The Drive for Myitkyina
While the Chinese Army in India had been edging up to Shaduzup the thought had crossed Stilwell's mind that Shaduzup might be as far as his forces could get before the rains began. Then the Japanese drive on Imphal began to acquire a disturbing aspect, and the conference between Mountbatten, Slim, and Stilwell was called at Jorhat on 3 April 1944. At the conference, Slim expressed his confidence that he would win at Imphal. Perhaps as a result of that confidence, Mountbatten confirmed the existing directives that called for Stilwell to take the Mogaung-Myitkyina area. Meanwhile, in one radio after another, SEAC's staff told the Joint and Combined Chiefs that Myitkyina probably could not be taken without sending heavy added reinforcements to SEAC, if taken probably could not be held, and even if held was not worth taking.
The Japanese offensive on India, the slow progress of the North Burma Campaign, the Generalissimo's reluctance to cross the Salween, and the steady consumption of time, all registered on Stilwell's estimate of what he could do in north Burma. His estimate of what he could do with the means his several superiors had allotted him began to shrink drastically.
The QUARTERBACK Calls an END RUN
Time was pressing on Stilwell as he in turn was pressing on General Tanaka; if he was to take Myitkyina he must take it with a quick bold stroke before the rains began. The solution began to reveal itself to Stilwell immediately after the Jorhat conference. Over the next few days the solution became a plan and was presented to his Chinese subordinates and to Merrill.
To seize the Mogaung-Myitkyina area as directed by Mountbatten at Jorhat, Stilwell determined to drive down the Mogaung valley on Kamaing with such vigor as to persuade General Tanaka that this was the principal effort. Meanwhile, a task force of GALAHAD's survivors (END RUN Force) plus two Chinese regiments and a Kachin screen would slip east over the Kumon Range, which formed the eastern boundary of the Mogaung valley, and strike directly at
Myitkyina. Myitkyina's garrison would, Stilwell hoped, be depleted to help defend Mogaung from the Chindits.1
In driving for Myitkyina, Stilwell's immediate objective was to increase Hump tonnage. As of this moment, he did not believe that opening a land line of communications to China, which he thought to be still the mission given him by the TRIDENT, QUADRANT, and SEXTANT Conferences, was any longer within his capabilities. The SEXTANT directives and the radios from Marshall had stressed the connection between Myitkyina and the Hump. Stilwell ordered Hearn to:
Make following report to the Generalissimo. Without holding Mogaung he will of course realize that it will be impossible to build road and pipeline into Myitkyina and as a result the anticipated increase in Hump tonnage will not materialize. If we had Myitkyina and a pipeline into it, the Hump tonnage could be materially increased. In an effort to get forward and make this possible I have issued orders for an advance to certain areas making use of maximum force and effort. These orders are not being put into effect with the speed and effort which in my opinion the situation requires. As a result, the chances of getting to Mogaung are now slim and any increase in Hump tonnage will disappear, if these chances dwindle further. I am reporting this so that the Generalissimo will know that I am not satisfied with what the division commanders are doing to get forward and make our mission a complete success.2
A few days later, in commenting on a plan for major airborne operations in Burma the next fall, Stilwell observed that the decisions of the TRIDENT, QUADRANT, and SEXTANT Conferences still held: ". . . to get enough of No. Burma to reopen communications with China. . . . It could have been done last fall, when there were only four Jap divisions in Burma. It could have been done this spring, with one or two American divisions and the cooperation of the Y-Force. It can still be done, with a reinforcement of U.S. ground troops [which Stilwell later set at a corps plus engineers], at a much smaller cost than is contemplated in proposed plans."3
As of 10 April, General Pick had only eight U.S. engineer companies actually working on the Ledo Road. Two engineer aviation battalions had been taken away from him, while the remainder of his engineers, save the eight companies, were working on airstrips and maintenance.4
The drive on Kamaing had changed in concept. Initially, on 20 March the 112th Regiment, 38th Division, reinforced with elements of its two sister regiments,
had been ordered to envelop the 18th Division by means of a roadblock below Kamaing. A later order, 4 April, gave the 114th Regiment the mission originally set for the 112th and defined the role of the 22d Division. Its 65th and 66th Regiments were to hold in the Shaduzup area, while the 64th Regiment enveloped the 18th Division's left flank. The final directive on 23 April, in "positive, written orders"5 to make the record clear, called for the 22d Division to attack, rather than hold, and to swing the 64th and 65th Regiments around General Tanaka's left (western) flank, while the 66th Regiment fought down the road. Once again the 112th was told to block off Kamaing from the south. The orders directed the "22d and 38th to be in Pakhren and Lawa areas by April 27. Now I've shot my wad," wrote Stilwell. Generals Sun and Liao at once came in to protest the orders, but to no avail.6
General Tanaka's mission, dating from 1943, was to hold the Kamaing area to the end. In March 1944 he was told by Burma Area Army that when the 53d Division (-) had driven the Chindits off the rail line it would be attached to him for a counteroffensive, providing the attack on Imphal succeeded. While Tanaka was waiting for the 53d Division to arrive, he was reinforced in April and May by two very understrength regiments, the 146th Regiment, 56th Division, with one battalion, and the 4th Regiment, 2d Division, with two battalions. Thus, at one time in May when the force from the 56th Division was attached to the 18th, only two regiments plus a reinforced battalion of the 56th Division faced the Chinese across the Salween. Elements of the 53d Division duly arrived in the Mogaung area, but the Japanese headquarters for north Burma, then the newly activated 33d Army, in Tanaka's opinion could not decide to commit them toward either Kamaing or Myitkyina, and his hopes for a smashing counterattack were lost. He therefore decided to hold above Kamaing until the eve of the rainy season, then withdraw to prepared positions while the Chinese and the Americans struggled in the floods that cover the valley during the rains.7
Though Tanaka knew that the Americans and the Chinese would have to take Myitkyina to open the way across north Burma, he estimated that there would not be a direct attack on Myitkyina as long as the bulk of the 18th was able to hold the Kamaing-Mogaung area. Analyzing his problem after the war, Tanaka remarked that after the battle of Walawbum his divisional intelligence section was increasingly handicapped, that he found it ever more difficult to get good strategic intelligence.8
1 April-27 May 1944
The 22d Division and the Drive on Kamaing
When Stilwell issued orders on 23 April that the 22d Division was to try to slip its 64th and 65th Regiments around Tanaka's left, Liao's 22d Division was drawn up across the Kamaing Road in the vicinity of Warazup. (Map 13) This meant that the division was firmly established in the Mogaung valley, about ten miles south of the crest of the Jambu Bum. ("This war is just one
damn valley after another!" wrote Stilwell to his wife.) On either side of the long narrow valley--9,000 or so yards wide at Warazup--rose the hills now familiar to the soldiers. The Kamaing Road lay in the center of the valley, and along the road ran the stream by which nature had carved out the valley. This was the Nam Kawng Chaung (the upper reaches of the Mogaung River), whose tributaries arched out to right and left like the ribs of a fish's skeleton. These streams offered a series of water barriers to troops fighting their way down the valley; the Japanese took full advantage of them.
When the 22d began to move south, Stilwell's orders to it were among the first casualties as the 22d's units attempted, not always as vigorously as Stilwell wished, to get around the Japanese facing them (4th Regiment to the extreme left of the Japanese line, across the Kamaing Road). Some of the 22d's units were taken out of line to refit; others simply held back. From west to east, General Liao had the 1/65th, the 64th, the 65th, and the 66th. The 64th Regiment, 22d Division, began cutting its way around the Japanese left flank and occupied Hill 988, two miles west-southwest of Warazup, after the Japanese abandoned it. The 64th then moved southwest and reached a point well to the rear of the Japanese front-line positions along the Pangyu Hka.
About this time one of the senior Chinese armored force officers took Colonel Brown, the tank group commander, aside and stated that both Sun and Liao had received orders not to advance until the Generalissimo felt it was safe for them to continue. The Chinese told Brown that he himself would continue to attack if ordered but that such conduct would seriously embarrass him were he (the Chinese) ever to serve under Sun or Liao. Brown reported the conversation to Stilwell.
Next morning, Stilwell ordered Liao to move the 22d Division against Inkangahtawng, which remained in Japanese hands after GALAHAD withdrew. Liao soon moved his headquarters about a mile farther south. This move put the division headquarters in line with Brown's armored force command post. Amazed, Brown checked to see if there had been a general advance by the Chinese. There had been none; Liao had simply advanced his headquarters. Stilwell again ordered Liao to attack, and again Liao moved up his headquarters, this time till it was up with that of the 66th Regiment. Almost daily, word would come to Brown that Liao was not going to attack until permission came from the Generalissimo. Brown himself thrust forward time and again with his tanks, without infantry support, losing several, but probably hoping that considerations of face would induce Liao to make whatever adjustments would permit him to obey Stilwell's orders and attack.9 Presumably permission to attack was finally granted by the Generalissimo, possibly after he had had time to weigh the implications of the relief of Kohima on 20 April, for in late April the 22d Division again began to move.
A formidable obstacle barred its way to Kamaing. Just south and east of
TROOPS OF THE CHINESE 22D DIVISION move down the rain-soaked Kamaing Road.
Nanyaseik is a range of hills, perhaps eight miles long, and rising to a 1,200-foot peak. There were large caves in the hills, and in them the Japanese emplaced four 150-mm. guns, far outranging the 155-mm. howitzers which, supervised by Col. George W. Sliney, were the heaviest pieces the Chinese had. The caves shielded the Japanese guns from bombardment and counterbattery, and the hills gave them excellent observation. With these pieces the Japanese blasted away at every profitable target that revealed itself, to as far north as Warazup.10
The 65th Regiment plus the 3/66th, fighting down the Kamaing Road, met Japanese resistance north and west of Inkangahtawng. The 64th stayed behind the Japanese left flank, or what had been the Japanese left, until 3 May, when it moved again, this time straight east, across the Kamaing Road. The 64th Regiment cut this vital artery about five hundred yards south of the Hwelon Hka, four days after its patrols first crossed it. The rest of the 22d Division waited for clear weather to make a co-ordinated attack by air, armor, artillery, and the dogged Chinese infantryman on Inkangahtawng. The 4th of May met weather specifications and Inkangahtawng fell that day. The 64th Regiment
promptly linked up with the rest of the 22d Division. Then the 66th Regiment was put in line to relieve the 65th.11 The 22d Division had gained perhaps five miles down the road in these last few weeks of fighting, but the Japanese were "sticking it out to bitter end." Stilwell's diary shows him tirelessly at work, going from one Chinese command post to another to urge and exhort the Chinese onward.12
The 22d Division stayed in this area for the next several weeks. During this time, elements of the Chinese 50th Division (149th and 150th Regiments), which had been flown into Maingkwan by 15 April, arrived at the front, and were attached to the units of the 22d Division.
Along the Hwelon Hka, the 64th Regiment, 22d Division, was in contact with the Japanese. General Liao moved the 65th Regiment into line on 19 May, prolonging the right flank of the 64th, and the 66th Regiment was sent still further west. The 1/66th and the 3/149th, the latter from the Chinese 50th Division, plus two companies of division engineers, all attached to the 65th Regiment, cut a trail over the ridge marking the western boundary of the Mogaung valley and entered the small valley of the Lasi Hka. Moving south with comparative speed, they were in the vicinity of Chishidu on 27 May and about to cut back into the Mogaung valley. The Japanese company opposing them was steadily pushed back toward Nanyaseik.
The 22d Division had thus successfully completed a maneuver which had failed when a task force, code name PURPLE, composed of the 149th Regiment, 50th Division, plus a detachment formed from GALAHAD evacuees, had been sent on the same task. Commanded by an American, PURPLE Force took the wrong turn and, after being located by Lt. Col. Joseph W. Stilwell, Jr., in a liaison plane, was forced to return to the Mogaung valley.13 On its march, PURPLE Force encountered mountains too steep for its animal transport. Two of the mules, loaded with medical equipment, fell over the side of the cliffs. The American medical personnel had to send back the pack train and carry their own supplies.14 That it was an American officer who had lost the way made a bad impression on the 149th's commander, a very competent Chinese who may well have thought that he should have led the force. Thereafter, he had little use for Americans in any capacity. This was perhaps natural but was regrettable, for the 149th was an excellent regiment and its commander respected by those
who dealt with him.15 The presence of the 250 or so American infantry from GALAHAD was agreed to between Stilwell and Merrill. Because of the tasks known to lie ahead of GALAHAD, Stilwell discussed the attachment with Merrill before ordering it. Years later, Merrill remembered telling Stilwell that GALAHAD sorely needed the 250 men and that it was really not in shape for the job ahead. But he was aware of the pressures and obstacles that Stilwell daily faced, and resolved not to add to them.16
Thus, the southward progress of the 22d Division had been painfully slow during May, but as the month drew to its end, the wide envelopment of the 65th Regiment and its reinforcing battalions suggested that Tanaka would soon be pushed back on Kamaing itself. Stilwell and the Chinese would then be deep into Burma and very close to the north-south corridor through which the railway ran from Mandalay to Myitkyina; the corridor in turn would take them behind the 15th Army.
The 38th Division: The Generalissimo and Stilwell
Gen. Sun Li-jen's 38th Division had the most difficult sector in which to operate, the hill mass that formed the eastern boundary of the Mogaung valley. It was in this area, incredibly difficult for troops to cross, that GALAHAD's stand at Nhpum Ga had been made a week or so before. The 38th had been moved into the area within which Merrill's and Hunter's men had been operating. But if the hills themselves were a formidable obstacle to troops, they did offer a way around Tanaka's right flank. And, if Tanaka moved to halt the threat posed by the 38th's movement south through the hills, he spread his forces thin down in the valley. To Stilwell, the opportunities lying before the 38th were obvious, so he kept constant pressure on Sun.
After a visit to the latter's command post on 11 April, Stilwell wrote in his diary: "At least it looks like a start! The piled-up inertia is terrible. . . ."17 On the next day the 114th Regiment relieved the 113th on the line of three villages all named Tingring. This move placed the 114th and 112th in line, the 112th to the east forming with its lines a small salient about Nhpum Ga. The 114th Regiment was operating in rugged terrain which was almost as much an obstacle as the delaying positions directly about Kamaing defended so skillfully by the Japanese. On at least one occasion the 114th lost its way and had to be located by aerial reconnaissance.
