Reading the history of the China-Burma-India Theater will be an eye opener and a lesson to those who, in the future, have to deal with allies in far distant lands about whom so much should be known and so little is.
Contemporary history is limited in its vision, as indeed is all history, insofar as the records are limited. This history is no exception; the records used are mainly of U.S. Army origin. However, time flies and experience of the past is essential to wisdom in the future. To wait for additional evidence might deny pertinent information to those who need it now. Moreover, the records turned up by the authors of this book are exceptionally rich.
A careful reading of this volume will emphasize the necessity on the part of the leading participants in a combined venture to understand the characteristics and over-all objectives of the nations as well as the individuals concerned in the endeavor. If such an understanding is present, and if due weight is given it by those involved in negotiations as well as in the execution of the plans, the better will be the result. The degree to which this understanding was achieved by the leading participants is left for the reader to decide.
Decisions, to be sound, must perforce be based on up-to-date facts. The danger of making them from information supplied from not too well informed sources, and without information that could readily have been brought to bear, is self-evident.
While still in the service, the authors were sent to Asia in the summer of 1945 to join the Historical Sections of the India-Burma and the China Theaters. Riley Sunderland went to New Delhi, India, and Charles F. Romanus to Chungking, China. Each spent about a year in his respective post before work was begun on this volume.
Washington, D. C. ORLANDO WARD 10 March 1952 Maj. Gen., U.S.A. Chief of Military History
The United States Army Forces in the China, Burma and India Theater were originally planned as a task force to support China. They were largely based on India; only a small fraction of their strength was in China itself. In China, the Generalissimo, Chiang Kai-shek, was Supreme Commander, China Theater. In India, Gen. Sir Archibald P. Wavell had a comparable role and title. The two portions of the U.S. forces--in India and China--were separated by Japanese-occupied Burma. The U.S. theater commander had two major roles, in that he was an American theater commander and also chief of the Generalissimo's Allied staff for China Theater. The command situation was thus most complex. More complications were provided by the differing views on strategy held by the United States, the Republic of China, and the British Commonwealth.
After a few months' research, the authors concluded that, without some understanding of the roles played by the President and the Joint and Combined Chiefs of Staff, the full story could not be told. They therefore examined the relevant files of the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, of the Joint and Combined Chiefs of Staff, of the Secretary of War, of the Operations Division of the War Department, and of the War Department Classified Message Center. The authors are greatly indebted to many of the participants in the events described in the text who were willing to offer comment and criticism on several drafts of the manuscript: Col. Harry S. Aldrich, Brig. Gen. Edward H. Alexander, Col. Haydon L. Boatner, Lt. Gen. George H. Brett, Col. Frank Dorn, Lt. Gen. Hugh A. Drum, Col. Henry W. T. Eglin, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Col. Benjamin G. Ferris, Col. Arcadi Gluckman, Maj. Gen. Thomas G. Hearn, the Hon. Nelson T. Johnson, Maj. Gen. Edward E. MacMorland, Brig. Gen. John Magruder, Maj. Gen. Frank D. Merrill, Maj. Gen. Sherman Miles, Lt. Gen. Eugene Reybold, Col. Frank N. Roberts, Maj. Gen. Franklin C. Sibert, Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, Admiral Harold R. Stark, and Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer. These men are of course not responsible for any errors of fact or interpretation in the pages following.
The authors have been greatly aided by and are grateful for the opportunity to discuss the history of the China-Burma-India Theaters with Colonel Aldrich, Colonel Dorn, General Drum, Colonel Gluckman, General Hearn, Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Hurley, Mr. Johnson, General MacMorland, General Magruder, General of the Army George C. Marshall, General Merrill, Mr.
William D. Pawley, Colonel Roberts, Admiral Stark, and General Wedemeyer. The authors have pitched their narrative at the level of the U.S. theater headquarters. As such, it is a contribution to a better understanding of the American effort in Asia, 1941-1946, and to the study of Sino-American relations in the same period; it is not a definitive history of the war in Asia. The U.S. Air Force is telling its story in many volumes written from its own point of view. So, too, are the technical services, such as the Quartermaster, Ordnance, Transportation, Medical, etc. The British official history is being prepared. The Chinese may someday give their side. From these several sources, some historian may ultimately produce a fairly complete history of the war in Asia. The present volume initiates a reconnaissance of part of the area the future historian must cross.
The authors' decision to prepare their history in this manner reflects their mission, that of preparing the history of a U.S. Army theater of operations, a decision further reinforced by the nature of the available sources and the limits of time and funds.
