The Burma Campaign in the Balance
When the soldiers of the Chinese Army in India entered Walawbum, deep in Japanese-held Burma, they were for all practical purposes masters of the Hukawng Valley and well on the way to Myitkyina. But their success did not guarantee enthusiastic support of the Burma campaign by either SEAC or the Chinese Government, while the Japanese at one point were within a few miles of making the whole North Burma Campaign impossible. So far was SEAC from favoring a campaign in north Burma, that Mountbatten sent a mission to London and Washington to plead for cancellation of the campaign, while the Americans in north Burma believed that on his part the Generalissimo was ordering Generals Sun and Liao to go very slowly indeed. For some weeks the campaign hung in the balance, while Stilwell did what he could to tip that balance on the side of vigorous action to break the long blockade of China.
The SEXTANT Decisions Challenged
On 4 March 1944, when the fighting at Walawbum was moving to its peak, Admiral Mountbatten visited Stilwell at the latter's invitation. The relation between the Supreme Allied Commander and his acting deputy was in need of adjustment because of a chain of events stretching back to the preceding January.1 The Generalissimo's unwillingness to cross the Salween and advance into Burma, plus the long-felt desire of Mountbatten's commanders in chief to bypass Burma and to postpone major operations until after the defeat of Germany, led SEAC's planners to revive, and Mountbatten to approve, the old plan for an attack against the Netherlands Indies that had first been presented in May 1943. SEAC's staff argued that the clearing of north Burma to break the blockade of China was out of step with global strategy because of the now quickened pace of operations in the Pacific. They recommended that the Combined Chiefs of Staff order SEAC to keep its resources out of the Burma fighting and conserve them for a major offensive in the fall of 1944 or the spring of 1945. The first phase of this operation should be the securing of a
foothold in Sumatra. Success in the East Indies should be exploited into the South China Sea, with the goal of opening a port on the China coast. Germany's fall was expected to release the means for this.2
On learning of this development, the deputy CBI Theater commander, Maj. Gen. Daniel I. Sultan, had promptly warned Stilwell of it. Telling Stilwell that Mountbatten was about to send a mission to Washington and London to present this plan, General Sultan had suggested that Stilwell counter with a mission of his own. Stilwell was, as acting Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, subordinate to Mountbatten; he was also Chief of Staff, China Theater, with obligations to China and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. A decision to postpone any effort to relieve China until after Germany had been defeated might have the gravest repercussions in China. As Chief of Staff, China Theater, Stilwell therefore had decided to send his own mission to Washington: Generals Boatner and Ferris, Colonels Francis Hill and Francis G. Brink.3 Moreover, Stilwell was an officer in the service of the United States, and there lay his first loyalty. As commanding general of a U.S. Army theater of operations he had been charged with several missions, such as support of the airline to China, which might be adversely affected by the strategy SEAC was proposing. He also knew that the objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to bypassing Burma had been placed on the record at the Washington conference of May 1943. Unhappily, he failed to inform Mountbatten of his decision to send the mission.
As soon as the situation around Taihpa Ga permitted, Stilwell had placed his arguments directly before SEAC. At a Supreme Commander's meeting on 31 January, Stilwell stated flatly that the entire concept of attacking Sumatra and bypassing Burma was wrong. While he fully realized the advantages of opening a Chinese port that could ultimately result from the proposed operation, Stilwell believed this could be accomplished by an overland advance of ten Chinese divisions in about one month, after the Ledo Road to supply them had been opened. Stilwell believed that the road would be opened sooner than the SEAC War Staff anticipated and wanted to know if account had been taken of the existing road to Myitkyina, the Kamaing Road, from which he was then only twenty miles away. As for the argument that a change in strategy was necessary because of the faster schedule of Pacific operations, Stilwell did not see how that made it necessary to wait six months to fight elsewhere instead of fighting the Japanese at once in Burma.4
Stilwell's representations made no impression, for a clash of national policy was involved far deeper than differing views on strategy. The United States wanted to support China; the British Commonwealth, to liberate its prewar territories in Burma and Malaya, and again raise the British flag over Singapore. In retrospect, British emotions and British policies should be fully understandable in terms of similar emotions and policies that resulted in the American effort to liberate the Philippines. As Admiral Mountbatten stated the problem in his report:
The Americans, on the one hand, regarded Assam and Burma primarily as part of the air and land line to China; the British, on the other hand, saw the liberation of Burma as an end in itself, and as a step on the road to Malaya and Singapore. It seemed necessary to establish the fact that, although the two conceptions were divergent in motive, in execution they were complementary and inseparable.5
To the Prime Minister, viewing the war from the lonely summit of his position, all of Burma seemed far from Japan, and he feared that if the British forces were mired in Burma they would not have their just share of victory in the Far East. He "wished, on the contrary, to contain the Japanese in Burma, and break into or through the great arc of islands forming the outer fringe of the Dutch East Indies." As he wrote his memoirs several years later, Churchill added: "It is against this permanent background of geography, limited resources, and clash of policies that the story of the campaign should be read."6
Unknown to Stilwell, the subject of a new directive for SEAC was an urgent topic of conversation among War Department planners. Their conclusions, a reaffirmation of their May 1943 views, were reached before Stilwell's mission to Washington could present his reactions to CULVERIN (SEAC's plan for an attack on Sumatra). On 12 January the Asiatic Section, Operations Division, examined the proposed attack on Sumatra in response to Sultan's warning on the 6th. The section pointed out that President Roosevelt's 20 December 1943 message to the Generalissimo strongly indicated a land route to China. Furthermore, as Japanese strength in Burma increased, the enemy's offensive capabilities were correspondingly improved, a factor to be weighed in any consideration of operations against Sumatra.7
From north Burma Stilwell had been reporting successes against the Japanese and asking when 4 Corps would move forward from Manipur State to engage them. In response, the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked the British Chiefs of Staff to inquire of SEAC when it proposed to advance the 4 Corps, and what its mission would be.8
The JCS, disturbed by the evident SEAC tendency to postpone operations in Southeast Asia, and approving the Joint Staff Planners' view that the capture of Myitkyina in the current dry season was essential to the U.S. policy of developing China into a base capable of supporting Pacific operations, warned the CCS of their apprehension that further delay in issuing a CCS directive to SEAC would result in very little being done before the monsoon began. The Joint Chiefs went on to say that every means available for operations in north Burma should be employed immediately. They recommended that SEAC be ordered to seize and hold Myitkyina before the 1944 rains and that 4 Corps be ordered to cross the Chindwin and move on to central Burma. To this view, the British Chiefs of Staff replied that they did not agree with the proposed directive, but that they were not prepared to advance counterproposals, pending the outcome of conversations with Mountbatten's mission.9
The British Chiefs of Staff reaffirmed a SEAC assertion that SEAC was making the maximum offensive effort that its line of communications could support. They doubted whether the 4 Corps could seize or hold the Shwebo-Monywa area before the monsoon and whether the Ledo Force could advance to Myitkyina in time to bring the Ledo Road forward before the monsoon. In the opinions of the British Chiefs, if this could not be accomplished Myitkyina could not be held.
Aware of these exchanges between the Joint and British Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mountbatten complained that the views of the Joint Chiefs were based on Stilwell's representations, with all that implied of insubordination by the latter. He accused Stilwell of inspiring a press campaign against CULVERIN and asked that Stilwell's relief from SEAC duty be arranged. General Marshall quickly pointed out to Field Marshal Sir John Dill, Chief of the British Joint Staff Mission in Washington, that the JCS paper had been prepared before Stilwell's staff officers had arrived in Washington and before the JCS had seen Stilwell's objections to CULVERIN. Fully consistent with the previous course of U.S. service opinion the JCS paper had stemmed from the OPD memorandum of 12 January, and the latter was drafted before General Sultan suggested Stilwell send his mission.10 Therefore, Stilwell's mission on its arrival had no need to present his views, for they were identical with the positions already taken by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Roosevelt.
At this point Stilwell received concrete indication that the President's attitude toward him was becoming more favorable. From Washington, General Boatner radioed that the President revealed complete sympathy with Stilwell's
efforts to advance in Burma. Not since the spring of 1942 had Stilwell received any evidence that the Commander in Chief was supporting him. Unimpressed, Stilwell replied to Boatner that he would trade the sympathy for one U.S. division.11
Reporting on his interview with the President, Boatner stated that Roosevelt said he was more dissatisfied with the progress of the war in Burma than anywhere else. The two men discussed the role of the British and Chinese ground forces in Burma. Boatner urged the President to aid in persuading the British and Chinese to take a more aggressive role in Burma. The President agreed to address the Prime Minister and urge immediate aggressive action in compliance with the SEXTANT decisions, but he said nothing about similar representations to the Generalissimo.12
Lending point to Boatner's arguments was a widely circulated OPD estimate of the strength of the contending parties in Burma. OPD believed that there were in India 1,654,094 British and Indian troops, 44,036 U.S.-trained Chinese, and 2,943 U.S. infantry, or 1,701,073 men, against a G-2 and SEAC estimate of 150,000 Japanese in Burma.13 The strength estimates made by OPD are, however, not a true picture. The Japanese strength in Burma, exclusive of naval and air personnel, was approximately 252,000.14 As for the Indian forces, OPD did not take into account the very considerable forces needed to restrain the warlike and turbulent tribes of the North-West Frontier Province, the need of garrisons to maintain internal security in an empire of some 400,000,000 peoples of diverse races, and the administrative establishments required for support of the Indian divisions in the Mediterranean and Middle East, as well as in Burma.
Colonel Hill of Stilwell's party underscored the relationship between taking Myitkyina and increasing Hump tonnage above its current plateau of a 13,000-14,000-ton level. Hump tonnage was limited by the high density of air traffic at the Assam gateway and by the lack of instrument let-down facilities in China. As a result the Hump was rather closely confined to 10,000 tons a month in bad weather, 12,500 tons in good. The ATC, said Hill, was suggesting that a more southerly route by way of Myitkyina would have to be flown to lessen traffic density.15 However, so long as Japanese fighters could use the Myitkyina airstrip, ATC's transports would have to stay well to the north.
The President, as he had promised Boatner, told Churchill that he was expecting Stilwell to take Myitkyina by the end of the dry season, and that he thought Stilwell could hold there if 4 Corps did its part. Roosevelt expressed grave concern over recent trends in SEAC's strategic thinking, which favored Sumatra and Malayan operations. He concluded that advantageous as
a successful CULVERIN might be, more could be gained by an all-out drive into upper Burma to take Myitkyina and thus increase the airlift to China. This would permit building air strength in China and insure essential support for the projected cross-Pacific advance to the Formosa-China-Luzon area. Churchill replied that SEAC would not withdraw or withhold any forces from the campaign in upper Burma for the sake of CULVERIN or any other amphibious operation. This reply was reassuring, for General Sultan had heard gossip at SEAC headquarters that troops would not be committed to current operations lest such delay CULVERIN.16
The Japanese Create More Command Problems
While the lengthy radioed exchanges on the new directive for SEAC were taking place, the Japanese seized the initiative in Burma, thus justifying the apprehensions so often expressed by General Marshall. On 7 January, Imperial General Headquarters had finally approved the major portion of the plan to attack India so long urged by Burma Area Army, and had directed:
In order to defend BURMA, the Commander-in-chief of the Southern Army may occupy and secure the vital areas of Northeastern INDIA in the vicinity of IMPHAL by defeating the enemy in that area at the opportune time.17
Significant of the limited scope of the intended operation, which was given the simple code name U, this directive was issued in accordance with an Imperial General Headquarters basic order of summer 1942 which had given a defensive role to the Japanese garrison of Burma.18
In the opinion of the former chief of the Operations Section, Imperial General Headquarters Army Department, another order by that body would have had to be issued for an advance into Assam Province beyond the Imphal area. All things considered, so ambitious an operation by 15th Army did not seem possible to the Japanese command. Some members of the 15th Army command, including General Mutaguchi himself, did want to descend into Assam, and expected that such a bold offensive would be permitted by Tokyo when the U operation had been successful.19
Japanese Attack on Arakan Front
4-7 February 1944
These details were unknown to the Allied staffs and commanders, but on 4 February 1944 they saw the beginnings of the crucial stages of Operation U when the 55th Division attacked in the Arakan to lure SEAC's reserves away from Imphal.20 (Map 9)
The Japanese attack was not a surprise to SEAC, to CBI headquarters, or to General Headquarters (India), though Stilwell, like Marshall, had always feared an attack on Kunming. As early as 15 July 1943, Lt. Gen. Geoffrey Scoones, 4 Corps commander, had predicted the Japanese move. In December 1943 the likelihood of such an attack was under active discussion in SEAC. Wingate was advised of its probability on 16 January 1944. SEAC's joint intelligence accepted the view that a Japanese offensive was imminent and objected to a War Staff estimate which forecast a rather passive Japanese attitude.
By 8 February 1944 Stilwell's mission to Washington could report that an estimate of the situation by General Headquarters (India) suggested a major Japanese offensive was about to begin. Almost immediately, CBI staff officers began to study the implications of such an attack in terms of the air supply needs of surrounded Allied units. On 14 February Admiral Mountbatten told the British Chiefs of Staff that a Japanese attack on 4 Corps was planned to follow a successful offensive in the Arakan. On 5 March he inquired of General Giffard, the senior British Army commander in SEAC, how that officer proposed to reinforce Imphal to meet the expected Japanese attack.21
The Japanese 28th Army in the Arakan had three divisions, the 2d, the 54th, and the 55th. Convinced that SEAC contemplated an amphibious descent on the Arakan coast, the Japanese employed the 2d and 54th Divisions in the profitless tasks of building coastal defenses and keeping a sharp watch for hostile landing craft, as well as the more useful work of forwarding supplies to the veteran 55th Division, victors of the Battle of the Sittang Bridge, February 1942. The 55th Division's mission was to place the Indian divisions facing it in such peril as to attract British reserves from the decisive point at Imphal.