The 1/114th was to have taken the eastern Tingring and worked round the right flank of the 55th Regiment, but though it passed the line of the Tingrings, the Japanese rear guard held stoutly on Hill 1725, while the 18th fell back to the line Wala-Malakawng. Not until 20 April did the Chinese clear the hilltop. Stilwell chafed and fretted over the 38th Division's slowness, which he blamed
on General Sun. After Hill 1725 had been taken, the 114th came up against the Lahkraw Hka, which was in open country with little cover and dominated by the guns of the 18th Mountain Artillery Regiment. To the east, the 1/112th moved from Tategahtawng on 23 April to relieve END RUN Force for the move on Myitkyina. The force was then within a mile of Manpin and created a salient whose tip at Manpin bulged ominously toward Kamaing and whose sides ran generally north of the Lahkraw Hka and the Auche-Warang trail.18
The slow rate of the 38th Division's advance alarmed Stilwell. After the First Burma Campaign he had always feared the Generalissimo might again try to conduct the campaign from Chungking with emphasis on the defensive. Stilwell surmised that again, as in 1942, the Generalissimo was corresponding directly with Sun and Liao. On 15 April Stilwell received a radio from the Generalissimo observing that the Mogaung valley was "good for attacking and defending," so Stilwell should be careful. Stilwell promptly called the matter to Marshall's attention. He told the Army's Chief of Staff that in his opinion the hard core of Japanese resistance had been broken, that the Chinese with little further trouble could go rapidly on to Kamaing. Stilwell concluded that Sun's and Liao's conduct of operations could only be explained by secret orders from the Generalissimo to slow their pace. He asked Marshall to keep the President informed of this situation.19 To placate the Generalissimo, Stilwell had Hearn present an optimistic appraisal of the Burma campaign with the tactful statement that Stilwell would move cautiously by exploiting every Japanese blunder.20
The 22d and 38th Divisions continued to plod along. Completely apprehensive, Stilwell asked General Liao bluntly if the Generalissimo had ordered a slowdown. Liao replied that the Generalissimo did correspond with him directly and assured Stilwell that the Generalissimo had ordered him to obey, even when Stilwell was wrong. Far from reassured, Stilwell asked Hearn to raise the issue with Madame Chiang, specifically, to ask whether the Generalissimo had sent a message encouraging Sun and Liao as Stilwell had requested.21
After the war, an officer of Sun's staff happened to meet with Col. Thomas F. Van Natta, III, who had been the senior liaison officer with the 38th Division. They refought the campaign, and when the discussion turned to the long delay above Kamaing, the Chinese stated that he personally had seen several messages from the Generalissimo to Sun, as of this period, ordering him to proceed with caution.22
The Generalissimo's response to Hearn's and Stilwell's efforts was dampening:
I am in receipt of reports through the kindness of General Hearn. It is gratifying to know that if the situation in the Kohima area can be stabilized, the problem of supply and morale of the units now fighting in northern Burma will not deteriorate.
I beg to express my deepest respect to you for your leadership and direction of the progress we are making in northern Burma. Although I hold no responsibility in the combined operation of the present Burma campaign, I hope we will not cause unexpected damage and failure to our friends and units. That's why I am so concerned with the general situation in the Salween district.
We will exert to the fullest in doing whatever necessary to the attainment of our victory. Please do not unduly worry.
The Chinese Expeditionary Force in the Salween district is now prepared for counteroffense, and is very attentive in watching for the most opportune moment to coordinate with the campaign for Myitkyina. It is impossible now for us to directly reinforce northern Burma. But I hope you will maintain the limited offensive strength now at your disposal, and be judicious in its employment.
Generals Sun and Lieu [sic], under your brilliant leadership, have done valuable services for which I have extended to them my personal congratulations.
CHIANG CHUNG CHEN [chop]23
The passage that struck Stilwell with greatest force was the Generalissimo's assurance that he would keep his friends and troops from undue losses. Stilwell promptly relayed the message to Marshall. Analyzing his situation for the Chief of Staff, Stilwell concluded that he could take no remedial action, for any new division commanders would also get secret orders from the Generalissimo, and that anything precipitate would "risk the loss of all the results we have gotten to date." In effect, Stilwell would have to persevere in his exhortations and hope that they would be enough to bring the Chinese into Mogaung and Myitkyina.24
So the 22d and 38th Divisions continued as before. When on 26 April General Sun came in with his plan to take Kamaing, Stilwell disapproved it, "verbally, and in writing." Sun came back next day with another, and that, too, Stilwell rejected. The 38th Division went ahead on the basis of existing orders.25
Turning Tanaka's Flank
To break the stalemate along the Lahkraw Hka, the 114th Regiment had to clear away the Japanese observation posts in the hills. The 1/114th on the regiment's east flank cut around the flank of the 55th Regiment on 28 April,
while the 2/114th pushed the same Japanese unit back a few hundred yards. This bending process continued during the next two days, and the 114th Regiment was well south of the enveloped Japanese flank and within half a mile of Wala. The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 114th then began moving straight south, leaving behind them pockets of determined Japanese who held up the 3/114th.
The 113th Regiment came back into line at the end of April to put frontal pressure on the Japanese positions along the Lahkraw Hka and Tigrawm Hka. Meanwhile, the 112th Regiment on the 38th Division's east flank was holding its salient without attempting to move. The Japanese managed to stabilize their lines on the creeks east and west of Wala and hold there until 6 May when a company of the 114th crossed the Nawngmi Hka and started the advance going again. Two days later the 114th's advance became general, while on the east at Stilwell's order the 112th began to gather its companies to take Warong.26
East Wala and Hlagyi were taken on 9 May, and the 114th's penetration, driving deeper into the Japanese lines, began to approach the 112th's outposts just north of Manpin. By 12 May the 114th and 112th Regiments were able to maintain communications, with very few Japanese between them. The 114th's penetration weakened the position of the Japanese facing the 113th, and the 113th's line began to roll up slowly from east to west as the 1st and 2d Battalions went through what had been the center of the 55th's and 56th's positions to press on to Wala and Maran.27
The whole right flank of General Tanaka's position in the Mogaung valley was now crumbling. To bolster it, Tanaka ordered the 1/55th, which had been his extreme right (east) flank detachment (and significantly, regarding his casualties, was commanded by a captain) to be reinforced by the 146th Regiment, 56th Division. Command of this task force was given to Maj. Gen. Toshiji Aida, Tanaka's infantry group commander.28 About this time, the officers of the 18th Division learned that there was no chance of the Japanese counter offensive in the Hukawng Valley on which so many hopes had been staked, for the U operation was failing "miserably." Their morale began to sag, and in Tanaka's later opinion this realization marked the "turning point" for his division.29
The Japanese held desperately at West Wala, Maran, and Sharaw, temporarily stalemating the 113th Regiment. The 114th was sent hooking west behind these Japanese strongpoints, and the two regiments took them one after another between the 18th and 25th of May. To the east, in front of the 112th Regiment, the Warong position fell on 20 May. It had been stubbornly defended, and a number of Japanese were cut off along the Auche-Warong trail north of there. With the clearing of the Japanese from these strongpoints
on the east side of the Mogaung valley, the right side of Tanaka's line seemed to be dissolving, even though the Japanese were still falling back slowly before the 22d Division on the center and left.30 According to Tanaka, his right was in "a state of confusion." Part of the 55th Regiment still clung to a little piece of the Wala heights, with Chinese infantry between the regimental headquarters and the battalion position, and other Chinese to the rear of regimental headquarters.31
The 112th Regiment's Stand at the Seton Block
On the night of 19 May, General Sun probably received the Generalissimo's permission to take Kamaing, for the next morning at breakfast he told the American liaison officer, Colonel Van Natta: "We go on to take Kamaing now." Promptly, Sun and Van Natta called on Stilwell with Sun's plan to take the town. The change in Sun's attitude "astonished" Van Natta. Previously, Sun had been all difficulties, delays, complaints, and objections. Now, though Stilwell could promise to airdrop only 50 percent of the supplies he needed, Sun raised no objection.32 Sun's plan was simple and direct: send the 112th Regiment wide around the Japanese east flank to cut the Kamaing Road south of Seton. The 114th would exploit the evident confusion and weakness of the Japanese on the east by moving steadily down the Kumon Range to Tumbonghka near the point at which the Mogaung valley merges with the Irrawaddy valley. Its goal was Mogaung. This plan Stilwell approved.33
On the 22d Division front, the task force which had taken Chishidu kept briskly toward the Kamaing Road several miles south of the Japanese position at Mataing Sakan. The 22d Division was thus keeping Tanaka fully occupied. Meanwhile, to the east, the 112th was cutting its way through the jungle, unobserved by the Japanese. The commander of the Japanese right flank, Aida, was watching events to the direct north, and the 112th slipped around him.34
On 25 May the 112th (-) emerged from the jungle well in the rear of Tanaka's lines, and crossing the Mogaung River, burst into one of Tanaka's major supply centers. The Chinese captured 35 Japanese trucks, a jeep, a sedan, 8 warehouses of food and ammunition, 100 horses, 4 pieces of artillery, a workshop, and a motor pool. It was a great coup for General Sun and the Chinese, and a major crisis for Tanaka. If the 112th could keep its grip on the Kamaing Road, the 18th Division would be in its last battle. General Aida, who had had
strict orders from Tanaka to hold the village of Lawa, where several trails converge east of Kamaing, abandoned his position without authority, and the whole of Tanaka's right rear flank was wide open.35
Tanaka stripped his division headquarters and service units of available troops and attacked the 112th at once. From his left flank he called in the 4th Regiment, 2d Division, under Col. Yusaku Ichikari to attack the Chinese from the north. On the south, the 18th Division's service troops were hastily assembled and hurled at the block. Simultaneously, Tanaka ordered his chief engineer to cut a secret escape route. With great relief the Japanese learned that such a route had already been reconnoitered. The trail ran from the Noidaw Bum to the Bumrawng Bum via Noidawyang.36
The Japanese battered in vain at the Seton Block. The Chinese fought valiantly. Rain, floods, and constant Japanese attacks made the action one of the most trying of the campaign; the Chinese stood up to it with fortitude and devotion. Though Tanaka was withdrawing his forward elements from their positions in the Mogaung valley, it was probably obvious to him that complete withdrawal from the Kamaing area would find the 18th minus its artillery and vehicles and so weakened as to need complete rebuilding. Moreover, he had orders to defend Kamaing to the last. Therefore, he had every incentive to break open the line of communications to the south, and his men did their best. Attack after attack was hurled at the 112th, but the Japanese on both sides of the Seton Block were suffering from malnutrition and disease; many of those to the south were replacements, and the 112th held doggedly. At the end of its ordeal, only two of the 112th's officers were on their feet.37
The success of the 112th Regiment in holding the Seton Block suggested that the climax of the valley campaign was close at hand. The Chinese, now that the Generalissimo had lifted all restrictions, drove in on Tanaka from all sides. (Map 14) The 22d Division task force which had been moving toward the Kamaing Road moved squarely across it on 1 June, cutting off the 55th, 56th, and 4th Infantry Regiments from the withdrawal route in the hills by which Tanaka had planned to bypass Kamaing. Such was the current disorganization of the Japanese that the commander of the 55th Infantry Regiment was in contact with but one company of his regiment. The 2d Battalion (-) of the 56th, supported by six 75-mm. and two 150-mm. pieces, tried to force the 22d Division off the Kamaing Road, but failed. Since the Chinese barred the escape route via the Noidaw Bum, the 56th had to make a crude trail to the southeast, from the Pakhren Bum area, in the hope that, covering some 500 sick, the artillery, and the motor transport, it might swing east around the 22d Division's roadblock, and then back onto the escape trail.38
28 May-26 June 1944
With the 22d Division blocking him just southeast of Nanyaseik, and the 38th firmly holding the Seton Block, Tanaka was faced with the gravest tactical problems. Nevertheless his skillful delaying action, greatly aided from December to May by Chinese tactics that to the Americans appeared willful delay, was yielding results for the Japanese. His attempt to hold until the monsoon closed down on the Chinese and on the American SOS showed acute appreciation of the factors in his favor. By June about one inch of rain fell daily. Though supply convoys could still move from Ledo to Shingbwiyang, the combat trail from Shingbwiyang south was very difficult. The road was graded to Tingkawk Sakan (mile 164) and metaled almost to Mile Post 138. However, rainfall had blocked the road over the flats north of Tingkawk Sakan. At the end of June the situation was unchanged. The Japanese stand at Kamaing and the heavy rains immobilized the survey party and the road trace.39 As the flood waters rose in the valley, they effectively barred armor from moving south to Mogaung or Myitkyina.40
Defeat of the 18th Division
The condition of the 18th Division was now almost desperate. The rice ration, normally 860 grams per day, had shrunk to 100 grams. Lack of gasoline immobilized the Japanese trucks. Allied bombers had destroyed about 40 percent of the supply dumps. The artillery was rationed to four shells a day. The 18th's units were far understrength. Where in April they had had perhaps fifty men to a company, now they were down to thirty.
The 56th Regiment in particular was in grave straits. Its commander reported on 7 June:
The advance attack of the enemy from the north is unexpectedly swift; the enemy is advancing southward, threading through the gaps in our lines by wading chest-high through marshy zones. I am unable to contact the 1 and 3 Battalions, which are under my command, and their situation is unknown. The platoon occupying the vicinity of Nanyaseik received an enemy onslaught and all troops were annihilated. The enemy stormed into our main artillery position, and with our motor trucks, artillery and other vehicles crowded together in the vicinity of the narrow, forked road, there is much confusion. The transfer of most of the patients has been completed. The regiment will cover the withdrawal of the main body of the division at the sacrifice of our lives. I believe this will be our final parting. Please give my best regards to the division commander.
The survivors of the 56th's infantry made good their escape to the southeast, then back to the sheltering hills, but the artillerymen died alongside their six 75-mm. and two 150-mm. pieces as the Chinese 149th Regiment overran them, while the motor transport was destroyed. The colors of the 56th Regiment were safely conveyed to division headquarters in Kamaing.41 It was victory and complete evidence of the high martial qualities of the Chinese soldier.
The 113th Regiment in its turn moved south down the foothills of the Mogaung valley's east side. It took Lawa, then Zigyun, directly across the Nam Kawng Chaung from Kamaing. The 113th began to probe for a crossing. To the north and west of Kamaing, the 22d Division and the 149th Regiment kept the Japanese under heavy pressure. As the Japanese began to shift their forces west toward an escape route, they left a gap in their positions through which the 3d Battalion of the 65th Regiment made a deep penetration, permitting a wide envelopment that placed the battalion south and west of Kamaing. The remainder of the 65th poured on through. Meanwhile, the 149th made a close-in envelopment of Kamaing. Kamaing was now encircled to the west, north, and east, with the 149th due west. On 16 June the 149th moved out of the bush, across the fields, and into Kamaing to take the settlement. With Kamaing in Chinese hands, the 18th Division was pushed into the hills south and west of Kamaing.42
On that same 16 June that Kamaing fell, the 114th Regiment which had been sent south past the fighting around Kamaing met the Chindits at Gurkhaywa. Their meeting established a ground line of communications to the Chindits and meant that the Allies were solidly established in Burma, just about two years after the end of the First Burma Campaign.43
The experiences of the surgical team from the 43d Portable Surgical Hospital which accompanied the 114th Regiment illustrate the marching qualities of the Chinese Army. By 28 May the terrain over which the 114th was making its way was so bad that horses could not be used. The medics then took with them only 100 pounds of supplies, carried by the Chinese. Unhappily, some of the medics' scanty food stock was stolen, and their rations were exhausted around 30 May. The inhabitants of the little village of Kawnan contributed some pork and rice. From 1 to 4 June the Americans lived on a cup of rice and water twice a day, which they obtained from the Chinese. Their operating table was a litter on two bamboo trestles over which hung a little thatched roof. Under these conditions, the surgical team performed 138 operations with but three postoperative deaths. When they rejoined the parent unit on 16 June, the members of the team had lost twenty-five pounds each on the average, and staggered as they walked. The 114th Regiment was still battleworthy.44
On 22 June, Headquarters, 33d Army, ordered Tanaka to withdraw from the Kamaing area to the area north of Sahmaw. Tanaka argued that he should stand his ground while the 53d Division, which had done so little to restore the Japanese fortunes, pushed aside the Seton Block and reopened his line of communications. The 33d Army agreed, and for three days Tanaka and the 53d Division tried to pry the Chinese away from their strangling hold. But the 112th
Regiment was now reinforced by the 113th, and they were too strong for the Japanese.
