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Overcoming isolation

Writing letters to family was crucial for troops so far from home, along with entertainment such as games and movies.

Coping with isolation in the Far East was a challenge for all Allied forces, whether they were from Britain or a Commonwealth nation.

Many experienced long periods of boredom punctuated by periods of rapid, sharp activity with the threat of death. Nerves were stretched and irritations were common.

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Burma seemed like a long, long way from everywhere. Men from Kenya and Rhodesia, women from London or Lahore, Scots and Gurkhas and Madrassis were all cut off from familiar food, sights and comforts.  

Officers knew that boredom was bad for morale, bad for discipline, and bad for their men’s health. The small circle of the section, the groundcrew, the few comrades around you, was what determined the psychology, the feelings, and the spirit of the unit.

British soldier reading for relaxation at jungle base during WWII Burma campaign

Writing to family back home

With no access to a phone to call home, letters back and forth were crucial.

Letters from the Far East

Writing to family back home

With no access to a phone to call home, letters back and forth were crucial.

Letters from the Far East
SEAC troops having a drink at a camp bar

Entertaining the troops

Most units had a Welfare Officer, whose job included providing access to games, entertainment and movies.

How troops were entertained

Films were projected in tents and halls. Newspapers and magazines, local or imported, were consumed, and tattered Penguin books passed around from friend to friend.

There were also organisations that were aimed at filling the troops’ spare time.

Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) provided entertainment and The Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) organised canteens and bars wherever British and Commonwealth troops were posted.

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