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The FReeper Foxhole Revisits Merrill's Marauders - March 25th, 2005 ^

Posted on 03/24/2005 9:46:40 PM PST by snippy_about_it


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The FReeper Foxhole Revisits

Code Name: "GALAHAD"

In August 1943 at the "Quebec Conference", President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and other allied leaders decided that an American Long Range Penetration Mission behind the Japanese Lines in Burma was needed to destroy the Japanese supply lines and communications and to play havoc with the enemy forces while an attempt was made to reopen the much needed Burma Road.

Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill
Commanding General, 5307th Composite Unit(Provisional)

President Roosevelt issued a Presidential call for volunteers for "A Dangerous and Hazardous Mission". The call was answered by approximately 3,000 American soldiers. The volunteers came from State side units, from the jungles of Panama and Trinidad they came, from the campaigns of Guadalcanal, New Guinea, New Georgia they came, to answer the call, some battle scarred, some new to the ways of war, each different but with one thing in common.
They Answered The Call.

The Unit was officially designated as the "5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)" Code Name: "GALAHAD", later it became popularly known as "MERRILL'S MARAUDERS" named after its leader, Brigadier General Frank Merrill. Formed into six combat teams (400 per team),color-coded Red, White, Blue, Green, Orange and Khaki, two teams to a Battalion, the rest formed the H.Q. and Air Transport Commands.

After preliminary training operations were undertaken in great secrecy in the jungles of Central India, the Marauders began the long march up the Ledo Road and over the outlying ranges of the Himalayan Mountains into Burma. The Marauders with no tanks or heavy artillery to support them, walked over 1,000 miles through extremely dense and almost impenetrable jungles and came out with glory.

In Five major (WALAWBUM, SHADUZUP, INKANGAHTAWNG, NHPUM GA, & MYITKYINA)and thirty minor engagements, they defeated the veteran soldiers of the Japanese 18th Division (Conquerors of Singapore and Malaya) who vastly outnumbered the Marauders. Always moving to the rear of the main forces of the Japanese the Marauders completely disrupted the enemy supply and communication lines, and climaxed their behind the lines operations with the capture of Myitkyina Airfield, the only all-weather airfield in Northern Burma.

The attack on Myitkyina was the climax to four months of marching and combat in the Burma jungles. No other American force except the First Marine Division, which took and held Guadalcanal for four months, has had as much uninterrupted jungle fighting service as Merrill's Marauders.

But no other American force anywhere had marched as far, fought as continuously or had to display such endurance, as the swift-moving, hard-hitting foot soldiers, of Merrill's Marauders

Men and animals of Merrill’s Marauders— predecessors to today’s U.S. Army Rangers—cross the Tanai River on a bamboo bridge built by Kachin tribesmen, 1944.

When the Marauders attacked Myitkyina they had behind them over 800 miles of marching over jungle and mountain roads and tracks. They had to carry all their equipment and supplies on their backs and on the backs of pack mules. Re-supplied by air drops the Marauders often had to make a clearing in the thick jungle to receive the supplies.

Every wounded Marauder was evacuated, an extraordinary feat in itself. Each wounded Marauder had to be carried on a makeshift stretcher (usually made from bamboo and field jackets or shirts) by his comrades until an evacuation point was reached. These evacuation points where mostly small jungle village's, where the Marauders would then have to hack out a landing strip for the small Piper Cub Evac. Planes. The brave sergeant-pilots of the air-rescue unit would then land and take off in these very hazardous conditions, removing every seriously wounded Marauder one at a time. The small planes, stripped of all equipment except a compass, had room for the pilot and one stretcher.

At the end of their campaign all remaining Marauders still in action were evacuated to hospitals suffering from tropical diseases, exhaustion, and malnutrition or as the tags on their battered uniforms said "A.O.E."(accumulation of everything).

For their accomplishments in Burma the Marauders were awarded the "DISTINGUISHED UNIT CITATION" in July, 1944. However in 1966 this award was redesignated as the "PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION" which is awarded by the President in the name of Congress. The Marauders also have the extremely rare distinction of having every member of the unit receive the "BRONZE STAR".

Walawbum, Burma
Early March, 1944
Group of Marauders after Battle of Walawbum.
Kneeling, L to R, Wilbur Smalley, "Murphy" Wonsowicz, Johnny Allen.
Standings 2nd from left; Bernard Martin, extreme right; Herby Miyazak

The unit was consolidated with the 475th Infantry on August 10, 1944. On June 21, 1954, the 475th was redesignated the 75th Infantry. It is from the redesignation of Merrill's Marauders into the 75th Infantry Regiment that the modern-day 75th Ranger Regiment traces its current unit designation.

