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

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

Code Name: "GALAHAD"

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

They Answered The Call.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of animals, the Japanese thought up a slick way to guard themselves against Marauder booby traps along the narrow jungle trails. They sent dogs down the trails ahead of their patrols to trip the booby-trap wires. But a Marauder pioneer

and demolition platoon countered this move by rigging up the traps in relays. After that, when a Japanese dog romped down a trail a dozen yards or so in front of a patrol and tripped a booby-trap wire, nothing happened to the dog, but traps exploded at intervals all the way back down the hill, killing or wounding some of the enemy. Even after the Japanese discovered this trick, there was little they could do about it they had to stick to jungle trails or risk getting host.

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

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

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

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

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

JanPan, Burma
March 19, 1944
Supply drop taken in Kachin village because of lack of clear space on top of mountain. A number of chutes landed in trees, requiring tree climbing to retrieve them. Note rugged mountain terrain in background. 
 The Japanese scrambled down the back of the hill and huddled there for protection while the bombs and tracers chewed up their positions. But as soon as the planes finished their dives and roared away, the Japanese crawled right back up the hill again and resisted the Marauder advance as stubbornly as before. This went on for several days, with the Japanese defending one hill after another in the same way against air and ground attack. All that beautiful air support didn't seem to help much.

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

Up the hill came the unsuspecting Japanese to reoccupy their old positions. As soon as the planes began these passes, the forward Marauder platoon rushed up the hill and climbed into the vacated Japanese positions. When the dummy passes ended and the planes went away, the fun began. Up the hill came the unsuspecting Japanese to reoccupy their positions. The Marauders cut them down with automatic-weapons fire. 
.By Sgt. DAVE RICHARDSON YANK Staff Correspondent
(from Yank the Army Weekly British Edition Vol 3. No. 16)
Oct. 1 1944

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Alabaman said it was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that morning the Marauder attacking unit broke through to relieve the unit that had been cut off by the Japs for 10 days. Acker and his men, mule skinners no more, fired a salvo to celebrate.
2 posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 1:40:23 PM by SAMWolf (Don't get in a spitting contest with us, France. We can kick your ass easier than we saved it -twice)

To: All
SUCH specialists as clerks and radiomen were pressed into service as mule-drivers with the Marauders to make up for a shortage of experienced animal men. Leading, feeding, watering and grooming the mules turned out to be one of the toughest jobs in the raider outfit.
Passing through the pick-line after a day's march Brig.-Gen. Frank D Merrill came across a sweating grimy-faced mule-driver tenderly combing a mule's back.
"You certainly seem to take good care of your animal," remarked General Merrill. "Had much experience with mules in the states?"
The soldier, Pfc. Casey Turiello, turned his weary face. "No, sir," he said. "But I did see a mule once--on an ice wagon back home in Brooklyn."
ANOTHER mule-driver was having trouble with his animal. It balked at the bottom of a very rugged Burma hill. The driver had to coax, cajole, cuss and tug at his animal constantly. Finally on one hill the mule stopped dead and layed down. This was the last straw.
"Get up, you sonuvabitch," cracked the driver, who had answered President Roosevelt's call to join the volunteer Marauders.
"You volunteered for this mission to."
ll's Marauders- WWII

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

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

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

Northeast in WWII: Too many gaps to fill

Manimugdha S Sharma
04 March 2013, 08:10 PM IST

In March 1941, the government of British India revised the national defence plan. Mounting concerns over Japan’s aggressive designs on South-East Asia forced the government to raise seven armoured regiments and about 50 infantry battalions to supplement five fresh infantry divisions and two armoured divisions. Indians signed up for the army in large numbers.

Amar Singh of Tuto Mazara in Hoshiarpur joined the British Indian Army as Lance Nayak. Born to Ram Singh and Partap Kaur, Amar married Kartar Kaur of the same village. But when he turned 20, Amar had to leave for the deserts of North Africa with his regiment, the Royal Bombay Sappers and Miners. He saw action in Libya as part of the 21 Field Company. Amar never returned from the front. He was killed on July 6, 1942. He had just turned 21.

The wait never ended for Dharam Singh and Chunia of Netanandour Nangalia village in Bulandshahr (UP), too. Their 21-year-old son, Puran Singh, was a Sowar with the 2nd Royal Lancers and was killed in Libya on March 14, 1941.

I doubt if anyone today knows about Amar Singh or Puran Singh apart from their families, but at least their participation in the war is recorded somewhere. What about those men from the Northeast who took part in World War II? Do we know anything about them at all?

As a child, I would watch my late maternal grandfather take care of his rifle like a wife. It was, according to him, an old habit: something that had been drilled into him during his days in the British Indian Army. What I didn’t know then was his role in World War II. It was much later as a teenager that I learnt it, but, by then, grandpa had passed away.

Not many of us in Assam and the rest of the Northeast remember (or like to remember) or talk about the Great War. The reasons for this vary from not having much knowledge about the war to a total lack of interest in history. Our textbooks could be blamed for this as much as our national conscience: nowhere in India do school, college and university-level textbooks shed much light on Indians in the Great War. That has ensured that millions of our people grow up oblivious to the role of those 2.5 million troops that fought for the British Empire in a war they had absolutely no stake in. This is something that war veterans rue and loathe.

Many would know Lieutenant General (retired) J F R Jacob as the former governor of Punjab and Goa. Old timers still remember him as the hero of Bangladesh War of 1971: the man who surrounded Dhaka with just 3,000 troops and forced Pakistani general A A K Niazi to surrender unconditionally. Yet even fewer know that the 90-year-old is among a handful of WWII veterans alive.

Sometime ago, we talked about the Great War at his Som Vihar home in Delhi. “My unit took on the might of Rommel’s Afrika Korps in North Africa. We faced the Panzer divisions without any tank support and were cut up quite badly. We had to regroup,” the general recounted with the most hair-raising details. But he was very critical of our role as journalists in disseminating information about the war. “Young Sharma, I wonder why your media always harps on the Bangladesh War to glorify the Indian Army. Our army achieved far greater glory in WWII than anywhere else. Why not talk about that? Why not for your grandfather if not anybody else?” the general complained to me.

Major General (retired) S V Bhide, the “last Bombay sapper alive”, was livid when I asked him what he thinks about the government’s role in keeping alive the memories of martyred Indian soldiers. He said India never bothered to honour her war veterans. “We are only a handful of WWII veterans alive. It’s far too late to do anything now. Some government initiative would have mattered to many of my comrades, but they are all dead now,” he said.

