how many soldiers managed to live?
That’s hard to say for there are several reports citing several figures. However, what’s unanimously agreed today is that only 20 out of those 1000 soldiers managed to make it out of the swampland. Yet, those 20 were not left unscarred. They bore the marks of severe mauling and terrible injuries. The thing that is still debated is that whether all 980 of the claimed fatalities came from the jaws of those crocodiles or did many of the soldiers succumb to other dangers of the swampland. Irrespective of what really happened, it can still be safely assumed that at least a few hundreds of those soldiers became dinner of those hungry crocodiles. No wonder, the Ramree Island crocodile massacre earned a spot in Guinness Book of World Records for becoming an event with maximum human deaths caused by a single attack by crocodiles.