The Japanese striking force made its way around 15 Corps' east flank without discovery and attacked on 4 February. So quickly and hard did the Japanese strike that on 6 February they overran the headquarters of the 7th Indian Division. Similar Japanese tactics had yielded very considerable results in previous years. Here was a threat.
But General Slim, commanding Fourteenth Army, the headquarters immediately controlling 4 and 15 Corps, saw the opportunity presented by the Japanese move. Exploiting the advantages of air transport and air supply he quickly massed a force that far outnumbered the Japanese by bringing up the 26th Indian Division and moving the British 36th Division into a supporting position. A third division of two brigades, the 81st West African, was operating in the Kaladan valley, parallel to the Arakan coast.
To meet the Japanese attack, the three brigades of the 7th Indian Division, the brigade of the 5th Indian Division attached to it, and the division service troops formed perimeters and went on air supply while the rest of 15 Corps drove toward them. Called "baby tortoise" or "beehive" tactics by the baffled Japanese, this type of operation was something new in Burma fighting. The unit training, and equipment, of the Indian Army had greatly improved in the past years. By cutting the Indians' supply lines, the Japanese had expected to force them back in confusion. Instead, though the Japanese were carrying out
their mission of containing superior forces, they themselves, depending on what supplies could trickle to them over jungle trails, were effectively encircled and were running out of supplies in a few days.22 In two weeks' time, 7th Indian Division restored communications with its service elements and held the initiative.
That these new Allied tactics involved air supply posed new problems for Stilwell. On 13 January 1944, well before the Japanese struck, Stilwell's staff warned him that the Arakan situation (where an African division was soon to require air supply) might result in a request for diversion of Hump aircraft and Hump tonnage at any time. A week after the battle began such a request came from SEAC. The Arakan supply commitments strained Mountbatten's resources to the limit, and as it would soon be time to fly Wingate's new and ambitious long-range penetration group effort into Burma, Mountbatten wanted to divert thirty-eight aircraft from the Hump. He wanted Stilwell's concurrence before he radioed the CCS, but no reply came before the radio was dispatched.
Stilwell's reply was a refusal for he had understood that only one Japanese battalion was causing the trouble. How, he asked, could he justify a diversion on those grounds to the Generalissimo? The CCS, however, agreed, providing no more than thirty C-47's were taken off the Hump. Mountbatten could argue that the spirit of the SEXTANT discussions with the Generalissimo contemplated Hump diversions in an emergency, and this was one.23 Hump tonnage fell from 14,431 tons in February to 10,954 tons in March, then rose to the mid-13,000's in April and May. (See Chart 5.)
When the Arakan crisis ended in late February with the driving of the Japanese from their key roadblocks, both sides could find cause for satisfaction. Churchill proclaimed: "The enemy has been challenged and beaten in jungle war-fare. His boastfulness has received a salutary exposure."24 From all indications, the Japanese task force took very heavy casualties. But the men who planned to meet again at Yasukuni Shrine expected this, and Burma Area Army believed the sacrifices of its men had in fact mired Giffard's and Slim's reserves in the Arakan while the decisive action was being fought out hundreds of miles to the north. The Japanese had in effect sacrificed the 55th Division and greatly weakened their defense of the Arakan, so much so as to make its future loss inevitable. This meant the Japanese would have to win at Imphal to make the Arakan sacrifice worth while. They did not perceive that Slim and Giffard, by the rapid movement of their strategic reserves, had taken the first major step toward defeating them in detail, for they did not realize that Slim and Giffard could shuttle whole divisions by air.
The principal concern of the Japanese staffs after the Arakan battle was the slowness with which their 15th Division was moving into place for the attack on Imphal. The drive on Imphal was to have begun on 22 or 23 February. The Japanese D Day came and went and the 15th Division was still not ready to move. Anxiously the Japanese staffs watched the time they had bought by sacrificing the 55th Division slip through their fingers.25
Mountbatten and Stilwell Meet
On 2 March General Marshall told Stilwell to see Mountbatten at once and re-establish cordial personal relations with him. Marshall referred to some press indiscretions, which Mountbatten thought had been Stilwell's work, and told Stilwell that he knew the latter bore no responsibility whatever for them, that they originated with a U.S. naval officer. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister and British Chiefs of Staff had at once concluded that Stilwell was responsible for them. Their irritation had been increased by the mission Stilwell sent to Washington without telling Mountbatten. Though Marshall had assured Dill and Mountbatten that the Joint Chiefs had reached their views independently of Stilwell, harm had been done. Hinting at great combined operations to come, which made Allied unity essential, Marshall asked Stilwell to close the rapidly widening breach between himself and Mountbatten.26
As was his custom, Stilwell carefully drafted what he wanted to tell Mountbatten:
Mission to Washington was to inform War Department of my plans and arguments, report on situation, and attempt to put China in proper perspective. I am CofS for CKS. I command CBI Theater. I have a mission. My orders re SEAC are to use U.S. forces to best purpose and I have done so. I am serving under Slim. I diverted Hump tonnage. I am following orders. I have never been appointed as Deputy [Supreme Allied Commander, SEAC]. Opinions differ. I have stated mine frankly. E.G., 'Ledo Road cannot be built or held, nor can it carry any tonnage.' It is being built. It can be held--not of course if the British leave the whole job to two Chinese divisions. It will carry tonnage. It is now carrying 20,000 tons a month without trying.
Burma can be taken. The Japs can be licked. (Slim's job. Our job.) The road can be opened. All we need is pressure on CKS, which I have struggled to get. The problem in front of us is Burma. That is what I am working on.
What are the objections to me? I have assured you that once a decision is made, I will play ball. Am I supposed to sink my opinion before that time? And help to put over a point of view I do not believe in? Why should I take the opinions of your staff and not my own?
Have I covered up to you on the Chinese? Have I withheld possible help? Do you believe now what your experts said of the [Assam] LOC? Have I squawked about my status? Have I talked for publication? (Indian Press). Have I meddled in politics? (Mr. Churchill told me last May he understood my position and wanted to help).
TRIDENT, QUADRANT, and SEXTANT all bore down on opening up China. Why should I be panned for trying to do it?
Have I mentioned publicity? (Show him the Road article.) Does that tend to create suspicion or not? (Constant belittling [in the Indian and British press] of American effort here with the Chinese). . . .
Army Commander did not have any remarks on military effort. I have no desire to mix in political matters.
What is it? Do you want me to resign? I have never been appointed, so that is easy. Do you want me to be relieved entirely from this Theater? Or do you want the CBI abolished? (Have you political reasons for your attitude?) You asked me to be frank. I should like you also to be frank. I can stand it.27
The meeting between Mountbatten and Stilwell passed off pleasantly and successfully. Stilwell kept no notes on what he said but reported to Marshall that he "ate crow" because he had not told Mountbatten of his mission. "We are good personal friends," he went on, "and our relations have never been stiff." Stilwell stated that he was carrying out Mountbatten's orders to the best of his ability and would carry out future orders as soon as the decision was made. At Cairo, he went on, he had tried to get a statement of the United States China policy but this had not been vouchsafed him. Since this guidance was lacking, he was trying to protect U.S. interests, carry out his original mission, and comply with TRIDENT, QUADRANT, and SEXTANT decisions.28
Admiral Mountbatten was pleased by the meeting and told Dill of Stilwell's apology. Mountbatten's letter to Dill suggests a certain reserve but he considered that he and Stilwell had settled their current problems and had effected a personal rapprochement. However, Mountbatten added:
He really is a grand old warrior but only the Trinity could carry out his duties which require him to be in Delhi, Chungking and the Ledo Front simultaneously, and I still think Al Wedemeyer or Sultan should be appointed as Commanding General for the American SEA theater and that Stilwell's command should be confined to China though he could certainly continue with the title of deputy SAC, SEA since he had never really done anything about those duties during the whole time I have been out here.29
Later events showed that Stilwell was willing to focus his attention on China, to be relieved of a post that was of purely symbolic significance, and to let others cope with problems of administration and command south of the Hump. The accord reached by Stilwell and Mountbatten did not include questions of grand strategy, for differences there went beyond the competence of the local commanders.30
Immediately after the interview, Mountbatten was seriously injured when a bamboo splinter was rammed into his eye as he was driving in his jeep. He was temporarily blinded, and had to spend many days in the hospital. The
accident was doubly unfortunate, for it immobilized SEAC's commander at a time when the Japanese were expected to make their attack on Imphal.31
The Chiefs of Staff Reject CULVERIN
The mission (AXIOM) sent to Washington and London in February 1944 to persuade Mountbatten's superiors of CULVERIN'S advantages, included Generals Wedemeyer and Wheeler of SEAC's American component, and Maj. Gen. M. W. M. MacLeod, Capt. M. G. Goodenough, RN, and Brigadier Geoffrey K. Bourne. In London the AXIOM Mission found that the British Chiefs of Staff and the War Cabinet had not settled on what British strategy in the Pacific war should be. The military wanted to dispatch a powerful task force to co-operate with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. Mr. Churchill, for the Cabinet, wanted British effort to concentrate on the Indian Ocean. The strategic concepts of CULVERIN were most appealing to the Prime Minister but he complained of SEAC's estimate of the resources needed. Churchill thought the estimates inflated, a "terrific bill." The British Chiefs of Staff objected to the strategy expressed in CULVERIN. They considered an attempt to mount it would postpone the defeat of Japan by six months. As a result of the London discussions, the AXIOM Mission was told that in Washington they could speak for British authority only to the extent that the Prime Minister and Chiefs of Staff agreed with Mountbatten's views on Burma operations. Beyond that, no decision had been reached. They were also to assure their American hosts that no British resources would be withheld from current operations in Burma to mount CULVERIN.32
The mission's reception in Washington, March 1944, revealed the Joint Chiefs' opposition to CULVERIN. General Marshall was so impressed with Stilwell's objections to CULVERIN that, instead of just noting their outstanding points for the President's consideration, he sent in the whole paper.33
The Joint Chiefs objected to CULVERIN because they believed that resources for it would not be available until after the defeat of Germany. Therefore, exploitation of a successful CULVERIN would not reach Singapore before the middle of 1945 at the best. This date would be eight to ten months after U.S. forces were expected to have cut the Japanese line of communications to that area. The Joint Chiefs did not believe that the establishment of Myitkyina as an air base would necessitate the recapture of all Burma. While General Wedemeyer, AXIOM's chief spokesman, agreed that taking Myitkyina would increase the Hump lift (in that it would make possible a lower, wider air route to China), he added that the operation was too risky. As to north Burma operations
in general, Wedemeyer stated: "Without full Chinese help it was impossible to deny Upper Burma to the enemy, though one of the subordinate commanders in the area did consider that it would be possible to reach the Myitkyina area. The Supreme Commander and his staff, however, believed this to be very problematical, and even if accomplished, would not result in the necessary degree of control of Upper Burma. . . ."
At the end of the SEAC mission's visit to Washington, the Joint Chiefs presented a memorandum to the Combined Chiefs of Staff stating they were now more firm than ever in their belief that the greatest contribution SEAC could make would be to provide timely support to a cross-Pacific advance to the China-Formosa-Luzon triangle, and that Mountbatten's greatest accomplishment would be to secure Myitkyina and build up an immediate increase in Hump traffic to China. They believed that successes in the Arakan and Hukawng areas, plus improvement in the Assam line of communications, indicated that difficulties previously emphasized in Burma operations might have been considerably overestimated.34
A major change in Japanese naval dispositions supplied the final argument against CULVERIN. In February 1944, the Japanese moved the bulk of their fleet from Truk to Singapore. From Singapore it could quickly counter any attempted amphibious attack on Sumatra, and the Japanese now had the strength at Singapore to make their countermove a success.35
The Japanese Attack Forces Hump Diversions
The Japanese attack on Imphal had been anticipated, and Slim's plans had been long ready. His intention was that 4 Corps should retire before the Japanese attack, persuading the Japanese that 4 Corps was in retreat. The Japanese would follow over the wild country between the Chindwin River and the Imphal plain. There, at Imphal, 4 Corps would turn on the Japanese. Heavy reinforcements would be flown in from the Arakan directly to Imphal, while a fresh British corps, concentrating around Dimapur, would fall with smashing weight on the Japanese flanks and rear. The plan assumed but one Japanese regiment would attack Kohima, a town near the Bengal and Assam Railway.36 (Map 10)
Japanese Offensive on Imphal Front
The Japanese offensive began on 8 March, a week earlier than had been expected, and moved with stunning speed and weight. The Japanese used three of their own divisions plus some units (later formed as a division) organized among Indian prisoners of war. Four days before the Japanese began their attack, Mountbatten had ordered the Manipur front reinforced.
On 14 March, Mountbatten was told that the 5th Indian Division had not yet begun its move to reinforce 4 Corps at Imphal. He also concluded that the Japanese attack, though it had been expected, was proceeding with a vigor and a momentum thoroughly disturbing to the Fourteenth Army staff. He and his staff had not been aware that the situation was thought to be deteriorating so rapidly. Mountbatten believed that responsibility for the nonarrival of the 5th Indian Division and for the failure to keep him informed of the situation lay with General Giffard, and so informed him. In criticizing Giffard, Mountbatten (perhaps because of his recent accident in north Burma) may have been unaware that the 5th Indian Division had been launched on an attack on the Arakan on 6 March and could not have been disengaged earlier than in fact it was. The incident had its effect on the relationship between the two commanders.