I'd like to thank Marauder.Org for their generous permission to use their graphics on today's thread

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By Sgt. DAVE RICHARDSON YANK Staff Correspondent
(from Yank the Army Weekly British Edition Vol 3. No. 14)
Sept. 17 1944

There's been plenty of hocus-pocus in this jungle war ever since Merrill's Marauders first popped up here.

The magic show started within a week of the Marauders' arrival in Burma. The night before their first sneak around Jap strong points, a Jap reconnaissance plane droned over the Marauders' bivouac area. Before they could stamp out all their campfires, the plane had spotted the position.

Nhpum Ga
About april 9, 1944
Marauder, at Nhpum Ga cemertary, checks dog tags of buddy killed in action during the 14 day seige. at Nhpum Ga Hill.

Next morning, when the Marauders pulled out Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill ordered a few men to stay behind. For several nights they lit campfires in the original bivouac area. And each night the Jap plane returned to circle the area again, its pilot apparently satisfying himself that whoever was camped there hadn't moved.

Meanwhile the main body of Marauders marched steadily into enemy territory over little used native trails, lighting no fires or even cigarettes after dark. When they finally bumped into startled enemy outposts, they were well behind Jap lines.

The Marauders opened their bag of tricks again during an eight-day battle on a hill named Nhpum Ga. One night a Marauder unit set up part of its perimeter only a stone's throw *am camouflaged Japanese machine-gun positions. Anxious to check on the location of these emplacements, but not wanting to risk men prowling around in the darkness, the Marauders shoved a pack mule out in front of the perimeter and started him walking toward the Japanese.

Lagang Ga-Walawbu, Burma
March 7, 1944
American-Chinese Tank of Battalion attached to Chinese Divisions visits with Marauders after battle of Walawbum. For most men of 5307th, this was only time that an allied tank was seen on 5307th missions.

As the animal rustled through the jungle underbrush, the Japanese figured it was a patrol and opened up with their machine guns, thereby revealing their positions. Next morning the Marauders outflanked the Japanese pocket and wiped it out.

They found the mule lying dead a few feet from one of the machine guns, its hind quarters neatly butchered. The hungry Japanese, cut off from supplies, had eaten Missouri mule steak before dying for the Emperor.

Speaking of animals, the Japanese thought up a slick way to guard themselves against Marauder booby traps along the narrow jungle trails. They sent dogs down the trails ahead of their patrols to trip the booby-trap wires. But a Marauder pioneer and demolition platoon countered this move by rigging up the traps in relays. After that, when a Japanese dog romped down a trail a dozen yards or so in front of a patrol and tripped a booby-trap wire, nothing happened to the dog, but traps exploded at intervals all the way back down the hill, killing or wounding some of the enemy. Even after the Japanese discovered this trick, there was little they could do about it they had to stick to jungle trails or risk getting host.

Wesu Ga, Burma
Early March, 1944
Men of 2d Battalion, 5307th among bamboo patch in jungle. Japanese is American Nisei acting as interpreter. Note cut off sleeves as concession to heat and humidity. L to R Thomas J. Dalton, T/Sgt. Herbert Miyaski, S/Sgt., Frank Wonsowicz and S/Major Jack Crowley of Orange Combat Team, 5307th.

The old power of suggestion helped beat the Japanese at another stage of the campaign. for several days the Marauders had been trying to break through a pocket of Japanese dug in strongly on a razor-backed ridge along the only trail in the area. The steep sides of the ridge made outflanking next to impossible. The only way to get through was by frontal attack, and this was costing the Marauders a number of casualties. They pounded away with mortars, raked the ridge with machine guns and BARB, and staged one attack after another. But the going was painfully slow a few yards a day.

One night the Marauders decided to try another method. A few men and mules set out on the trail leading up to Marauder forward positions from the rear. The men smoked tell-tale cigarettes, talked in loud voices and jiggled the mule saddles to make plenty of noise. Each time they reached the front, the men doused their cigarettes, turned around and silently withdrew to their starting points. Then they began all over again, keeping it up for three hours.

When the Marauders attacked the ridge again the next day, they pushed through easily. Only a couple of Japanese were still there; the rest had pulled out. They had been fooled into thinking that all the noise and movement of the night before were reinforcements for a big attack. One of the most valuable tricks in the Marauder repertoire was a variation of the Statue of Liberty play in football. It was used in attacking a series of Japanese strong points on high ground.

The CP long-range radio called for air support to soften up the Japanese hill positions. Soon some P-40s came roaring over. Directed by air-ground radio, they went to work on the Japanese, dive-bombing and strafing enemy emplacements on the crest of the hill. After each pass they zoomed up, circled around and attacked again.

JanPan, Burma
March 19, 1944
Supply drop taken in Kachin village because of lack of clear space on top of mountain. A number of chutes landed in trees, requiring tree climbing to retrieve them. Note rugged mountain terrain in background.

