Thirty Comrades

   The group of Burmese nationalists recruited by Aung San after he returned to Burma from Japan in February 1941, who formed the core of the Burma Independence Army (BIA). Secretly brought out of Burma in batches between March and July 1941, the men were trained by Japanese officers of the Minami Kikan during April-October on the island of Hainan, China. After the outbreak of war, they were moved to Bangkok and became officers of the BIA, formally established on December 28, 1941. During their training on Hainan, they were divided into three groups: the first, including Aung San (whom the Japanese recognized as the most talented of the Thirty Comrades), were to assume top command and administrative positions in the new army; a second group, including Ne Win, were to carry out guerrilla and sabotage actions behind British lines; and the third group, composed of younger men, were to assume field command positions. They assumed Burmese noms de guerre emphasizing their courage and prowess (e.g., Thakin Shu Maung was Bo Ne Win, "Commander Bright as the Sun").
   Ranging in age from 19 to 35 (the average age was 24), more than half of the Thirty Comrades were members of the left-leaning Thakin Kodaw Hmaing faction of the Dobama Asiayone; a minority, including Ne Win and Tun Oke, came from the Dobama's Ba Sein faction, which was rightist. Ne Win alone achieved a dominant position in postwar Burma, as commander of the armed forces in 1949 and head of the Revolutionary Council in March 1962. Some of the Thirty Comrades, such as Bo Let Ya and Bohmu Aung, took high office in Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League governments; others, such as Bo Yan Aung and Bo Zeya, became prominent leaders of the Communist Party of Burma. In the 1990s, a handful of surviving Thirty Comrades called for reconciliation between the State Law and Order Restoration Council/State Peace and Development Council and Aung San's daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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