Mountbatten personally intervened to speed the reinforcement process, and the 161st Indian Brigade was rushed forward. It arrived just in time to find the whole of the Japanese 31st Division moving on Kohima. This Japanese action was a serious affair, for near at hand, though a stretch of very difficult country lay between, was the Bengal and Assam Railway, the line of communications to the Hump airfields and Stilwell's campaign.37
This in turn created another complication for Mountbatten and for Stilwell, because in order to fly reinforcements up to save Kohima Mountbatten had to divert transports from the Hump, as earlier he had been obliged to do during the peak of the Arakan fighting. This diversion of transports, which were the sole line of communications of the Fourteenth Air Force, was a serious matter for CBI Theater headquarters. Patently, if enough transports were diverted, Chennault's position would be endangered, and there would be political repercussions all the way from Chungking to Washington. Stilwell's deputy, General Sultan, asked Mountbatten how three Japanese divisions could menace Imphal when three Indian divisions had thought it impossible to advance from that area. The answer was that the Japanese would take chances such as had led to their recent setback in the Arakan, that they normally did not need much supply and were entering an area where they could live off the country. Relaying this explanation to Stilwell, Sultan warned that Mountbatten would divert ATC aircraft and place the burden of overruling him on the Combined Chiefs.38
Mountbatten did order the equivalent of thirty C-47's off the Hump, and the Joint Chiefs at the urgent request of the British agreed to a temporary diversion to fly in reinforcements.39 These transports were a palliative, and on 25 March Mountbatten wanted to take seventy more C-47's from the Hump. The original diversion was being used to fly the 5th Indian Division from the Arakan to Imphal, to be followed by the 7th Indian Division. The request for seventy more, made as it was five days before the Japanese cut the Imphal-Kohima Road, suggested acceptance of Japanese ability to surround the 5th, 17th, 20th, and 23d Indian Divisions on the Imphal plain with two divisions of their own and to maintain themselves in that position long enough to exhaust 4 Corps' accumulation of stores and force 4 Corps to go on air supply. Generals Sultan and Stratemeyer did not face the prospect of further diversions from the Hump with equanimity, and the evident prospect that 4 Corps with 70,000 combat troops would be cut off by a force that was (mistakenly) believed to be much smaller brought increasingly severe but perhaps unjustified criticism of 4 Corps conduct of operations. Actually, the Japanese exhibited their customary willingness to take chances with logistics by building up the two divisions that fought at Imphal to 53,000--40,000 Japanese, the rest Burmese laborers who freed the Japanese to fight.40 The outcome was that an Army Air Forces troop carrier group of sixty-four C-47's was supplied on one month's loan from the Mediterranean area as well as an RAF transport squadron of fifteen aircraft more.41 This ultimately permitted return of the twenty C-46 aircraft diverted from the Hump, when Stratemeyer found they were not being fully utilized.42
Inkangahtawng: An Attempt That Failed
Meanwhile, far to the north of Imphal, Stilwell in the Hukawng Valley was resolved to try another envelopment of the 18th Division. He was willing to accept less than a complete encirclement, for he seems to have contemplated putting such pressure on Tanaka's line of communications that the Japanese would be obliged to fall back. Merrill and his staff were ordered to make a plan to put a roadblock behind the 18th. The orders to Merrill from Chih Hui Pu
prescribed a shallow envelopment, and also provided that as at Walawbum the GALAHAD force would be supported by a Chinese regiment that would not be under Merrill's command.43
Merrill and Sun, personal friends as well as colleagues, discussed these plans and concluded they had the same weakness which in their opinion had caused difficulties at Walawbum, that is, that the Chinese and American units which were to work in the same area were under separate command. Some years later, Merrill remembered Sun's offering to let Merrill have operational control of any units of the 38th Division that Chih Hui Pu might designate for the operation, so as to make effective co-operation possible. Colonel Hunter was sent to Stilwell's headquarters to present Merrill's and Sun's recommendations, which were to send Merrill's entire force, plus reinforcements from Sun, in a wide sweep to set up one block near Shaduzup. Merrill felt that a wider envelopment would have less chance of being detected.44 Meanwhile, the 22d Division and the tanks would drive down the Kamaing Road from the north.
Hunter's embassy had only limited success. At the suggestion of his staff, Stilwell approved a wider envelopment, but at the cost of splitting the enveloping force. The orders as finally put out called for the 1st Battalion of the 5307th, followed at a day's interval by a regiment of the 38th Division, to make a shallow envelopment and block the Kamaing Road south of the pass through the Jambu Bum ridge line. The 2d and 3d Battalions, 5307th, followed by another Chinese regiment, would make a wide swing to the east, then turn back west and cut the Kamaing Road several miles south of the block that would result from the shallow envelopment.45
In proffering their suggestions, GALAHAD's staff had been unaware that their march could be screened by Kachin irregulars raised by the Office of Strategic Services and commanded in the lower Hukawng area by 1st Lt. James L. Tilly, and that Lieutenant Tilly had most detailed and accurate information of the whereabouts of the Japanese. Because of extremely faulty co-ordination and what might be termed a hoarding of information GALAHAD's staff were actually unaware that Tilly's force existed. After the war, Merrill believed such data might have permitted Hunter to offer conclusive arguments for the GALAHAD proposals.46
Possibly because of concern over the Japanese offensive in the Arakan, the Generalissimo attempted to slow Stilwell's advance.
It is believed that you have received my radio to you dated February 23rd.
You are requested to report the operational plans of New 1st Army in advance.
In view of the operations of British forces and the preparations of our forces, the New 1st Army should not advance until there are advances in Arakan by the British forces. Before
TROOPS OF MERRILL'S MARAUDERS rest on a mountain trail.
any advances are made by the friend [sic] forces, our army should stop at the present positions, so that we will not be attacked individually.
Please send a reply on the above mentioned two points.47
The language was conditional, and Stilwell seemingly resolved to make no immediate reply but take the matter up on his next trip to Chungking.
Stilwell did ask Marshall to have some pressure put on the Generalissimo to attack across the Salween into Burma. The Chief of Staff was told that it was time the Y-Force attacked, that if just Teng-chung and Lung-ling were taken the effort would be worth while. "Just this once can't we get some pressure on him?" In view of the performance to date by 4 Corps Stilwell did not think it would be safe for him to go below Kamaing. Stilwell hoped that by attacking, the Generalissimo might lessen the pressure on Slim and himself. Mountbatten agreed, and asked his superiors to make such a suggestion to the Chinese "with great urgency."48
Stilwell also wanted another Chinese division flown to Burma. Mountbatten
strongly supported Stilwell's request for it, and also his desire for another American long-range penetration group. SEAC's commander asked that the President and Prime Minister approach the Generalissimo for another Chinese division.49
As for the Japanese in north Burma, thanks to the professional skill of General Tanaka, the foresight of his engineer, Colonel Fukayama, and the fighting qualities of their men, the 18th Division had got away to fight another day. In doing so, they had yielded a considerable stretch of north Burma to Stilwell, and with every successful withdrawal they backed closer and closer to the Irrawaddy valley and Myitkyina. Once in the Irrawaddy valley, Stilwell would be in a position to advance down the railroad and place himself behind the Japanese 15th Army in its drive on Imphal. Consequently, Tanaka had orders to hold the Kamaing area at all costs, which in the Japanese service meant just that. So the time was coming when Tanaka would have to stand and fight it out.50
The terrain in which the operation would take place was the most difficult that had yet been encountered. So far the fighting had been in the narrow valley. Now, in order to make the wide swing, Merrill's force would have to climb out of the valley into the hill mass on the eastern side. The hills defy any brief description, for the rains have carved a drainage pattern as complex as can be imagined. The result is a jumbled collection of hills most difficult to cross in any direction. Only one feature offered what might be taken as an avenue of approach, the incredibly narrow and steep little valley cut by the Tanai. In the area near the Jambu Bum the Tanai flows from south to north, and over the centuries has cut a narrow gash in the hills about fifteen miles to the east of the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys and roughly parallel. (Map 11)
The first day's march of Hunter's two-battalion force went well, though frequent rains provided an obstacle and hinted at an early monsoon. A day of rest was taken on 18 March, and at dusk an added mission was received from Stilwell, to block from the south the approaches to the Tanai valley. General Merrill complied the following day by ordering the 2d Battalion plus Khaki Combat Team of the 3d Battalion to move south through the hills on the Warong trail, reconnoiter the trails toward the important Japanese base of Kamaing, and block the Kamaing Road in the general vicinity of Inkangahtawng, while Orange Combat Team of the 3d Battalion stayed near Janpan in the hills and patrolled to the north, south, and west. So sited, Orange Combat Team could block the Tanai and still be ready to support the rest of the force on the road. The 5307th stayed at Janpan the night of 20 March, received an air drop the next day, and held a medical clinic for the Kachins of that vicinity. A regular feature of the campaign, these clinics did much to build and hold
12-23 March 1944
the good will of the Kachins, on whom the Americans relied heavily for early warning of the Japanese.51
On the afternoon of the 21st Hunter and his task force resumed the march to Inkangahtawng and the Kamaing Road, with all concerned in the operation, from Stilwell down, highly confident. Two days later Hunter was in position and decided to put two blocks across the road and patrol to the north. About this time, just when he was ready to profit by his march, Hunter learned that the 1st Battalion of the 5307th and its Chinese support, which were to make the shallow envelopment, had been seriously delayed.52 He thought it too late to change plans and went ahead. Between 20 and 24 March Hunter, the force commander around Inkangahtawng, would have liked to strike directly for Kamaing itself with at least three combat teams. His force was at one time only about five miles from Kamaing, he had received an air drop, and what he learned of Japanese troop movements only confirmed his feeling that Kamaing was wide open. But holding it was problematical to Hunter, for with the other officers of GALAHAD he believed that the Chinese division commanders, though formally under Stilwell, were in constant communication with the Generalissimo, and that the latter had to approve every order of Stilwell's before the Chinese would execute it.53 From this circumstance, in Hunter's opinion, stemmed what he regarded as a lack of aggressiveness on the part of the Chinese, which would make them shy away. However, Hunter placed the attack on Kamaing before Merrill who replied that Stilwell would not approve it.54
Merrill's unwillingness to approve such a project seems related to the conclusion he was gradually forming, that with the 22d Division's attack progressing so slowly there was a real possibility all three battalions of GALAHAD might be immobilized around Inkangahtawng and take heavy losses while accomplishing little that was commensurate.55 These views he placed before Stilwell.
Meanwhile, on the scene of action, American patrols encountered the Japanese on 23 March and reported about a company entrenched at Inkangahtawng. The 2d Battalion went forward as far as possible in face of increasing resistance to block the Kamaing Road while Orange Combat Team stayed on the east bank of the Mogaung to protect the rear. Shortly after dawn on 24 March, two reinforced platoons sent to envelop Inkangahtawng found it too strongly held and had to withdraw.
The Japanese reaction to this attempt to block the road, beginning 24 March, was vigorous, and one Japanese counterattack followed on another. These Japanese were a hastily assembled force drawn from a battalion gun platoon, an engineer company, a medical company, and division headquarters; they were given two 75-mm. guns, placed under command of the 18th Division's senior adjutant, and rushed south to Inkangahtawng. Within the U.S. lines Japanese trucks could be heard, presumably with reinforcements; and ammunition was running low in the 2d Battalion. At this point, Merrill radioed Hunter information coming from a captured Japanese map, that two Japanese battalions were moving to outflank him. The message was heard by McGee, commanding the 2d Battalion, but not by Hunter. Weighing it, McGee decided to pull out. He could not tell Hunter because the terrain masked his radio. Late on the 24th McGee moved to the Manpin area.56
After the 2d Battalion had withdrawn across the river through Khaki Combat Team, Hunter's men moved to Ngagahtawng and bivouacked there, in the area protected by trail blocks and booby traps.57 While the GALAHAD combat teams were pulling back off the road to less exposed positions, Merrill received word from Stilwell "leaving him discretion but telling him to hold back if possible."58 On the afternoon of 26 March Hunter was told that an estimated three Japanese battalions were moving north from Kamaing. He called for air interception which hit the Japanese forces at 1730, five to eight miles away from McGee's force at Manpin. This enemy force was the regimental headquarters and one battalion of the 114th Regiment, organized as two understrength battalions of about 800 men with four infantry guns, under Col. Fusayasu Maruyama.59 His mission was to protect General Tanaka's right flank.
On the 26th Merrill reported to Stilwell and his staff that GALAHAD had been withdrawn from the road, Merrill thus having exercised the option Stilwell gave him the day before. All morning long Stilwell's headquarters had been seeking a way to give timely help but now that GALAHAD was withdrawn Stilwell considered that his presence at the front was no longer required and that he was free to visit the Generalissimo in China. He flew there on 27 March.60
Back at Stilwell's headquarters, a captured Japanese sketch suggested that a reinforced Japanese battalion was moving north in the Tanai valley to attack the flank of the Chinese driving toward Shaduzup. His staff were seriously concerned and ordered General Merrill to block this thrust, stopping any move
north of Nhpum Ga, for there was a good trail through Nhpum Ga and Janpan to Shaduzup. This use of the 5307th in a static defensive role was a radical change in the concept of its employment.