The Japanese scrambled down the back of the hill and huddled there for protection while the bombs and tracers chewed up their positions. But as soon as the planes finished their dives and roared away, the Japanese crawled right back up the hill again and resisted the Marauder advance as stubbornly as before. This went on for several days, with the Japanese defending one hill after another in the same way against air and ground attack. All that beautiful air support didn't seem to help much.

Then a Marauder officer suggested the Statue of Liberty play. He radioed the planes to make a few fake passes after they had completed their regular bombing and strafing runs. The pilots dived their ships at the emplacements just as though they were going to let loose with 500 pound bombs or .50 caliber slugs, but they pulled out without doing a thing except scare hell out of the Japanese.

Up the hill came the unsuspecting Japanese to reoccupy their old positions. As soon as the planes began these passes, the forward Marauder platoon rushed up the hill and climbed into the vacated Japanese positions. When the dummy passes ended and the planes went away, the fun began. Up the hill came the unsuspecting Japanese to reoccupy their positions. The Marauders cut them down with automatic-weapons fire.

1 posted on 03/24/2005 9:47:10 PM PST by snippy_about_it
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To: All

.By Sgt. DAVE RICHARDSON YANK Staff Correspondent
(from Yank the Army Weekly British Edition Vol 3. No. 16)
Oct. 1 1944

Jap artillery was pounding Merrill's Marauders again. Three weeks before. the enemy guns had sent shells whistling into Marauder positions facing the Walawbum garrison. Two weeks before. a Jap battery had ranged in on the Marauders during their attack on the enemy supply route at Inkangahtawng. One week before, a couple of rapid-fire guns had hammered the Marauders all night after their capture of a section of the Shaduzup-Kamaing road.

And now Jap artillery was concentrated on a unit of Marauders on Nhpum Ga hill. Another Marauder unit was driving through to relieve the outfit the Japs had surrounded.

General Frank D. Merrill flanked by two of his Japanese-language interpreters, Herbie Miyasaki and Akiji Yoshimura. The interpreters cut into Japanese communication lines and slipped close enough to enemy camps to report on the activities and the plans of the 18th Division, who were fighting the Marauders in Burma.

As the 70-mm shell blasts reverberated through the jungles. Maj. Edwin J. Briggs of La Crande, Oreg., CO of the attacking unit, sent for a mule skinner and offered him a new job.

S/Sgt. John A. Acker, the mule skinner, was an ex-mineworker from Bessemer, Ala., who had shipped overseas a year before with a pack howitzer outfit. The outfit had gone to New Guinea. After sitting around for months without going into action, Acker and several others grew restless. When a call was made for animal transportation men to join Merrill's Marauders, they volunteered. That was seven months before.

"Acker," said the major, "I understand you and some of the other mule drivers who used to be in the pack artillery would like to fire some howitzers back at these Japs. Is that right?"

The Alabaman said it was.

"Well, Acker," the major grinned, "this is an emergency. Two 75-mm pack howitzers will be parachuted to us tomorrow. Get two gun crews together and be ready to fire them."

Next day an expectant bunch of mule drivers stood on the airdrop field, watching brilliantly colored parachutes drift lazily down. When the "parachutes hit the ground, the mule skinners became artillerymen again. They grabbed the dismantled howitzers and went to work assembling them. The guns were brand new and clean of cosmoline. Within two hours they were assembled, dug in on the airdrop field and firing.

A mile away the Marauder unit that was driving through Jap machine-gun positions along the trail to Nhpum Ga heard the shells whistle overhead. "What the hell is that?" one rifleman asked another. "Jap artillery behind us, too?" Then a radio message explained that it was Marauder artillery. Soon infantry-directed fire was blasting the strong 'points holding up the rifle platoon.

Two days later Acker and his impromptu artillery crews put their howitzers on mules and climbed the winding trail for three miles. They emplaced their guns on a ridge overlooking the Jap positions between the trapped Marauder unit on Nhpum Ga hill and the attacking unit. While the guns were being set up again T-4 Robert L. Carr of San Luis Obispo, Calif., started for the front as artillery observer with a walkie-talkie.

The point platoon had run smack up against one of the strongest Jap positions yet. This was a perimeter atop a little knoll from which Jap machine gunners commanded a clear field of fire for several hundred feet down the trail. The steep sides of the knoll made flanking difficult. It would have to be taken frontally. The point platoon asked for artillery and mortar support.

Carr, the observer, took his walkie-talkie up to the first squad. "Jap position approximately 700 yards from guns," he radioed, adding the azimuth. 'Fire a smoke shell, and I'll zero you in."

The smoke shell whistled over, followed by a few more as Carr adjusted the firing data. Finally he okayed both range and azimuth. Lacking an aiming circle, the only piece of equipment that was not dropped with the guns, Acker and his men were obliged to use an ordinary infantry compass to gauge azimuth.