As the authors' familiarity with their subject increased, and as more and more papers of the most private nature were opened to them, they concluded that the relations of the theater commander to the Chinese were central to any story of the U.S. Army's efforts in China, Burma, and India. Thanks to Mrs. Joseph W. Stilwell and Mr. Robert E. Sherwood, a great quantity of material from the Stilwell and Hopkins Papers for the period in which General Stilwell commanded the China, Burma and India Theater was made available. Much of the material in Book VII of the Hopkins Papers, though it goes far to explain President Roosevelt's attitude toward China in 1942 and 1943, has not been included in this volume, because the subject seems one for historians of the Presidency.
The authors have been greatly assisted by collections of private papers made available by General Drum, General MacMorland, Colonel Aldrich, Mr. Pawley, and General Hurley.
Treated at length in this volume are the proposals of General Stilwell to the National Government of the Republic of China in the execution of his orders from the War Department to "support China" and to assist in "improving the combat efficiency of the Chinese Army." Such Chinese replies as were given to Stilwell are also included. Other volumes will cover in full the 1944 command crisis and the work of General Wedemeyer as Commanding General, U.S. Forces, China Theater, 1944-1946.
Nothing pertinent to General Stilwell's conduct of his mission has been omitted. The authors are aware of the issues presented by the civil war in China. On the question of General Stilwell's relations to the Chinese Communists the evidence is almost entirely negative. After examining Stilwell's papers both private and public the authors are convinced that his interest in
the Chinese Communists was minor and his relations with them casual and incidental. General Stilwell's interests in China centered on his attempt to carry out the War Department orders to reform the Chinese Army to a passable level of efficiency. His differences with other personages in China revolved around the issue of Army reform. That portion of Stilwell's wartime journals published as The Stilwell Papers and this and the succeeding volume, with but two exceptions, tell the full story of Stilwell's relations with and opinions of the Chinese Communists so far as it has been preserved by the documents and the persons consulted by the authors.
The exceptions, omitted from the text only because they contribute nothing new to an understanding of Stilwell's mission to China, are these. (1) At the Washington Conference of May 1943 General Stilwell wrote a note to himself to the effect that the United Front of Chinese Nationalists and Chinese Communists should be restored. The context suggests, though not strongly, that Stilwell meant a political united front. The topic then disappears from his writings. (2) On the same visit to Washington he described the Chinese Communist to the then Army Chief of Staff, General Marshall, as a man who wanted taxes cut to a bearable level.
Like most professional soldiers of the major powers, Stilwell had little interest in political and social problems, foreign or domestic. From a most conservative background in upstate New York, Stilwell entered the U.S. Military Academy, after which he spent his life in the regular service. He detested sham and pretense of whatever variety, but he was not a radical, and his efforts to reform the Chinese were limited to "improving the combat efficiency of the Chinese Army," as the War Department had ordered him.
Among the authors' professional colleagues, special thanks are due to Lt. Grace Person Hayes, USN, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Historical Section. Lieutenant Hayes read and commented on almost every page of the manuscript. Capt. Tracy B. Kittredge, USN, of the same office, was most helpful. Dr. Lee Bowen, of the Air Force historians, gave generously of his time and effort. Maj. Charles F. Byars, USAF, gave the first chapters his careful attention. Miss Alice Miller, formerly of the Registered Documents Section, Plans and Operations Division, guided the authors through the intricate record of the war's higher direction. Miss Miller gave many hours of her time to the authors and they are greatly indebted to her. The authors are grateful to Miss Margaret E. Tackley for the excellent work she did in selecting the photographs for the volume. The editor of the volume, Miss Ruth Stout, performed her task with high professional skill. The copy-editing duties were discharged most capably by Miss Gay Morenus.
From September 1948 to October 1950 the authors were aided by Mrs. Jacqueline Perry Griffin, research assistant. Mrs. Griffin assembled the apparatus of documentation and citation and prepared the manuscript of the first
seven chapters. In research, she studied the operations of Southeast Asia Command. Her good judgment, narrative skill, and editorial touch have greatly improved the text.
Mrs. Dorothy Campbell Liles, research assistant, prepared the manuscript of Chapters VIII, IX, and X and verified quotations and citations. Mrs. Elaine Conroy Deane assumed many of the duties of research assistant in addition to normal secretarial tasks. Miss Mildred Bucan, Miss Kay Atema, Miss Alfa Staken, Miss Margaret Reardon, and Miss Marion R. Reidy gave invaluable secretarial and stenographic help.
Washington, D. C. CHARLES F. ROMANUS 10 March 1952 RILEY SUNDERLAND
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