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Battle of Myitkyina file photo [5463]

Battle of Myitkyina

24 Feb 1944 - 3 Aug 1944

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ww2dbaseIn late 1943, the United States put together a long range penetration unit modeled after British General Orde Wingate's Chindits. As it would eventually be known, the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was a light infantry unit designed to disrupt Japanese movements in northern Burma. Although Wingate had the experience in conducting operations in the jungle behind Japanese lines and that British Vice Admiral Louis Mountbatten was the regional Allied commander (South East Asia Command, SEAC), US Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell, who distrusted the British, was determined to keep this new American unit under his own command without British influence, and Mountbatten conceded. The responsibility of day-to-day operations was given to Frank Merrill, who, while capable, was known to have gained Stilwell's favor by being a yes-man, and it was Merrill's name that inspired the press to bestow the nickname "Merrill's Marauders" to the unit. Through Merrill held the nominal title, it was Colonel Charles Hunter who truly ran the unit in the field. The men of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) were recruited from existing servicemen, with wide ranging backgrounds (some grew up in cities, while some were of farming background; 5037th also had a detachment of Japanese-Americans operating as translators) and military experience (some were combat veterans of Guadalcanal, while some were bored garrison soldiers from Panama Canal Zone). Due to the harsh climate and the expected dangers, Stilwell had promised these soldiers, all volunteers, that they would be deployed for three months, and would receive three months of rest. They arrived in India to began their training, and they officially began their trek into the jungles of northern Burma from Ningbyen on 24 Feb 1944. They would be resupplied by air.

ww2dbaseThe Americans of 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) operated in conjunction with Chinese troops that were also under Stilwell's command in his role as the head of the Northern Combat Area Command, a subcommand of SEAC. Chinese troops (22nd Division, 38th Division, and Chinese 1st Provisional Tank Group) greatly outnumbered the 5307th and bore the brunt of front line fighting as they marched down established roads and trails; the Americans were to cut through jungles to strike or establish roadblocks at unexpected locations to aid the Chinese.

ww2dbaseThrough difficult fighting, the Sino-Americans slowly pushed the Japanese back in northern Burma. The Chinese 38th Division captured Walawbum in the morning of 7 Mar 1944, but the Americans failed to cut off the southward retreat of the demoralized Japanese 18th Division. The ridge of Jambu Bum in the Mogaung Valley was to be the next target, with Chinese 22nd Division acting as the main assault force while a Sino-American force consisted of US 5307th and two regiments from Chinese 38th Division was to go behind Japanese lines to cut supply lines; this was achieved on 19 Mar 1944. Next, Shaduzup was taken by Chinese troops before dawn on 30 Mar 1944. At around the same time, at Nhpum Ga, 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) faced a concerted Japanese offensive, and would end up conducting a stubborn defense there for the following 10 days, suffering casualties and nearly running out of supplies, but the 3rd Battalion was ultimately able to reach Nhpum Ga and break the Japanese assault.

ww2dbaseOn 3 Apr, Stilwell met with Mountbatten. The British SEAC commander shared his positive outlook for an Allied victory at Imphal, India, which was under a Japanese assault, and that the Chindits would remain active in Burma, thus keeping Stilwell's western flank secure. Surprisingly, Mountbatten brought up the possibility of turning the Chindits over to Stilwell so that the American general could better coordinate long range penetration operations behind Japanese lines in northern Burma. Even more surprisingly, the arrogant Stilwell turned it down, believing that his Sino-American force alone was able to continue the campaign without needing any British assistance.

