The China-Burma-India Theater

The first two volumes of this subseries focus on Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, and the third treats his successor, Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, in the China-Burma-India(CBI) Theater. All three works, particularly the account of General Wedemeyer's diplomatic measures, focus on the problems of a major military assistance effort. They not only record the most ambitious U.S.-directed aid program completed during World War II, but also are of general interest for the light they shed on the background of our postwar relations with China. They provide a basis for instructive comparisons of General Wedemeyer's and General Stilwell's exercise of diplomatic and command functions, and of their programs and measures for the reform and training of Chinese forces. Finally, these volumes describe the most extensive experiment during World War II in the sustained supply of ground forces by air.

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STILWELL'S MISSION TO CHINA. By Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sunderland. (1953, 1984; 441 pages, 6 tables, 8 charts, 7 maps, 19 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 9-1.)

This volume and the next in the subseries are centered on the performance of Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell. Stilwell was chief of staff to Chiang Kai-shek, in Chiang's capacity of commander in chief of China considered as an Allied theater; he administered U.S. lend-lease aid to China; and he commanded the CBI Theater. Chiang put him in charge of his force (three Chinese armies) in Burma during the ill-fated campaign of 1942, and this campaign, insofar as it involved his authority, is therefore described.

The War Department's concept of aid to China was to help the Chinese to help themselves, by military advice, technical assistance, air support, and supplies needed to fill the gaps in the Chinese armory. General Stilwell was also directed to reopen a ground line of communications with China. The present volume describes General Stilwell's efforts to effect a working relationship with the Generalissimo, to formulate a program acceptable both to the host government and his own superiors, and to organize a logistical base for American assistance and air operations. It presents, in global perspective, the difficulties that were created when the President, overruling the War Department, decided that China-based and air-supplied air power was a better investment of available American resources than rebuilding the Chinese Army.

As theater commander General Stilwell had under his authority a far-flung Services of Supply (SOS), the Fourteenth Air Force (Maj. Gen. Claire L. Chennault's) in China, and the Tenth Air Force in India. This and the succeeding volumes supplement the more detailed account of these air forces to be found in The Army Air Forces in World War II. They are here presented in relation to the missions and activities of the theater and General Stilwell's other responsibilities. This work and its successors also contain a general account of the extraordinary problems and activities of the SOS, plus air supply over the famous "Hump." Their presentation here can be supplemented by consulting the Air Forces history cited and the histories of the technical services in the United States Army in World War II. The present volume covers the period September 1939-September 1943. (The key topics are included in the list that follows the description of the third volume of this subseries.)

STILWELL'S COMMAND PROBLEMS. By Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sunderland. (1955, 1985; 518 pages, 8 charts, 5 tables, 21 maps, 45 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 9-2.)

This volume continues the CBI story from October 1943 through General Stilwell's dramatic recall in October 1944. In 1943 the President, overruling the War Department, decided that China-based air power, supplied by air over "the Hump," was a better investment in aid to China than General Stilwell's plans for strengthening, reforming, and employing Chiang Kai-shek's armies, and General Stilwell therefore decided in October 1943 to concentrate his efforts on the India-Burma scene. But his "command problems," already extraordinary, were further complicated by his designation as Deputy Commander, under Lord Mountbatten, of the Southeast Asia Command, and by his responsibility for providing logistical support to the B-29s based in China, as well as to General Chennault's Fourteenth Air Force. During this period the project that was most demanding on General Stilwell's attention finally got under way-the campaign in north Burma to gain control of Myitkyina, to clear the route for the Ledo Road and a pipeline to China, and, in cooperation with the British, to unhinge the Japanese defense of Burma.

The authors sketch the strategic background of this controversial campaign and the Anglo-American debates over it at the Cairo Conference and later. (See also Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare: 1943-1944.) They then describe the campaign in north Burma, with detailed attention to the exhausting thrust of Merrill's Marauders, the major U.S. ground combat force in the theater, to Myitkyina and the long struggle to occupy and hold the town.

In the summer of 1944 Stilwell had once more to give his full attention to China, when the Japanese launched a large-scale offensive and Chiang's forces were unable to prevent them from overrunning Chennault's airfields. Stilwell's proposal, supported by the President, was to put Stilwell in command of the threatened Chinese forces, including some Chinese Communist units that were fighting the Japanese. When Chiang refused to accept Stilwell, the President recalled him. The volume concludes with a well-documented account of these dramatic events, including the mission of General Hurley to China as the President's representative.

TIME RUNS OUT IN CBI. By Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sunderland. (1959, 1985; 428 pages, 7 tables, 5 charts, 15 maps, 76 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossary, index, CMH Pub 9-3.)

Time Runs Out in CBI is a history of the two U.S. theaters into which China-Burma-India was split when Stilwell was recalled, one (India-Burma) commanded by Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Sultan, the other (China) by Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer. This volume continues and completes the story of the north Burma campaign, recounts the operations of Chinese-American forces along the Salween River, and describes the logistical efforts of General Sultan's command.

The story of General Wedemeyer's attempt to provide the Chinese with an army that they could support and also powerful enough to guarantee China's freedom is the core of this book. By the end of July 1945 Wedemeyer had given thirteen weeks' training to eleven Chinese Nationalist divisions and had started twenty-two more on their first training cycle. To this total, five battle-tested divisions fresh from the Burma campaign could be added. The beginnings of a Chinese Services of Supply to support these 30-odd divisions were at hand, and service schools were functioning. But before this force could advance to the coast, Japan surrendered and time ran out in CBI. The book ends with the Japanese surrender.

    Key topics:
  1. Strategy (planning) (I, Chs. II, V, VII-X; II, Chs. I, II, X; III, Part II).
  2. Lend-lease (see indexes of all three volumes).
  3. Conducting a theater SOS (I, Chs. II, VI; II, Chs. III, VII; III, Ch. I, and Part II).
  4. U.S. policy toward China (I, Chs. I, II, V, IX; II, Ch. II, and Part III; III, Chs. I, XI).
  5. Line of communications problems (I, Chs. VI, VIII, IX; II, Ch. VII; III, Chs. VII, X, XI).
  6. Command problems-Allied (I, Chs. III, IV, VIII, IX; II, Chs. II, V, VI11, X, XII; III, Chs. I, V, VIII).
  7. Volunteer air forces (I, Chs. I-IV).
  8. Local procurement by an SOS directed to "live off the land" (I, Ch. VI; II, Ch. VII; III, Part II).
  9. Organizing a theater of operations (I, Chs. II, III, V, X; III, Ch. I).
  10. Stilwell's programs for China (I, Chs. III, IV, V, VII, IX, X; II, Chs. I, II).
  11. Wedemeyer's programs for China (III, Part II).
  12. Stilwell's exercise of command and diplomatic functions (I and II); Wedemeyer's exercise (III, Part II).
  13. Campaigning in Burma (see indexes of all three volumes).
  14. Chinese training centers (see indexes of all three volumes).
  15. Engineering problems (see index entries in all three volumes on roads, airfields, and construction).
  16. Airlift to China and supply by air in Burma (see indexes to all three volumes).
  17. Strategic air operations based on India and China (see indexes to all three volumes).

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