Tanaka reported as much, and 33d Army ordered the 18th Division to withdraw to the hills north of Sahmaw, a village on the Burma railway south of Mogaung. While the 4th and 146th Regiments made covering attacks, the remnants of the 55th and 56th Regiments destroyed their artillery and heavy equipment, then withdrew along the escape trail cut through the forest west of the Seton roadblock, the same trail of which Tanaka had earlier learned with such relief. The Japanese rear guard fell in behind the ragged survivors of the elite division that had taken Singapore in 1942, and the starving, malaria-ridden Japanese slowly trudged out of the Mogaung valley. The Chinese Army in India, with vital assistance from the 3d Indian Division and GALAHAD, had cleared the Japanese from the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys.
By keeping intact the blockade of China for yet another year, the 18th Division and Tanaka may have profoundly affected the history of Asia. If Stilwell had won a speedy victory in north Burma, the position of the Generalissimo's government in China could have been greatly strengthened by the return of good Chinese troops and the delivery of trucks and artillery to China in 1944. But events did not fall that way.
The Japanese paid heavily to hold north Burma and prolong the blockade of China. The 18th Division lost 50 percent of the strength with which it began the action; the 4th and 146th Regiments, perhaps 33 percent. Of the 18th Division, 3,000 men succeeded in withdrawing; of the two regiments, about 1,000 men each.45
Stilwell and the Chindits
The meeting between Chinese and Briton, lao ping and Tommy, on 16 June dramatized the work of the 3d Indian Division in cutting the Japanese line of communications to Kamaing and Myitkyina and in containing substantial Japanese forces. The role of the Chindits occasioned heated controversy at the time, and some of the embers were still glowing after the war. A detailed account is beyond the scope of this volume, for the exchanges were numerous and bitter. The withdrawal of the Chindits from Mawlu and the belief, which the Chindits shared with the men of GALAHAD, that "after 90 days we get out of this epithet place," a belief in which SEAC concurred, led to strong differences between Stilwell and his staff on one side and Lentaigne, Mountbatten, and SEAC on the other.46
The officers of the 3d Indian Division and SEAC held as doctrine that when soldiers had been ninety days behind the Japanese lines they were ipso facto exhausted and should be withdrawn from the field. The belief was Wingate's, drawn from his 1943 experience, and was known to the men in the ranks. Moreover, the monsoon rains made the whole process of air supply most difficult, while the waters made cross-country marches extremely trying. Stilwell objected that the simple presence behind Japanese lines of the Chindits was no support to him, that they aided his operations only when they actually placed themselves across the Japanese lines of communications. Stilwell feared that in retreating to the north the Chindits would bring with them the swarms of Japanese they had attracted. He also feared the effect on the morale of Chinese who had been engaged since November 1943 if troops who entered the field only in March 1944 passed through the Chinese lines on their way out.
On 17 May, 3d Indian Division came under Stilwell's operational control, and Lentaigne placed his headquarters next to Stilwell's. Stilwell did not desire operational control, for he did not believe his orders would be accepted. Moreover, he was under constant pressure from SEAC and the Chindit commanders to agree to their early evacuation. While Stilwell and Lentaigne were conferring on 25 May on holding a position (BLACKPOOL) near the railway in the vicinity of Namkwin, and were agreeing that it should be evacuated only in case of emergency, the block was being evacuated. Stilwell's anger at this course of events, together with the steadily declining strength of the Chindits, created a crisis which soon required the attention of the highest SEAC officers.
Then, Stilwell ordered the 77th Brigade of the Chindits to attack Mogaung. Its capture would be a great aid to Stilwell's Chinese and would pull out the keystone of the whole Japanese position in north Burma. Between 22 and 26 June, 77th Brigade attacked Mogaung with a dash and gallantry that drew praise from U.S. observers, but it lacked the weight to overrun Mogaung in one rush. The 114th Regiment, 38th Division, joined in the fight. Mogaung fell on 26 June and both units claimed credit for the victory.
The commander of the 77th Brigade now insisted that his men be withdrawn as unfit for further service and soon after himself ordered them withdrawn. Charges of bad faith were freely made on all sides and feeling ran high. Stilwell believed the 77th Brigade had been withdrawn in disobedience of written orders to hold its ground and prevent the Japanese from sending heavy reinforcements to Myitkyina. Lentaigne assumed responsibility for the act as necessary to preserve his troops.
There was still another clash between Stilwell and the Chindit headquarters in June, when Stilwell asked Lentaigne to report why the 111th Brigade had not complied with a series of orders issued between 8 and 17 June. These called for the 111th to occupy positions in the rather large area between Pahok and Sahmaw in order to guard the right, or western, flank of the 3d Indian Division. The matter was aired at a meeting on 30 June between Mountbatten, Stilwell,
Lentaigne, and members of Stilwell's staff. There it developed that Stilwell had misunderstood the orders his staff had issued the 111th. These had called for the occupation of an area, rather than of a point, Sahmaw itself, as Stilwell had believed. The conference agreed on a further evacuation of the Chindits after the southward advance of the Allies in north Burma had reached Sahmaw.
In the weeks that remained of the Chindits' campaigning the 111th Brigade briefly seized Point 2171, a hill feature north of Taungni, which was a critical terrain feature controlling approaches to the railway. The Japanese defended it stubbornly; significant of the bitterness of the fighting was the posthumous Victoria Cross awarded Maj. Frank G. Blaker. The 14th Brigade relieved the 111th and, reoccupying Point 2171 in the process, cleared the hills to the western side of the railway.
Fortunately, the veteran British 36th Division was arriving in the forward area to replace the battered Chindits; the steady success of the campaign in north Burma made air space for evacuation available, and sober second thought prevailed. In retrospect, it seems apparent that neither Stilwell nor Mountbatten wanted to let so potentially grave a dispute develop further. After heated discussion, the charges made were simply dropped, and the flood of events began to sweep over the episode, as the jungle closed over the paths and clearings where the Chindits had fought and died.
As the Chindits were slowly coming out of Burma there was apparently some disposition to disparage their accomplishments. SEAC considered they had yielded 5 percent return instead of the hoped-for 15 percent--which latter would have been generous indeed. Some considered that GALAHAD and 23d Brigade (which had fought the 15th Army), with their tactic of close-in envelopment, had demonstrated the correct use of long-range penetration groups.47 A minute of Giffard's based on the view that GALAHAD and 23d Brigade had been correctly used suggested forming six long-range penetration brigades for the next campaign. When that campaign began, Fourteenth Army in its supply arrangements and its tactics reflected many of the pioneering Chindits' arrangements.
In assaying what Wingate and the Chindits had done, a group of former Japanese officers wrote:
The Chindits interfered with the Imphal Operations from the very start and forced 15th Army to divert one battalion each of the 15th and 33d Divisions, to deal with them. Also diverted was the main force of the 53d Division which was to be the general reserve for the Burma Area Army and was, if there had been no such emergency as the descent of the Chindits, to have reinforced the 15th Army at Imphal. The 5th Air Division was obliged to use half of its strength against the Chindits when its full strength should have been employed to support the 15th Army.48
As for the operations of the 18th Division, Japanese sources state that cutting its supply line made its holding operation useless.49
The March to Myitkyina
The clearing of the Mogaung valley accomplished one half of Stilwell's objective for the spring of 1944 and brought nearer the ultimate accomplishment of the other--the taking of Myitkyina, the goal of this campaign. His aim, indeed, had been to take Myitkyina first, but events had not fallen that way. On 21 April Stilwell set up a force to seize Myitkyina, and called it END RUN (harking back to his college football days, as he often liked to do). Wasting away as rapidly as were the Chindits, GALAHAD now had but 1,400 men of its original 2,997, and so they had to be combined with Chinese troops.
Three combat teams were created: H Force under Colonel Hunter (150th Regiment, 50th Division, and the 1st Battalion of GALAHAD; 3d Company, Animal Transport Regiment, and a battery of the 22d Division artillery); K Force under Colonel Kinnison (88th Regiment, 30th Division, and 3d Battalion of GALAHAD); M Force under Colonel McGee (the 2d Battalion of GALAHAD plus 300 Kachins). With them went surgical teams from the Seagrave Hospital Unit and from the 73d Evacuation Hospital, plus the whole of the 42d Portable Surgical Hospital. Whatever prestige might accrue from the swift seizure of Myitkyina might have been the Generalissimo's, for Stilwell now urged him to send a Chinese division from China to Myitkyina via the Hpimaw pass. The Generalissimo refused.50
Shortly after the siege of Nhpum Ga, Merrill from his sickbed sent a staff officer to Hunter's headquarters to advise him that a thrust over the mountains at Myitkyina was contemplated. This was a change from the original plan for working down the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys, and terrain data plus staff studies were obviously called for. Hunter at once put the GALAHAD staff to work. From their studies they prepared a rough plan which was returned to Merrill. Their plan appeared an improvement over Merrill's original ideas and he drafted the final plan for Stilwell accordingly. (Map 15)
The version approved by Stilwell called for crossing the Kumon Range with H and K Forces via the Naura Hkyet (a 6,100-foot pass), then turning south on Ritpong. From there the two forces would take separate routes that would later converge on Myitkyina. M Force would be in position to cover the south flank, the most likely danger spot, though in such a march through territory nominally in Japanese possession no one could guess from what quarter the enemy might attack, and which force would actually have the blocking role.
Advance to Myitkyina
28 April-17 May 1944
Merrill, somewhat improved in health, again assumed command of the force, with orders to take and hold the Myitkyina airstrips. In giving Merrill his orders for the march, Stilwell stated that he knew he was calling on GALAHAD for more effort than could fairly be expected, but that he had no other option. In the light of that, and the exhaustion of the unit, he authorized Merrill to begin evacuating GALAHAD "without further order if everything worked out as expected."51
After discussing the plan with his battalion commanders, Merrill said a few words about what would be done for GALAHAD on completion of the mission.52 Such a prospect was a tremendous incentive to the weary men of GALAHAD, and Merrill believed many made the march as a last desperate effort for a great prize.53 Capt. William Laffin was sent ahead with 2d Lt. Paul A. Dunlap, thirty Kachin Rangers, and thirty coolies to make the trail negotiable.
K Force moved out on 28 April; H Force, on 30 April. The so-called trail over the pass was more nearly a route used by the Kachins; in some places there was no path. Twenty pack animals slipped and fell off the narrow, muddy way. It was a grueling march for men who had already marched 500 miles and fought several battles, most of the time on K ration. Before END RUN Force reached Ritpong, it had only one contact with the Japanese. A few of the enemy were flushed from cover by the 1/88th, but it was feared the Japanese held Ritpong in strength.54
On 5 May, when the leading elements of K Force (3d Battalion of GALAHAD and the 88th Regiment, 30th Division) were a mile from Ritpong, Colonel Kinnison began an envelopment to hit the village from north and south. The 3d Battalion managed to cut its way through the woods and place itself across the southern approaches to Ritpong on 6 May. Meanwhile, the 89th Regiment tried to take Ritpong from the north but failed. Next day an American reinforced company attacked Ritpong from the south but was stalled by a machine gun nest.
Since the Chinese were attacking skillfully and well, Colonel Kinnison decided to let them take Ritpong, while the Americans blocked the trail to the south. During the night of 7-8 May Japanese breakout attempts were repulsed. The Chinese attacked again on the 8th, and Ritpong fell on the 9th. The delay at Ritpong permitted H Force to overtake and pass through K Force.
Meanwhile, M Force (2d Battalion of GALAHAD, plus 300 Kachins) had had one skirmish with Japanese, routed them, and begun to cut its own paths. The march was fatiguing in the extreme; fully half the animals died of exhaustion
or fell into the gorges. The men were farther harassed by fevers and dysentery, but they were only two days behind H and K Forces.55
Proceeding from Ritpong, K Force feinted toward Nsopzup, a Japanese supply point on the trail from Myitkyina to Sumprabum, to attract the Japanese. While so engaged, K met a Japanese force near Tingkrukawng that was strong enough to pin both of its combat teams to the ground and then to halt the Chinese when they were committed. Attempts to envelop the Japanese failed. Since H Force (1st Battalion of GALAHAD and the 150th Regiment, 50th Division) was proceeding unmolested, Merrill told Kinnison to withdraw. K Force then picked up H's trail and followed it to Myitkyina. Moving on, Kinnison reached Hkumchet In on 17 May and paused to await an airdrop. M Force was similarly engaged at Arang. During these strenuous days, Kinnison became ill of the deadly mite typhus, was evacuated, and died with shocking speed. In all, 149 men contracted the little-known scourge. Many of them died.56
MERCHANT OF VENICE!
While K Force was fighting at Tingkrukawng, H Force kept on to a river just south of the village of Namkwi on the Mogaung-Myitkyina railroad and about two miles from the principal Myitkyina airstrip that lay almost due west of Myitkyina itself. Despite the several brushes with the Japanese, Kachin informants were sure that the Myitkyina garrison was not on the alert. To ensure surprise, before Colonel Hunter and his force bivouacked for the night of 16 May they rounded up the local Burmans and kept them under careful watch. A patrol reported the airstrip lightly held. Hunter decided to attack at 1000, 17 May. The 150th Regiment was ordered to take the airstrip, while GALAHAD personnel took the Irrawaddy ferry terminal at Pamati. The other airstrip, north of the town, was left alone for the present.