That made me realize that I have never read any report, article, or extract about any soldier from the Northeast in WWII. There were many who went to the war wearing khakis, fought the Japanese in Burma and Malaya, and in Kohima and Imphal; there were many civilians, too, who gathered intelligence, acted as messengers, helped build air strips, and took care of the commissariat; but where are their records?

So far, whatever photographic evidence of the war in the eastern theatre has come to the public domain, most of it has originated from one source—the Imperial War Museum in London. Subaltern studies undertaken in the Northeast have been few and far between. It’s not surprising, therefore, that public libraries in the region don’t have much material about locals participating in the War. The Assam State Museum has an array of WWII weapons on display, but it’s difficult to access the documents section. At least in Assam, the emphasis seems to be more on preserving the legacy of the Ahom rule than anything else; but that, too, is turning out as a shoddy job without any effort to separate fact from fiction. The vast volume of literary and cinematic works coming out from the region, too, leaves aside the War. So, where does one go?

A Manipuri filmmaker is an exception in this regard. Mohen Naorem has been making a trilingual film (it will be made in Manipuri, Japanese and English) on the Japanese invasion of India during WWII. Titled My Japanese Niece, the movie has actors from Manipur, Japan, Korea, and Britain, and highlights a little-known aspect of the War—that the people of Manipur were sympathetic to the Japanese, and that many Japanese had stayed back after the defeat of the imperial Japanese troops.

“It is the most expensive Manipuri film ever made and there are a lot of challenges. But I believe it’s my duty to shed light on this important episode of our collective history,” Mohen told me this when we met last month.

Even the Japanese have a similar problem. They have grown up without knowing much about the Great War. As actor Junichi Kajioka tells me, the people who lived through the war ensured that their children were spared the emotional trauma they experienced because of the ignominious defeat and destruction of their country. However, they didn’t compromise on recording their history, something that we failed to do.

That leaves us with just a faint hope that one day our politicians, academicians, the literati, and the general people would learn to stand tall in the global community, not through rhetoric or propaganda, but by documenting the past and honouring the people who shaped it.

On Merrill’s Marauders, Wars to End Wars and Vietnam

Kitty Delorey Fleischman, photo courtesy of Sherry Ann Elizabeth Photography
Guest blogger Kitty Delorey Fleischman is publisher and editor of IDAHO magazine. She’ll tell you that one of the advantages of being old is that you’ve had time to do a lot of things. She taught school in Michigan and Alaska for eight years, has worked as a reporter at the Nome Nugget, and the Great Lander in Anchorage. Moving to Idaho in 1981, she worked part-time for United Press International before co-founding the Idaho Business Review in 1984. The IBR was sold to its current owners in 1999, and she started IDAHO magazine in 1999. Kitty is married to Gerald Fleischman, an engineer working in the renewable energy field, and she has two children, eight grandchildren and seven (at last count) great-grandchildren.
Now they’re called, “The Greatest Generation,” but when they went to serve, they simply wanted to put a stop to the evil and aggression that were engulfing the world in what was, at that time, called “The Second War to End All Wars.”
Both Lt. Donald Delorey and Lt. Mary Jane Healy were volunteers who went without being called. They were my parents, so from here on, I’ll refer to them simply as “Mom” and “Dad.” Seeing what was happening in the world, Dad signed up for the Army in July 1941. In fact, he was in Panama on Dec. 7, 1941, when news of the Pearl Harbor attack arrived. He and another soldier were immediately sent on horseback to map the coast of Panama, looking particularly for sites where the Japanese might try to land. The Panama Canal would have been a plum prize.

Donald Delorey in the United States Army
In early 1943, when President Roosevelt issued a presidential call for volunteers for “a dangerous and hazardous mission,” the call was answered by some 3,000 American soldiers. The volunteers came from stateside units, from the jungles of Panama and Trinidad. Some had been involved in the campaign in Guadalcanal, New Guinea, and New Georgia. Some were hardened and battle-scarred, some were new to war. Each was different, with one thing in common: they voluntarily answered the call of their nation. Dad was among the first to volunteer, and he went through his Ranger training at Ft. Benning, Ga. The unit was officially designated as the “5307th Composite Unit (Provisional),” Code Name: “Galahad.” Later it earned its more popular name, “Merrill’s Marauders,” in recognition of its leader, Brigadier General Frank Merrill.
After preliminary training, operations began in complete secrecy in the jungles of central India. The Marauders began the long march up the Ledo Road and over the outlying ranges of the Himalayas into Burma. It was men and mules. The Marauders had no Jeeps, no tanks or heavy artillery to support them, as they hacked their way, walking more than 1,000 miles through the foothills of the Himalayas. The path was through extremely dense, nearly impenetrable jungles. They were part of a “throw-away” force sent half-way around the world to delay the Japanese, because everyone was sure the Japanese could not be beaten.
Well, “everyone” didn’t know my parents.
Mom & Dad met on the USS General H.W. Butner, a troop transport on its way to India. Dad was assigned to the 5307th Provisional, and Mom was a member of the 44th Field Hospital. They met shortly after the ship pulled out of Norfolk, Va. Their unknown destination was Bombay. Dad spotted Mom instantly and proposed to her on the second day he knew her. A 26-year old “first louie,” Dad always claimed Mom said “yes” on the third day, something she vehemently denied until just a few months before she died, then adding, “Well, one of us had to keep our heads!”
It was not Mom’s way to stand back and ask others to do a job. Her older brother was serving in France, and Mom knew nurses would be desperately needed to care for the wounded. Mom was 22-years old when she shipped overseas, a registered nurse who didn’t quite meet minimum Army standards requiring that women be five feet tall and weigh a hundred pounds. While Mom and Dad always claimed Mom was five-feet tall, at five-foot-two, I was nearly half a head taller than Mom, who was 4-foot, 10.5-inches tall, and tipped the scales at 95 pounds, fully-clothed. But they weren’t checking nurses too closely in those days. Dad always told us, “Yes, kids, it’s true. Your mother did wear Army boots.” They were size 4 1/2s.

