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  • Writer's pictureBarrett B.

900 Japanese Soldiers Killed? Is the Ramree Island Crocodile Massacre a True Story?

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

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Here is the claim: Allied forces in the Pacific War during World War II trapped 1,000 Japanese soldiers in a mangrove swamp off the coast of Burma in the early months of 1945. (now Myanmar). Only 20 of the Japanese fighters were able to escape unharmed. The rest were allegedly eaten alive by swarms of saltwater crocodiles with dinosaur-like features. One Allied commander claimed:

"Any member of the M. L. [motor launch] crews could agree that night was the worst they had ever experienced. A cacophony of horror that has rarely been imitated on earth was created by the scattered rifle fire in the pitch-black swamp, punctuated by the moans of injured soldiers trapped in the jaws of enormous reptiles and the blurred worrisome sound of rotating crocodiles. The vultures descended to clean up around dawn.

(not a real and authentic photo)

How do we know this story is true?

The story of the Ramree Massacre is a part of the historical record and has been documented by various sources. The events that took place on Ramree Island in February 1945 were witnessed by both Allied and Japanese soldiers, as well as by local civilians who lived on the island.

There are also written accounts of the massacre from both Allied and Japanese perspectives. For example, the British War Office released a report on the incident in which they acknowledged the presence of saltwater crocodiles in the area and described the attack by the crocodiles on the retreating Japanese soldiers. Similarly, Japanese soldiers who survived the battle and the crocodile attacks have also given accounts of the incident.

While the exact number of casualties and the details of the incident may be subject to some degree of uncertainty, the Ramree Massacre is generally regarded as a historical fact and is included in many accounts of the Burma campaign during World War II.

And what about claims that the story could be false?

Award-winning historian, archaeologist, and host of National Geographic's Nazi Weird War Two, Dr. Sam Willis, has looked into some of the most outlandish rumors surrounding World War II, such as Hitler's methheads and Himmler's haunted house. After learning that the Guinness Book of World Records had used Wright's book as a source, he made the decision to investigate the mystery behind the Crocodile Massacre at Ramree Island in 2016. He visited Ramree Island's marshes as part of his research and spoke with inhabitants there.

Additionally, he acquired military data that showed that the majority of Japanese soldiers either died in the marsh from drowning or were shot dead by the Allies. While several British soldiers did in fact see crocodiles eating dead Japanese soldiers, Willis ultimately came to the conclusion that the majority of Japanese soldiers were responsible.


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