The attack went like a service school demonstration, for though the Japanese knew Myitkyina was in danger, the actual assault was a complete surprise. Colonel Maruyama, the Japanese commander, had two understrength battalions of the 114th Regiment in the town of Myitkyina and in its little suburb of Sitapur. There were 100 more men of the 15th Airfield Battalion on the north and south airstrips, 318 men from labor and service units on various details in Myitkyina, and 320 patients in a military hospital. Perhaps 700 able-bodied Japanese were present when the battle began.57
As soon as Colonel Hunter considered his hold on the major airstrip secure, he sent the prearranged code signal, MERCHANT OF VENICE, which meant the process of supply and reinforcement could begin. Previous code signals sent
A BRITISH ANTIAIRCRAFT UNIT at Myitkyina airfield.
forty-eight and twenty-four hours in advance of the actual descent on the airstrip had alerted Stilwell's headquarters, and the process of reinforcement had been prepared. It had been feared that the Japanese might have been able to damage the airstrip. So the Air Forces had gliders with aviation engineers standing by. Hunter reported by radio that the strip was in good condition, word which by agreement with Merrill was to have begun a flow of food, ammunition, and infantry.58
The process of reinforcement was a disappointment to the waiting troops. A company of the 879th Engineer Aviation Battalion came in via glider; a battery of .50-caliber antiaircraft was flown in; and then the 2d Battalion, Chinese 89th Regiment, arrived before the weather closed in on the 17th.59
At this point General Stratemeyer, commanding the Army Air Forces, India-Burma Sector, intervened and upset the planned schedule of resupply
and reinforcement by ordering the W and X Troops of the 69th Light (Antiaircraft) Regiment, a British unit, to be flown in. When these arrived on the 18th, Merrill and Hunter were sorely disappointed to receive more antiaircraft instead of the infantry and supplies so badly needed if the town was to be taken quickly. There could be no quarrel with Stratemeyer's intent, for the precaution was a reasonable one, but the local commanders would have preferred the arrangements they themselves had made.60
Back at his headquarters Stilwell was exultant. Again and again he had been told that Myitkyina could not be taken, if taken could not be held, and if held was not worth holding. Now his transports were landing on Myitkyina airstrip, flying in the Chinese who would take the principal center of north Burma and go on to lift the blockade of China. In six months his forces had driven 500 miles into Burma and won engagements against seven Japanese regiments, among them, the victors of Singapore. The brilliant seizure of the Myitkyina airstrip was the height of Stilwell's career and the grand climax of the North Burma Campaign.61
The seizure of the principal airstrip at Myitkyina on 17 May was a stunning surprise to SEAC. The Prime Minister sent a radio to Admiral Mountbatten asking if he had expected the sudden blow at Myitkyina. In reply, Mountbatten pointed out that he had heard only incidentally that Stilwell planned to attack Myitkyina. Since this attack might eventually involve the use of considerable numbers of British troops, Mountbatten thought that he should have known beforehand of the decision to attack Myitkyina and planned to send Stilwell a personal letter explaining his position.62
Stilwell's coup cast a new light on the long-debated SEAC directive. As the Allied columns drew ever closer to Myitkyina, the British and American views on the North Burma Campaign had been approaching agreement. The Strategy and Policy Group of OPD on 3 May had noted that the speed of the American advance across the Pacific promised to outstrip any ground action that might be undertaken in China, which suggested to them that Stilwell should be told to concentrate on building up his air force in China to support the U.S. offensive in the Pacific.63 The current position of the British Chiefs of Staff was an acceptance of Mountbatten's view that SEAC's directive should be to develop, maintain, broaden, and protect the air link to China with its current resources, in time to support projected operations against Formosa.64
The Joint Staff Planners of the JCS on 16 May suggested adopting the British position. That same day, the Army Service Forces, which had been
energetic in support of the Ledo Road, argued that the Joint Planners were in effect suggesting an end to offensive action in north Burma at a time when the trace of the Ledo Road was virtually in Allied hands. Then came Stilwell's bold stroke at Myitkyina. In response the planners decided to suggest that acceptance of the British position be contingent on securing the Mogaung-Myitkyina area.65
The result of these different points of view, powerfully affected by the blow at Myitkyina, was a compromise CCS directive to SEAC, issued 2 June 1944. Unlike the QUADRANT directive, which had taken no stand on ground versus air operations in Burma, the new CCS directive gave first priority to building up the Hump operation in order to provide the maximum flow of supplies to the air force in China for support of Pacific operations. So far as was consistent with the primary objective, SEAC was to press advantages against the enemy by exerting the maximum ground and air effort, and in so doing be prepared to exploit the opening of the Ledo Road.
Securing Myitkyina, conquering enough of north Burma to protect the Allied hold on that key point, and building pipelines to China were viewed as integral parts of building up air strength in China. By omitting ground operations save as they did not conflict with the Hump build-up, the CCS temporarily resolved the conflict over the location of a ground offensive. In this way the controversy over operations in north Burma as against those in Sumatra (Operation CULVERIN) was settled for the present, and perhaps for good.66
The Myitkyina airstrip was not long in proving its worth, and as the weeks went on more and more troops, food, ammunition, artillery, and construction equipment were flown in to carry on operations against the town of Myitkyina, to build the line of communications across north Burma, and to support the transports that made Myitkyina a base on the way to China. From May to October 1944, about 14,000 transport flights into Myitkyina were logged, carrying over 40,000 tons of cargo.67
The First Attempts To Take the Town
Initial attempts to take the town of Myitkyina were hampered by poor intelligence and faulty organization. At Myitkyina the local intelligence agencies gained the mistaken impression that they were faced by relatively few Japanese, and plans were made accordingly. On 18 May the total of Japanese was set at 300; on 15 June after a period of uncertainty G-2 of the Myitkyina
Task Force set the number at 500, a gross underestimate.68 There was much confusion in the first few days at Myitkyina. It was aggravated by the fact that the Chinese troops came from three separate divisions, the 30th, 14th, and 50th. The toll it took was heavy.
On the afternoon of 17 May, after the airfield was cleared of Japanese, two battalions of the 150th Regiment moved off on the first attempt to take Myitkyina. (Map 16) Following the wrong road, they went toward Sitapur instead; on encountering Japanese rifle fire, they lost direction completely and engaged in fighting among themselves. Meanwhile, Colonel Hunter was calling up K and M Forces, directing them to move at once. Although the men had not eaten for several days, they abandoned all attempts at receiving the airdrop they so badly needed, took up their packs, and set out for Myitkyina.69
As one GALAHAD company trudged on to the airstrip, Merrill noted that hardly a man could walk normally, for fatigue, Naga sores, and skin diseases ("jungle rot") were making themselves pitifully evident. One platoon, tormented by dysentery, had cut away the seats of their fatigues so as not to be unduly hampered in combat. His "men were pitiful but still a splendid sight," wrote Merrill after the war.
On 18 May the rest of the 89th Regiment and a company of heavy mortars were flown in. They were followed next day by the 3/42d of the Chinese 14th Division. Stilwell arrived to watch operations.
About noon of the 18th the 150th Regiment of the Chinese 50th Division was sent toward Myitkyina and, repeating the mishap of the day before, became confused, fought among themselves, and drove themselves right back out of the town. In these episodes passed the opportunity of swiftly overrunning Myitkyina. GALAHAD personnel were now fatigued and riddled with tropical disease, just as the Chindits were, and no fresh regiment had been provided from the United States for Myitkyina, on whose capture the JCS had placed such emphasis. In the strain of these days Merrill suffered another heart attack and had to be evacuated. An assault on 20 May carried the 150th Regiment to the railroad yards, but then was stopped by heavy Japanese fire. The 150th, which by this time had taken 671 casualties since the campaign opened, had to be withdrawn.70
Japanese Build-up at Myitkyina
The Japanese commanders at Myitkyina had been given the mission of holding there until mid-August. They were soon winning the race to build up
18 May-End of July 1944
JAPANESE DEFENSIVE POSITIONS in the railroad yards at Myitkyina.
enough strength to carry out their orders. As early as 1700 on 17 May Colonel Maruyama had brought the main force of the 1/148th, 56th Division, in across the Irrawaddy. Other Japanese hurried in at night through the gaps in the Allied position about the city, so many that by 31 May there were about 2,500 Japanese in Myitkyina plus several hundred sick and wounded. From the 56th Division on the Salween came the commander of its infantry group, Maj. Gen. Genzu Mizukami, with his staff, the rest of the 1/148th, and two pieces of artillery. Assuming command, General Mizukami ordered that Myitkyina hold for at least three months and the surrounding area for thirty days more to keep the Chinese and Americans from moving south into central Burma. Control of Japanese operations at Myitkyina was assumed by 33d Army in early June, and Tanaka was freed to concentrate on operations around Kamaing.71
Fortunately for the attackers, the Japanese grossly overestimated their strength, as they seem to have done throughout the North Burma Campaign. It was thought that the Myitkyina Task Force comprised 30,000 men. The Japanese knew they inflicted heavy casualties but thought that replacements
were coming in at a corresponding rate.72 Many of the Japanese sick took their places in the fortifications that were quickly built and fought with the traditional stubborn valor of their people. Equipped with plenty of machine guns and mortars, and four mountain guns, they were well dug in, ready to die for the Emperor. From beginning to end, at least 4,600 Japanese fought at Myitkyina; the peak strength at any one time may have been 3,500 men. Their morale was high and it was long before they stopped believing that relief would soon arrive.73 Indeed, at one time a regimental combat team of the 53d Division under a Colonel Asano was actually under way to relieve Myitkyina but the Allied advance on Mogaung forced its recall.74
So, this was no handful to be brushed aside, especially not by troops fatigued by long exertion and privation, whose fire support was initially a battery of pack howitzers plus what the fighter bombers could do. Perhaps luckily, these steadily worsening odds were unknown to the attackers. On 19 May Merrill estimated there were two and one-half battalions of Japanese in Myitkyina plus more coming up from the south. Stilwell's G-2, Colonel Stilwell, was skeptical. Certainly on the 19th the organizational framework of two and one-half Japanese battalions was in Myitkyina but the numerical equivalent of such a force was not.75
Hoping for a quick seizure of the town, which would permit subsequent operations against the rear of the Japanese forces on the Salween front, Stilwell briefly considered asking that the British 36th Division be rushed in to take Myitkyina. Giving no reason in his diary, he decided against this move and instead resolved to order in some U.S. combat engineers from the Ledo Road. "I will probably have to use some of our engineer units to keep an American flavor in the fight," he told Marshall.76
GALAHAD took the suburban village of Charpate, north-northwest of Myitkyina, and the 88th Regiment extended its lines south to the railway tracks, which in this area run northwest before turning south to Mogaung. Unfortunately, K Force did not occupy a small height which dominated Charpate. M Force took the little settlement of Namkwi without opposition, in order to shield the Allies against any Japanese attempt to relieve Myitkyina by an attack from Mogaung. On 21 May the 3d Battalion of GALAHAD was
ALLIED CASUALTIES AT MYITKYINA AIRFIELD
ordered by the newly created Headquarters, Myitkyina Task Force, to seize the auxiliary airstrip north of Myitkyina. Next day, Col. John E. McCammon was put in command. At his disposal were the 88th and 89th Regiments of the 30th Division, Gen. Hu Su commanding, an improvised division of the 150th and the first echelons of the 42d Regiment, under Maj. Gen. Pan Yu-kun of the 50th Division (who arrived 23 May), the survivors of GALAHAD, the Seagrave Hospital Unit, and the 42d Portable Surgical Hospital.77 For the occasion, Stilwell, stretching several points, told McCammon to assume the rank and insignia of brigadier general and rushed off a recommendation for promotion to the War Department. McCammon's assignment was a difficult one, doubly so for a man just out of hospital. Keeping his stars in his pocket, and assisted by Hunter as executive and commander of GALAHAD, McCammon took up his task.78
McCammon's command was a little island of precariously held territory, which lay between Mizukami's garrison in Myitkyina and the Japanese forces to the south, north, and west. Across the Irrawaddy to the east was a small force of Chindits, Morris Force, with orders to block Japanese traffic from the east, a task of which it proved incapable. McCammon's forces were completely dependent on air supply, which in the early weeks kept them in about two days' reserve supplies.
The main airstrip was tightly held by the 150th Regiment, whose lines extended toward the Irrawaddy. North of it and to the west were the perimeter defenses of two GALAHAD combat teams. The 88th and 89th Regiments were on either side of the tracks of the Myitkyina-Mogaung railway, and the 3d Battalion of GALAHAD was north of Myitkyina. All units were deployed into strongpoints organized for all-round defense. There was much patrol activity during the daylight hours to keep clear the trails over which oxcarts moved supplies from the airstrip.
Gaps were numerous through which the Japanese could work their way into Myitkyina, and Mizukami set up a regular ferry service across the Irrawaddy by which supplies and individual replacements could be brought in. The terrain was excellent for defense. The roads lay high above the surrounding rice paddies, and each was therefore an earthwall making a first-rate obstacle. Clumps of trees were all about, and there were plenty of houses on the outskirts of town which the Japanese used to advantage. The northern part of the Japanese perimeter was well shielded by a crescent-shaped depression
JAPANESE TRENCHES at the outskirts of Myitkyina.
which the monsoon rains quickly turned into a swamp. In effect, the Allies and the Japanese were committed to position warfare. Though the operation was called a siege, the Japanese received a steady trickle of supplies and replacements until Mogaung fell.
The problem facing the Allied command was to overcome the combination of machine guns and earthworks which had been so effective on the Western Front in Europe in 1914-18. They would have to do it without tanks, with a final maximum of fourteen artillery pieces, and with air support (the twelve P-40's of the 88th Fighter Squadron, ultimately based on the airstrip itself) which, though devoted and skillful, did not have the weight to drive the Japanese from their positions. To make matters completely uncomfortable and further complicated, after mid-May the rains grew steadily worse, which made air supply very difficult. It was Cassino on a shoestring.
The first phase of the operation was an attempt to occupy the town by moving in. It was dominated by the belief that Myitkyina was lightly held. The 3d Battalion, GALAHAD, attacked southward on 21 May, but while still far from the northern airstrip was forced to dig in at the Mankrin-Radhapur road junction. That night it was attacked from the rear, or Mogaung, side and the following day fell back to Charpate. The night of the 23d the Japanese
struck again, and the tired, fever-ridden men of the 3d Battalion repelled the attack with difficulty. Another attack came the next morning, and the 3d was pushed back. These were ominous signs of the shifting balance of strength. There was yet another in GALAHAD's evacuation rate, now running between 75 and 100 a day. At this time, from 15 to 30 men a day began to report sick with symptoms of the lethal mite or scrub typhus, and about 80 percent of GALAHAD suffered from dysentery in various forms.79
Colonel McCammon's first attempt at a full-dress assault was made on 24 May. The 88th and 89th Regiments were ordered to jump off at 0700 on the 25th and drive through Myitkyina to the riverbank. When the day ended, the 88th Regiment had succeeded in straightening its lines; the record does not even mention its sister regiment. McCammon, who was in the early stage of pleurisy, was depressed by the failure, and Stilwell flew in to check the situation. While he was there, Hunter gave him a letter stating that GALAHAD was being unfairly treated, and that under Boatner's influence Headquarters, NCAC, was discriminating against GALAHAD in favor of the Chinese.80 After a brief return to his headquarters near Shaduzup Stilwell went again to Myitkyina and made a quick decision, relieving McCammon and replacing him with General Boatner on 30 May.