Mary Jane Healy
Their first date was in Cape Town, South Africa, when Dad escorted a group of nurses into town for the day and bought Mom a warm Coca-Cola. They spent their shipboard days planning their lives together with a little white house in the country and a flock of kids. When the ship landed in Bombay and they parted company, Dad promised he’d find her again.
With that, the Marauders were off on their assignment to throw stumbling blocks in front of the Japanese 18th Division, Emperor Hirohito’s elite “Chrysanthemum Troops,” the unit that wrought havoc across China, and Burma. The Marauders faced the Japanese in five major engagements, at Walawbum, Shaduzup, Inkangahtawng, Nhpyum Ga, and Myitkyina, as well as thirty minor engagements.
By always moving to the rear of the main forces of the Japanese, the Marauders continually disrupted the enemy’s supplies and communication lines. The conflict climaxed behind Japanese lines with the capture of the Myitkyina airfield, the only all-weather airfield in northern Burma. It came after four full months of marching and combat in the Burmese jungles.
It is said that no other American force except the First Marine Division, which took and held Guadalcanal for four months, has had as much uninterrupted jungle fighting as Merrill’s Marauders.
There also is solid basis to the claim that no other American forces ever had to march as far, fight as continuously, or display more endurance than the fast-moving, hard-hitting Marauders. Dad often told us about watching airplanes searching the valleys 10,000 feet below them, looking for them to drop supplies to them, while they were high above the planes on trails far up in the foothills. He talked about even the sure-footed mules falling off cliffs in the mountains as they made their way along ancient, treacherous paths, guided by locals.
The mules and muleteers of the Mars Task Force trained for the job in Colorado Springs, Colo., and they earned the full faith and respect of the unit. Some years ago I met with a number of the muleteers at a reunion they held in Boise. I’ve never talked with a Marauder who didn’t tear up at memories of those mules who shared their path in those hard times.
Emmett Payne, an old Marauder who spent his last days at the Idaho State Veterans Home, told me stories that Dad never told his daughter. I don’t know whether he told them to his sons. Emmett told about how the Marauders, all of whom—from Merrill on down to the lowliest private—were suffering horribly from dysentery and malaria. They didn’t have time to be sick, and there was no time for diarrhea, so they kept moving despite malaria, and they cut holes in the seats of their pants to deal with the diarrhea. They kept walking and fighting.
The Marauders carried all of their equipment and supplies on their backs or on the backs of their pack mules. They were often resupplied by airdrops, but also had to make clearings in the thick jungles so the supplies could be dropped to them.
When they took off from Bombay, Dad’s pack weighed 75 lbs., which was half of his body weight. Mom carried 40 lbs., which was 40 percent of her body weight. Dad was wounded three times. One was a flesh wound where a bullet passed through the fleshy part of his thigh. After he was treated, he tore off the tag and went back to his men. The second time, a bullet shattered the base of his thumb so he couldn’t pull a trigger. That put him out of commission for a little longer.
Following a plane crash that killed a number of the nurses from the 69th General Hospital, Mom was transferred from Bhamo to Ledo. There was never a shortage of work for the nurses, and Mom also helped to train nurses for Dr. Gordon Seagraves, “The Burma Surgeon.”

Donald and Mary Jane Delorey in 1946
In the Ranger tradition, every wounded Marauder was evacuated. The third time Dad was shot, he was 15 yards from the Japanese machine guns. His upper right leg was shattered. “It felt like a bag of wet marbles,” he said. He lay there for nearly an hour, applying a tourniquet, picking little tomatoes off a nearby bush, and savoring what he thought were his last moments. While Sgt. John “Tex” Texiera was directing mortar fire from a nearby hill, Capt. Jim Holland, Sgt. Pappy Meyers, Lt. Colonel Ken Harrell, and Capt. Brubaker from the headquarters company came out with a litter to bring Dad back behind the American lines. “What the hell are you doing here,” was Dad’s first question. “You didn’t think we were going to leave you here, did you?” Jim Holland asked. Dad said that, actually, he was pretty sure they would have to leave him, and he believed the only reason he was allowed to live was because the Japanese planned to kill those who they knew would come to rescue him.
Because they were a secret unit, there were very few photos, and only three reels of movie film ever taken of the Marauders. Two of those were destroyed in a plane crash. On the one remaining reel are images of Dad being carried back to the American lines while bullets snap leaves from nearby trees. So Dad began his long trip home on a Piper J-3 Cub.
Mom’s unit remained in Burma, nursing the troops. The Japanese army had been broken, however, so things were quieting after Myitkyina. Eventually her unit was sent to Okinawa, preparing for the invasion of Japan. Mom was assigned to wade ashore with the first wave of troops.
When the bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima ended the war, Mom was sent home, but not before Typhoon Louise, classified as a “Perfect Storm,” slammed the island, damaging, sinking or grounding 265 ships and leaving 83 men dead or missing. During the storm, Mom spent three days huddled under a butcher block with two other nurses after everything else they had was blown away.
Mom said the admiral cried when he came ashore and found the nurses with nothing—no food, no dry clothing, not a comb nor a toothbrush—nothing but the wet, filthy clothes on their backs. “American women should never have been treated like this,” was his first reaction, and the next thing they knew, there were naval commanders running all of the supplies they needed.
Shortly after that, the nurses were evacuated and, although the typhoon was still in evidence, Mom, a non-swimmer, refused to ride up in a basket like those who were too afraid to make the climb. Still in the throes of the subsiding storm, Mom said sometimes the scramble net was far away from the ship, sometimes it was slammed against the side, but Mom proudly climbed the 40-foot net up the side of the ship, satisfied with the knowledge that she had done her part in the second “War to End All Wars.” She had helped to make the world safe for democracy. She and Dad had both done their parts to assure a peaceful world for their children.
Twenty years later, almost to the day, my older brother Don, set foot on Okinawa, a young Marine on his way to Vietnam.
You can find out more about Merrill’s Marauders here. You can find out more about the China-Burma-India Theater here

Junichi Suzuki’s New Documentary Tells Untold Military Intelligence Service Story

Photo: National Japanese American Historical Society
Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill with two of his Nisei interpreters, Technical Sergeant Herbert Miyasaki (left) and Technical Sergeant Akiji Yoshimura.

The new documentary will open in select theaters in New York, Hawaii and California throughout April and May.