The order came to fire five rounds. Up ahead all morning there had been constant mortar, machine-gun and small-arms fire. But as soon as the howitzers opened fire, Jap bullets began singing over the artillerymen's heads. All day the Japs reminded Acker's men that they were firing practically point-blank at 700 yards.

Just after the howitzers fired the five rounds, S/Sgt. Henry E. Hoot of Shepherd, Tex., radioman with the guns, shouted to Acker: "Holy smoke! Some Infantry officer is on the radio. He's excited as hell. Says you're right on the target. And—get this—he wants us to fire 'Battery 100 rounds'."

There's no such order in artillery parlance; actually the correct order for a lot of firing is "Fire at will." Acker chuckled at the order. "Okay, boys," he said. "Open those shell cases fast. Gun crews, prepare to fire at will."

In the Next 15 minutes, the jungle hills rang as the two pack howitzers threw 134 shells into the Jap perimeter. The crews had been a bit slow two days before because they hadn't seen a howitzer in seven months, but now they performed as artillerymen should.

Up front the point platoon drove through They found parts of Jap bodies in trees and all over the ground, virtually blown out of their holes. The dense" jungle had become a clearing under the terrific blasting. A platoon leader going through the area, a few minutes after the barrage. discovered two shivering Japs deep in a foxhole, unhurt but moaning with fear. He killed them with a carbine. Apparently they were the only ones who had survived and stayed in the area. The platoon moved through unopposed.

For the next few days the artillery worked hand in hand with the point platoon in blasting other Jap positions. On one of these days Pvt. John W. (Red) Seegars of Kershaw, S. C.. walked up to the guns with a broad smile. Seegars had been requested by Acker as No. I man on one of the howitzers but because he was a rifleman and was [deeded in the drive, he had not been sent back to the guns. Now Seegars was wounded in the left arm.

Ledo Road, Burma
February, 1944
140 mile march down the Ledo Raod towards combat area ordered to sweat in the pack saddles and to toughing up the men, “separate the men from the boys”

"As a rifleman I can't crawl with this arm wound," said Seegars, "so they sent me back to the aid station for evacuation. But I'm not going. I can still pull a howitzer lanyard with my right arm." Acker was glad to get him.

MEANWHILE Carr. the artillery observer, found things pretty hot at the front. On an advance with a ride platoon, he was pinned down on the side of a hill by Jap machine guns and grenades at the top. Two men were wounded near him. He left the radio and dragged each of them back through the fire to an aid man. Returning to his radio, Carr egged the Japs into revealing their positions by throwing grenades, thus drawing fire on himself. Then he radioed the howitzers to shorten their range and swing their azimuth until the shells burst near a Jap heavy machine gun 30 yards away.

All this time, a Jap dual-purpose antiaircraft gun was throwing 70-mm shells into the midst of the trapped Marauder unit on Nhpum Ga hilt Acker got a liaison plane to spot the ack-ack gun's position. Then the howitzers fired on it all day. At dusk the Jap gun- tried to fire back at the howitzers, but its trajectory was too flat to hit them. The shells either hit an intervening hill or whistled harmlessly high over the artillerymen's heads.

And that morning the Marauder attacking unit broke through to relieve the unit that had been cut off by the Japs for 10 days. Acker and his men, mule skinners no more, fired a salvo to celebrate.

2 posted on 03/24/2005 9:48:18 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: All
SUCH specialists as clerks and radiomen were pressed into service as mule-drivers with the Marauders to make up for a shortage of experienced animal men. Leading, feeding, watering and grooming the mules turned out to be one of the toughest jobs in the raider outfit.

Passing through the pick-line after a day's march Brig.-Gen. Frank D Merrill came across a sweating grimy-faced mule-driver tenderly combing a mule's back.

"You certainly seem to take good care of your animal," remarked General Merrill. "Had much experience with mules in the states?"
The soldier, Pfc. Casey Turiello, turned his weary face. "No, sir," he said. "But I did see a mule once--on an ice wagon back home in Brooklyn."

ANOTHER mule-driver was having trouble with his animal. It balked at the bottom of a very rugged Burma hill. The driver had to coax, cajole, cuss and tug at his animal constantly. Finally on one hill the mule stopped dead and layed down. This was the last straw.

"Get up, you sonuvabitch," cracked the driver, who had answered President Roosevelt's call to join the volunteer Marauders.
"You volunteered for this mission too."

3 posted on 03/24/2005 9:50:49 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Bombardier; Steelerfan; SafeReturn; Brad's Gramma; AZamericonnie; SZonian; soldierette; shield; ...

"FALL IN" to the FReeper Foxhole!

It's Friday. Good Morning Everyone.

If you want to be added to our ping list, let us know.

