The Battle of Bilin River was the first major battle of the Burma Campaign in World War II. Fought between 14 February 1942 and 19 February 1942, the battle was a tactical victory for Japan over the British Indian Army, and it led to a decisive victory for Japan immediately afterwards at the Battle of Sittang Bridge.
Brigadier Sir John George Smyth, V.C.—who commanded 17th Infantry Division of the British Indian Army at Bilin River—said the Bilin River "at that time of year was only a ditch, but a good co-ordinating line". 17th Division was, at that time, a new formation that had yet to see its first battle.
The Japanese 112th Battalion of the Southern Army entered Burma (now Myanmar) on 15 January. They took Tavoy (now Dawei) on 19 January, cutting off the garrison at Mergui (which escaped by sea). In the process, they captured three small airfields, giving them close air support. They then advanced towards Kawkareik.
Smyth wanted to withdraw immediately to better defensive terra