With the Japanese moving north from Kamaing, there was the possibility that they might thrust themselves between GALAHAD and Nhpum Ga. Orange Combat Team, of the 3d Battalion, under Colonel Beach, was the logical protection, as it was nearest the Kamaing Road. Therefore Beach was ordered to guard the south flank, which he did with two platoons.61 McGee, with the 2d Battalion and the remainder of the 3d, moved off from Manpin on the afternoon of the 26th. McGee set a stiff pace, and kept his men marching until long after darkness had fallen. Next dawn they were up and on their way again. So quickly and easily described in print, these marches in north Burma were in reality exhausting struggles against every variety of obstacle. Staggering up stream beds, clawing their way between jungle growths, clinging to hillsides, their only respite a few hours on the sodden ground, their food a little K ration gulped on the march--the infantry endured a continuous ordeal that language is really inadequate to describe.62
A trail runs from Manpin to Auche, passing through Warong and Paokum in an arc bulging to the south. From Warong and Paokum two trails lead south; they would be logical avenues of approach. Another trail from Manpin to Auche forms the chord of the arc, and by using it and putting a platoon at Warong and Paokum respectively, the two battalions would have their southern flank well protected as they moved across the Japanese line of advance. At noon, 25 March, 1st Lt. Logan E. Weston and his I & R Platoon were ordered to Paokum. Lieutenant Weston arrived late that afternoon, set up his roadblock, and later was joined by a rifle platoon. From Paokum to Warong to Auche, Weston, 2d Lt. Warren R. Smith, and their two platoons delayed the Japanese on 26, 27, and 28 March, suffering no losses. Covered by Weston's and Smith's skillful and well-fought action, the main body arrived at Auche on the 27th and left the next morning.63
Later, enemy shellfire began and enemy infantry attacked soon after from the south. Lieutenant Weston was ordered to fight another delaying action up the trail to Nhpum Ga to give the 2d and 3d Battalions time to organize their defenses. Shells also fell as the 2d Battalion headquarters and Green Combat Team were leaving Auche, the 3d Battalion having gone on ahead. The trail ran along a ridge, making it impossible to take cover or disperse, and during a brief panic men cast away equipment. One American was killed and perhaps five were wounded.64 The battalion collected itself and, despite the shaking-up taken on the trail, quickly set up its perimeter on the hilltop at Nhpum Ga.
General Merrill's decision was to split his force. He did not want to disperse his force strength in that fashion any more than he had wanted to concur with the original order to put two blocks across the Kamaing Road, but in this case he felt the terrain forced dispersion on him. The 2d Battalion was put on the hilltop at Nhpum Ga; and the 3d Battalion, three miles north at Hsamshingyang to protect the airstrip there. Merrill had one hundred wounded who had to be flown out, and Nhpum Ga commanded the airstrip, so it had to be held. Both battalions were to patrol to keep the Japanese from bypassing on the trail along the Tanai Hka.65
The Japanese Delay the 1st Battalion, 5307th
From bivouac areas in the hills northeast of Shaduzup, on the Kamaing Road, the 1st Battalion of the 5307th, followed by the 113th Regiment, moved out on the morning of 13 March to put the northern clamp across the Kamaing Road just south of the Jambu Bum, in the vicinity of Shaduzup. (Map 11 and 12) The I & R Platoon followed some fresh footprints into an enemy bivouac and stirred up a hornet's nest of Japanese. There was brisk skirmishing, and though the Americans managed to cross the Numpyek Hka just beyond, the Japanese had been alerted and proceeded to delay them expertly. Colonel Osborne, commander of the 1st Battalion, decided to cut a fresh trail around the Japanese. This was painfully slow business, and waiting for an airdrop took another day. On 22 March, when Colonel Hunter to the south was one day's march from his goal, aggressive patrolling by Red Combat Team revealed that the Japanese had blocked every trail in the area through which Osborne had to pass, so again Osborne elected to make his own trail, this time over ground so rough that the mules had to be unloaded. The maneuver succeeded, and no Japanese were seen on 23 or 24 March. Osborne's march would have been greatly aided had he known Tilly's Kachin Rangers were in the same general area.
The 1st Battalion's arduous march had placed it close to the Chengun Hka, a stream which runs approximately southwest into the Nam Kawng Chaung, along whose banks the Kamaing Road runs, south of Shaduzup. Osborne elected to follow the Chengun to its confluence with the Nam Kawng and place his block across the Kamaing Road, where the chaung makes a U bend to the north a few miles south of Shaduzup.
While the 1st Battalion and the Chinese bivouacked on the banks of the Chengun, the I & R Platoon of White Combat Team explored the area where Osborne planned to place the block. There they found two Japanese camps comfortably placed between the river and the road. There were many Japanese at hand, grenading fish, bathing, or loafing under the trees. Bashas filled with supplies suggested the establishment was an advance supply depot. Fully informed
Shaduzup and Nhpum Ga
24-29 March 1944
by the I & R Platoon's skillful patrolling, Osborne decided to make a surprise attack, sweep the Japanese from the immediate area, and set up his block across the road.
The GALAHAD battalion and the Chinese 113th Regiment made their way down the Chengun Hka on the 27th. Chinese march discipline was not perfect, but on the other hand Japanese security measures were nonexistent. During the night of 27-28 March the Allied force established itself along the Nam Kawng Chaung. At 0300 White Combat Team slipped across the river onto the west or Japanese side and crept up within easy reach of the camp. Lying on their arms, the men waited for first light and the signal to attack. As the Japanese began to build their cooking fires the attack order was given.
Surprise was complete and overwhelming. With fixed bayonets the combat
teams swept through the camp. The Japanese scattered in confusion, and the area was quickly overrun. Thrusting beyond the camp site, the 1st Battalion set up its roadblock, and consolidated its position. The process of consolidation yielded some dividends of practical value--Japanese rations and equipment.66
The subsequent reaction of the Japanese was much like that at Walawbum. They could not risk the blocking of their line of communications while they were heavily engaged with the 22d Division some four or five miles to the north. The 1st Battalion did not budge, but the Japanese were primarily interested in bypassing it to the west and in extricating themselves from between GALAHAD and the 22d Division. Later in the day on the 28th, the Americans were relieved by the 113th Regiment, which in turn established contact with the 22d Division about 30 March.67
After its relief the 1st Battalion rested two days, then retraced its route, for it was under orders to rejoin the other two battalions which were thought to be near Hsamshingyang. Late on 30 March radio orders to proceed to Janpan by easy stages were received. The way was rough and the march was very slow. Then on 1 April the radio was damaged and Colonel Osborne, worried by being out of touch with headquarters, went to Shaduzup and there learned that he was to go as quickly as possible to Hsamshingyang. On the 6th word came that his help was badly needed. He and his men marched five and one half miles that day and night under the worst conditions so far encountered, and reached Hsamshingyang at 1700 on Good Friday, 7 April.68
Delay at Jambu Bum
While the GALAHAD battalions and the Chinese 113th Regiment had been trying, with varying success, to set up their roadblocks across the Kamaing Road and behind the Japanese positions, the 22d Division and the 1st Provisional Tank Group were attacking the 18th Division from the front. The 66th Regiment was operating to the west of the Kamaing Road, the 64th Regiment, to the east, the 65th (-) was in division reserve. Directly before the 22d Division was the Jambu Bum, which is about two miles in depth; Shaduzup is five or six miles south of it. To the north of the ridge line is an area of paddy fields; to the south the road goes through the thick brush and tall trees of the north Burma countryside. A third of the way down the reverse slope is the rather considerable obstacle of the Hkawnglaw Hka.
On 15 March the tanks and the two regiments were about three miles north of the ridge line. The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 64th were sent wide round
DAMAGED M3A3 TANKS south of Jambu Bum.
the left flank. The march was opposed and at one time the lead battalion was partly encircled and had to be extricated by a counterattack. Progress of the frontal attack was very slow. It was difficult to co-ordinate infantry and tank action, because the tankers found it hard to distinguish their countrymen from the Japanese. A few such cases of mistaken identity and the 22d's men were understandably reluctant to get too close to the tanks. Two days and a sharp fight in an open paddy field just north of the crest were needed to reach the north slope and crest.
Once over it, the 22d found the road down to be mined and blocked with fallen trees. Two days were lost in clearing the road, and then three battalions made a frontal attack, guiding on the road. Next day they tried a co-ordinated tank-infantry attack and the leading tank platoon reached the Hkawnglaw Hka about four miles south of Jambu Bum, destroying a few machine guns and taking four antitank pieces. But the infantry would not follow the tanks and dug in two miles short of the stream. The tanks patrolled till dark, then fell back to their own lines.69
It was the 2/66th's turn to lead on 21 March. Again the tanks got well ahead of the infantry. A combination of ambush and counterattack by the Japanese
cost five tanks, and then the Japanese came on up the road, almost overrunning the battalion headquarters, which was saved by the courage of two engineer platoons that had been clearing the road.70 That night the 1/64th, which had been making the enveloping move, came in from the east and cut the Kamaing Road, right in the segment held by the Japanese. A tank attack on the 23d found Japanese antitank guns just south of a small stream (north of the Hkawnglaw Hka) that prevented the tanks from outflanking the position. The guns knocked out the three lead tanks in quick succession, blocking the road. After heavy fighting at the stream crossing, the tanks finally had to withdraw, leaving the derelicts. In the afternoon the two flanking battalions made their way up the road and joined the 66th.
Because he did not know of all these delays, the operation seemed to Stilwell to be going very well; he believed the 1/5307th was at Shaduzup, while he knew the 2d Battalion was in place at Inkangahtawng. Unfortunately, the meeting of the 64th and 66th Regiments did not signal the end of Japanese resistance. Japanese and Chinese positions on the road were thoroughly intermingled, making movement in the immediate area extremely hazardous. An attempt to break the deadlock with the tanks failed when the device chosen to identify the Chinese infantry backfired. Both the Chinese and the Japanese waved white cloths at the tanks. The armor moved blithely on into a nest of Japanese antitank men, who destroyed five tanks with magnetic mines, effectively blocking the road. General Liao, the 22d Division's commander, now cut a bypass road for the tanks around his west (right) flank. A tank platoon tried it, could not cross a ravine improperly prepared for tank crossing, came under artillery fire, and had to be withdrawn.
The decision was now reached to bring the 65th Regiment up from reserve. With the 1/66th and the 3/64th attached, it leapfrogged the 64th and 66th Regiments on 26 March and attacked. The Japanese held stoutly, counterattacking five times on 28 March. With the cutting of the Kamaing Road below Shaduzup by the 1/5307th and the Chinese 113th Regiment, Japanese resistance softened, and on the 29th the 2/65th entered Shaduzup. In retrospect the Chih Hui Pu staff considered, and their judgment seems correct, that their plan to establish and exploit the two roadblocks had been thrown out of joint by two of the Japanese reactions, the stubborn defense north of Shaduzup (whereas it had been thought that the Japanese would conserve their strength), and the flanking move up the Tanai valley. There was a third factor, not mentioned by Chih Hui Pu, but a sore affliction at the time--unseasonable and heavy rains.71 Looking toward the future, Stilwell, who was highly pleased by the
work of the OSS's Kachin Rangers, ordered recruiting and training a force of 10,000 guerrillas.72
By 15 April 1944 the cost to the Chinese of the North Burma Campaign was: 22d Division, 800 men killed, 2,000 men wounded; 38th Division, 650 men killed, 1,450 men wounded.73
The Siege of Nhpum Ga
As previously noted, the tangled jumble of hills that forms the eastern boundary of the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys is cut from south to north by the deep, narrow valley of the Tanai Hka. If the Japanese made use of this valley for a counterstroke, it could lead them around Stilwell's left (eastern) flank and into his rear areas. The Japanese force from Kamaing, which had compelled the 2d and 3d Battalions of GALAHAD to yield their roadblock at Inkangahtawng, was in a position to launch such a move. Consequently, when a captured Japanese sketch had indicated that a reinforced Japanese battalion was moving north in the Tanai valley to attack the flank of the Chinese forces in the Hukawng Valley, Chih Hui Pu had been seriously concerned, and had ordered the 2d and 3d Battalions to stop any Japanese movement north of Nhpum Ga. The resulting march had been made just in time, apparently, for the Japanese had followed close behind the 2d and 3d Battalions as they moved to Nhpum Ga. A well-fought delaying action had given the 2d Battalion time to set up a perimeter defense at Nhpum Ga, and the 3d Battalion to establish itself at Hsamshingyang, three miles to the north, where it protected an airstrip for evacuation and resupply.74 Their defenses established, the men of the 2d Battalion had just time to look about their positions before the Japanese were on them.
Nhpum Ga is on a sharp, thin ridge at the northern end of a hill mass. The elevation continues for half a mile past Nhpum Ga, then slopes downhill over bamboo-covered ground to Hsamshingyang, a clearing in the jungle. To the east, the ground drops rapidly to the Tanai, falling 1,400 feet in two miles. To the west is the similar valley of the Hkuma Hka, which flows to the south. At the northeast quarter of the perimeter established by the 2d Battalion a rocky point dominates a water hole, the only local source. The initial perimeter included the water hole in an eastward-jutting salient.
Both at Walawbum and at Inkangahtawng, GALAHAD battalions had been withdrawn from the roadblocks they occupied. However pertinent the reason for these moves, they had not increased the prestige of American arms in the eyes of the Chinese, who believed American troops were leaving dangerous
positions that the Chinese had to take over and maintain.75 Now, at Nhpum Ga, the Americans had orders to stand and fight it out. Tired by their constant marches, racked by dysentery and malaria, and beginning to show the effects of malnutrition, the Americans were now called on to show that they too could hold a given patch of ground.