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4 posted on 03/24/2005 9:52:02 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: All

Veterans for Constitution Restoration is a non-profit, non-partisan educational and grassroots activist organization.

Actively seeking volunteers to provide this valuable service to Veterans and their families.

Thanks to quietolong for providing this link.

We here at Blue Stars For A Safe Return are working hard to honor all of our military, past and present, and their families. Inlcuding the veterans, and POW/MIA's. I feel that not enough is done to recognize the past efforts of the veterans, and remember those who have never been found.

I realized that our Veterans have no "official" seal, so we created one as part of that recognition. To see what it looks like and the Star that we have dedicated to you, the Veteran, please check out our site.

Veterans Wall of Honor

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5 posted on 03/24/2005 9:54:58 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
The FReeper Foxhole Remembers Merrill's Marauders - Mar. 18th, 2003

As they sing in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, "Let's do the Time Warp again!". I don't think that this in the 18th. In fact, I'm pretty sure that this isn't even2003. Is this a "revisits" thread?

6 posted on 03/24/2005 10:01:34 PM PST by PAR35
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To: snippy_about_it

Supporting our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen at more than 1,000 places across the U. S. and around the world.

Brad Fletcher~To All Our Mothers Children

7 posted on 03/24/2005 10:05:11 PM PST by AZamericonnie (What's another word for synonym? Ok,'s metonym...sheesh!)
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To: PAR35

LOL! Oops.

8 posted on 03/24/2005 10:35:26 PM PST by SAMWolf (Liberal Rule #9 - Can't refute the message? Attack the messenger!)
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To: snippy_about_it

To somebody who knows something about the Burma war. How did the US Merrill Marauders stack up against the British units fighting in Burma, the Chindits?

You don't hear that much about the Marauders, mostly the Chindits in write-ups. Of course, the fact that the write-ups I read were written by the British might have something to do with it.

9 posted on 03/24/2005 11:22:28 PM PST by sasportas
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To: sasportas; AZamericonnie; SAMWolf

The Burma Campaign 1941 - 1945
By Michael Hickey

Neither side wanted this fight at the start, but there were many remarkable feats of arms as the war progressed. Michael Hickey describes the highs and lows of the campaign, the personalities involved, and the effect it had on East-West politics once World War Two was over.
Chindits in Burma, 1944

The campaign in which Allied forces defeated the Japanese in Burma was unique in that neither side particularly wished to wage war there. When Japan entered the war on the side of the Axis powers in December 1941, her main aims were to acquire raw materials, particularly oil, rubber and tin and, through expansion of the so-called Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere, to create space for the population of the over-crowded home islands.

'The raid at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 was a devastating blow to the Americans.'
These needs fired the strategic thinking of belligerent politicians and service chiefs in Tokyo. They worked on the assumption that a surprise attack on the United States Pacific Fleet's base at Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii, would enable the Imperial Japanese army, air force and navy to attain the warlords' territorial aims before the western Allies could react.

The raid at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 was a devastating blow to the Americans. It failed, however, in its main aim, that of sinking the American fleet's aircraft carriers. This was because, providentially, they were out at sea on that day - sometimes known as the Day of Infamy. On hearing this intelligence, Admiral Yamamoto, the gifted master planner of the enterprise, knew that the war was already as good as lost.

Despite this, Japanese plans elsewhere worked beyond expectation. Hong Kong and Indo-China fell to them without difficulty, but the greatest triumphs occurred on the Malay peninsula and in Singapore, where British, Australian and Indian troops were forced into humiliating surrender.

The Japanese completed their triumphs by overrunning the Dutch East Indies, spreading out into the western Pacific by capturing numerous island bases, and threatening the security of Australia.

Start of the campaign

British and Indian troops in action, 80 miles south of Mandalay, in March 1945There were two reasons for the Japanese invasion of Burma. Firstly the Japanese knew it would serve them well if they cut overland access to China from Burma via the famed Burma Road. Along this road a steady stream of military aid was being transported from Rangoon, over the mountains of the 'Hump' and into Nationalist China, but if this supply route was closed, the Japanese could deprive Chiang Kai Shek's Kuomintang (Nationalist Chinese) armies of their life-blood, permitting the Japanese to conquer all China.

'The troops were raw, lacked combat experience, and were inadequately trained ...'
Furthermore, possession of Burma would place the Japanese at the gate of India, where they believed general insurrection against the British Raj would be ignited once their troops had established themselves in Assam, within reach of Calcutta. To this end they cultivated the services of the dissident Bengali politician Chandra Bose, who recruited thousands of Indian troops captured in Singapore into his Indian National Army - to fight the British.