While Stilwell was making these command changes, the earlier optimism was replaced by a brief period of extreme alarm, caused by the rapid disintegration of GALAHAD and the Chindits' evacuation of the block they had placed across the railway near Hopin. Only twelve men were left in the 2d Battalion of GALAHAD, while the Chinese 150th Regiment was down to 600 men.81
American reinforcements of any men who could hold a rifle were rushed in from every possible source. Between 26 May and 1 June, two engineer battalions, a group of replacements for GALAHAD (optimistically assembled as a battalion), and evacuees of GALAHAD itself were flown in. With the situation thus steadied and with Stilwell and Chih Hui Pu believing that Myitkyina was held by only a few hundred Japanese, a plan was made for a co-ordinated attack by two Chinese regiments plus the survivors of GALAHAD and the 209th U.S. Engineers. In this operation, which was attempted on 31 May, the 42d Regiment reached the Waingmaw ferry road. Built up twelve feet above the neighboring paddy fields, the road gave the Japanese a magnificent defensive position, which they exploited cleverly. The Chinese recoiled from this natural fortification but were able to beat off a Japanese counterattack. The 150th Regiment reached the riverbank and drew up in an arc about a sawmill in which the Japanese had a strongpoint. The 88th and 89th Regiments were not involved
in this attack. The American attempt netted little, and it was apparent that Myitkyina would not fall at once.82
The night of 31 May the Japanese attacked the 209th Engineer Battalion in position near Radhapur, north of Myitkyina. After the war Colonel Maruyama stated that on 30 May he tried to break out with three battalions. General Tanaka recalled that such an attempt had been planned but canceled. Whatever the mission of these particular Japanese, there was heavy, close-in fighting on the Myitkyina side of the engineers' perimeter.83 When the day came, the Chinese tried again to take Myitkyina but counted their gains in yards. The 236th U.S. Engineer Battalion, which on twenty-four hours' notice had been taken from its road building and from the operation of gravel and ice plants and rushed to Myitkyina, was sent to retake Namkwi, west of the auxiliary airstrip.
The motive behind the 236th's attack of 1 June was to contain the Japanese in the Namkwi area and introduce the battalion to combat under relatively easy conditions. One company of the 236th did succeed in entering Namkwi but instead of promptly consolidating to meet the inevitable Japanese counterattack fell out for a break. The Japanese counterattacked and drove the unwary engineers right back out of the village.84
Next day, 2 June, the Chinese commenced formal siege operations in the eighteenth century manner, tunneling toward the Japanese; in the virtual absence of artillery there was nothing else to do. General Boatner was still optimistic on 2 June, but after that time the Allied command again feared the Japanese might yet turn the tables on their attackers. Reinforcing this impression was the steadily graver aspect of local command problems.85
Command Problems at Myitkyina
The steady deterioration in the physical condition and morale of GALAHAD, the cumulative effect of the fighting on the strength of Chinese units, the poor combat performance of the engineers and the GALAHAD replacements, the bad supply position, and the increasing aggressiveness of the Japanese brought about a period in which the optimism of a few days before yielded to the fear that the Japanese might overrun the airstrip and win a major victory. On 20 May the Allied forces had three days' rations on hand, very little mortar ammunition, and only 350 rounds of 75-mm. shells. Six days later nine disabled transports on the airfield mutely added another reason for the supply pinch. At the end of May the quartermaster had no U.S. rations, while 40 percent of the rice and grain rations for the thousands of Burmese, Chinese, and refugees from Myitkyina was spoiled by dampness. The effect of the supply situation
was underscored when the force surgeon asked for some variety in the food because the American troops were vomiting all but the breakfast part of the K ration. Attempts were made to control ammunition expenditure, since the Chinese often seemed extremely wasteful in the use of it. Captured Japanese weapons were being turned against their former owners. By 1 June the food supply was set at one day for Americans and two for Chinese. There were now thirteen damaged transports on the airstrip.86
The GALAHAD situation became obviously critical around 19 or 20 May. While Stilwell had been ordering the 3d Indian Division kept in Burma over the protests of its commanders that their men were exhausted, the GALAHAD evacuation rate had been steadily expanding up to 134 in one day. As set by Hunter, who had received no directives and had to exercise his own best judgment, GALAHAD policy required for evacuation a fever of 102 degrees for three consecutive days, and approval of each case by a board of doctors. This was a delicate situation.87
Boatner was under a certain handicap in his relations with the American troops. He knew of Hunter's letter of 27 May, with its charges against him, charges he felt would not have been made if it had been generally known that he had been in the United States during most of the campaign. He believed that GALAHAD enlisted personnel fully endorsed the charges made. After reflection, he decided that his contacts with GALAHAD and Hunter should be through his own chief of staff, Col. John P. Willey. A further argument was that Willey spoke no Chinese, while Boatner knew the language and considered he would be fully occupied in trying to exercise command over the Chinese, drawn as they were from three divisions.88
With the growing realization that Myitkyina would not fall quickly, that the Japanese might take the initiative, Stilwell ordered staff officers in the rear area to send any GALAHAD personnel fit for duty back to the fight. This order was in sharp contrast to the men's expectation that after reaching Myitkyina they would have a long period of recuperation.
General Boatner gave four reasons why this unpleasant and difficult decision was made:
GALAHAD was the only U.S. combat unit in the theater available for the assault on Myitkyina.
The Chinese 88th and 150th Regiments that marched over the Kumon Range with GALAHAD had had few evacuations for sickness or fatigue in spite of their heavy casualties.
Since early May Stilwell had been resisting heavy pressure to evacuate 3d Indian Division.
The Japanese lines were only 1,500 yards from the airstrip which was the only base and source of supply.
Stilwell, said Boatner, thought it necessary not to "let the impression be created that we were withholding U.S. troops from combat in a sector where as an Allied commander Stilwell was keeping British and Chinese troops in combat."89
The exhaustion of GALAHAD personnel was appearing in combat. When the Japanese counterattacked at Charpate, 27 May, Colonel McGee's men were so tired that they kept falling asleep during the engagement. McGee himself fainted three times during the battle but with iron determination commanded his battalion from the aid station. McGee asked that his unit be relieved.90
Meanwhile, in the rear areas efforts were being made to round up GALAHAD evacuees who were fit for combat. Extremely heavy moral pressure, just short of outright orders, was placed on medical officers to return to duty or keep in the line every American who could pull a trigger. In one group of 200 men sent to Myitkyina many were not fit for duty, and ten were immediately re-evacuated. This incident, plus the fact that still more GALAHAD survivors were actually ill with malaria and dysentery, seemed to mark the exhaustion of the moral as well as the physical reserves of GALAHAD. Summarizing this unhappy episode, the inspector general wrote that the plans and assumptions of the War Department plus unauthorized statements reached the enlisted men and junior officers of GALAHAD as promises of what was in store. These never materialized and, coupled with "the physical deterioration of the unit, after months of arduous jungle combat and culminating in a rapidly growing feeling that hospitalization procedures were not being carried out, resulted about June 1st 1944 in almost complete breakdown of morale in the major portion of the unit."91 However, it should be noted that six Distinguished Service Crosses went to GALAHAD veterans during the siege and GALAHAD itself was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation.
By 4 June, GALAHAD casualties were:
Casualty Number Deaths 93 Nonbattle deaths 30 Wounded 293 Missing 8 Amoebic dysentery 503 Scrub typhus 149 Malaria 296 Psychoneurosis 72 Miscellaneous 950
Figures for wounded in action are deceptively low because minor cases were treated in the unit. This is also true of malaria, which in many cases was not approved as a cause of evacuation. Other figures represent men actually evacuated. The average loss of weight per man was estimated at thirty-five pounds. It was observed that chlorinating water with the means available for individuals or small groups offered little protection against amoebiasis. The circumstances were different with respect to malaria; the men could have taken atebrin. The general appearance of malaria at Myitkyina meant a breakdown in morale.92
The engineers rushed to Myitkyina from their rear-area duties were no substitute for the trained, organized, and experienced GALAHAD combat teams. Their performance and that of the GALAHAD replacements who began to arrive was what might be expected from raw troops not acquainted with each other or their leaders. Following an incident in which a company of the 209th Engineers broke and ran after being ambushed by a small force of Japanese, the 209th's companies were sandwiched between the GALAHAD units. Stilwell told Marshall that the engineers ran on several occasions, "incidentally abandoning wounded." On 8 June, the 209th and 236th were grouped as a provisional regiment and, once shaken down, fought with great credit to themselves and their corps.93
The GALAHAD "replacements" had greater potentialities than the engineers, for the latter had not seen a rifle since their basic training days and had simply been taken from their bulldozers and power generators to fight as infantry combat teams. As of 28 May about 2,600 replacements were in India. Stilwell ordered them rushed into action, for he feared that the Chindits' withdrawal from the block they had put across the railway near Hopin would bring down the Japanese in force. The War Department's opinion in October 1943 had been that refilling GALAHAD by individual replacements would be impracticable. Instead, the War Department proposed to form new units in the United States and ship them out intact. When they arrived in the theater, GALAHAD veterans were to be assigned to key posts in the new units.
At Fort George G. Meade, Md., the replacements were set up (on the "four platoons to a company" basis) as an infantry regiment less headquarters and headquarters staff. The War Department intention behind this preliminary step was apparently never made clear to the lower administrative echelons, for the battalions and companies were never activated nor allowed to function as such.
From the text of the call for volunteers that brought many men into the body of replacements, many believed their destination to be Burma. Because of the imminence of combat the advisability of letting the ad hoc companies
formed for shipping purposes function as bona fide infantry companies was several times called to the attention of proper authority by individual officers at Fort Meade, at the port of embarkation, and even on the transport, but the several headquarters would not concur. For its part, theater headquarters in May 1944 was unaware of these points.94
Of the 2,600 replacements, 400 formed two quartermaster pack trains. The rest were mostly infantrymen, with some artillerymen. There was a generous seasoning of experienced commissioned and noncommissioned officers who had volunteered from the permanent cadre of the several replacement centers.
On arrival at Bombay on 25 May, the men were speeded by train to Ramgarh. After an average stay of about one week (for some men were at once flown to Myitkyina as individual replacements), the men were hastily formed into two battalions, flown to Myitkyina, and placed in combat as the "New GALAHAD." Unfortunately, filling the Table of Organization spaces of a battalion with men does not produce a fighting team until the men have had a period of training together. The commanders at Myitkyina took what corrective measures they could. Three battalions were formed of the survivors of the old GALAHAD and the newcomers. Boatner listed them as the 1st GALAHAD (old), 2d GALAHAD (new), 3d GALAHAD (new). Officers and men were freely exchanged among the battalions to spread the hard-won experience of the GALAHAD veterans. The resulting strengths were: 1st Battalion, about 300 men; 2d, about 950; 3d, about 950.95
A training program was also set up. Lessons were given in the intervals between combat. The men were also sent to the Namkwi area to shoot at live targets: ". . . the Japanese disposition there remained defensive and the replacements could be disengaged without being pursued."96 The shock of an introduction to combat under the conditions then prevailing at Myitkyina produced about fifty psychopathic cases among the replacements, and some of the officers were unfit.97
As a result of these circumstances, Boatner told Stilwell on 15 June:
Reports continue to indicate the complete disorganization and fear in U.S. units. They are in many cases simply terrified of the Japs. We can expect time, experience, and casualties to reduce their strength but make those that remain better soldiers. From GALAHAD's rear [echelon] in Dinjan I hear that 250 of Old GALAHAD men are being equipped and will be flown back today. They will be of tremendous help. Rumor has it that they were moving around the countryside and many AWOL's. Col. Osborne just saw me and spoke most earnestly about how he felt these men are malingering and wants to go back to get a few more officers and many men back here. If Hunter OK's I will send him back. On the face
of it it might appear that we have plenty here on the field for protection. Such is not actually the case--we in fact have only a prayer.98
Great though the endurance and devotion of the Chinese were, the steady drain of casualties was reducing their strength to dangerously low levels. This situation was called to General Boatner's attention on 7 June by the commanders of the 30th and 50th Divisions, who pointed out that the 150th and 89th Regiments mustered between them only 1,000 men. The 88th and 42d could each find only one battalion for an attack. The accuracy of their statements was confirmed by an American liaison officer, who reported that the regiment to which he was attached was down to 481 officers and men. Boatner relayed this information to Stilwell, adding that the Chinese troops were taking casualties (121 on a comparatively quiet day) while he was trying to make the raw Americans battleworthy. Obviously, the two engineer battalions and the GALAHAD replacements represented the margin of numerical superiority over the Japanese garrison of Myitkyina. But because of the fixed belief that there were only 500 Japanese in Myitkyina the full import of this was not realized; nonetheless, there was disquietude.99
Across the Irrawaddy from Myitkyina was a group of Chindits, Morris Force, that had been attached to Boatner's headquarters. Its experiences had paralleled those of GALAHAD and its companions of the 3d Indian Division, and like them it was disintegrating from the cumulative strains of the campaign. Commanded by Brigadier G. R. Morris, these 1,300 men were originally ordered to cut the Japanese line of communications via Bhamo to Myitkyina.
On 25 May the orders were changed to clearing the Japanese from the east bank of the Irrawaddy opposite Myitkyina. The Japanese garrison in Waingmaw was a reinforced company, the terrain was flooded, and Morris's men were tired. Boatner welcomed them enthusiastically: ". . . really believe you are just in time for the kill." Morris did not take Waingmaw, and Boatner found it increasingly difficult to keep in touch with his headquarters.
The tone of Boatner's communications grew ever stronger as he told Morris that Mountbatten had ordered Myitkyina taken at all costs, which meant having casualties in the effort. Eleven days later, on 14 June, Boatner told Morris that the situation was "precarious," that Morris was to attack any way he chose so long as it was promptly. Morris's replies then began to come through. He explained that except for a few avenues of approach, well covered by Japanese machine guns, the country was flooded chest high. His men were wasting away at the rate of one third of a platoon a day, were exhausted, and were falling asleep under Japanese fire.
By 14 July Morris had only three platoons left, and Lentaigne asked for his evacuation. Chih Hui Pu objected, saying Morris could still make an offensive effort. A week later Lentaigne asked ironically if Morris Force could be evacuated when it was down to 25 officers and other ranks from the 1,301 it had on 19 May. Stilwell approved.100
The Attacks of Mid-June 1944
Coming to a head almost simultaneously, these difficulties and dangers made General Boatner's position unenviable. Airborne assault and LRPG warfare have the vices of their virtues, among them that the attacker cannot fall back and reorganize for a second try. Victory is the only solution to his problems. There were days in which a banzai charge by General Mizukami's garrison or a determined push by the 53d Division (which had once been ordered to send a regiment and lift the siege) would in all probability have swept right over the airstrip. Even fairly accurate artillery practice by Mizukami's four 75-mm. pieces, at about 2,500 yards' range, could have destroyed transports at a rate to make supply prohibitively expensive, while Boatner's headquarters itself was only a mile from the Japanese lines.