The Japanese besiegers included Maruyama's original task force and a considerable body of reinforcements, the main force of the 1st Battalion, 55th Infantry Regiment, which had been the 18th's right flank guard. Maruyama's mission was not to attack the immensely superior Chinese force near Shaduzup but rather to push the Americans back as far as possible along the Kumon Range in order to protect General Tanaka's right flank.76 In the first phase, 28-31 March, the Japanese drove the American outposts on the Auche trail back into the Nhpum Ga perimeter on the 28th, then after a brief preparation attacked the American position from the south. The attempt failed. Harassing fire that night failed to keep the exhausted men of the 5307th awake. Another attack from the south came at 0600 on the 29th after an artillery and mortar concentration had failed, as did two later efforts in the same direction. The 3d Battalion at Hsamshingyang felt unable to help because the need to defend the airstrip was vital, but did send a platoon twice daily to keep the trail to Nhpum Ga open. On the 30th the Japanese were attacking, ominously from east and north. The trail from Nhpum Ga to Hsamshingyang was still open when the fighting died down, but next day, attacking from south, east, and northwest, the Japanese succeeded in prying the water hole from the Americans' grasp and in beating back an attempted counterattack. Moreover, the cumulative effect of losses made it impossible to hold so large a perimeter even if the hole had been retaken. That same day the patrol from Hsamshingyang found the trail blocked, and neither the patrol nor a sortie from the hilltop could restore communications. Fortunately, the trapped battalion could go on air supply.77
Colonel Hunter now commanded at Hsamshingyang. General Merrill had long had heart trouble and now was so weak that Stilwell, learning of his condition, ordered him evacuated over his protests. Merrill was flown out on 31 March. He did not lay down his responsibilities. On arriving at Ledo, he ordered two 75-mm. howitzers sent to Hunter's 3d Battalion by airdrop, because Hunter had promptly begun to clear the trail and the forces at his disposal, Orange and Khaki Combat Teams of the 3d Battalion, needed artillery support. Attempts by Orange Combat Team on 1 April failed. On 2 April, attacking with artillery support and some men from Khaki Combat Team to make an envelopment, Hunter again made no progress. Then an attack was
made, with air support, by both combat teams and the garrison, but the Japanese did not budge.
The situation seemed serious. The Japanese were believed to be moving ever more troops up the Tanai and it was believed that the 1st Battalion, which had been ordered to aid, would not arrive for four more days at least. Hunter's reaction was to attack on the 4th with everyone but the sick and the mule skinners, with his large patrols called in and Kachins used to replace them. A fake fight, using carbines (which sounded like the Arisaka rifle), was staged to deceive the Japanese, and the air support made three passes at them. The first two were genuine, the last a feint which made the Japanese take cover, only to come out and find the American infantry on them. Hunter's force gained that day and came within 1,000 yards of the besieged. About this same time Capt. John B. George and a small party, sent north by Hunter to find the Chinese regiment which Hunter understood would support him in this area, met the 1/112th at Tanaiyang, about eight miles northeast. After an interval, presumably used to obtain permission to do so, its commander moved toward Hsamshingyang. His first element arrived at the airfield on 4 April and was used to guard a trail junction. Despite this increasing pressure the Japanese made a very heavy attack on the Nhpum Ga garrison, actually reaching the foxholes at one point, and being driven out by two soldiers using hand grenades.78
On its hilltop the garrison, though suffering no shortage of food or ammunition (aside from the monotony of diet which was itself a hardship), suffered from an acute shortage of water. There were no plaster casts for the wounded, and they took their sulfadiazine dry. The pack animals could not be protected from the Japanese fire. When dead, their carcasses could not be buried, and the stench and the carrion flies added more miseries to the battle. Sergeant Matsumoto, who had played an important part at Walawbum, was a pillar of strength to the garrison, constantly scouting between the lines, overhearing Japanese conversations, and informing Colonel McGee accordingly.79 On one occasion, when Matsumoto learned of plans to surprise a small salient at dawn, the Americans drew back their lines, booby-trapping the abandoned foxholes. Punctually the Japanese attacked, straight into the massed fire of the waiting Americans. Throwing themselves into the foxholes for cover, they set off the booby traps. Matsumoto completed the debacle by screaming "Charge!" in
Japanese, causing a supporting platoon to throw itself on the American guns.80
The relieving force made no gains on the 5th, but the Japanese were beginning to have their own problems. That day there were only two Japanese attacks, at 0200 and 0430, which, thanks to Matsumoto, were anticipated and stopped. Colonel Maruyama's force was finding its supply problems increasingly difficult, and Tanaka grew daily more concerned about the defenses of Myitkyina.81 On the 6th Orange Combat Team gained another 200 yards. Two key machine guns were knocked out by 2d Lt. William E. Woomer, who conducted mortar fire from twenty-five yards away. That was the story of the next two days, grinding slow advances that gradually cut the gap between the battalions, and steadily weaker Japanese attacks.
The long-awaited 1st Battalion of GALAHAD arrived at 1700 on 7 April, after an extended and exhausting march. Two hundred and fifty of its men were still capable of exertion. On the 8th and on Easter Sunday they tried to seize positions on the trails over which the Japanese moved supplies to their positions.
On the afternoon of Easter Sunday, the Japanese vanished, leaving cooking fires and equipment. There was no pursuit, for Stilwell wanted no movement beyond Nhpum Ga. The battalion of the 114th made its way to Myitkyina, where General Tanaka, anxious about the town, added it to the garrison. The attempted roadblock at Inkangahtawng, and the siege of Nhpum Ga, which followed when the Americans abandoned the block on 24 March, had cost the 5307th 59 dead and 314 wounded. A total of 379 were evacuated by air for wounds or illness. The most serious result of Nhpum Ga was the exhaustion of troops.82 The fighting edge of the most mobile and most obedient force that Stilwell had was worn dull. From this fact were to flow consequences of great magnitude. There was no compensating damage to the 114th, and it bore the major burden of the defense of Myitkyina.
Air Supply Problem at Imphal
The consequences of Nhpum Ga were hidden by the veil of the future; at the time, the engagement was seen from the point of view of a commander whose theater stretched from the Indian Ocean to the Yellow Sea. After checking with Col. Henry L. Kinnison of GALAHAD, Stilwell wrote in his diary: "GALAHAD is OK. Hard fight at Nhpum. Cleaned out Japs and hooked up. No worry there."83 Though one of the hardest-fought American engagements in Burma, it was from the perspective of CBI Theater headquarters a battle between
a few battalions. Farther south, around Imphal, whole divisions were grappling for a prize that might change the course of the war in Asia, and the trend of reports from that front was far from reassuring.
As one report after another on the Japanese advance to Imphal was laid before Stilwell, he grew progressively more concerned. Allied defeat at Imphal would sweep away everything that he had won. Japanese success in the center would redeem every defeat suffered in the Arakan and in north Burma. Estimating his situation and weighing his resources, Stilwell concluded that he could offer SEAC use of the 38th Division to guard his and its line of communications and to meet a Japanese thrust across the thirty miles that separated Kohima from the Bengal and Assam Railway. At this time he had two of the 38th's regiments in reserve. To co-ordinate the defense of his line of communications he asked Admiral Mountbatten and General Slim to meet with him at Jorhat on 3 April.84 (See Map 10.)
At this conference Stilwell was agreeably surprised to learn that General Slim, though worried, felt himself master of the situation around Kohima. Slim was deploying a new corps, the 33, for defense of that area. Granting that the next five to ten days would be critical, Slim wanted no help at Dimapur and favored Stilwell's going on to Mogaung and Myitkyina. So did Mountbatten, and with great relief Stilwell went back to his campaign. He did accept responsibility for local defense of the line of communications from Tinsukia to Nazira, with point defense at Jorhat. SOS personnel went through hasty training courses, while a striking force was organized. This was GASPER Force--the 89th Regiment of the Chinese 30th Division, the 2d Battalion, 1st Provisional Tank Group, and a heavy mortar battalion.85
Soon after the Jorhat conference the Imphal operations made Mountbatten fear that expiration of the thirty-day loan period for the Mediterranean aircraft would find 4 Corps still dependent on air supply. Therefore, on 22 April he radioed General Giffard asking about a request from Generals Slim and Stratemeyer to keep the transports until 1 July. Mountbatten found it "very difficult to accept" the conclusion that land communications would not be opened before then. In reply, Giffard would not promise that communications to 4 Corps would be open even by 1 July, and warned Mountbatten that withdrawal of these aircraft on schedule would mean disaster for 4 Corps.86 Therefore, when the promised time for their return arrived, Mountbatten was obliged to tell his superiors that SEAC had to keep the transports. The CCS acquiesced to the extent of extending the loan date to 15 June. By that time the first of a considerable
reinforcement of transport aircraft was expected to be on hand, and this would permit return of the borrowed aircraft.87
Air supply was not a sovereign remedy for the situation created by Japanese encirclement of 4 Corps because the transports could not bring in enough. Half-rations were ordered, and as operations continued week after week, "it was now [in May] calculated that if the rate of air supply could not be increased 4 Corps was likely to run out of essential supplies and certain supplies of ammunition by the first week in July."88 The outbreak of the monsoon rains was imminent in late May, and if this forced a suspension of the airlift, 4 Corps might well be forced to attempt a difficult and hazardous withdrawal. This was deduced by the Japanese who clung desperately to their positions on the perimeter of Imphal.89
Why 4 Corps should find itself so close to a defeat that would have incalculable effects in India and China appeared to require explanation, for Allied intelligence agencies were not aware that the Japanese had succeeded in massing 155,000 men for their attack on India, and their superiors of course were no better informed. Because of this error in intelligence, as early as 19 May SEAC was calling on Giffard to tell "why with the large number of divisions employed the fighting is characterized by company and platoon actions." Giffard replied that his first objective was killing Japanese, and that this had to be done by destroying each Japanese in his foxhole. Giffard's second objective was to break the Japanese encirclement, and his third, to guard the valuable installations on the Imphal plain. There were so many of these, Giffard explained, that by the time the security of each had been provided for, the force available for aggressive operations had been somewhat reduced.90
The Chief of the Imperial General Staff criticized the lack of offensive action northward by 4 Corps to link with 33 Corps coming down from Dimapur.91 Sharing the general underestimation of Japanese strength, SEAC's deputy chief of staff, General Wedemeyer, commented:
With a superiority on the ground 2½ to 1 on the Arakan and Imphal fronts and with complete mastery of the air, we remain on the defensive and the enemy retains the initiative. Apparently the 4th and 15th Corps have no concrete plans for aggressive and decisive operations. The battle in those areas may be described as being fought passively on a day-to-day basis, countering enemy blows and hoping to bag many Japs in the process.92
Wedemeyer believed that only air supply was preventing an ignominious defeat
at Imphal. He contrasted the vigorous efforts of 33 Corps to drive from Dimapur with the defensive attitude of 4 Corps. To these comments, the observations of the NCAC liaison officer with 4 Corps added chapter and verse.93
It must be noted that the terrain around Imphal offered several advantages to the Japanese. When on the tactical defensive they could occupy steep hills, some forested, some grassy. With the antlike industry of the Oriental soldier they quickly dug themselves into the hillsides, and soon formidable earth and log bunkers faced the Imphal garrison. The Japanese, though on the strategical offensive, lay across vital lines of communications; on many occasions they could force the defenders to attack Japanese bunkers, while their own attacks could be massed on objectives chosen from among a variety of important installations.
Fortunately for SEAC, Stilwell, and Chennault, the 31st Division never went past Kohima into the Brahmaputra valley. Having judged the Japanese by European standards, Fourteenth Army had expected them to send only one regiment against Kohima. The Japanese had thrown a full division against the town with its small and hastily improvised garrison. Thanks to Mountbatten's initiative, the whole of the 161st Brigade was in the area by 29 March. After some initial changes in plan caused by an erroneous intelligence report, the leading battalion of the 161st, the 4th Battalion Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, Lt. Col. H. J. Laverty commanding, succeeded in entering Kohima to reinforce the garrison before the Japanese surrounded the town. From the 4th of April until relieved on the 20th, the small garrison of Kohima held off the Japanese 31st Division. It was a notable feat of arms, and the role of the West Kents in the defense of Kohima reflected the greatest credit on the regiment and Colonel Laverty. The time won by the gallant defense of Kohima permitted 33 Corps to concentrate around Dimapur, to relieve Kohima, and then advance to the relief of Imphal.94
Relief of Kohima left the Japanese still barring the road from Imphal north to Kohima. They held desperately until 22 June when the road was reopened. In that time the Japanese made a number of strong local attacks on Imphal, which 4 Corps repelled. An offensive effort by 4 Corps was concentrated on driving north to meet 33 Corps: ". . . the opening of this road now became our main preoccupation."95 With the opening of the line of communications from Dimapur to Imphal, the enemy effort failed; the Japanese narrowly missed a great triumph, but such was the nature of their gamble that their failure resulted in disaster for them.
The Japanese, with three divisions plus the Indian nationalist formations, now found themselves at the end of muddy jungle trails with the monsoon rains pouring down. The Japanese supply system had never brought up food to the 31st Division at Kohima or to the 15th north of Imphal. Both relied on what they could extract from the hill folk. Supply arrangements for the 33d Division began to break down in May. Its food could be brought forward some distance up the Japanese line of communications from the Chindwin, but the condition of the trails, the rains, and the attentions of Allied aircraft made distribution almost impossible.