Entering Burma from Thailand, the Japanese quickly captured Rangoon, cutting off the Burma Road at source, and depriving the Chinese of their only convenient supply base and port of entry. In response, General Sir Archibald Wavell, in supreme command of the Far Eastern theatre, formed two scratch divisions, the 1st Burma and 17th Indian, into Burma corps (Burcorps).

He ordered his commanders, against their better judgement, to defend well forward. They, however, were aware, as he was not, of the deficiencies of their commands. The troops were raw, lacked combat experience, and were inadequately trained and equipped to take on the aggressive and bold invaders.

Apart from two experienced light tank regiments and an infantry battalion brought in from the Middle East, whose presence in the long retreat up-country undoubtedly saved Burma Corps from total destruction, no other reinforcements reached Burma Command. (The British 18th Division, destined for Burma, was redirected to Singapore on Churchill's orders, reaching it just in time to march into Japanese prison camps.)

Operating a scorched-earth policy as it went, Burcorps, now under command of Lieutenant General William Slim, fell back up the Irrawaddy river, accompanied by tens of thousands of wretched Indian refugees, harassed and murdered by the Burmese population as they struggled to gain Indian soil. In May 1942 the retreat finally ended, and the shattered remnants of Burcorps began to prepare for return to Burma.

There followed many months of stalemate, as both sides tried to probe each other's strengths and weaknesses. Wavell, anxious to re-assert British military influence and raise depressed morale, ordered an advance into the Arakan, the coastal region of Burma, at the end of 1942. It stalled and was bloodily repulsed - and morale sank even further.

'Although now outnumbered, the Japanese fought with ferocious courage ...'
Things were only lightened by the propaganda value of Brigadier Orde Wingate's first Chindit expedition. In this the Allies enjoyed some success in using guerrilla tactics against the Japanese, despite incurring heavy losses, thus proving that British troops could take on the Japanese in the jungle.

In 1943 the Allied High Command was overhauled, and Wavell was replaced by the charismatic Lord Louis Mountbatten. His influence obtained much needed air support for what now became the 14th Army, particularly in the field of transport aircraft, and re-supply by air became the norm for the forward troops.

Slim, now in command of 14th Army, imbued his command with a new spirit. Units were encouraged to sit tight, relying on air-dropped supplies, and hold their ground when attacked, instead of dispersing as formerly.

The Japanese, aware that the defenders had gained strength, resolved to end the campaign at a blow with an assault into Assam, aimed at capturing the key towns of Imphal, capital of the hill state of Manipur, and Kohima. Another Japanese attack was made simultaneously in the Arakan. For the first time the defenders stood firm, confident in their air support.

Between March and July 1944 fierce battles raged on both fronts. Although now outnumbered, the Japanese fought with ferocious courage; all ranks of 14th Army knew that their ticket home depended on total destruction of their enemy and this is exactly how it transpired. Fighting every inch, the Japanese recoiled from the hills and back across the River Chindwin, harassed by Wingate's second Chindit expedition.

Wingate unfortunately did not live to see this outcome. He perished in a plane crash as the expedition began, and as American troops were advancing from the north with (somewhat unreliable) Chinese Nationalist forces. Bereft of his dynamic leadership the expedition became semi-static, although there were some remarkable feats of arms as the numerous Chindit columns fought deep in the Japanese rear areas, in their endeavours to realise Wingate's concept of 'a hand in the enemy's bowels'.

Victory in sight

Field Marshal Sir William SlimEarly in 1945, 14th Army continued to advance, no longer in the jungle but in the open plains of upper Burma. Mandalay fell in March, and Slim conducted a brilliant crossing of the mighty Irrawaddy before heading south. In the Arakan, the Japanese had to be winkled out of strong positions before Rangoon was taken on 3 May.

Mountbatten gratified his ambition by staging an elaborate victory parade, at which he took the salute in Rangoon on 15 June. This took place despite the fact that thousands of Japanese were still fighting hard, many of them still in strength, behind British lines - as they tried desperately to escape across the Sittang river into Thailand, losing heavily as they went.

Slim, the architect of this great victory, was not present at Mountbatten's parade. Mountbatten had decided that 14th Army's great commander was tired and needed a rest, and therefore replaced him at the moment of his great triumph.

'... Slim ... having been knocked out of the ring at the beginning, got back in and beat his opponent flat.'
This was unfortunate, as Slim was the only British general in World War Two who had fought against an enemy 'First Eleven' throughout, and who, having been knocked out of the ring at the beginning, got back in and beat his opponent flat. His removal from command of the army he had forged had a calamitous effect on the morale of his men.

Churchill had initially opposed his appointment to command 14th Army, considering him a 'sepoy general' (Slim had made his military home in the 6th Gurkhas). But his personal account of the campaign, Defeat into Victory, will long endure as a military classic. It is modestly written, but reveals the humanity of this truly great soldier, as well as his professional ability - both qualities that explain why his men loved him as much as they did.