ww2dbaseOn 21 Apr 1944, Stilwell informed his deputies that he intended to capture Myitkyina, which boasted a strategically located airfield, and the soldiers, already on the march, learned of this target five days later. Hunter was to have tactical command of the Myitkyina operation, which numbered 6,000 American and Chinese troops. He divided the assault force into three groups, H Force (Hunter; US 5307th's 1st Battalion, Chinese 150th Regiment, and a howitzer battery), K Force (Colonel Henry Kinnison; US 5307th's 3rd Battalion, Chinese 88th Regiment, and two howitzer guns), and M Force (Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.; US 5307th's 2nd Battalion and 300 Kachin guides and guerrilla fighters). Hunter launched the operation on 29 Apr 1944, marching into the Kumon Mountain Range. Even though the Chindits were fighting concurrently nearby, aiming to reach Mogaung merely 40 miles to the west of Myitkyina, Stilwell chose to keep his push for Myitkyina a secret from Mountbatten. Post-war studies of his field diary noted that he wanted to surprise and embarrass the British by taking Myitkyina, and it could be conjectured that by keeping the campaign a secret, he could avoid potential embarrassment should the operation fail. On 9 May, a combined Sino-American force captured Ritpong, on 14 May the code phrase "Cafeteria Lunch" was sent by Hunter to Stilwell to inform him that he was ready to strike on Myitkyina within 48 hours. In the evening of 16 May, with H Force reaching Namkwi merely 4 miles north of the airfield, the code phrase "Strawberry Sundae" was sent to indicate that the offensive was to be launched on the following day.

ww2dbaseThe offensive on Myitkyina began at 1030 hours on 17 May 1944 with Chinese 150th Regiment attacking the airfield, while 1st Battalion of the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) moved to capture the ferry terminal at Pamati one mile to the southwest on the Irriwady River. Surprising the defenders, Chinese troops overran the airfield by 1200 hours. Hunter sent Merrill a message that the airfield had been secured, no damage was visible on the runways, and that his men needed ammunition. When US aircraft began to arrive within the day, Hunter was first surprised that Merrill failed to appear in person, nor did he bother to send any supplies. Instead, Merrill sent engineers, who were tasked to repair the airfield despite Hunter having already reported that the runways were in good condition. Because Mountbatten was never informed of this operation, the British never prepared for any possible assistance, such as reinforcements to either help hold the airfield or to help capture the city located mere miles east of the airfield. On the following day, Merrill again failed to send ammunition; instead, one aircraft carried Stilwell and 12 camera-wielding war correspondences, and the next disembarked anti-aircraft gunners at a location where threat of Japanese aircraft was not particularly high. Merrill would not appear at the airfield until 19 May, but his presence would ultimately matter little as he would suffer a minor heart attack that would take him to India to recuperate. To replace Merrill, rather than promoting Hunter who was understood the unit intimately, Stilwell appointed Colonel John McCammon, who was known to be a yes-man to Stilwell, much like Merrill. Meanwhile, the American's lack of preparations for operations after Myitkyina Airfield was not mirrored on the Japanese side. Japanese soldiers were being transferred to the city of Myitkyina rapidly, and much of that movement went without Stilwell's staff noticing.

ww2dbaseBy this time, the Americans of 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) had been in the field for three months. In May, the 14th Evacuation Hospital was moved forward to the general area with the primary duty of caring for the sick and wounded. The hospital staff recorded the following on the men of the 5307th:

many of them were seriously ill and they were so tired, dirty, and hungry that they looked more dead than alive. They suffered from exhaustion, malnutrition, typhus, malaria, amebic dysentery, jungle sores, and many other diseases resulting from months of hardship in the tropical jungle.

ww2dbaseHunter made a list of grievances and personally delivered it to Stilwell, noting that the men had been overworked, lacked promotion and decorations, and were disappointed that repeated promises of rest had been broken. Hunter's men had also become front line troopers in the attack on Myitkyina city, even though they were not trained for that role. Finally, as the men of 5307th fell one by to exhaustion and disease, finally many of them simply could not go on and were sent to India to rest. They were disappointed upon reaching India, however, as the accommodations were extremely poor, and many of the personal possessions they left behind in India, not well guarded, were ransacked by rear echelon troops.