By Pacific Citizen Staff
April 20, 2012


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A new documentary chronicles the story of Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service, a story that was untold for many years because of the secrecy of their work.
Director Junichi Suzuki’s film “MIS: Human Secret Weapon” features historical black and white footage, documents and firsthand accounts from the Japanese Americans who conducted highly classified intelligence work during World War II.
“This film will give them a lot of historical and educational information that people have never heard or seen,” said Suzuki. “MIS, Military Intelligence Service, were unknown to people, even to Nikkeijin. Japanese people don’t know how much Nikkeijin contributed to the fact that they could get over defeat and rebuild the foundation of the nation in such a short period of time.”
Suzuki also directed the documentaries “442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignity” and “Toyo’s Camera.” This newest film “MIS: Human Secret Weapon” will open in select theaters in New York, Hawaii and California throughout April and May.
 The documentary begins with actress Tamlyn Tomita describing through her tears the heroics of the MIS.
Beginning with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, “MIS: Human Secret Weapon” tells the story of the unjust incarceration of some 120,000 people of Japanese descent through interviews with MIS veterans like Grant Ichikawa, 92, who was with his family at Gila River when military recruiters arrived.
Veterans also recalled in the documentary the discrimination they faced in the military such as seeing almost all of their fellow white soldiers graduate from MIS language school to become officers, unlike the Nisei.
Other interviews in the film include U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, former Hawaii Gov. George Ariyoshi, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, and ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, among others.
Some 6,000 Japanese American soldiers served in the MIS, many did so while their families were unjustly incarcerated behind barbed-wired fences.
The MIS served in small groups or were attached as individuals to U.S. or allied units. They translated Japanese documents, intercepted radio transmission and interrogated prisoners of war, among other things. Following the end of WWII the occupational forces in Japan were assisted by the MIS in the post-WWII reconstruction of Japan to a democratic form of government.
The film recreates the journey of the MIS, including firsthand accounts from veterans like Thomas Sakamoto, 83, of the devastation in Japan following the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.
Due to the sensitive nature of their wartime operations, the MIS were unable to discuss their WWII work until the passage in 1974 of the Freedom of Information Act.
The “MIS: Human Secret Weapon” filmmaker says he hopes to introduce to Japan and America the story of the MIS, which went untold for so many years due to their highly classified wartime work.
“Japan is thriving as a nation today, but this is greatly owed to the effort of Nikkeijin,” Suzuki said. “I want to introduce the history of MIS to Japanese people, also, to American audience because the history of Nikkeijin is nothing but the history of America.”


Merrill’s Marauders

Battle Picture Weekly
15th November 1975 – 27th March 1976
Writer: Eric Hebden
Artists: Geoff Campion, Mike Western
Merrill’s Marauders based its stories on the real-life adventures of the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), code-named Galahad. The more common nickname of ‘Merrill’s Marauders’ was derived from the name of their commanding officer, Major-General Frank Dow Merrill. The Marauders operated in the style of a British Chindit unit, performing deep-penetration missions behind Japanese lines, often engaging Japanese forces superior in number. Over a period of approximately five months, the Marauders advanced through 750 miles of jungle, more than any other US Army unit, engaging the Japanese  on thirty-two separate occasions, including five major conflicts in Walawbum, Shaduzup, Inkangahtawng, Nhpum Ga, and Myitkyina.
Merrill’s Marauders arrived alongside Destroyer!, Y for Yellow Squadron and Great Escapes, in something of a relaunch issue for Battle. The strip recounted selected stories of the Marauders, ably dramatised by Eric Hebden. The bulk of the artwork came from Geoff Campion, with Mike Western contributing four episodes towards the end of the run as Campion began work on Fighter from the Sky. Like its fellow debutantes and many other strips from the early phase of Battle, Merrill’s Marauders failed to capture the readers’ imaginations. The next strip to launch, Major Eazy, put an end to this run of under-performing stories.