Post-war situation
The Burma campaign had no decisive effect on the war as a whole; but it did a great deal to restore respect for British arms following the humiliations of Hong Kong, Malaya and Singapore. The re-opening of the Burma Road permitted the resumption of supplies to Nationalist China, but there was to be no long-term benefit here, and American dreams of establishing an All-China trade zone after the war evaporated when Mao Tse Tung's Communist forces thrashed the corrupt regime of America's client, Chiang Kai Shek, within four years of the Japanese surrender in 1945.

'... Aung San ... was assassinated in Rangoon, along with most of his Cabinet ...'
Despite the outstanding performance of the 14th Army, comprising as it did Indian, African and British formations, much British face had been lost in the Far East as a result of the defeats at the hands of the Japanese, and stirrings of Indian independence had assumed thunderous proportions. In Burma too, the nationalists, headed by the personable Aung San, had sided with the Japanese until it was clear that they were losing.

Then Aung San's Burmese National Army changed sides and gave valuable service to the 14th Army in the final stages of the campaign. The British returned to Rangoon in triumph, but were not destined to stay; Burmese nationalism was on a flood tide, and having seized the administrative reins in the wake of the British advance, Aung San's men were well placed to take over after the war.

Although London attempted to resume its former rule, it had to face reality and Aung San came to the UK in 1947 to negotiate terms for independence. He was assassinated in Rangoon, along with most of his Cabinet, within months, however.

The political scene in the country has remained unstable ever since, due to the impositions of ruthless military governments. The incompetence of these, in matters of national economy, is matched only by the strength of their repression of all opposition.

Aung San's daughter Aung San Suu Kyi, continues to oppose the regime, offering some hope for the people of this ancient country. India, whose troops had formed the backbone of the 14th Army, was granted independence in 1947 but only after the British government and its Viceroy - Mountbatten - had persuaded themselves that partition on religious lines, to create the states of India and Pakistan, would solve a problem growing far beyond the capacity of a weakened Britain to solve. The great Indian Army was rent asunder, and before long, regiments that had won fame under the Raj were fighting each other as the two new states confronted each other.

Find out more

The Chindit War by Shelford Bidwell (Hodder & Stoughton, 1979)

The Little Men: A Platoon's Epic Fight in the Burma Campaign by FW Cooper (Robert Hale, 1973)

The Indian Army and the King's Enemies, 1900-1947 by Charles Chenevix-Trench (Thomas & Hudson, 1988)

Japan's Last War by Saburo Ienaga (Blackwell, 1979)

The Campaign in Burma by Frank Owen (HMSO, 1946)

Defeat into Victory by Field Marshal Sir William Slim (Cassell, 1956)

The War against Japan Vols II-IV by Kirby Woodburn et al (HMSO, 1958-69)

The Wild Green Earth by Bernard Fergusson (Collins, 1946)

About the author

Michael Hickey was commissioned in 1949 and served with the RASC in Korea from 1950-52. In 1981, he retired as a General Staff Colonel with the Ministry of Defence. He is the author of The Unforgettable Army - Slim and the 14th Army in Burma (1992); Gallipoli (1995) and The Korean War 1950-53 (1999).

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Published on BBC History: 31-07-2003
This article can be found on the Internet at:

© British Broadcasting Corporation
For more information on copyright please refer to:

BBC History

10 posted on 03/25/2005 12:04:38 AM PST by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning, snippy, SAM.

Another excellent "lost" story from the conflict that, more than any other, defined & shaped our modern times. The recounting of the Soviet-Finnish engagement yesterday was another wonderful spotlight on a "remote" corner of the globe that was touched by the conflagration that was the Second World War, BTW.

Last night I put in my profile a pic of my grandfather in his 5th Army Air Corps casual uniform, posing for a picture he sent home to his young son (my father) in an advance jungle airfield somewhere (New Guinea, we think) during the time of his service in what he simply called "The War."

The work the both of you do here with the FReeper Foxhole honors not only his memory, but also the millions who've served & sacrificed for this great country for the sake of freedom.

I've said it before, I know, but I'll say it again: Thank you. -AJC

11 posted on 03/25/2005 12:05:01 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had no feet.")
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To: sasportas; AZamericonnie; SAMWolf

Chindits in Burma, 1944

British and Indian troops in action, 80 miles south of Mandalay, in March 1945

Madras Sappers and Miners work on a 'corduroy' road east of Kohima, on the Jessami track, August 1944. Timber provided a cheap way of producing a reasonably durable road surface for those hard-to-reach areas where mule or air transport was not enough.

Indian Paratroopers during World War II, with a British officer. Source: Parachute Regiment (India).

The first Indians to parachute - Captain Rangaraj (right) and Havildar Major Mathura Singh (left).