ww2dbaseStilwell's failure to quickly build up a fresh force immediately after capturing Myitkyina Airfield soon became a visible problem as the attempt to capture the city of Myitkyina became a protracted siege. 40,000 Chinese troops from Yunnan Province, China did soon arrive under the command of General Huang Weili, and that number would soon grow to 72,000. Throughout the siege, intelligence would fail on both sides, with the Americans constantly underestimating the number of Japanese defenders, while the Japanese constantly overestimating the number of Sino-American attackers. As a result, American generals took on risks by making rapid moves against an enemy that was stronger than they had estimated, and the Japanese fought unnecessarily conservatively and lost many opportunities for counteroffensives. On 3 Jun 1944 the 42nd and the 150th Chinese Regiments made an attack on the city, only to be pushed back by the Japanese after heavy casualties. Though starting to have a sense that the Japanese garrison was stronger than expected, the Allied command still believed that the city was only defended by fewer than 1,000 Japanese troops. Over the next month, a battle of attrition wore down both sides, with exhaustion and disease claiming a significant portion of casualties. The first signs that the Japanese were starting to become worn down appeared in the last week of Jul 1944 when Kachin rangers operating in Detachment 101 found Japanese field hospital patients being floated on rafts downstream by hospital staff, in hope that they would be received by Japanese garrisons down the river. Even the natives were reporting that the Japanese were starting to hire them to make rafts and build booby traps. Rumors were also being spread by means of captured Japanese prisoners of war that a small number of key officers at Myitkyina had committed ritual suicide. The suspicions of a upcoming victory began to actually materialize only a couple of days later, on 26 Jul, when the 3rd Battalion of the 5307th made a significant gain by capturing the northern airfield at Myitkyina. Over the next week, Japanese resistance was noticeably weaker. On or about 1 Aug, General Mizukami committed suicide after seeing the main part of his army safely withdrawing from the area. Before he did so, however, he ordered for those wounded that could not be evacuated efficiently to stay behind as rear guard and hold the town as long as they could.

ww2dbaseOn 3 Aug 1944, the city of Myitkyina was finally captured. At the conclusion of the May-Aug siege, 972 Chinese were killed and 3,184 were wounded; after adding the 188 sick, the Chinese suffered a total of 4,344 casualties. The Americans suffered 272 killed, 955 wounded, and 980 evacuated for sickness; the American casualties totaled 2,207. The Japanese suffered 790 killed, 1,180 wounded, and 182 captured; Colonel Fusayasu Maruyama, the garrison commander at Myitkyina, was able to escape.

ww2dbaseSpecifically on the over-extended 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), it started with about 2,600 men in Feb 1944. Their good training led to only 93 killed and 301 wounded or missing between Feb 1944 and May 1944. However, a staggering 1,970 men were hospitalized due to debilitating sickness, amoebic dysentery having the greatest number of cases at 503.

ww2dbaseWhen Myitkyina was finally taken, Stilwell dismissed Hunter, explicitly ordering him to return to the United States by ship rather than to fly. Some hypothesized that it was so Stilwell and Merrill could take the credit for the campaign that led to the victory at Myitkyina, while preventing Hunter from divulging the less savory events such as Stilwell having overworked the 5307th. The news did eventually leak, however. On 6 Aug 1944, the newspaper Washington Post published "Marauders' Morale Broken by Hospital Faults, Promises", and other publications slowly picked up on various tales of the poor treatment of the 5307th. When later questioned by senators, Stilwell and Merrill chose to lie when possible, and point fingers when they could not; they were largely successful, securing credit for capturing Myitkyina and ultimately relegating Hunter to obscurity.

ww2dbaseThe capture of Mogaung by the Chindits on 26 Jun in Operation Thursday and the capture of Myitkyina on 3 Aug meant that the Japanese were now driven out of northern Burma. American engineers were immediately sent in to build a new road through the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys through Kamaing to Myitkyina, and plans were start to be put together to repair the road from Myitkyina to Bhamo to the south, where the Allies hoped to pick up the Burma Road.

ww2dbaseAfter a short time to regroup, Allied forces pushed south again. Japanese strategy in Burma from this point forward changed drastically toward the defensive, abandoning the notion of maintaining a northern flank to threaten China's supply situation. The Japanese forces in Burma saw a change in personnel as well. After the failures of 1944, Lieutenant General Renya Mutaguchi was relieved, replaced by Lieutenant General Shibachi Katamura, formerly of the Japanese 54th Infantry Division. The Burma Area Army saw a new commander in Lieutenant General Kimura Hyotaro, formerly of the Ordnance Administration Headquarters in Tokyo.