In the last week of June, General Mutaguchi concluded that the breaking of his blockade of Imphal on 22 June, the extremely bad Japanese supply situation, and the exhaustion of the fighting strength of his force left no hope for success. His conclusions were presented to his superiors in Burma Area Army and Southern Army. Perhaps ten days passed in arranging for the issuance of the order to suspend operations.
The intent of the order that Gen. Masakazu Kawabe, Burma Area Army commander, issued about 5 July, was not fully grasped by his subordinates, and so 15th Army did not discontinue its attacks until 15 July. The monsoon rains were then falling, and the state of the Japanese soldiers was soon tragic. The Japanese were exhausted by malnutrition and malaria. Roads collapsed in mud. Over 17,000 horses died. Morale broke, and the Japanese, who had done all that soldiers could, now began to throw away their arms, quarrel, and fight for food. Only the 33d Division kept its spirit and acted as a rear guard in the long retreat back to the Chindwin.
Of the 155,000 Japanese combat and supply troops who engaged in the drive on Imphal, 65,000 died. Deaths from sickness and hunger were far more numerous than battle casualties, and many of the survivors were diseased. After the war, the Japanese set the casualty rate in combat units at 85 to 90 percent. The U operation was a debacle and ruined the officers who directed it. Relieved were: the Commander in Chief, Burma Area Army, and his chief of staff; the commanding general and chief of staff of the 15th Army with their senior staff officers; the division commanders and their chiefs of staff.96 The battles around Imphal were decisive for the Japanese in Burma. They could still delay, but they could not hope to win.
Meanwhile, on the British side, the victors of Imphal were resolved to press their hard-won advantages. The question facing Mountbatten, Slim, and Giffard was that of choosing the better way to exploit success--whether to
undertake a close pursuit of the beaten Japanese to the Chindwin, or to request from the CCS the air and amphibious resources for a stroke against some strategic point in Japanese-held territory. The choice was not an easy one. Close pursuit through the monsoon rains meant sending tired battalions, their ranks thinned by wounds, death, and sickness, to force a way along the same sort of muddy hillsides and half-drowned valleys that had contributed so heavily to the Japanese defeat. On the other hand, waiting for amphibious resources might give the Japanese time to repair the defeat. The alternatives were simple, but immensely difficult to weigh.
The Chindits Go Back to Burma
While the Japanese were hurling themselves on Imphal, and while Stilwell was gathering his Chinese to close on Kamaing and Myitkyina, a third active front was opened in central Burma. Despite SEAC's belief that too deep an involvement in Burma was unwise, and despite the changed situation caused by the Japanese offensive, that portion of the old SEAC plans which called for General Wingate and his men to be dropped into central Burma on the Japanese lines of communications was put into operation on 5 March.
For his greatest experiment in long-range penetration Wingate had assembled and trained a formidable force, largely drawn from the 70th British Division, a veteran formation with long Middle East experience. This force was given the cover name of 3d Indian Division though it included few Indian troops. The division had six brigades, 14th, 16th, 3d West African, 77th, 111th, and 23d, each of four battalions. Because of the Imphal crisis 23d Brigade was later detached, leaving five brigades. The Chindits had their own pocket-sized air force, designated as No. 1 Air Commando, AAF, and including fighter bombers, medium bombers, transports, and liaison craft.
The mission of Wingate's force changed not long after it entered Burma. The personal intentions of the aggressive Wingate were in line with the original SEAC plan chosen by Mountbatten so many months before: to establish an airborne division at Indaw before the monsoon rains and link up with it later. With the cancellation of BUCCANEER and the subsequent anticipation of the Japanese drive on Imphal this plan had been forgotten by all but Wingate.
General Wingate had the highest hopes, though he made no promises, that by concentrating three brigades around Indaw, he might force the Japanese to evacuate north Burma. He hoped to threaten Japanese communications south of Wuntho, menacing the 15th Army and giving 4 Corps a chance to turn the tables with a speedy advance to the Chindwin. Then "14 Brigade (less two columns) can be introduced to Pakokku to sever the 33d Division's communications, and further exploit against divisions to the north. This should
permit a bold advance by 4 Corps raftwise down the Chindwin to create a bridgehead in the dry zone prior to the monsoon." If operations went well, 23d Brigade would be put into the Meiktila area to exploit the situation generally. This done, the Japanese at the beginning of the monsoon would face a front stretching from Pakokku to Lashio with the Chindwin in British hands. Wingate's aims were thus far different from Slim's plan to lure the Japanese to Imphal and there defeat them. He saw them recoiling in confusion, stunned and baffled by the conflagration at their rear, and then hotly pursued across the Chindwin--all before the monsoon began in mid-May.97
The fly-in began late on 5 March. The whole of 77th Brigade was directed onto one airstrip, BROADWAY, about fifty miles northeast of Indaw, as the Japanese had blocked one of the other sites contemplated, and it was feared that time did not permit briefing pilots for the third. Among the first in were U.S. engineer personnel who, despite repeated glider crashes and pile-ups in the confined space, shook themselves clear and had their strip ready for the transports. In came the rest of the 77th Brigade, soon followed by the 111th. The fly-in was complete by 11 March, and the 9,250 Chindits proceeded to organize themselves with their own airstrips for fighter cover and resupply, and their own 25-pounder artillery. Moving over to the railway, 77th Brigade established a stronghold near Mawlu, WHITE CITY,98 and cut the line of communications supporting the 18th Division far to the north. This action was not, of course, immediately decisive, for the 18th had been accumulating supplies for a year, but it meant ultimate defeat for the 18th Division if the British could not be driven away.99
The time chosen to drop the Chindits near his line of communications was most embarrassing to General Tanaka. On 10 January 1944, Headquarters, 15th Army, had suspended movement of supplies to the 18th Division in order to accumulate stocks for the projected attack on Imphal. Shipment was to resume as soon as the Imphal operation was under way. Then the Chindits cut the rail line, and just when the supply movement was to have resumed, the 18th Division had to start living on what was at hand in north Burma. It was aided by the 56th Division, which shipped about ninety tons of vital supplies to Myitkyina via Bhamo, but Tanaka's supply position was fundamentally compromised by the Chindit fighting along the railway to north Burma.100
The landings created panic among Japanese line of communications troops. A scratch force was hastily gathered to deal with the Chindits, for the effort
was underestimated. Then, when the first Japanese attempts to clear the Chindits from the railway were unsuccessful (around 16 and 17 March), some staff officers of the Japanese 15th Army were apprehensive and suggested ending the offensive on Imphal, but General Mutaguchi resolved to continue it and instead directed enough troops against the Chindits to deal with them. So odd battalions came hurrying from all over, the 2/51st of the 15th Division, 3/114th of the 18th Division, 1/148th of the 56th Division, and 1/213th of the 33d Division. Each was thus drawn away from a parent unit at a key sector, for example, the 3/114th, which had just been released from army reserve to join the 18th Division. The 24th Independent Mixed Brigade (less one battalion) was moved north and opened headquarters at Indaw on 25 March. Farther back, the 53d Division, then moving slowly into Burma, was ordered to march north and engage as fast as its units arrived. All this, of course, was a diversion from the main effort toward Imphal, and a great aid to Stilwell's operations. The 111th Brigade paid its respects to the Imphal operation by harassing the Japanese line of communications, Indaw-Tamu, from 10 March to 30 April, forcing the Japanese to abandon its use.101
By mid-March the Japanese offensive seemed to SEAC to need stronger measures, so the fly-in of the rest of 3d Indian Division, originally intended to relieve the first wave, was accelerated. The 3d West African and 14th Brigades were flown into a new stronghold (ABERDEEN) near Manhton, and arrangements were made for the 16th Brigade which, against fantastic difficulties of terrain, had marched in all the way from Ledo, past the fighting in the Hukawng-Mogaung valleys, without pause except for a diversionary attack on Lonkin. General Wingate now had his five brigades deep in central Burma; but before he could seize the rewards of his planning, thought, and preparation, he was killed in an aircraft wreck on 24 March. His death was a heavy blow. After the war the commander of the 16th Brigade explained the unique difficulties in which Wingate's death placed his men:
General Wingate's death would have been a catastrophe whenever it happened, but it could not have happened at a worse moment than it did. He was on his way out from a conference with myself and another of his brigade commanders; the orders which he had given us were unknown to his headquarters, and their ignorance of them was unknown to us. His successor was in the field, and could not be reached; the headquarters themselves were on the move from Imphal (which was nearly threatened by the Japs) to India, with results to our communications which may be imagined; and a further blow to our radio contact took the form of four days of violent thunderstorms. These days of confusion left a legacy behind them which made its mark and contributed largely to the breach of two principles of war which were all-important to us: those of concentration and maintenance of the objective; though in the latter case, breach of principle was inevitable with the change of plan.
At the time, and indeed until I discussed this lecture with General Slim, I and all the brigade commanders were under the impression that the change of plan happened at this stage when the Japanese were developing their movement across the Chindwin. But now I find that the plan was actually altered some weeks or months before, when the Japanese intentions first became apparent. For reasons of his own this decision [fall back to Imphal] was not communicated to us by General Wingate, perhaps in the hope that he might be able to win such success as would justify the High Command into reverting to the original plan.102
The next development in Stilwell's relation to the 3d Indian Division was at the Jorhat conference of 3 April. There, it was agreed that as Stilwell continued to advance on Mogaung and Myitkyina two brigades would help his advance by operating on the Japanese line of communications while two others would head west across the Chindwin to harass the Japanese lines of communications to Imphal, if they could cross the Chindwin's escarpment. Thus, instead of thirteen battalions operating vigorously behind 15th Army and slicing its communications, the 3d Indian Division had its strength dispersed among several forces with no clear-cut mission.
Shortly after the Jorhat conference the 3d Indian Division received a new directive ordering it to devote its principal efforts to helping Stilwell, once it had completed the successful evacuation of its initial strongholds and landing strips. This employment of the 3d Indian Division speedily led to differences between Stilwell and Maj. Gen. W. D. A. Lentaigne, Wingate's successor. Stilwell wanted the LRPG's to hold firmly at Indaw, cutting the Japanese line of communications to north Burma and keeping major Japanese forces away from his right flank. Against this was SEAC's belief that the endurance of the Chindits was limited to about ninety days, which meant taking them out in mid-June and moving the division at a still earlier date to a place from which it could be flown out. Proposals for their withdrawal from Burma would therefore inevitably be made by the Chindit commanders sometime in June, and maneuvering to an assembly area might well take them off the railroad. Either would be bitterly opposed by Stilwell, who did not, as he told General Sultan, relish the prospect of Lentaigne's men retiring on him and bringing in their wake all the Japanese that they had attracted.
A British Broadcasting Corporation announcement that Stilwell and Lentaigne were in perfect accord brought the matter before higher authority when Stilwell denounced it to Mountbatten and Marshall as a fabrication. He would accept the British leaving Mawlu, he said, since higher authority had directed it, but he did not like the public proclamation that it was in accord with his views.103
The Question of Myitkyina
While the British, Gurkhas, and West Africans of the 3d Indian Division were cutting the Japanese line of communications to Myitkyina, and Stilwell's Chinese were advancing on the town, the highest Allied authorities were engaged in discussing whether Myitkyina's capture was worth while and should be attempted. Following the visit of the SEAC mission to Washington and London and the inability of the mission to secure approval of CULVERIN, the question of a directive for SEAC was still unsettled. In late March 1944 the Joint Chiefs again urged that the Combined Chiefs direct SEAC to undertake vigorous operations in north Burma. Because militarization of the Bengal and Assam Railway had greatly increased the capacity of the Assam line of communications, and because recent operations in the Arakan and the Hukawng Valley had gone so well, the Joint Chiefs hoped SEAC would be more favorably inclined toward seizure of north Burma. Apprised of the JCS view through channels, SEAC's planners asserted that nothing had happened to change their belief that it was an extremely uneconomical use of manpower and resources to become deeply involved in the Burmese jungles.104 The SEAC planners always hoped that the CCS would assign to SEAC air and sea resources that would permit the Allies to exploit successes at Imphal by airborne or amphibious assault--which the Japanese would have been hard put to counter--against vital points behind the Japanese defenses of Burma, such as Rangoon.
Admiral Mountbatten, basing his reply to the JCS recommendations on his planners' views, stated that a preliminary examination of the possibility of taking the Mogaung-Myitkyina area and dominating north Burma down to the line Katha-Bhamo by December 1944 showed that two more infantry divisions, a parachute brigade, and a long-range penetration brigade should be on hand in India, and two more divisions should arrive by the winter of 1944-45. "My conclusion is that the conquest of Northern Burma down to the line Katha-Bhamo is impossible to carry out by the given dates, and that even by later dates it is unsound and should not be attempted." Rather than suggest CULVERIN again, Mountbatten proposed an operation against the Prome-Rangoon area after the main thrust in the Pacific. References to holding a perimeter in the Imphal area after the conclusion of current operations there suggest that as of mid-April SEAC was not yet committed to exploiting victory at Imphal by a major thrust across the Chindwin into central Burma, but preferred an amphibious attack on Rangoon.105
Through CBI headquarters in Delhi, Marshall repeated to Stilwell the JCS view that Myitkyina had to be seized and a buffer zone created to the south so
that Hump tonnage could be increased. The build-up of Hump tonnage to 20,000 tons a month and completion of a two-way, all-weather road and a 4-inch pipeline to China seemed necessary and timely to Marshall so that the maximum possible aid to projected U.S. operations in the Pacific might be given by China-based air power in early 1945. Commenting on these orders from Washington, General Stratemeyer pointed out to General Arnold that Myitkyina as an oil head at which Hump transports could refuel was the key to the sharp increase in Hump tonnage that was the prerequisite of any ambitious plans in China Theater.