5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) I

Wingate’s exploits so impressed Winston Churchill that the British Prime Minister summoned this “man of genius and audacity” to the Quebec Conference in August 1943. At Quebec, the Allies finally agreed to launch an offensive into Burma in early 1944. While the Chinese Y Force advanced from Yunnan into eastern Burma and the British IV Corps drove east into Burma from Manipur State, Stilwell’s Chinese-American force would attack southeast from the Shingbwiyang area toward Myitkyina. Capture of that key North Burma city and its airfield would remove the threat of enemy fighter planes to transports flying the Hump and also enable the Allies to connect the advancing Ledo Road into the transportation network of North Burma. A new Southeast Asia Command (SEAC) under British Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten would provide overall control to the offensive. After listening to Wingate’s impassioned arguments on the benefits of Chindit-style long-range penetration groups, the Allied leaders also agreed to expand the number of such groups to support the advance, and the Americans agreed to supply their own long-range penetration force.
The American force which emerged, the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) known as GALAHAD, proved a far cry from the elite unit which the Army’s leaders had envisioned. In the South and Southwest Pacific, the Caribbean, and the United States, the call for jungle-tested volunteers for a hazardous mission produced a collection of adventurers, small-town Midwesterners, southern farm boys, a few Native and Japanese-Americans, and a number of disciplinary cases that commanders were only too happy to unload. As the volunteers assembled in San Francisco, one officer remarked, “We’ve got the misfits of half the divisions in the country.” After arriving in Bombay, India, on 31 October, GALAHAD trained in long-range penetration tactics under Wingate’s supervision and soon earned a reputation as an unruly outfit. A British officer, who had been invited to GALAHAD’S camp for a quiet Christmas evening, noted men wildly firing their guns into the air in celebration and remarked, “I can’t help wondering what it’s like when you are not having a quiet occasion.” Although GALAHAD presented some disciplinary problems, Stilwell and his staff were overjoyed to obtain some American combat troops, and Stilwell managed to wrest control of the unit from the angry Wingate. To command GALAHAD, he selected one of his intimates, Brig. Gen. Frank D. Merrill, leading correspondents to dub the unit “Merrill’s Marauders.”
By the time GALAHAD reached the front in February 1944, Stilwell had already started his Chinese divisions into Burma. He had received word of Chiang’s decision to cancel the offensive into eastern Burma but was determined to continue regardless of Y Force’s plans. Taking command in the field on 21 December, he sent his Chinese troops southeast into the Hukawng Valley of northern Burma. The Chinese received a major boost in morale when a battalion of their 114th Regiment, with artillery support, drove the Japanese from a series of pillboxes and relieved a pocket of trapped troops at Yupbang Ga. Although a small victory, it made the Chinese believe that they could meet the enemy on equal terms. Despite this new confidence, the advance proceeded slowly, due to heavy seasonal rains and Chiang’s tendency to bypass Stilwell and direct his officers not to risk their men unduly. Using wide envelopments to outflank the Japanese defenses, the Chinese pushed to the line of the Tanai Hka, about sixty miles into the Hukawng Valley, by late February.
With GALAHAD’S arrival on the scene, Stilwell continued to press the advance. He ordered his two Chinese divisions to keep pressure on the Japanese front and sent the Marauders on a wide march around the Japanese right to cut the enemy’s communications. Once again, the Chinese advanced at a snail’s pace, heeding Chiang’s orders to conserve strength. Noting the glacial pace of the Chinese, Lt. Gen. Shinichi Tanaka, commander of the Japanese 18th Division, decided to leave a force to block the Chinese and destroy the threat to his rear.
The Marauders were living up to their image in Stilwell’s headquarters as a modern-day version of Stonewall Jackson’s foot cavalry. To reach the Japanese lines of communications, they needed to make their way through jungle-choked terrain cut by frequent streams and crossed by only a few trails. When the advance began on 24 February, the intelligence and reconnaissance platoons of GALAHAD’S three battalions took the lead, carefully probing ahead in single file on the narrow footpaths through the dense foliage, examining footprints, stopping frequently to watch and listen, cautiously approaching each bend in the trail. Occasionally, they clashed with Japanese patrols. Near the village of Lanem Ga, a burst of fire from a Japanese machine gun claimed the life of Pvt. Robert W. Landis, the lead scout of the 2d Battalion’s intelligence and reconnaissance platoon and the first Marauder to die in combat. On 3 March the Marauders reached the Japanese line of retreat and established a pair of roadblocks, the 3d Battalion at the little Kachin village of Walawbum, the 2d farther northwest near Kumnyan Ga, and the 1st in reserve. Digging in, they waited for the enemy’s response.
The Japanese did not take long to act. At Walawbum, the 56th Regiment struck the positions of the Orange Combat Team of the 3d Battalion on 4 March and 6 March. The emphasis on marksmanship in GALAHAD’S training now paid dividends as the Americans, aided by heavy mortars firing from their rear and by two heavy machine guns, littered the fields with Japanese dead. On the day of the 6th, the Japanese launched a banzai attack, but the frenzied enthusiasm of the assault again proved no match for American firepower. To the north the 2d Battalion came under severe pressure, repulsing six attacks in one day, before Merrill withdrew them. In all, the Marauders killed about 800 enemy soldiers at a cost of 200 of their own men. As pleased as they were with such a performance, Stilwell and Merrill were anxious to keep down GALAHAD’S losses, particularly given its status as the only available American combat unit. They relieved the Marauders with a Chinese regiment on 7 March. By that time, Tanaka had decided to withdraw south along a hastily built bypass of the American roadblocks to a strong position on the Jambu Bum, a range of low hills at the southern end of the Hukawng Valley.
In his plan for the campaign, Stilwell had hoped to reach the Jambu Bum before monsoon rains forced suspension of active operations. His divisions were practically the only Allied force making progress in the campaign. Not only had Chiang postponed Y Force’s advance, but the British, far from moving into Burma, were trying to hold against a major Japanese offensive into India. This Japanese advance, which began on 8 March, threatened both the British Army in Assam and Stilwell’s supply line to India. For the moment Stilwell could still proceed, but he would have to keep a close watch on developments to the southwest. He accordingly laid plans for the Chinese to continue their advance on the 18th Division’s front, while GALAHAD would split into two parts, again envelop the Japanese right flank, and cut Japanese communications in two different places.
In this flanking movement, GALAHAD had to march through some of the most difficult terrain of the campaign. The Marauders needed to climb out of the Hukawng Valley onto the hills to the east and then move south through territory in which only the extremely steep, narrow valley of the Tanai offered an avenue of approach. Fortunately, the Marauders in their march unexpectedly encountered the Kachin guerrillas, who served as guides, screened the advance, and even provided elephants as cargo bearers. On the right the 1st Battalion hacked a path through twenty miles of bamboo forests and streams, crossing one river fifty-six times. Early on the morning of 28 March the battalion surprised an enemy camp at Shaduzup and established a roadblock. To the south Col. Charles N. Hunter, Merrill’s second in command, led the 2d and 3d Battalions up the Tanai and through ridge lines to take up a position near Inkawngatawng. They had hardly arrived when they received orders to retrace their steps and take up blocking positions. A captured enemy sketch told Stilwell that a strong Japanese force was advancing on the Allied left to outflank the attackers. To head off the Japanese, the 3d Battalion occupied Janpan and the 2d Battalion took up positions at Nhpum Ga.
At Nhpum Ga the 2d Battalion withstood eleven days of shelling and heavy attacks from three Japanese battalions which surrounded the position. The 2d’s perimeter, 400 by 250 yards on top of a 2,800 foot saddle of high ground, dominated the surrounding terrain, but it offered few amenities to battalion members. The Japanese captured the only water hole, necessitating airdrops of water into the position. The stench from rotting mule carcasses and unburied excrement, according to one soldier, “would have been utterly unbearable if there had been any alternative to bearing it.” Yet, somehow, the 2d managed to hold. Its Japanese-American soldiers frequently crept into no-man’s-land at night, eavesdropping on Japanese conversations to discover the enemy’s intentions. Meanwhile, the rest of GALAHAD rushed to the rescue. The 1st Battalion, leaving its position at Shaduzup to the Chinese, hastened to the aid of the 2d, and Merrill, though evacuated with a heart attack, arranged the drop of a pair of pack howitzers to the relief forces. Aided by this artillery fire, the 1st and 3d Battalions finally broke through and relieved the