British and Indian troops exchange pleasantries as they meet on the road between Imphal and Kohima following the successful relief of the Kohima box. Circa April 1944.

A truly spectacular image. In the heat of the moment - Indian soldiers storm a German trench, after exploding it with hand grenades. Circa 1945.

An Italian soldier surrenders to a Jawan, during Operation Crusader, of an unnamed Division and Regiment, on 08 December 1941. The purpose of Operation Crusader was two-fold; to relieve Tobruk and destroy the Afrika Korp. First part of the conflict was a success, the second a failure. The battle took place between the Egyptian border and El Agheila in Libya.

An Indian soldier holds a captured Nazi flag. Circa 1945.

Medium artillery guns get unusual attention from their detachments.

Indian paratroopers being dropped at Elephant Point, Burma on 1 May 1945.

Flag captured from the 90th Panzer Light Division at Ruweisat Ridge. Circa 1942.

A Lieutenant Colonel from the 20th Indian Division, accepts the formal surrender of a Japanese Commander at Saigon, Vietnam in September 1945.

A group from the 152nd Para Battalion displaying the Japanese flag they captured while operating against the Japanese Army at Tangkhul Hundung. Circa 1945.

The Great War (World War I) A cover from a piece of British sheet music. Circa 1914. Note that the Indian soldiers are pictured as still being armed with the single shot Martini-Henry rifles and muzzle loading artillery!">

12 posted on 03/25/2005 12:22:00 AM PST by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning Snippy.

13 posted on 03/25/2005 1:28:34 AM PST by Aeronaut (I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things - Saint-Exupery)
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To: CarrotAndStick
From my grandfather's personal collection of pictures from the War in the Pacific (he's on the right in one and leaning against the propeller in the other in the pics of the P-40, respectively; and in the foreground of the P-38 shots):

Image hosted by

"Imogene," incidentally, was my grandmother's name.

14 posted on 03/25/2005 2:04:38 AM PST by A Jovial Cad ("I had no shoes and I complained, until I saw a man who had no feet.")
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: snippy_about_it

Good morning, Snippy and everyone at the Foxhole

16 posted on 03/25/2005 3:03:00 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: snippy_about_it

Good morning ALL. Dennis' uncle Ralph was a member of the original band of Merrills' Mauraders. He went throught the entire campaign with Merrill.

17 posted on 03/25/2005 4:18:24 AM PST by GailA (Glory be to GOD and his only son Jesus.)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All
Hi Ms. Snipps and Mr. Wolf!

I just wanted to stop by and say hello to the foxhole crew and say thank you to all of our veterans.

Last weekend I had the chance to meet a few more of our wonderful military Veterans at a pro troops rally at Fort Bragg. I am humbled,as always, by the way our fine patriotic men and women conduct themselves.

Each time I meet a new Veteran I learn a lesson in dedication and patience. May God watch over them and their families.

I appreciate all of the many sacrifices they have made for my family.

18 posted on 03/25/2005 4:22:02 AM PST by Diva Betsy Ross (Code pink stinks!)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

March 25, 2005

King Of Our Lives

John 19:16-22

I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. -1 Corinthians 15:3

Bible In One Year: Ruth 1-4

coverMore than 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate commanded that a placard be placed on the cross that read: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Perhaps Pilate sought to induce fear among the people and discourage them from crowning their own king.

King of the Jews. Was it an original thought at the time? Perhaps it had been introduced when the wise men asked, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2). They had sought the fulfillment of this promise: "For unto us a Child is born . . . ; the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). They believed Jesus was this Child.

Later, when Christ was crucified, some jeered, "If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matthew 27:40). They wanted to see if Jesus really was King. But Jesus did not come down. The true meaning of the cross is that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). He who paid the penalty of our sins has made God's forgiveness possible.

Those who accept God's forgiveness and ask Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord can have only one appropriate response-to serve Him. He is King of our lives. -Albert Lee

King of my life I crown Thee now-
Thine shall the glory be;
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary. -Hussey

Jesus is King of our lives, so we must serve Him all of our lives.

Why Did Christ Have To Die?
Knowing God Through John

19 posted on 03/25/2005 5:01:14 AM PST by The Mayor ( The human spirit soars with hope when lifted by an encouraging word.)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All
Friday Bump for the Freeper Foxhole

A couple of pics of a Stinson L-5 rigged out as an ambulance aircraft. This is what was most likely used as an evac plane in Burma.

"ow bout a nice action shot of an L-5, eh mate

Here's a pic showing the stretcher arraingments for the evac of wounded in an L-5

Well off to work I must go, hopefully will be able to get started on the ceiling sheetrock today, groan. Thank goodnes for drywall lifts :-)


alfa6 ;>}

20 posted on 03/25/2005 5:25:35 AM PST by alfa6 (Memebr loyal order of F.O.G.)
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