On February 19, 1945, British troops invaded a tropical island off the coast of Burma, forcing the Japanese occupiers to retreat into the island’s crocodile-infested mangrove forests. One veteran of the Ramree Island campaign, Bruce Stanley Wright, described the night that followed:
“The scattered rifle shots in the pitch black swamp punctured by the screams of wounded men crushed in the jaws of huge reptiles, and the blurred worrying sound of spinning crocodiles made a cacophony of hell that has rarely been duplicated on earth. At dawn the vultures arrived to clean up what the crocodiles had left…”
According to Wright, of the 800 to 1,000 Japanese infantrymen who fled into the swamps, only 20 survived the night. Modern estimates of the death toll are lower, attributing 500 or fewer fatalities to the feeding frenzy.