ww2dbaseSources:
Frank McLynn, The Burma Campaign
Gavin Mortimer, Merrill's Marauders
Nathan Prefer, Vinegar Joe's War
Wikipedia

Last Major Update: Sep 2007

Battle of Myitkyina Interactive Map

Photographs

Men of the US Army 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) Frank Merrill with two Kachin scouts, Naubum, Burma, circa 30 Apr 1944
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Maps

Map of situation in India and Burma, Nov 1943-May 1944Map depicting the movement of Allied H, K, and M forces toward Myitkyina, Burma, 28 Apr to 16 May 1944
See all 3 maps of Battle of Myitkyina

Battle of Myitkyina Timeline

18 Feb 1944 The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) reached Shingbiyang, Burma.
19 Feb 1944 The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched past Joseph Stilwell's headquarters at Shingbiyang, Burma as they headed out to the assembly area in Ningbyen for the first long range penetration mission, shaven and helmeted to look good for the general who they expected would show to wish them luck. Stilwell chose to remain in his quarters, disappointing his troops.
20 Feb 1944 The 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Shingbiyang, Burma. Lieutenant Colonel George McGee chose not to rest and pressed on for the assembly area at Ningbyen 10 miles down the road despite the approaching darkness. They would end up needing the entire night to reach Ningbyen, arriving in the morning of 21 Feb.
21 Feb 1944 The 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Ningbyen, Burma. Joseph Stilwell, in a dirty field jacket without rank insignia, talked with some soldiers. Several soldiers did not realize who Stilwell was and made jokes about his older age. The visit repaired the damage done by Stilwell when he neglected to take the time to meet his men at Shingbiyang two days prior. Also on this date, the first supply drop by C-47 aircraft for the long range penetration mission was conducted.
22 Feb 1944 The 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Ningbyen, Burma. Joseph Stilwell met with Frank Merrill and ordered him to reach Walawbum, 15 miles south of Maingkwan on the Kamaing Road, by 3 Mar, which was when the Chinese 22nd and 38th Divisions and the Chinese 1st Provisional Tank Group was supposed to attack Walawbum from the opposite direction.
23 Feb 1944 Frank Merrill met with the battalion commanders, combat team commanders, and reconnaissance platoon commanders of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) in Ningbyen, Burma as the troops prepared to embark on a long range penetration operation into northern Burma.
24 Feb 1944 The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched out of Ningbyen, Burma into Japanese-held territory in northern Burma at 0600 hours, the 2nd Battalion at 0900 hours, and the 3rd Battalion at 1100 hours.
28 Feb 1944 All three battalions of the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at the village of Tanja Ga in Burma about 22 miles east-northeast of Ningbyen. The village was the assembly area from which they would commence its campaign against the Japanese. Joseph Stilwell ordered the unit to begin marching toward Malawbum, 40 miles away, as soon as possible. The 2nd Battalion and 3rd Battalion would depart at dusk.
29 Feb 1944 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) departed the village of Tanja Ga in Burma.
2 Mar 1944 Joseph Stilwell gave orders to the three battalion commanding officers of the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) in Burma. The 1st Battalion was to split in two, one force to block trails at Sana Ga and Nchet Ga, and the other to be held in reserve at West Ga. The 2nd Battalion was to go through Wesu Ga to set up a roadblock on the Kamaing Road just east of the Numpyek River 2.5 miles west of Malawbum. The 3rd Battalion was to pass through Sabaw Ga and Lagang Ga and secure high positions along the Numpyek River. All three battalions were to hold those positions until Chinese troops would capture Malawbum. As the Americans advanced according to these orders, they engaged Japanese troops later on the same day.
5 Mar 1944 Roy Matsumoto of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) stumbled upon a Japanese telephone line connecting Japanese 18th Division headquarters in Kamaing and its field units at Maingkwan in Burma. Tapping into it, he learned of the location of an ammunition dump. After relaying the intelligence to his superiors, an air strike was ordered to destroy it. He also was able to gain advance warning regarding an attack on positions manned by the Blue Combat Team.