Both Stratemeyer and Sultan observed that plans for Burma operations ultimately depended on a Combined Chiefs decision on strategy. Sultan stated that there was an inclination in SEAC not to accept support of the main Pacific thrust as its primary mission if such a mission required land operations in north Burma, because SEAC thought such operations not worth the effort. Sultan believed SEAC would propose Hump expansion without the commitment of any of its ground forces to Burma, in order that the campaign to secure the Mogaung-Myitkyina area might resolve itself into a Sino-American effort entirely. To support this thesis, Sultan pointed out that the current plans for the Chindits called for their withdrawal through the Mogaung valley, which would leave Stilwell without flank support.106
A new directive, foreshadowed by Marshall's recent radio to Stilwell, arrived in CBI Theater on 3 May 1944 direct from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It gave CBI Theater a new mission, emphasized the importance of Myitkyina in the plans of Stilwell's American superiors, and relegated to the past any question of whether CBI Theater headquarters favored carrying out the SEXTANT decisions or of how it reacted to Mountbatten's views. The JCS now ordered CBI Theater to clear north Burma and take Myitkyina in order to carry out the new mission of CBI--air support to forthcoming operations in the western Pacific. Land-based air support from Chinese bases was declared to be necessary for successful carrier aircraft operations against Formosa, the Ryukyu Islands, the Philippine Islands, and the China coast. Stilwell was also ordered to give what indirect support he could to attacks on Mindanao Island of the Philippine group in November 1944, without prejudice to operations of greater strategic importance, such as taking Myitkyina. The Joint Chiefs asked Stilwell for an estimate of the effort he could make to support these Pacific operations and to cover temporary reinforcement of the Fourteenth Air Force by the Tenth Air Force. The JCS said they were aware that accumulating logistical support for the projected air effort would require major curtailment of Hump support for the Chinese ground forces in China and of other activities that did not
directly support the air effort. The immediate and progressive stockpiling of supplies in China was ordered.107
As Sultan had predicted, the SEAC planners on 6 May reported that the Mogaung-Myitkyina area could be taken by accepting very grave risks elsewhere. Should these, which they tabulated at length, be unacceptable, then they suggested the old plan of a less advanced oil head. But in the light of the JCS directive these views could not be controlling on CBI Theater. The plan that CBI promptly submitted to the Joint Chiefs and SEAC called for, as Phase I, seizure of the Mogaung-Myitkyina area as soon as possible; Phase II, preparation of all-weather airfields there by 1 January 1945, and clearance of the trace of the road from Myitkyina to Kunming in order to increase support for the ground and air forces in China; and Phase III, completion of the India-China line of communications before the end of 1945.108 When these radios were sent, Stilwell's men were ten days' march from Myitkyina.
To capture the Mogaung-Myitkyina area Stilwell would have the use of five Chinese divisions. Personnel of the 30th Division had been trained at Ramgarh as they arrived at wide intervals from July 1943 on. The 88th Regiment of the 30th Division left Ledo for Shingbwiyang on 1 March 1944. By 24 March its forward concentration was complete and it was on its way to Pabum to relieve the 1/112th, 38th Division. The 89th Regiment, at Jorhat to guard against a Japanese thrust past Kohima, would be ready as soon as 33 Corps was assembled to relieve Kohima.109
When GALAHAD's withdrawal from about Inkangahtawng rendered immediate encirclement of the 18th Division a remote possibility, Stilwell flew to Chungking and asked the Generalissimo for reinforcements in order that the success already gained might be exploited and Myitkyina seized. On 28 and 29 March Stilwell met with the Generalissimo. No conference minutes are in Stilwell's files, but his diary records that the Generalissimo agreed that the Chinese 50th Division might be flown to north Burma. Stilwell asked for another division, but the decision was postponed for a few days. Then he was offered the Chinese 14th Division. Stilwell's first reply was that only the 50th Division could be airlifted to Maingkwan, where an airstrip had been built, and he asked that the Chinese leader consider infiltrating the 14th Division through the Kaoli-kung Mountains to attack Myitkyina from the China side. Then he reconsidered and on 1 April asked General Hearn to have Gen. Ho Ying-chin consent to fly both the 50th and 14th Divisions over the Hump. The Chinese moved with commendable promptness. By 15 April 1944 almost all of the 50th Division had been airlifted to Maingkwan, and that same week the 14th Division
began to arrive at the Hump airfields. These were of course transfers of men, not of fully equipped units ready to fight.110
Thus, by mid-April 1944, of 316 Chinese divisions, five had been committed to operations in north Burma. Opposing those five were three understrength regiments of the Japanese 18th Division, soon to be reinforced by two regimental headquarters and three battalions. The arms, uniforms, food, pay, and ammunition supplied to the five Chinese divisions in north Burma were U.S. lend-lease and British reciprocal aid. The medical and service units supporting them were from the U.S. Army. Air support--tactical, strategic, supply, and evacuation--was given by the Army Air Forces.111
When, in May 1944, Marshall ordered Stilwell to take Myitkyina, there was no longer any possibility that Stilwell's superiors might of their own initiative order the North Burma Campaign to be canceled. When Kohima was relieved on the 20th of the month the Japanese offensive, though still very menacing, was no longer an immediate threat to the line of communications that supported operations in north Burma. On 29 March the Chinese had entered Shaduzup, which meant they were over the Jambu Bum and had opened the door to the Mogaung valley, at whose south end lay the Irrawaddy and the Burma railway and, a few miles beyond, Myitkyina itself. The campaign was no longer in the balance; both in the council room and on the field, the scales had inclined.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (4) * Next Chapter (6)
1. The Stilwell Papers, p. 282.
2. (1) Rad AM 37, Sultan to Marshall, Stilwell, and Hearn, 6 Jan 44. Item 1602, Bk 5, JWS Personal File. (2) CM-IN 5998, Sultan to Marshall, 9 Jan 44. (3) Rad, Mountbatten to COS and Prime Minister, 8 Jan 44. SEAC War Diary.
3. (1) Rad AMMDEL AG 13, Stilwell to Marshall, McNarney, and Handy, 2 Jan 44; Ltr and Incl, Hearn to Mme. Chiang, 11 Jan 44. Item 263, Bk 3, JWS Personal File. (2) Rad RE 76, Sultan to Stilwell, 13 Jan 44. Item 16, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File.
4. Min, SAC's 52d Mtg, 31 Jan 44. SEAC War Diary. Stilwell probably meant the motorable portion of the Kamaing Road.
5. Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, par. 2.
6. Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1951), p. 561.
7. (1) Memo, Col William H. Wood, Actg Chief, Asiatic Sec OPD, for Chief, S&P Gp OPD, 12 Jan 44, sub: Opns, SE Asia Theater. Case 228, OPD 381 Security, A47-30. (2) See p. 79, above; pp. 297-98, below.
8. (1) CM-IN 857, 2 Jan 44; Rad MS 37, 22 Jan 44; CM-IN 14766, 23 Jan 44. These radios were "Action Handy; Info Marshall, McNarney." (2) CCS 452/5, 25 Jan 44, sub: Opns in Burma 1944.
9. (1) Memo, Wood for Chief, S&P Gp OPD, 9 Feb 44, sub: Opns, SEAC; Rpt (JCS 678/1), JPS, 16 Feb 44, sub: Opns in SE Asia, 1943-44. ABC 384 (Burma) 8-25-42, Sec 5, A48-224. (2) CCS 452/6, 17 Feb 44, sub: Opns in SE Asia; CCS 452/7, 20 Feb 44. (3) CM-OUT 8897, 21 Feb 44. Case 297, OPD 381 Security, A47-30.
10. (1) CCS 452/8, 26 Feb 44, sub: Opns in SE Asia. (2) Rad SEACOS 99, 21 Feb 44. Item 66, OPD Exec 10. (3) Ltr, Marshall to Dill, 23 Feb 44. Case 297, OPD 381 Security, A47-30. (4) Ltr, Mountbatten to Wedemeyer, 20 Feb 44. SEAC War Diary. (5) Stilwell's Mission to China, Ch. IX.
11. Rad RE 296, Sultan to Stilwell, 20 Feb 44. Item 44, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File.
12. Rpt, Boatner, 18 Feb 44, on interv with Roosevelt. Item 245, Bk 15, OPD Exec 9.
13. App. A to Rpt cited n. 9(1).
14. Japanese Officers' Comments on third CBI MS.
15. Min, Washington Conf, 9 Feb 44. ABC (Burma) 384, 8-25-42, Sec 5, A48-224.
16. (1) Memo, Marshall for Leahy, 24 Feb 44, with Incl, sub: Proposed Msg from President to Prime Minister. Case 297, OPD 381 Security, A47-30. (2) Rad, President to Prime Minister on SEAC Strategy, 25 Feb 44. SEAC War Diary. (3) Rad 592, Prime Minister to President, 25 Feb 44. Folder, Prime Minister-President, OPD Exec 16. (4) The President's radio is quoted in Churchill, Closing the Ring, page 561.
17. (1) Imperial General Headquarters Army Directive 1776, 7 Jan 44 (hereafter, IGH Army Dir -- --), GHQ, Far East Comd, Mil Hist Div, Imperial General Headquarters Army Orders. OCMH. (2) SEATIC Bull 240, 9 Jul 46, pp. 3-5; SEATIC Bull 247, 22 Apr 47, pp. 3-4; Lt Gen Kitsuji Ayabe in Bull 247, p. 6; SEATIC Bull Special Int Bull, Pt. V, p. 22. MID Library. (3) Japanese Study 89.
18. (1) IGH Army Order 650, 29 Jun 42. (2) For a discussion of Japanese strategy in Southeast Asia in the summer of 1942, see Stilwell's Mission to China, Chapter V. (3) Japanese Comments, Sec. I.
19. Statement, Col Hattori, 5 Oct 51; Statement, Col Fujiwara, 5 Oct 51. Japanese Comments, Sec. I.
20. Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, par. 68.
21. (1) Rad 213, Stilwell to Bennett, 7 Dec 43; Rad, Stilwell to Marshall, 9 Jan 44. Folder, Rads, Stilwell to Marshall, Oct 43-25 Mar 44, NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) CM-IN 2094, Stilwell to Marshall, 4 Jan 44. (3) Note, Secy Plans on War Staff, 1944, p. 12; Note, Gen Wingate--Situation in North Burma. Items 4, 16, SEAC Info Bk, OCMH. (4) Min, 1st Conf with Offs USAF CBI, 8 Feb 44. ABC 384 (Burma) Sec 5, 8-25-42, A48-224. (5) Rad RE 240, Evans to Stilwell and Sultan, 11 Feb 44; Rad RE 260, Evans to Stilwell, 14 Feb 44. Items 34, 38, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File. (6) Minute SC4/438/G, SAC for Giffard, 16 Mar 44; SAC Dir to CinC, 11 Army Gp, 5 Mar 44. SEAC War Diary. (7) British Comments, Serial 56.
22. (1) Japanese Study 89. (2) Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, pars. 60-92.
23. (1) Rad RE 248, Evans to Stilwell, 12 Jan 44; Rad RE 260, Evans to Stilwell, 14 Feb 44; Rad, Stilwell to Evans. Items 15, 38, 47, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File. (2) Rad SEACOS, 18 Feb 44; Rad JSM to War Cabinet Office, 25 Feb 44. SEAC War Diary.
24. Owen, The Campaign in Burma, p. 65.
25. Japanese Comments, Sec. I.
26. Rad WAR 4654, Marshall to Stilwell, 2 Mar 44. Item 2062, Bk 6, JWS Personal File.
27. (1) Stilwell Diary, Notebook 10½. (2) Stilwell's Mission to China, p. 379.
28. CM-IN 4651, Stilwell to Marshall, 7 Mar 44.
29. Minute SC4/439/D, SAC for Dill, 16 Mar 44. SEAC War Diary.
30. Ltr, Mountbatten to Lt Gen Sir Henry Pownall, CofS, SEAC, 8 Mar 44. SEAC War Diary.
31. (1) Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, par. 97. (2) SAC's Personal Diary, 7 Mar 44. SEAC War Diary.
32. Rpt of AXIOM Mission, 3 Apr 44. SEAC War Diary.
33. Memo, Marshall for Leahy, 20 Feb 44. Item 251, Bk 15, OPD Exec 9.
34. (1) Mountbatten's understanding of why the JCS wanted Myitkyina taken is given as: "They had come to the conclusion that the air effort from China could best be supported by establishing air bases and a large staging area at Myitkyina, and by pushing ahead with opening the land route into China as fast as possible." Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, par. 135. (2) Wedemeyer's quotation from Supplementary Min, JCS 154th Mtg, 21 Mar 44, Item 1. (3) CCS 148th Mtg, 3 Mar 44, Item 1. (4) JCS 774, 16 Mar 44, sub: Strategy in SEAC. (5) CCS 452/10, 21 Mar 44, sub: Strategy in SEAC.
35. (1) Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, par. 277. (2) Churchill, Closing the Ring, p. 575.
36. (1) Ltrs, Col Clarence W. Bennett, Ln O, 4 Corps, to CG, 5303d Area Comd, 20 Mar, 4 Apr 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, par. 95.