5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) II

The march to Shaduzup and Inkawngatawng and the siege of Nhpum Ga had cost the Marauders 59 dead, 314 wounded, and 379 evacuated for wounds or illness. Of the original 3,000 men, only 1,400 were left, and those 1,400 were approaching a state of collapse. The Marauders anticipated a lengthy rest, but Stilwell had other ideas. The CBI chief received assurances from the British in April that the situation to the south was under control, but he was under pressure from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to seize Myitkyina as soon as possible. Thus in late April, as the Marauders read their mail, received new issues of clothing, relaxed from their labors, and looked forward to the long rest in the rear which they believed they had earned, “a grotesque rumor began to be heard, passed along in deprecating tones, pretty much as a joke.” The rumor proved true. Stilwell was forming a task force of the Marauders, two Chinese regiments, and some Kachin guerrillas to carry out a quick overland march to seize the airfield at Myitkyina. The American commander recognized the poor condition of GALAHAD, but he believed he had no alternative. He promised Merrill that he would evacuate GALAHAD without delay “if everything worked out as expected.”
Stilwell’s promise sustained the Marauders through the grueling 65-mile march over the 6,000-foot Kumon range to Myitkyina. Despite the efforts of an advance party of Kachins and coolies, the trail followed by the task force proved treacherous to negotiate. Mud transformed sections of the path into slides, and in places the Marauders had to cut steps out of the ground for their supply mules to obtain a foothold. Even so, a number of mules lost their footing and fell to their death. The smothering heat and humidity, the rugged terrain, and disease caused some Marauders to drop out of formation along the way. On 6 May advance patrols clashed with the Japanese garrison at Ritpong, leading GALAHAD’S commanders to worry that their task had been compromised. Nevertheless, the Marauders pressed on, finally reaching the vicinity of the airfield on 16 May.
Despite the concerns of the commanders, the attack on the airfield on the morning of 17 May caught the Japanese completely by surprise. While GALAHAD’S 3d Battalion feinted toward the northern end of the defenses and the 1st Battalion seized the Irrawaddy ferry terminal at Pamati on the right flank, a Chinese regiment overran the airstrip and probed toward Myitkyina itself. Lacking accurate intelligence on the defenders, this initial attack on the city fell into confusion and was easily repulsed. Nevertheless, exultation reigned at Stilwell’s headquarters when word arrived of the capture of the airfield. The general made arrangements to fly in Chinese reinforce ments and, exuberant over his success despite British skepticism, he wrote in his diary, “WILL THIS BURN UP THE LIMEYS!”
The jubilation over the capture of the airfield soon dissolved in the gloom of a siege. Houses and railroad cars around the city and roads that rose twelve feet above flooded rice paddies provided natural fortifications for the defenders, who may actually have outnumbered their besiegers.
Fortunately for the Allies, the Japanese grossly overestimated the strength of their opponents and stayed on the defensive. To fill gaps in the Allied line, Stilwell and his staff scrambled to find whatever troops they could. Swallowing his pride, Stilwell requested help from the British 36th Division, only to be informed that no troops would be available for another two months at the earliest. Engineers and GALAHAD replacements went into the line, frequently without sufficient infantry training. The arrival of the monsoon and the lack of heavy weapons further slowed the operation. A series of attacks made little headway against the defenses, and by 2 June, the Allies had resigned themselves to a lengthy investment.
One Marauder later referred to the siege at Myitkyina as “our little Gallipoli.” Such static warfare, with its emphasis on fortifications and heavy weapons, ill-suited a light infantry unit like GALAHAD, which needed relief in any case. Some Marauders cut holes in the seat of their pants so that their dysentery would not interrupt the firing of their weapons. On the 2d Battalion’s front, soldiers fell asleep in their trenches from sheer exhaustion. Yet Stilwell was pressing worn units of other nationalities onto the front at Myitkyina as well, and even using the Chindits as line infantry. He could not relieve the only American combat troops in the theater without raising cries of favoritism. Thus GALAHAD fought on, with predictable results. By 25 May the Marauders were losing 75 to 100 men daily to malaria, dysentery, and scrub typhus. Merrill himself was evacuated after a second heart attack. Morale plummeted even further when desperate staff officers, trying to hold down the rate of evacuation, pressed into service sick or wounded troops who could still walk. Such episodes, along with the broken promises of relief, confirmed GALAHAD’S sense that it was the maltreated stepchild of higher headquarters. The resulting crisis in morale later created a nasty scandal in the United States.
Only a few of the original Marauders remained when Myitkyina finally fell in August. Bit by bit, the Allies, ever improving in combat experience and close air support, had tightened their grip on the Japanese defensive perimeter. By 17 June, GALAHAD had reached the Irrawaddy River north of Myitkyina, cutting off the enemy from supplies and reinforcement from that direction. Mogaung, a key rail center southwest of Myitkyina, fell to the Chinese and Chindits on 27 June, ending any threat to the siege from that direction. With the capture of Mogaung, Myitkyina’s fate was sealed. Sensing the doom of the city, the defenders evacuated their wounded on rafts, many of which were ambushed by Kachins as they drifted down the Irrawaddy. On 3 August the Chinese attacked, sending a raiding party to infiltrate enemy lines and create havoc in the rear while the 50th Division made the main assault. The Japanese soon gave way, and by late afternoon the Chinese had secured the city. Stilwell had his victory, but at a heavy price. The campaign had cost the Chinese about 4,200 casualties, and the Americans lost 2,200.
The fall of Myitkyina represented the greatest victory of Stilwell’s career, but within three months he had returned to the United States following a final quarrel with Chiang. Y Force had finally crossed the Salween into Burma in May, but any hope of a rapid Chinese advance toward Myitkyina soon evaporated when a Japanese counterattack drove Y Force back toward the frontier. China’s fortunes grew even darker in August when a Japanese offensive in east China threatened Chennault’s air bases. Chiang wanted to withdraw Y Force from Burma, but when Stilwell notified Washington of Chiang’s plans President Roosevelt, who had lost patience with the Chinese leader, warned that he expected Chiang to place Stilwell in command of all forces in China, strengthen Y Force, and press the Salween offensive. A petulant Chiang assumed that Stilwell had instigated this humiliating dispatch and demanded his recall. On 27 October 1944, Stilwell left the theater for the United States. His old domain was split into two parts. Maj. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer became Chiang’s new chief of staff and chief of the China theater; Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Sultan, an engineer officer and Stilwell’s CBI deputy, took over the India-Burma theater.

Chinese Expeditionary Force (Burma)

Chinese Expedition Army boarding US planes bound for India.

File:NRA marching and aircraft.jpg

US equipped Chinese soldiers in India marching when a P40 Warhawk fly overhead.



Chinese Army in India


US equipped Chinese Army in India marching.
 Parade of US equipped Chinese Army in India, soldiers can be seen wearing shoes made of straw.

File:Workers with hand tools building Burma Road2.jpg
Workers with hand tools building Burma Road.
File:A look at "Burma Road." - NARA - 196231.jpg
Ledo Burma Roads -Assam-Burma-China.



While the drama of war in Europe and the Pacific captured the world press, in the jungles of Burma and along the mountain ridges, the Brits, the Chindits, Kachins, Burmese, Gurkas, Indians, and others were waging total war with the Japanese.    Lt. Gen. Stilwell watches his troops advance over to a Japanese-held side of a river in Burma
 GALAHAD troops rest along the jungle trail near Nhpum, Burma
 Convoys ascending a famous 21-curve stretch along the Burma Road
 Ledo Road Engineers watching 2d Btn, 475th Infantry Regiment ford a stream below Kazu, Burma
 Ledo and Bazaar on Ledo Road
 New landing strip at Ledo
 Combat Headquarters and Ledo Road
 American personnel, just arrived in India, load into trucks bound for their new station
 American and Chinese moving forward over difficult terrain into northern Burma, 1944
 40mm Anti-aircraft gun M1 with its crew in India, April 1944
 81mm mortar M1 firing on enemy supply and communications lines
 Crossing the Salween River, July 1944 on temporary suspension bridge
 First convoy over the Ledo Road, renamed the Stilwell Highway

 Merrill's Marauders
MERRILL'S MARAUDERS - The 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) code name GALAHAD became famous as Merrill's Marauders