Boatner made one more attack on 3 June with the 42d and 150th Regiments plus the 1/89th. The two regiments took 320 casualties, but putting a good face on matters, Boatner reported to Stilwell that if he had had air support about noon he could have taken the town. Because of the Chinese casualties, the fall of his 75-mm. ammunition stock to 600 rounds, and his .303 and belted .30-caliber to one day's supply, Boatner reported that he would hold back until his supplies were built up. He reaffirmed his position a few days later, saying that the lack of an immediate Japanese threat, the need to cut Chinese casualties and to train U.S. troops inclined him to wait a few days more. He thought that the Japanese garrison was in bad condition.101
During the next few days the Allies pecked away at the Japanese lines, while the staff prepared orders for an attack on 10 June. This operation called for the 150th Regiment to take Japanese positions in the railroad yard running due east from the engine shed; the 42d Regiment would go to the Irrawaddy; and the 89th Regiment, which had a zone twice that of the 42d and 150th together, would attack directly toward the river. Chinese units, lying west and south of Myitkyina, were to move northeast into the town, then wheel east and drive to the river. The Americans to the north would attack southwards. On the south side of the city was the bulk of the infantry, but the mass of the artillery supported the 30th Division (88th and 89th Regiments). Artillery was arriving by air now. Two batteries plus one platoon of 75-mm. howitzers; two 105-mm., and two 155-mm. howitzers, were ultimately present. All except two pieces with GALAHAD were kept under headquarters control. During the siege they fired 600 tons of ammunition, very rarely with massed fire.102
The attack jumped off as scheduled. Flying over the battlefield on 14 June, Boatner reported to Stilwell that he did not see much "effort" being made, though he found the scene a beehive of industry compared with the last week. On the ground matters seemed lively enough at the infantry's level. On 13 June the Japanese hit a platoon of K Company, New GALAHAD, so hard that the company broke and re-formed on the L Company line. The portion of the Japanese thrust that hit the perimeter next to the river made most of the men "take off," but two stayed in place and repelled the Japanese with an automatic rifle and a machine gun. To the west of this little break the Japanese worked their way in close but were stopped by grenades and small arms fire.103
In the course of the action between 13 and 16 June, a number of men in the small U.S. contingent distinguished themselves by their extraordinary bravery. Lt. Col. William H. Combs, who had been liaison officer with the Chinese 150th Regiment, died of wounds received while attempting to warn units of the 209th Engineers against a Japanese ambush. Pvt. Howard T. Smith took command of his platoon when the platoon leader was killed and the attack stalled by a Japanese pillbox. Smith assaulted the pillbox singlehanded and silenced it with hand grenades. Pfc. Willard J. D. Lilly destroyed an enemy machine gun firing into his own machine gun position. While under fire 1st Lt. Melvin D. Blair rescued wounded and silenced an enemy machine gun. Smith, Lilly, and Blair were veterans of GALAHAD. When his company was pinned down by machine gun fire, T/Sgt. Richard E. Roe of the New GALAHAD crawled forward and at the cost of his own life grenaded a Japanese machine gun that was causing heavy casualties. Fatally wounded, he gave his life to save
ARTILLERY IN ACTION AT MYITKYINA. Above, the Chinese crew of a 105-mm. howitzer and below, a 75-mm. pack howitzer's GALAHAD crew firing on Japanese positions.
his friends. Sgt. Fred N. Coleman of the 236th Engineers threw himself on a Japanese grenade, and saved two comrades.104
Despite these efforts and setbacks the impression persisted that Myitkyina was lightly held, with the Myitkyina Task Force G-2 Roundup circulating an estimate by "GALAHAD officers" that the besiegers faced only 500 Japanese, the remnants of two battalions.105
As a result of the attack, the 3d Battalion, GALAHAD, by 17 June, had cut the Maingna ferry road and reached the Irrawaddy north of Myitkyina. The 150th Regiment in the same period finally took the sawmill and gained 200 yards, using flame throwers. The 88th Regiment gained 100 yards from positions in the old rifle range area of the Burma Frontier Force barracks. The principal gain for the Americans was the capture of the Myitkyina-Mogaung-Sumprabum road junction. The gains were not in proportion to the effort expended, and Stilwell ordered the end of all infantry attacks. Boatner replied that he would stop attacking Japanese positions until ". . . our troops are steadied and a favorable opportunity presents itself."106
There was reason for the troops to need steadying. A and B companies, 209th Engineers, were cut off from their main body by infiltrating Japanese. Trying to close in on them, Company C and Headquarters and Service Companies were in turn halted by Japanese. The condition of A and B Companies became critical during 14 June, for they had only one meal with them. Two of their men managed to work their way back to the block on the Sumprabum Road with news of their plight, but enemy small arms fire prevented airdrops. The isolated companies finally made their way back in small groups to the rest of the battalion over 15 and 16 June. The 3d Battalion of GALAHAD reported trouble in effecting reorganization and enforcing orders.107
The Americans were not alone in their problems. Two companies of the Chinese 2/42d which had made a small penetration into the Japanese lines on 14 June were wiped out by counterattack that night. These setbacks emphasized the nature of the Myitkyina fighting. The Allies held a ring of battalion and regimental strongpoints enclosing a similar Japanese system. Though the Allied strongpoints were close enough for the troops in one to sortie to the aid of another should that be needed, they were not so close that interlocking fire could be put down to close the gaps. Consequently, there was plenty of room for maneuver and ambush, and the inexperienced engineers and New GALAHAD troops often suffered at the hands of General Mizukami's veterans.108
On 18 June Headquarters, Myitkyina Task Force, directed that, for the time being, tunneling would be used to close with the enemy. Patrol skirmishes continued, and energetic regimental and battalion commanders were occasionally able to carve out small gains, always against strong Japanese resistance. In one of the patrol clashes of this period, Pfc. George C. Presterly of the Engineers won the Distinguished Service Cross by a lone assault on a Japanese strongpoint. Moving out ahead of his patrol, he continued firing and advancing, drawing all the Japanese fire from his patrol. Even after being mortally wounded, Presterly continued his charge.109
On 18 June Stilwell made another quick trip to Myitkyina. Boatner had reported that "U.S. troops are shaky," possibly referring to the incident involving the 3d Battalion of GALAHAD. Stilwell visited the lines at or opposite Charpate, Sitapur, and Mankrin. After discussing the situation with Colonel Hunter, now commanding the American forces under Boatner, Stilwell concluded that the "men looked good," that the picture Boatner had painted was "not nearly that bad." Chih Hui Pu G-2 on 30 June was still reporting only 500 Japanese in Myitkyina and undoubtedly thought so a few days before. Stilwell was also of the opinion that Boatner should have spent more of his time with the troops. Adding these factors together, Stilwell ordered Brig. Gen. Theodore F. Wessels to fly from SEAC headquarters to Myitkyina.110
Changes in Command
After General Wessels arrived, he spent about a week looking over the situation while Stilwell debated Boatner's relief. On 25 June Boatner had a severe recurrence of the malaria that had troubled him earlier in the campaign, and this made inevitable a change in command.111 After a brief stay in the hospital, Boatner returned to duty as Commanding General, Northern Combat Area Command.
Boatner's successor, General Wessels, had been on the staff of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga., when he was sent to CBI as a part of Stilwell's plans for training the Chinese Army. When it finally became apparent that the Chinese did not accept these plans to an extent that would occupy all of the 2,213 officers and men sent to CBI to train the Second Thirty Divisions in east China, Wessels was sent to SEAC headquarters.
The billet Wessels took over on 26 June was an uncomfortable one, but the situation began to improve the day after he assumed command. Mogaung fell, and the Chinese forces from the Mogaung valley began moving up the railroad to connect with Wessels' forces. This was a great gift of fortune. It removed the
GENERAL STILWELL AND COLONEL HUNTER talk to the leader of a patrol which has returned from Myitkyina.
recurrent menace of a Japanese drive from Mogaung, guaranteed reinforcements and the opening of a ground line of communications, and meant that Wessels' men, instead of being an island in a hostile sea open to attack from 360°, could concentrate their attention on the Japanese to their front. Moreover, General Mizukami and his men lost one of the two bases (the other was Bhamo) from which supplies had trickled in to the Japanese. Wessels made a point of visiting each unit, talking with the men and trying to instill confidence and raise morale.112 Under orders from Stilwell, Hunter on 29 June was placed in command of all U.S. troops at Myitkyina.
Stilwell left Wessels a problem resulting from one of Stilwell's rare interventions in the siege. After a conference with Hunter he personally ordered that a Chinese battalion of at least 400 men be sent to penetrate through the Japanese positions to Sitapur roughly on a southeast azimuth, cutting off the Japanese to the north from Myitkyina proper. The 1st Battalion, 42d Regiment, of about 250 men, made a very considerable advance over 28 and 29 June. It drove deep into the Japanese defense system, leading Stilwell to hope this was
the turning point; on receiving Japanese fire, it halted and dug in. Air supply was necessary. Since Stilwell had given Wessels personal orders to support the battalion, Company F of the 2d Battalion, New GALAHAD, was ordered to join the 1/42d.
F Company, unaware it had lost its way and under an inexperienced commander, proceeded with a small point almost directly ahead of the marching column. The company commander at the head of the point met a small group of Orientals whom he took to be Chinese and who greeted him affably. The strangers then suggested he and his party lay aside their guns. At this point the commander realized that he had been ambushed and gave the alarm. The Japanese machine guns opened on his trapped column, inflicting heavy casualties. Some of his men made their way back to the Allied lines, but the company was never reconstituted and was broken up and distributed among the rest of GALAHAD. For his constant gallantry during a stubborn eight-hour rear-guard action, which permitted the survivors to extricate themselves from ambush, Pfc. Anthony Firenze of New GALAHAD received the Distinguished Service Cross. On 2 July reports came of the approach of a strong Japanese force from the north. Despite Stilwell's orders concerning the 1/42d, Wessels thought his lines too thin and pulled back the 1/42d, to strengthen himself toward the north.113
Hacking Out Small Gains
The only gains in the week of 25 June-2 July were a few hundred yards taken by the 150th Regiment and the 236th Engineers. Monsoon rains, low visibility, and high water turned much of the terrain into a swamp in which men crawled, stumbled, waded, slipped, fell, and sometimes died. The few hundred yards that looked so small on the map were an immense distance to the men who had to crawl them under Japanese fire and keep them by beating off the inevitable Japanese counterattack.114 Seen in retrospect, the prospect appears to have brightened slowly in the next few weeks. With every passing day experience improved the quality of the troops after the first shocks wore off. A training program was instituted on 7 July. Units in reserve were taught for eight hours daily; those in contact with the enemy trained four. The 3/88th and 1/89th were put in reserve to prepare for a set-piece attack, to capture a stretch of the Sumprabum Road.115
Wessels' first attempt at a major attack was made on 12 July. It was a co-ordinated attack with the small amount of air support obtainable. Arranging
this latter took time, and while the process was under way, a radio came from Stilwell: when is the attack of the 12th going to be made? A staff officer drew Wessels' attention to the hint in the radio, which he had missed, and the attack plan was hastily completed. Maj. Gen. Howard C. Davidson of the Tenth Air Force, who was consistently helpful and co-operative, on his own initiative arranged a bombing by thirty-nine B-25's.
There was further support from the 88th Fighter Squadron. It gave 80 percent of the fighter-bomber support at Myitkyina and was commanded by an officer who made a point of examining prospective targets from the front lines and consistently went beyond the call of duty in his efforts to give the infantry effective close-in support. From the beginning to the end of the siege, the Air Forces dropped 754 tons of bombs, or 20 percent more than the artillery effort.116
The attack on 12 July did not succeed. The intent was to have units in forward positions fall back while the bombing was done to avoid casualties from shorts, then advance immediately after. Air-ground liaison was ineffective; the B-25's underestimated the bomb safety line, and 40 percent of their bomb loads fell among the American troops north of Sitapur, causing some casualties and quite a bit of confusion. The gains by the 88th and 89th Regiments were again measured in hundreds of yards, and the attack simply petered out. However, the series of attacks made since 17 May had its cumulative effect. The Allied lines were steadily constricting around Myitkyina. Units once separated by intervals through which Japanese seemed to slip at will were now in close contact. Of the Japanese garrison, 790 were dead and 1,180 wounded by mid-July.117
When the attempt at a co-ordinated attack bogged down, Wessels' men went back to their patient day-by-day advances, driving back the Japanese to their immediate front. On 21 July, in one of the patrol clashes that erupted now and again around the Allied strongpoints, Pfc. Marvin H. Dean, a GALAHAD veteran, won the Distinguished Service Cross for taking out a Japanese machine gun position that had stopped the patrol for which he was the lead scout.118
Stilwell came back on the 23d to check progress. The 149th Regiment joined the 50th Division on 24 July and took its place in line relieving portions of the 42d and 150th Regiments. Next day the 1/90th took over a quiet sector. These were substantial reinforcements. A day before they arrived, the first clear indications came that the Japanese were relaxing their grip on Myitkyina. Eight rafts and a boat laden with Japanese were attacked on the Irrawaddy by Kachins of the OSS Detachment 101. Twenty-four Japanese were killed, two captured,
and then it was learned these were hospital patients fleeing Myitkyina. Three more Japanese seized by friendly Burmans revealed that hospital patients were being evacuated by the simple expedient of letting them drift down the river on rafts.119
On 26 and 27 July the 3d Battalion, New GALAHAD, waded across the crescent-shaped swale which had effectively protected the Japanese positions to the north and was finally on the northern airstrip which Mizukami's men had held so long. The 209th and 236th Engineer Battalions, which had now taken as heavy casualties as any American units in any theater (the former, 41 percent), were pulled out of line and put to defending the airstrip. In the last week of July the daily gains began to stretch out, and since the area held by the Japanese was steadily shrinking, began to reach deeper into their vitals. Japanese counterattacks were no longer so dynamic, the positions captured from the enemy were no longer so well made, and many Japanese dead were found to be badly wounded men returned to the line. As July ended, gains of several hundred yards a day were frequent, though still costly. On the 28th, GALAHAD veterans T/5 Russell G. Wellman and Pfc. Herman Manuel teamed to rescue a wounded comrade from under "intense enemy machine gun and rifle fire." Though they were wounded, Manuel and Wellman succeeded in their gallant attempt, and won the Distinguished Service Cross.120
One of the siege's command problems was uncontrolled and seemingly uncontrollable fire by the Chinese. With all ammunition coming in by air, every wasted round was to be deplored, yet time and again Chinese units let fly with all they had, and in every direction. The night of 30 July apparently was especially memorable in this regard, and General Wessels ordered an investigation. In one Chinese battalion alone, ten men were wounded by this wild firing. And one Chinese interpreter, though not classed as among the most reliable, stated that the 89th Regiment was so angered by the firing that "it was ready at any time to take on the 41st!" The report concluded:
All of the above-listed Liaison Officers are willing to testify, under oath, that their lives were endangered by the throwing of hand grenades and by firing of automatic weapons going in 3 directions, over and near their positions during the night; that the throwing of hand grenades and firing was done by the Chinese.121
The Last Days
Within Myitkyina, General Mizukami made his last decisions. At the end of July, Colonel Maruyama requested that his regiment be withdrawn. Mizukami's
intention had been to fight to the last, but he agreed. Instructions were issued accordingly, and Mizukami, having done his duty as a soldier, made his apology to his Emperor and committed suicide on 1 August.122 This was, of course, unknown to Wessels' headquarters, but the weakening of Japanese resistance had become ever more obvious. Attacks on the 29th, 30th, and 31st made ever deeper advances into the Japanese lines. Capts. Shields A. Brubeck and John J. Dunn and 1st Lt. Donald W. Delorey, all of New GALAHAD, led their units during these days with valor that brought them the Distinguished Service Cross.123
Weighing the many evidences that control of the situation was rapidly passing into their hands, Wessels and his colleagues drafted a new plan of attack. It included an ingenious device, credited to General Pan Yu-kun of the 50th Division. A raiding party, formed into fifteen heavily armed sections, was organized and briefed on infiltrating Japanese lines facing the 50th Division. Having made its way through the Japanese lines in darkness, it was to remain hidden until 0430 when the 50th would assault while the raiders spread confusion behind the Japanese lines. Meanwhile, air reconnaissance revealed many rafts moored against the Irrawaddy within the Japanese lines.124
"At 0300 hours (3 August), when the moon went down and rain and thunder set in, the raiding party of the 50th Division moved out. The approach was detected only once and some shots were fired at the raiders, who hit the ground. The Chinese did not return fire however, and after laying low for a while, moved out again quietly and cautiously." Later the 50th Division attacked and, thanks to the efforts of the raiders and the preliminary stages of the Japanese evacuation, made rapid progress. The attack spread rapidly up the Allied line as regiment after regiment moved forward with comparative speed. Resistance by the Japanese rear guards was speedily overcome and at 1545, 3 August, Myitkyina was officially called secure. One hundred eighty-seven Japanese prisoners were taken, most of them patients. Colonel Maruyama made good his withdrawal with about 600 men.125
The direct cost of Myitkyina to the Allies was:
Killed Wounded Sick Chinese 972 3,184 188 American 272 955 980
Some of the Chinese shown as killed may well have been among the deserters who after the war created something of a problem in the Myitkyina area; others probably perished in the fighting among Chinese units during the first confused
attempts to take Myitkyina. Of the U.S. sick, 570 were from GALAHAD;126 even so, the discrepancy between the Chinese and American figures shows the virtues of the Chinese insistence on drinking only boiled water and eating only cooked food, as well as the very considerable resistance of the Chinese to a contaminated environment.