37. (1) Rad SEACOS 112, DIAL 46, Mountbatten to COS and JSM, 15 Mar 44; Minute SC/ 486/G, SAC for Giffard, 16 Mar 44; Minute SC4/440/W, SAC for Wedemeyer, 16 Mar 44. SEAC War Diary. (2) Ltr, Mountbatten to Dill, 26 Jun 44. Item 70, Folder 57, OPD Exec 10. (3) British Comments, Serial 67.
38. Rad RE 464, Sultan to Stilwell, 15 Mar 44. Item 70, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File.
39. (1) Operational Dir 8, Mountbatten to Peirse and Stilwell, 16 Mar 44. Item 285, Bk 3, JWS Personal File. (2) Min, SAC's 73d Mtg, 17 Mar 44. SEAC War Diary.
40. (1) CM-IN 18058, Sultan to Arnold, 25 Mar 44. (2) COS (W) 1237, 26 Mar 44. SEAC War Diary, 26, 27 Mar 44. (3) CM-OUT 14633, Arnold to Spaatz for Portal, 26 Mar 44. (4) Folder, Wedemeyer-Mountbatten, 3 Sep 43-14 Apr 44, OPD Exec 10. According to U.S. calculation, the British disposed of 219 transports in India and the Middle East; these appeared a better source than the Hump with all the consequences implied as to Fourteenth Air Force operations. (5) Estimated division strengths with attachments: 15th Division--23,400; 31st Division--34,000; 33d Division--30,000; service troops--52,000. Of these, the 15th and 33d were at Imphal, the 31st at Kohima. Japanese Officers' Comments, 1951 and 1955.
41. Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, par. 140.
42. Rad ACC 876, Peirse to Mountbatten, 19 Apr 44; Rad SEAC 284, Mountbatten to Peirse and Stratemeyer. SEAC War Diary.
43. (1) Ltr, Merrill to Ward, 26 May 52. OCMH. (2) Stilwell Diary, 21 Mar 44.
44. Merrill Notes.
45. NCAC History, I, 77.
46. (1) Merrill Notes. (2) Interv with Tilly, 9 Jun 50. OCMH. (3) GALAHAD, pp. 49-54. (4) FO 11, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 8 Mar 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
47. Memo, Generalissimo for Stilwell, 6 Mar 44. Item 278, Bk 3, JWS Personal File.
48. (1) Rad MS 18, Stilwell to Marshall, 16 Mar 44. Item 72, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File. (2) Rads, SEACOS 116, DIAL 52, 17 Mar 44. SEAC War Diary.
49. Rad SEACOS 118, 17 Mar 44. Folder, Wedemeyer-Mountbatten, OPD Exec 10.
50. (1) Tanaka Interrog. OCMH. (2) Tanaka Narrative, p. 4.
51. (1) GALAHAD, pp. 49-54. (2) Interv with Tilly, 9 Jan 50. OCMH.
52. GALAHAD, p. 54, 55.
53. Hunter Notes. Hunter actually wrote "Boatner" rather than Stilwell but Boatner had been several months in Washington, and as of late March was just returning to his post in north Burma. It seems safe to say Stilwell. Later in the campaign, the issue of whether the Generalissimo, despite his giving Stilwell command, was interfering in the conduct of operations became a major one and it will be discussed below.
54. Hunter Notes.
55. Merrill Notes. (2) Stilwell Diary, 24, 25 Mar 44.
56. (1) Memo, Hunter for Greenfield, 11 May 45, sub: Comments on "Merrill's Marauders." OCMH. (2) Notes by McGee on draft MS. OCMH. (3) Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. II. (4) The Japanese initially reported at Inkangahtawng are described by the Japanese as some soldiers passing accidentally. Japanese Officers' Comments, p. 15.
57. GALAHAD, pp. 55-59.
58. (1) Stilwell Diary, 25 Mar 44. (2) Merrill Notes.
59. (1) Maruyama Interrog. OCMH. (2) Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. II. This left but one battalion at Myitkyina.
60. (1) Stilwell Diary, 26, 27 Mar 44. (2) See Ch. VIII, below.
61. GALAHAD, pp. 58, 59.
62. Hunter Notes.
63. Ltr, Weston to Col John M. Kemper, Chief, Hist Div SSUSA, 22 Jan 45. OCMH.
64. (1) GALAHAD, p. 62. (2) Capt. J. E. T. Hopkins, Medical Study of the 5307th Composite Unit, MS. OCMH.
65. Interv with Merrill, 26 Apr 48. OCMH.
66. GALAHAD, pp. 39-44.
67. (1) GALAHAD, pp. 45-47. (2) NCAC History, II, 140. (3) Ltr, Col Van Natta to Ward, 16 Jul 51. OCMH. (4) Notes by Van Natta on draft MS. (Hereafter, Van Natta Notes.) OCMH.
68. GALAHAD, pp. 48-49.
69. G-3 Per Rpts, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 22, 28 Mar 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
70. (1) Unidentified overlay. Folder, X-RAY Force, NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) NCAC History, Vol. II.
71. (1) NCAC History, II, 131-40, and Stilwell Sketches H to K in Vols. I, II. (2) History of 1st Prov Tank Gp. OCMH. (3) G-3 Per Rpts, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 5 Apr 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (4) Stilwell Diary, Mar 44. (5) Brown Notes.
72. NCAC History, App. 8, p. 1.
73. Stilwell Diary, 6 May 44.
74. See pp. 181-83, above.
75. (1) For a sample of the Chinese reaction, see Ho, The Big Circle, p. 99. (2) Boatner, who at Chih Hui Pu could receive both Chinese and American points of view and had to deal with both nations, believed that these withdrawals from the roadblocks embarrassed Chih Hui Pu in dealing with the Chinese. See Boatner Notes.
76. (1) Interrogs, Tanaka, Maruyama. OCMH. (2) Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. II.
77. (1) GALAHAD, pp. 62-70. (2) Interrogs, Tanaka, Maruyama. OCMH. (3) Tanaka Narrative.
78. (1) GALAHAD, pp. 73-80. During the last two weeks of March and the first week of April the 114th Regiment remained in reserve in the Maingkwan-Walawbum area. The 113th was supporting the 1/5307th. The 2d and 3d Battalions of the 112th spent some time in trying to find a large group of Japanese stragglers in the Lagang Ga area, failed, returned to Lagang Ga, and at the end of the period began to move to the Auche-Warong area. Only the 1/112th, relieved by a battalion of the 30th Division and sent from Pabum down the Tanai valley, took part in the battles around the hilltop. (2) Per Rpts, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 28 Mar, 5, 11 Apr 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
79. (1) Stone MS, p. 149. (2) Matsumoto received the Legion of Merit for his services in north Burma.
80. (1) GALAHAD, p. 78. (2) Notes, Maj John Jones, sub: Burma--Notes on Merrill Expedition, 1944, JICA SN 8623, JICA CBI SEA, New Delhi, 27 Sep 44. OCMH.
81. (1) Maruyama and Tanaka comment on the 114th's ammunition supply problem. (2) Ltr, Merrill to Ward, 26 May 52. OCMH.
82. (1) GALAHAD, pp. 80-84. (2) Merrill's Marauders, p. 94.
83. Stillwell Diary, 11 Apr 44.
84. (1) The Stilwell Papers, pp. 285-87. (2) Rad, Stilwell to AGWAR, 31 Mar 44; Rad TK 20, Stilwell to Marshall, 2 Apr 44. Items 98, 101, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File.
85. (1) FO 12, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 5 Apr 44. (2) The Stilwell Papers, p. 287. (3) Secy Plans SAC (44) 160, Hq SEAC; Min, Conf at Jorhat, 3 Apr 44. SEAC War Diary. (4) Stilwell Diary, 3 Apr 44.
86. (1) See p. 168, above. (2) Rad SAC 1779, Mountbatten to Giffard, 22 Apr 44; Rad FE/3, Giffard to Mountbatten, 23 Apr 44; Rad OPD 191, Giffard to Mountbatten, 4 May 44. SEAC War Diary.
87. Rad SEACOS 153, Mountbatten to JSM, and COS, 5 May 44; Min, SAC's 95th Mtg, 8 May 44; Rad SEACOS 162, Mountbatten to JSM and COS, 17 May 44. SEAC War Diary.
88. Mountbatten Report, Pt. B., par. 196.
89. (1) Rad ACG 953, Peirse to Mountbatten, 20 May 44; Rad 02393, Slim to Giffard and Mountbatten, 25 May 44. SEAC War Diary. (2) SEATIC Bull 242, p. 29. MID Library.
90. (1) Rad 533 OPS, Giffard to MGGS [Major General, General Staff], 19 May 44; Min, SAC's 96th Mtg, 9 May 44. SEAC War Diary. (2) Japanese Officers' Comments, p. 15.
91. Rad SAC 2834, Mountbatten to Giffard, 27 May 44. SEAC War Diary.
92. Memo, Wedemeyer for Mountbatten, 5 Jun 44. Case 14, OPD 201 (Wedemeyer, A. C. [O]), A47-30.
93. (1) Ltrs, Col Bennett to CG, 5303d Area Comd, sub: Daily Int and Opns Sitreps. NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) Japanese Officers' Comments, p. 15.
94. (1) Maj. E. B. Stanley Clarke and Maj. A. T. Tillott, From Kent to Kohima, Being the History of The 4th Battalion the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment (T.A.), 1939-1947 (Aldershot, England, 1951), Ch. XL (2) Operational Record of Eleventh Army Group and A.L.F.S.E.A., November, 1943-August, 1945, pp. 27-28. OCMH. (3) Japanese Comments, Sec. I. (4) Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, pars. 93-116. (5) Owen, The Campaign in Burma, Ch. 14.
95. Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, Par. 192.
96. (1) Lt. Gen. Shibata Uichi, who assumed command of the 15th Division on 30 June 1944, remarked that in the retreat he had to abandon large stocks of food which he could not distribute. His forward elements ate what was left of their original stores, supplementing their rations with grass, and sometimes attacking 4 Corps positions to get the rations to be found in them. SEATIC Bull 240, pp. 7, 10-13, 23-24, 51; SEATIC Bull 242, pp. 29, 31-32; SEATIC Bull 245, p. 7; SEATIC Bull 247, pp. 23, 25, 26-28. MID Library. (2) Japanese Comments, Sec. I. (3) Japanese Officers' Comments, App. 2, Mutaguchi; App. 4, Kawabe.
97. (1) See Ch. II, above. (2) Appreciation COS/24, Comdr Special Force at Imphal [Wingate] for SACSEA, 10 Feb 44, sub: LRPG Opns, Exploitation of Opn THURSDAY; Memo, Comdr Special Force for SACSEA, 13 Mar 44, sub: Forecast of Possible Development of THURSDAY. SEAC War Diary.
98. So called both from the supply parachutes that festooned the trees, and after an amusement park of that name.
99. (1) Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, pars. 117-25. (2) Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
100. Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
101. (1) SEATIC Bull 244, History of Japanese 33d Army, 3 Oct 46, pp. 19-20, 71-72; SEATIC Bull 245, pp. 3-4; SEATIC Bull 247, pp. 11-13. MID Library. (2) Cyril N. Barclay, The History of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (London, 1947), pp. 147-48. (3) Japanese Comments, Sec. I.
102. B. E. Fergusson, "Behind the Enemy's Lines in Burma," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution (August, 1946).
103. (1) Papers cited n. 85(3). (2) Rad SH 40, 16 Apr 44; Rad SH 44, Stilwell to Sultan, 17 Apr 44; Rad SH 74, Stilwell to Sultan, 24 Apr 44. Items 117, 120, 140, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File. (3) Memo, Wingate for War Cabinet, 10 Aug 43. SEAC War Diary. (4) Fourteenth Army Opn Instr 60, 4 Apr 44. SNF 4. (5) Mountbatten Report, Pt. B, par. 165.
104. (1) Rad, JSM to SACSEA, 24 Mar 44; Secy Plans SAC (44) 166/1, Hq SEAC, 10 Apr 44. SEAC War Diary. (2) CCS 452/10, 21 Mar 44, sub: Strategy in SEAC.
105. Rad SEACOS 137, SACSEA to War Cabinet and JSM, 14 Apr 44. ABC 384 (Burma) 8-25-42, Sec 6, A48-224. Also in JWS Misc Papers, 1944.
106. (1) Rad SH 3, Stilwell to Sultan, 7 Apr 44; Rad CRA 1416, Sultan to Stilwell, 16 Apr 44. Items 111, 118, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File. (2) CM-IN 19350, Sultan to Marshall, 27 Apr 44. (3) Rad CRA 2367, Sultan to Marshall, 30 Apr 44. SEAC War Diary.
107. Rad CRA 2655, Gen Evans to Stilwell, 4 May 44. Item 102, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File. This radio was a relay of the JCS directive to Stilwell at the front.
108. Revised Rpt, War Stf on WS (44) 29, 6 May 44; Rad CRA 2927, Sultan to Marshall, 7 May 44. SEAC War Diary.
109. G-3 Rpts, Chih Hui Pu, 7-28 Mar 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
110. (1) Stilwell Diary, 28, 29 Mar 44. (2) G-3 Rpts, Chih Hui Pu, 5-18 Apr 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (3) Rad CFB 15536, Dorn to Stilwell, 31 Mar 44; Rad SHC 1, Stilwell to Hearn, 1 Apr 44. Items 2152, 2154, Bk 6, JWS Personal File.
111. For a detailed account of the organization, training, and equipping of the Chinese Army in India, see Stilwell's Mission to China, Chapter VI.