 Merrill's Marauders
Merrill's Marauders move along the road

 Merrill's Marauders
Coaxing mules up a steep hill

 Merrill's Marauders
The Marauders on a newly cut portion of the Ledo Road

 Merrill's Marauders
The Marauders pass the half-way point on the Ledo Road

 Merrill's Marauders
Crossing a native bridge

 CLICK HERE for next page (Building Bridges)
General Merrill (far left) observes the Marauder's along the Ledo Road


 The Ledo Road
BUILDING BRIDGES - Engineers still at work as trucks cross temporary bridge over the Irrawaddy River south of Myitkyina


 The Ledo Road
Before the bridge was complete supplies were ferried across the Irrawaddy

 The Ledo Road
Three ways to cross the Irrawaddy

 The Ledo Road
A more permanent bridge over the Irrawaddy

 The Ledo Road
Floating design of the 1200 foot long bridge allowed it to adjust to the river's changing level

 The Ledo Road
Bridge over the Mogaung River south of Warazup, Burma

 The Ledo Road
Wooden bridge under construction

 The Ledo Road
Bulldozer grades approach to bridge under construction. Temporary crossing at right.

 The Ledo Road
Another bridge under construction. On average there was a bridge every three miles along the Ledo Road

 The Ledo Road
A 450 foot Bailey cable bridge spans the Shweli River

 The Ledo Road
Salween River Bridge. Early view shows bridge open for foot traffic only.

 The Ledo Road
Suspension bridge under construction

 The Ledo Road
Bridge ready for single-lane traffic

 The Ledo Road
Truck crossing the bridge

 The Ledo Road
Aerial view of the bridge

 The Ledo Road
Another aerial view

 The Ledo Road
Another view with bridge in distance

 The Ledo Road
Chinese soldiers on foot and a Jeep share bridge

 The Ledo Road
Crossing a pontoon bridge

 The Ledo Road
Steel bridges in Burma

 The Ledo Road
Trucks with bridge sections await unloading

 The Ledo Road
General Pick poses with bridge builders

 The Ledo Road
Bailey Bridges

 CLICK HERE for next page (The Burma Road)
Bridges over the Tarung River in Burma


 Stilwell Road
THE BUMA ROAD - In addition to building the Ledo Road, engineers also upgraded almost 600 miles of the Burma Road.


 Stilwell Road
Survey party checks tough terrain

 Stilwell Road
Truck rolls by laborers placing stones one-by-one

 Stilwell Road
Native laborer works on shoulder of road

 Stilwell Road
Graders maintaining the Burma Road

 Stilwell Road
General Seedlock at ceremonial link-up of construction parties at the Burma-China border

 Stilwell Road
Famous 24-Zig along the Burma Road

 Stilwell Road
Another view of the curves

 Stilwell Road
Back and forth up or down the mountain

 Stilwell Road
Chinese-manned American tanks on the Burma Road

 Stilwell Road
Chinese tank crew

 Stilwell Road
Tanks cross the Irrawaddy River in Burma

 Stilwell Road
Fighter protects Chinese troops on the Burma Road

 Stilwell Road
Trucks on the road...

 Stilwell Road
...and trucks off the road

 Stilwell Road
This truck almost went in the river

 Stilwell Road
Pause to check-out explosion

 Stilwell Road
Convoys passing

 Stilwell Road
Tractor-trailer trucks just get by a nearly washed-out bridge

 The Ledo Road
Truck rolls along the road

 The Ledo Road
Lone truck kicks up dust racing rain clouds

 Stilwell Road
Chinese troops move along the Burma Road

 CLICK HERE for next page (Parallel Pipeline)
The Burma Road in Yunnan Province, China.


 Parallel Pipeline

 Parallel Pipeline
Up to six 4" and 6" pipelines followed the supply line from Calcutta to Kunming

 Parallel Pipeline
Pipeline suspended over a river

 Parallel Pipeline
The pipeline disappears as it crosses distant river

 Parallel Pipeline
Pipelines take a shortcut over a hill

 Parallel Pipeline
Pumping Station in Burma

 Parallel Pipeline
Engineers maintain diesel pumping station

 Parallel Pipeline
Installing support beams for the roof of a fuel storage tank near Myitkyina

 Parallel Pipeline
Storage tanks

 Parallel Pipelines
Pipelines carried fuel for planes and trucks. Here convoy trucks refuel at a depot.

 CLICK HERE for next page (The First Convoy)
Read more about The Longest Pipeline in the World and Fuel for Freedom.




 First convoy formed and awaiting departure
American and Chinese soldiers place flags on a Jeep for the First Convoy over the Ledo Road

 First convoy formed and awaiting departure
First Convoy formed and awaiting departure from Ledo

 Decorating truck for first convoy
Lead vehicle is decorated with American and Chinese flags

 Generals Sultan and Pick
At symbolic ceremony, General Pick (right) receives orders for first convoy from General Sultan (left).

 First Convoy heads out on the Ledo Road
First Convoy heads out on the Ledo Road, 12 January 1945.

 Truck decorated for first convoy
6x6 Deuce 'n' a half (2½ ton truck) decorated for first convoy

 Truck decorated for first convoy
More than just a pretty picture - lead truck was also armed with an anti-aircraft gun

 Motorcycles lead first convoy
Motorcycles lead the 113 vehicle-long convoy

 Trucks pause on a narrow stretch
Trucks pause on a narrow stretch

 Lead truck continues past one of the many bridges
Lead truck continues past one of the many bridges

 The First Convoy winds its way through Burma
The First Convoy winds its way through Burma

 Army ambulance passes convoy
Army ambulance passes convoy

 General Pick addresses drivers
General Pick addresses drivers prior to leaving Myitkyina

 The convoy made several extended stops
The convoy made two extended stops as the final route was cleared

 MPs prepare for overnight layover
MPs assigned to the convoy prepare for overnight layover

 Junction of the Ledo and Burma Roads
General Pick in lead jeep at the junction of the Ledo and Burma Roads

 Photographers follow lead vehicles
Photographers follow lead vehicles

 Truck passes ceremonial junction
Truck passes ceremonial junction

 Sign marks passing of first convoy
Sign marks passing of first convoy.  View close-up or text of sign.

 First convoy sign in different location and with Chinese translation
American and Chinese soldiers view the sign, in a different location and with translation added.

 Convoy traverses the 21 curves at Annan
Convoy traverses switchbacks on the Burma Road.

 Passing Temples and ruins
Passing Temples and ruins

 Flags and fireworks greet the convoy
Flags and fireworks greet the convoy as it passes through Saikwan, China.