The attack had been costly in suffering and losses, but the Mogaung-Myitkyina area in Allied hands was a great prize and marked an achievement of which the end of the fighting at Myitkyina was the outward and visible symbol. In the first instance, it helped increase Hump deliveries to China. As the fighting moved ever southward down the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys, it became safer for ATC transports to use the lower and more southerly routes to China. When Stilwell's men stood on the main airstrip at Myitkyina on 17 May 1944, the wider, southern route over lower terrain was a reality. Almost simultaneously with the taking of the airstrip the India-China Wing of ATC began to reap the benefits of better maintenance and a steadily increasing allotment of aircraft. The combination of more and better transports, better maintained, flying a shorter, lower, safer route was a potent one, and was speedily reflected in the Hump tonnage deliveries,127 which rose from 13,686 tons in May to 18,235 tons in June, and 25,454 tons in July. (See Chart 5.) That in the months to come Hump tonnage would be of such an order of magnitude meant a great change for the better in the American position in China. American officers there would in the future have resources that Stilwell and Chennault in 1942 and 1943, worrying over the distribution of a few thousand tons, would have regarded as sheer opulence.
In the second place, occupation of the Mogaung-Myitkyina area meant that as soon as the pipeline and Ledo Road reached it, the Allies would have a great supply base squarely on the road and rail net of Burma, and within easy distance of China itself. About 1 May 1944, as noted above, Stilwell had concluded that opening the line of communications to China was not within his capabilities and had so informed his superiors. Then the results of Slim's and Giffard's decision to meet and break the Japanese 15th Army at Imphal began to be apparent, together with the heavy casualties the Japanese were suffering around Kamaing, Mogaung, and Myitkyina. Observing this, Stilwell changed his mind about the possibility of taking the key points which controlled the line of communications. He told Mountbatten in mid-July that the Japanese had suffered very heavy losses, that it was doubtful if by November they could recover two thirds of the effectiveness they had possessed in early 1944. He was convinced that the Allies could now do better than just hold Myitkyina, and so he assured Mountbatten that "with reasonable help from the Y-Force, the CAI can get to the Bhamo-Shwegu area." The next step would be to take Lashio,
terminal of the Burma Road and the prewar gateway to China. Plainly, to Stilwell the end of China's isolation was near.128
Stilwell's renewed optimism was in complete accord with conclusions of Slim and the latter's corps commanders. After visiting them at the front at this same period of mid-July, Mountbatten recorded in his diary that "the thing that struck me most was the absolute certainty that whatever else happened we must start our offensive after this monsoon before the Japanese can start theirs. . . ." The question that remained was to plan the offensive whose execution would be begun in the fall of 1944.129
When it became apparent that Myitkyina was about to fall, Stilwell left north Burma for SEAC's headquarters at Kandy, Ceylon. Mountbatten was going to London to rearrange SEAC's command structure, and Stilwell was happy that his position as acting Deputy Supreme Allied Commander made it obligatory for him to visit the beautiful island and enjoy a brief respite from field command.130 Since there were an army group and an army headquarters to handle the land fighting, and since no major naval operations were contemplated, Stilwell was glad to let SEAC headquarters run itself while he toured the island and rested.
The press took the opportunity of examining him on the North Burma Campaign, and Stilwell on 5 August discussed it with candor:
We think there were approximately 1,000 [Japanese] in Myitkyina, when we struck it. Various units got into Myitkyina because our cordon around the town had holes in it. Certainly more got in there than I calculated, and I admit underestimating the strength of the Jap garrison. The situation was very confused.131
In Stilwell's opinion, the Chinese soldier best withstood the hardships of the campaign. He saw no change in the high quality of the Japanese soldier. Take a man from any Japanese service unit, said Stilwell, and he will get into a hole with a light machine gun and stay there. Stilwell believed that the 18th Division was destroyed. He did not know of any units that might have escaped
intact. A few men from the 55th and 56th Regiments might have escaped, but he thought the 114th Regiment was gone, together with the division artillery and vehicles. Stilwell did not know how many aircraft the crisis at Imphal had diverted from the Hump but agreed that of course it had cut Hump tonnage.
That turned the conversation to China and to the situation there. It was grave, Stilwell conceded. Because of his official position he could not comment bluntly and said as much. What he did say was tactful and sympathetic toward the Chinese in their time of sorrow. China was his next problem, and he was soon to go there.
The taking of Myitkyina on 3 August, which successfully accomplished a task many informed observers had termed impossible, marked a milestone in the history of CBI. It could not be termed a successful carrying out of Stilwell's plans, for Stilwell's own plan, which he presented in the summer of 1942, called for a drive from Imphal with the Chinese Army in India, together with a Chinese drive from Yunnan, aimed at taking Rangoon and reopening the prewar line of communications from Rangoon to Kunming. These operations, Stilwell thought, should be launched during the dry season that began in November 1942 and be completed sometime in 1943.
Stilwell's superiors, in successive conferences, whittled down some of these conceptions and substituted others of their own, so that all the final plans had in common with Stilwell's own proposals was that both envisaged a land campaign in Burma. The manifold obstacles, political and military, that had to be surmounted before the campaign opened postponed it until fall 1943, or one year after the time Stilwell had sought to begin it.
But though Myitkyina was taken very late in the day, taken it was, and the feat was a triumph for the man who had maintained it could be done. The town was taken to make possible an intensified air effort from bases in China in support of U.S. operations in the Pacific and it is against subsequent events in China that the Burma campaign, and the decisions that resulted in postponing it from 1942 to 1943, must be weighed.
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (5) * Next Chapter (7)
1. The Stilwell Papers, p. 291.
2. Rad SH 83, Stilwell to Hearn, 26 Apr 44. Item 2269, Bk 6, JWS Personal File.
3. (1) Rad CHC 1019, Stilwell to Sultan, 1 May 44. Item 153, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File. (2) Rad DTG 240240Z, Stilwell to Marshall, 24 May 44. Item 2740, Bk 7, JWS Personal File. (3) Having studied Stilwell's radios, the Asiatic Section, OPD, concluded on 22 June 1944 that since it could not give CBI Theater the U.S. corps plus engineers Stilwell said he would need to open ground communications to China, it was not in a position to direct him or Mountbatten to undertake operations with that in view. Therefore emphasis would be on increasing Hump tonnage, with ground operations secondary. Memo for Record, 6/22/2170, Case 404-2, OPD 381 Security, A47-30.
4. Ltr, Covell to Somervell, 17 Apr 44. Folder, Monthly Rpt to Somervell, OCMH.
5. Stilwell Diary, 23 Apr 44.
6. (1) FO, 20 Mar 44, Folder, 38th Div Sitreps; FO 12, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 4 Apr 44; FO 14, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 23 Apr 44; FO 13, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 21 Apr 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) Stilwell Diary, 23 Apr 44.
7. (1) Tanaka's remarks, in Japanese Comments, Section III, are distinctly acid where 33d Army's action is concerned; he accuses that headquarters of endless vacillation. (2) See also his remarks on other occasions, in Tanaka Narrative, pages 3 and 4, and the Tanaka Interrogation in OCMH files. (3) See Ch. IX, below.
8. Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
9. Brown Notes, p. 14.
10. Brown Notes, p. 15.
11. The 22d Division combat order of 23 April called for the 64th Regiment to swing wide around the 18th Division and take Nsawgatawng, just north of Kamaing. (1) G-3 Rpts, Chih Hui Pu, 26 Apr, 1 May, 8 May 44; Opns Rpt, 22d Div, 20 Apr 44; Daily Opns Map, 22d Div, 25 Apr 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) Combat Rpts, Fwd Ech and Misc Ln Os, 22d Div, 26 Apr 44; Situation Maps, 22d Div, 30 Apr-2 May 44, Combat Folder, 22d Div, 23 Apr 44. ALBACORE Hist File, KCRC.
12. Stilwell Diary, 12 Apr 44.
13. (1) NCAC History, II, 159. (2) Tanaka Narrative, p. 4. (3) Situation maps, 22d Div; G-3 Rpts, Chih Hui Pu, 24 May, 30 May 44; FO 15, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 17 May 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (4) Stilwell Diary, 21 May 44. (5) Col Stilwell's Diary, 21 May 44. (See Bibliographical Note.)
14. Stone MS, p. 164.
15. Dupuy Notes.
16. Ltr, Merrill to Ward, 26 May 52. OCMH.
17. Stilwell Diary, 11 Apr 44.
18. (1) Lt. Col. Thomas F. Van Natta, III, History of the 38th Div, CAI, 1 Oct 43-31 Aug 45, MS. (Hereafter, Van Natta MS.) NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) G-3 Rpt, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 26 Apr 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (3) Tanaka Narrative, App. (Overlay) II. (4) Stilwell Diary, Apr 44, 2 May 44.
19. (1) Memo, Generalissimo to Hearn for Stilwell, 6 Apr 44. Item 2219, Bk 6, JWS Personal File. (2) Rad SH 34, Stilwell to Marshall, 16 Apr 44. SNF 131.
20. Memo, Hearn for Generalissimo, 16 Apr 44. Item 2221, Bk 6, JWS Personal File.
21. (1) The Stilwell Papers, p. 290. (2) Rad SH 45, Stilwell to Hearn, 17 Apr 44. Item 2231, Bk 6, JWS Personal File.
22. Van Natta Notes.
23. Ltr 654, Generalissimo to Stilwell, 17 Apr 44. Item 2252, Bk 6, JWS Personal File.
24. Rad SH 73, Stilwell to Marshall, 24 Apr 44. SNF 131.
25. Stilwell Diary, 26, 27 Apr 44.
26. (1) Van Natta MS. (2) 38th Div Sitreps, 29 Apr-8 May 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (3) Stilwell Diary, 5 May 44.
27. 38th Div Sitreps, 8-19 May 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
28. Tanaka Narrative, p. 4.
29. Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
30. The Japanese were feeling the drain of the last six months' fighting. The 6th Company, 2/56th, was down to fifty men as of 15 April. (1) Statement, Superior Pvt Fujiyoshi Kawaguchi, 2 Oct 44. Folder 62J 41-50, NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) Van Natta MS. (3) 38th Div Sitreps, 15-22 May 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
31. Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
32. Van Natta Notes.
33. (1) The Stilwell Papers, p. 297. (2) G-3 Rpts, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 30 May, 10, 13 Jun 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
34. Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
35. Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
36. (1) G-3 Rpts, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 30 May, 10 Jun 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) Tanaka Narrative, pp. 4-5.
37. (1) Tanaka Narrative, p. 6. (2) Van Natta Notes.
38. (1) Tanaka Narrative. (2) Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
39. SOS in CBI, pp. 451-52.
40. Brown Notes, p. 15.
41. (1) Tanaka Narrative, pp. 5, 6. (2) Dupuy Comments. (3) Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III.
42. (1) Dupuy Comments. (2) G-3 Rpt, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 10, 13 Jun 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
43. Stilwell Diary, 16 Jun 44.
44. Stone MS, pp. 169-74.
45. (1) Tanaka Narrative, p. 7. (2) Tanaka Interrog. OCMH.
46. Stilwell Numbered Files 4 and 172 plus Folder, Memos and Operational Instructions (CAI, NCAC, 3d Indian Division, January-May 1944, NCAC Files, KCRC), contain many of the records in possession of American officers or agencies. The SEAC War Diary and Admiral Mountbatten's report give another point of view.
47. (1) Telg 2739, Air Ministry to SACSEA, COS (RL) 206, 25 May 44; SAC (44) 307, 30 Jun 44, sub: Reconstruction of LRPG's by CinC, Eleventh Army Gp. SEAC War Diary. (2) Lt. Col. J. E. B. Barton, Special Force in Direct Support of C.A.I., draft monograph. Cabinet Office, Hist Sec, London.
48. Japanese Officers' Comments, p. 18.
49. SEATIC Bull 240, p. 9; SEATIC Bull 242, p. 20; SEATIC Bull 247, pp. 12-13. MID Library.
50. (1) FO 14, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 21 Apr 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) GALAHAD, pp. 87-88. (3) Stone MS, p. 182. (4) Rad SH 36, 16 Apr 44. Item 2228, Bk 6, JWS Personal File.
51. (1) Quotation is from Merrill Notes. (2) Hunter Notes.
52. Ltr and Rpt, Office IG, CBI, to CG, USAF CBI, 12 Jul 44, sub: Investigation re 5307th (Prov) Unit (GALAHAD) (hereafter, GALAHAD Investigation), pp. 10, 17, 21, 64. AG 333, NCAC Files, KCRC.
53. (1) Merrill Notes. (2) Hunter Notes.
54. GALAHAD, pp. 87-91.
55. GALAHAD, pp. 91-97.
56. Ltr, Brig Gen Waldemar F. Breidster to Ward, 4 Sep 51. OCMH.
57. (1) GALAHAD, pp. 97-101. (2) G-2 Per Rpt, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 24 May 44; PW History, Folder, Current Chronological PW File. (Hereafter, PW History.) NCAC Files, KCRC.
58. Hunter tells, in his notes on the draft of this chapter, of his effort to prearrange through Merrill for the immediate supply of food and ammunition, and for the arrival of infantry to exploit the dazzling success that would be gained were the strip captured quickly in good condition.