 Boy gives traditional Chinese good luck greeting
Boy gives traditional Chinese good luck greeting as convoy passes. Cover of May 4, 1945 issue of YANK The Army Weekly.    View Cover

 Convoy assembled for triumphant entry into Kunming
Convoy assembled for triumphant entry into Kunming

 Welcome the Firat Convoy
Convoy passes under sign "Welcome the Firat Convoy on Stilwell Road"

 General Pick waves to crowd lining streets of Kunming
General Pick waves to crowd lining streets of Kunming

 People crowd the convoy
People crowd the convoy

 First convoy arrives Kunming
First convoy arrives Kunming, China on 4 February 1945.

 The long convoy in Kunming
The long convoy in Kunming

 General Pick at road opening ceremony
General Pick at road opening ceremony

 CLICK HERE for next page )Ledo Road Signs)
Governor of Yunnan Province greets General Pick


 Milepost Zero Sign at Ledo


 Milepost Zero Sign at Ledo
Another version of the sign with CBI and Ledo Road emblems added.

 Milepost Sign at Ledo
General Pick points out Myitkyina, 268 miles from Ledo.

 Milepost Zero Sign at Ledo
Soldiers pose in front of the large Milepost sign at Ledo

 Probably the first Milepost Zero sign at Ledo
Probably the first Milepost Zero sign at Ledo

 Sign at Shingbwiyang
Sign at Shingbwiyang shows number of miles to Kunming

 Ledo Area Command Headquarters
Ledo Area Command Headquarters

 Chinglow Hill sign
General Pick inspects Chinglo (Chinglow) Hill sign with Col. William J. Green and Col. Charles S. Davis

 Ledo Road sign
Convoy parking area south of Bhamo, Burma
 Ledo Road sign
Mileage sign along the road

 Ledo Road sign
On the way back to Assam near Shingbwiyang
 Ledo Road sign
Instructions for crossing the Irrawaddy River

 Ledo Road sign
Not your average speed limit sign
 Ledo Road sign
Pin-up Girls always got a driver's attention

 Ledo Road sign
"Speeders Beware! Mark my words,
Wait and see, You'll get caught, Just like me."
 Ledo Road sign
"Listen cats I ain't jivin'
Take it easy while you're drivin'

 Ledo Road sign
Making reference to gas rationing back home, sign urges conservation

 Ledo Road Milepost 00.00  Go Easy on the Curves
A small sign marking Milepost Zero and one featuring a Pin-Up Girl urging caution on the curves.

 India-Burma border Pangsau Pass 3827 ft above sea level  Pangsau Pass - 7+ miles of steep grade with sharp curves - Reduce speed and use low gear
Signs in Pangsau Pass mark the India-Burma border and warn of steep grade and sharp curves.

 Ledo Road sign
Sign at Mongyu, Burma marks junction of the roads

 Ledo Road sign
China-bound truck passes sign at junction of Ledo and Burma roads

 Ledo Road sign
Signs memorialize one of the 261 engineers who lost their lives during construction. View close-up or text of sign.

 CLICK HERE for next page (Timeline of Events)

Click More to link to additional information on the event


   After years of Japanese aggression, full-scale war breaks out.
   Many historians regard this as the start of World War II.


   Capture of Hankow and Canton completes blockade of ocean ports.
   Supplies must be brought by road through Indo-China and Burma.


   Under Japanese occupation a relentless guerrilla war is waged.
   Staggering losses fail to destroy Chinese morale.


              leaving Russia as the only land supply route to China.

              while military and other aid is authorized for Britain and France

              as no progress toward peace is made with Japan

              allowing "lending" of military equipment to U.S. allies.


              authorizing lending of war supplies to China

          ends China's hope for supplies from Russia

              The American Volunteer Group (AVG) heads to China

          the situation becomes critical

          while diplomatic talks with the U.S. continue

              as the military gains control of the Japanese Empire

              "awake a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve"

              Roosevelt forever labels December 7th the "Day of Infamy"


              Japanese "co-prosperity" sphere grows

          to be supported with Lend-Lease supplies

              the United States organizes in the Far East

          to deliver lend-lease military supplies to China

          closing the important port

              the defense of India and Burma begins

          thereby closing the Burma Road

              and reports "We took a hell of a beating"

              the defense of China begins

          ex-volunteers join the Army Air Corps.

          Joint planning for the retaking of Burma in 1943

          from Ledo forward to Chinese lines

          based on British surveys and a refugee trail

          to coordinate both ends of supply line

          Command for all Ledo Road related operations

          Ill-equipped engineers hack away at the jungle with machetes


          beginning of the road's ascent into the Patkai Range

          36 miles into the Patkai Range of the Himalayas

          Engineers and support personnel for the road project

          Unusual fury bogs down construction progress

          Rest and refueling stop at Hellgate

          Chinese 38th Division crosses the Burma border

          Engineers fall back to strengthen the road against the monsoon

          330th Engineers reinforce the construction effort

          Commander elevated to Brigadier General

          at Hellgate

              under British Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten

              Plan to regain northern Burma is agreed on

          14.88 inches fall late in the month, halting work on the point.

              injecting new life into the road building effort

 22 OCT - MILE POST 60
          near Tincha progress on the road reaches about a mile a day

              volunteers for a dangerous jungle mission "somewhere"

          117 miles to the first "town" in Burma


          Chinese 22nd and 38th Divisions in heavy fighting

          10 day hike to Shingbwiyang headed deeper into Burma

          largest air field in north Burma

          remnants of the Marauders and Chinese troops

          the 79-day siege ends

          Chiang Kai-shek prevails and Roosevelt concedes

          China Theater of Operations (CTO) & India-Burma Theater (IBT)

          using Myitkyina's airstrip speeds progress

          having been worn in theater for years

          the tide has turned in Burma


          the entire route not yet cleared of Japanese resistance

              as the Ledo Road is completed

          at the suggestion of Chiang Kai-shek

          first supplies are delivered by land since 1942

          on the way to Rangoon

          the drive to Rangoon continues

          Japanese are cleared from Burma

              war in the Far East winds down

          General Pick formally announces completion

              Enola Gay delivers "Little Boy"

              Bocks Car delivers "Fat Man"

          Emperor Hirohito announces acceptance of surrender terms

          Japanese sign the surrender instrument in Rangoon

          Japanese sign Instrument of Surrender aboard USS Missouri


          curtain falls on the old CBI Theater

          after being officially open for only 10 months

              destined to bring communism to China

          Cancer claims "Uncle Joe" in California

          President Truman officially proclaims end of hostilities