59. (1) Stilwell Diary, 17 May 44. (2) The Stilwell Papers, p. 296. (3) G-3 Per Rpt, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 24 May 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (4) NCAC History, Vol. I, App. 2, The Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 13-17. (Hereafter, this section of the NCAC History will be called Siege of Myitkyina.) (5) Hunter Notes.
60. (1) Ltr cited n. 16. (2) Hunter Notes.
61. The Stilwell Papers, p. 296.
62. (1) Min, SAC's 104th Mtg, 20 May 44. SEAC War Diary. (2) This letter cannot be found among Stilwell's papers, and perhaps was not sent.
63. Memo, Roberts for ACofS, OPD, 3 May 44, sub: Memo for Gen Somervell Concerning Plan of Action Within China. Case 367, OPD 381 Security, A47-30.
64. JPS 406/3, 16 May 44, sub: Strategy in SEAC.
65. Memo, Deputy Director, Plans and Opns, ASF, for ACofS, OPD, 16 May 44, sub: Strategy in SEAC; Memo, Roberts for CG, ASF, attn Deputy Director, Plans and Opns, ASF, 19 May 44, sub: Strategy in SEAC; JCS 774/1, ABC 384 (Burma), 8-25-42, Sec 6, A48-224. JCS approved this paper on 26 May 1944 as JCS 774/1.
66. (1) Min, CCS 161st Mtg, 2 Jun 44. (2) CM-OUT 46159, Marshall to Stilwell, 4 Jun 44.
67. EAC Despatch, p. 115.
68. (1) GALAHAD, p. 103. (2) G-2 Roundup, Hq MTF, 15 Jun 44. AG 319.1, NCAC Files, KCRC. This document quotes GALAHAD Force officers to that effect, but the estimate was picked up by Headquarters, Chih Hui Pu, in their G-2 Daily Situation Report 33 of 30 June, and as late as 24 July Brig. Gen. Russell E. Randall, arriving at Myitkyina, was told there were only 500 Japanese there. (3) Rpts 470, 477, 478, JICA, 6 Sep 44. JICA CBI Br, Calcutta, India. OCMH.
69. (1) GALAHAD, p. 98. (2) Siege of Myitkyina, p. 11.
70. (1) Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 18-19. (2) Stilwell Diary, 18 May 44.
71. (1) Maruyama Interrog. OCMH. (2) Tanaka, Japanese Comments, Sec. III. (3) Japanese Officers' Comments, p. 19.
72. Maruyama Interrog. OCMH.
73. (1) GALAHAD, pp. 104-05. (2) PW History. (3) Statement, Sgt Maj Hirose Yutaka, 10 Aug 44. Folder 62J, 161-170. NCAC Files, KCRC. A code clerk, Yutaka was an excellent source of information on the Japanese side. (4) Maruyama Interrog; Tanaka Interrog. OCMH. (5) SEATIC Bull 247, pp. 18-19. MID Library. (6) A G-2, Myitkyina Task Force, memorandum, 9 August 1944, estimated that 4,075 Japanese were killed at Myitkyina. These, plus the several hundred who escaped, come close to Tanaka's figure of 4,600. The garrison commander, Maruyama, set his strength at 3,500, which can be reconciled with the above if Tanaka's figure is taken as the grand total. The G-2 estimate is in Wessels' File, OCMH.
74. SEATIC Bull 244, p. 2. MID Library.
75. Col Stilwell's Diary, 19 May 44.
76. (1) Stilwell Diary, 22 May 44. (2) Rad CHC 1097, Stilwell to Marshall, 22 May 44. SNF 131.
77. (1) GALAHAD, p. 106. (2) Siege of Myitkyina, p. 22, and App. (3) Stone MS, pp. 187-89.
78. (1) Probably McCammon was given this rank to help him command the Chinese. Merrill recalled suggesting to Stilwell that a Chinese officer be placed in command at Myitkyina. There is no evidence from which to reconstruct Stilwell's intentions, but McCammon's elevation marked the sixth time Stilwell had used American officers to command Chinese troops in Burma, McCammon's predecessors being Boatner, Col. Rothwell Brown, Col. Campbell Brown, Colonel Sliney, and Colonel Dupuy. See Merrill Notes. (2) Notes by Col McCammon on draft MS of this chapter. (3) Ltr, Dupuy to Ward, 12 Sep 52. Colonels Sliney and Dupuy were authorized to give commands to Chinese artillery in Stilwell's name.
79. (1) GALAHAD, p. 106. (2) Siege of Myitkyina, p. 25. (3) Stone MS, p. 190.
80. (1) Hunter Notes. (2) Boatner Notes. (3) Stilwell's only diary reference of this period to Hunter is for 26 May: "Hunter, Osborne, McGee, Beach--all fine soldiers. Guts, calm, confidence. They ooze it." (4) Ltrs, Boatner to Stilwell, Jun 44. SNF 207. The letters praise Hunter highly.
81. Stilwell Diary, 30 May 44.
82. (1) FO 12, Hq CAMELOT Task Force, 30 May 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 30-31.
83. Maruyama Interrog; Tanaka Interrog. OCMH.
84. (1) Hunter Notes. (2) Siege of Myitkyina, p. 31.
85. (1) Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 28, 31-32. (2) Stilwell Diary, 2 Jun 44.
86. Rpts, Maj Milligan Bethel, G-4, to Lt Col Joseph A. McNerney, Supply and Evacuation Off, G-4, 20 May-1 Jun 44, sub: Supply Rpts. NCAC Files, KCRC.
87. (1) Memo, Boatner for Col Stanley F. Griswold, 25 Jun 44. Folder, Misc Corresp MTF, NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) GALAHAD Investigation. (3) For Stilwell's authority over the 3d Indian Division, see page 221, above.
88. Boatner Notes.
89. (1) Memo cited n. 87(1). (2) GALAHAD Investigation.
90. GALAHAD, p. 108.
91. GALAHAD Investigation, p. 3.
92. Stone MS, pp. 197-98.
93. (1) Rad CHC 1216, Stilwell to Marshall, 22 Jun 44. SNF 131. (2) Ltrs, Boatner to Stilwell, 3, 5, 7, 12, 14, 15 Jun 44. Folder, Misc Corresp MTF, NCAC Files, KCRC. (3) Leslie Anders, The Engineers at Myitkyina, MS. Engineer Hist Sec.
94. (1) Rad WAR 3495, Marshall to Stilwell, 2 Oct 43. Item 1056, Bk 4, JWS Personal File. (2) Statement, Maj George L. Converse, 10 Jan 49. Major Converse was a member of the replacement shipment. (3) Rad CRA 4407, Sultan to Stilwell, 27 May 44. Item 185, Bk 6A, JWS Personal File.
95. Ltrs, Boatner to Stilwell, 7 Jun, 10 Jun, 44. SNF 207. These letters tell of the reorganizing process of GALAHAD.
96. (1) Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 31-35. (2) Statement by Converse cited n. 94(2).
97. Rad CHC 1216 cited n. 93(1).
98. Ltr, Boatner to Stilwell, 15 Jun 44. SNF 207.
99. Ltr, Gens Hu Su (30th Div) and Yu Pan-kum (50th Div) to CG, MTF, 7 Jun 44, sub: Recommendations for Opns (Urgent); Ltr, Gen Hu to CG, MTF, 7 Jun 44, sub: Rpt; Ltr, Boatner to Stilwell, 8 Jun 44; Ltr, Maj Edward H. S. Wilkie, Jr., to CG, MTF, 8 Jun 44. Folder, Misc Corresp MTF, NCAC Files, KCRC.
100. (1) Ltr, Hq Chih Hui Pu to CofS, 3d Ind Div, 16 Jan 44, sub: Addition to Dir for CG, 3d Ind Div; Ltr, Hq Chih Hui Pu to CG, 3d Ind Div, 25 May 44, sub: Dir to CG, 3d Ind Div. Folder, Memos and Opnal Instr, CAI NCAC, 3d Ind Div, Jan-May 44, NCAC Files, KCRC. (2) Ltr, Boatner to CO, Morris Force, 1 Jun 44, sub: Orders; Ltr, Boatner to Morris, 3 Jun 44, sub: Orders; Ltr, Boatner to CO, Morris Force, 7 Jun 44, sub: Orders; Rad M329, Boatner to Morris, 14 Jun 44. Folder, Orders MTF, 3d Ind Div, Jun 44, NCAC Files, KCRC. (3) Ltr, Boatner to Morris, 2 Jun 44; Rad M333, Boatner to Morris, 14 Jun 44; Rad, Boatner to Morris, 14 Jun 44; Rad, Morris to Boatner, 14 Jun 44; Rad 49, Col to AMITY, 3d Ind Div, and KKO, 14 Jun 44; Rad, Wallace to Boatner, 14 Jun 44. Folder, Rads Wallace-Boatner, Morris Task Force, Jun 44, NCAC Files, KCRC. (4) Ltr, Boatner to Stilwell, 6 Jun 44. Folder, Misc Corresp MTF, NCAC Files, KCRC. (5) Ltr, Morris to GO Commanding, Myitkyina, and 3d Ind Div, 2 Jul 44; Ltr 2/2/G, Lentaigne to Advance Hq CAI, 14 Jul 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (6) Ltr, Hq Chih Hui Pu to CG, 3d Ind Div, 20 Jul 44, sub: Relief of Morris Force by Haswell Force; Ltr 7/4/G, Lentaigne to Advance Hq CAI, 20 Jul 44; Ltr, Hq CAI to CG, 3d Ind Div, 21 Jul 44, sub: Status of Comd, Morris Force and 26 Column. Folder, Radios--3d Ind Div, NCAC Files, KCRC. (7) Statement, Sgt Suyeyoshi Tokuda, Myitkyina PW Rpts. PW History.
101. Ltrs, Boatner to Stilwell, 3, 4, 5 Jun 44. Folder, Misc Corresp MTF, NCAC Files, KCRC.
102. FO 14, MTF; Memo, Col Laughlin, 12 Aug 44, sub: Rpt on Artillery. NCAC Files, KCRC.
103. (1) Ltr, Boatner to Stilwell, 14 Jun 44, SNF 207. (2) Rpt, Hunter, 13 Jun 44. Folder, Misc Corresp MTF, NCAC Files, KCRC. (3) For his valor on this occasion, Staff Sgt. Alvin O. Miller of the 209th Engineers received the Distinguished Service Cross. GO 99, Hq USAF CBI, 17 Aug 44.
104. These men, among others, received the Distinguished Service Cross. For the leadership, professional skill, and valor he repeatedly displayed during the early days of the operation, Colonel Combs was posthumously awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the DSC. GO's 137, 78, 48, 131, Hq USAF CBI, 20 Oct, 20 Jul, 21 Dec, 12 Oct 44.
105. G-2 Roundup cited n. 68(2).
106. Ltrs, Boatner to Stilwell, 10 Jun 44; G-3 Per Rpts, Hq Chih Hui Pu, 13, 20 Jun 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
107. Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 46-51.
108. Siege of Myitkyina, p. 48.
109. GO 111, Hq USF IBT, 5 Jun 45, par. I.
110. (1) Stilwell Diary, 13, 15, 17, 24 Jun 44. (2) The Stilwell Papers, pp. 304-06. (3) Daily Sitrep 33, Chih Hui Pu, 30 Jun. NCAC Files, KCRC.
111. The Stilwell Papers, p. 306.
112. (1) Interv with Wessels, 19 Jul 48. OCMH. (2) History of India-Burma Theater, 1944- 1945, I, 55. OCMH.
113. (1) Siege of Myitkyina, pages 67-71, treats the episode very cautiously. (2) Wessels Interv cited n. 112(1). (3) Stilwell Diary, 29 Jun, 1, 2 Jul 44. (4) GO 131, Hq USAF CBI, 12 Oct 44. (5) A letter, Wessels to Ward, 3 October 1951, has as an inclosure a most interesting letter, 10 July 1944, by the liaison officer with the battalion, Capt. Paul L. Tobey. OCMH.
114. G-3 Wkly Per Rpt, Hq MTF, 25 Jun-2 Jul 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
115. G-3 Per Rpts, Hq MTF, 2-9 Jul 44; FO 17, Hq MTF, 11 Jul 44. NCAC Files, KCRC.
116. (1) Wessels Interv cited n. 112(1). (2) JICA CBI Rpts 470, 477, 484, 6 Sep 44, sub: Air Support on Capture of Myitkyina. OCMH.
117. (1) Maruyama Interrog; Interrog, Gen Honda, CG, 33d Army, 9 Jan 48. OCMH. (2) Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 84-85. (3) G-3 Per Rpt, Hq MTF, 9-16 Jul 44. NCAC Files, KCRC. (4) PW History.
118. GO 131, Hq USAF CBI, 12 Oct 44.
119. Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 105-09.
120. GO 131, Hq USAF CBI, 12 Oct 44.
121. Ltr, Col Laughlin, ACofS, G-3, MTF, to Wessels, 31 Jul 44, sub: Rpt of Firing During Night 30-31 July. Wessels File, OCMH.
122. Japanese Officers' Comments, Incl 6, Col Masanobu Tsuji. Mizukami's adjutant was among those evacuated, and reported later to Colonel Tsuji.
123. (1) GO 131, Hq USAF CBI, 12 Oct 44. (2) GO 141, Hq USAF CBI, 24 Oct 44.
124. Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 128-29.
125. (1) PW History. (2) Tanaka Interrog. OCMH. (3) Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 130-32.
126. Siege of Myitkyina, pp. 130-32.
127. History of the India-China Division, Air Transport Command, I (1944), 39. Hist Div, MATS, Andrews Field, Md.
128. (1) History of India-Burma Theater, 1944-1945, I, 81, 173. OCMH. (2) Memo, Stilwell for Mountbatten, 18 Jul 44. SAC (44) 288. SEAC War Diary. (3) The pipeline reached Myitkyina on 2 October 1944, and a temporary combat road was opened to Myitkyina in early November. The Ledo Road itself bypassed Myitkyina.
129. (1) Personal Memo for C-in-C's on SAC's Visit to Burma Front, SCM/44, 6 Jul 44. SEAC War Diary. (2) Allied Burma operations of 1944-45 are described in Volume III of this subseries.
130. (1) The Stilwell Papers, p. 310. (2) When, if ever, Stilwell was formally appointed Deputy Supreme Allied Commander is not fully clarified by the sources the authors have been able to consult. In March 1944, drafting notes for a conference with Mountbatten, Stilwell wrote that he had never been appointed Deputy. See page 169, above. A lengthy (seventeen-page) handwritten list of differences and difficulties between Stilwell and SEAC, which internal evidence indicates was written very near the close of Stilwell's stay in CBI, was found by Sunderland at Carmel, Calif., in May 1950, and filed with the JWS Miscellaneous Papers, 1944. It contains the statement that SEAC never issued orders appointing Stilwell as Deputy. On the other hand, Mountbatten's report always refers to Stilwell as Deputy. When Stilwell assumed command at Kandy in July 1944 it was his first exercise of authority as a Deputy, and he seems to have confined himself to cutting down the flow of minutes and staff studies (paper work of all kinds being one of Stilwell's phobias) and to presiding over meetings.
131. Interv of Stilwell by press, Kandy, Ceylon, 5 Aug 44. SNF 172.