6 Mar 1944 Louis Mountbatten arrived at Taihpa, Burma by transport aircraft escorted by 16 fighters to inspect Joseph Stilwell's headquarters; Stilwell privately complained that Mountbatten had used enough fuel on this trip for Stilwell to mount an offensive. Mountbatten would also visit the Walawbum battlefield 25 kilometers to the south. On the front lines, the 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Wesu Ga early in the morning. Colonel Charles Hunter, liaison officer Colonel Chun Lee, and a small group traveled north to make contact with was meeting with Colonel Rothwell Brown of the joint American-Chinese 1st Provisional Tank Group to possibly coordinate an attack on Japanese positions near Walawbum, but they could not locate the Chinese unit. On the same day, the Japanese launched several frontal attacks across the Numpyek River near Walawbum. 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)'s Orange Combat Team halted the attacks, inflicting heavy casualties while suffering only a small amount itself. At about 2230 hours, as the Japanese halted the attacks and quietly sent litter bearers to carry away the wounded, Frank Merrill ordered Lieutenant Colonel Charles Beach to withdraw the Orange Combat Team, intending for the Chinese 38th Division to eliminate the remaining Japanese.
7 Mar 1944 Chinese 38th Division overran most Japanese defensive positions at Walawbum, Burma by mid-morning, thus negating the need for the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to move to Chanmois. Joseph Stilwell celebrated the successful Sino-American collaboration before a group of journalists, but the soldiers were jealous of the Chinese soldiers who were regularly given canned corned beef, fresh cucumbers and onions, and rice, while the Americans, who operated far behind enemy lines and thus cut off from being supplies regularly, dined on largely K-rations, which the soldiers found boring. Meanwhile, General Shinichi Tanaka ordered Japanese 55th and 56th Infantry Regiments to attack American positions at Walawbum to allow the rest of Japanese 18th Division to retreat southward; Joseph Stilwell, Jr., the ranking American intelligence officer in the area and so of the commanding general, failed to detect the withdrawal and thus would lose the chance to wipe out the demoralized Japanese division.
11 Mar 1944 Frank Merrill gave his US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) officers at Shikau Ga, Burma a briefing on their next objective, which was Jambu Bum in the Mogaung Valley about 20 miles south of their current position. The Americans were to move behind the Japanese to cut lines of supply and communication, while Chinese 22nd Division was to be the main attack force, with Chinese 65th Regiment covering the right flank in the west. Two Chinese regiments from 38th Division was to provide support for the Americans as necessary. The 1st Battalion was to lead the advance for the Americans to create a roadblock on the Kamaing Road near Shaduzup, which was 10 miles south of Jambu Gam, supported by Chinese 113th Regiment. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were to establish secondary roadblocks 10 miles further south at Inkangahawng.
12 Mar 1944 The 3 battalions of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) departed Shikau Ga, Burma at 0830 hours for the village of Inkangahtawng, which was 10 miles south of Shaduzup, to establish a roadblock prior to the Chinese attack on Jambu Bum. The Americans were guided by Burma-born hunter Jack Girsham.
14 Mar 1944 After advancing a further 14 miles, forward units of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) ran into Japanese troops north of Shaduzup, Burma, thus losing the element of surprise. The Japanese attacked in strength and caused casualties, but ultimately they failed to push the Americans back. In order to meet Joseph Stilwell's demand to reach Shaduzup by 24 Mar 1944, 1st Battalion decided to hack a new trail across uncharted jungle rather than following the established trails that was most likely defended by the Japanese.
15 Mar 1944 Joseph Stilwell ordered the Chinese 22nd Division to attack the ridge of Jambu Bum in northern Burma.
16 Mar 1944 A scheduled airdrop for the 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was canceled after the aircraft failed to locate the drop zone amidst thick jungle north of Shaduzup, Burma.
17 Mar 1944 A reattempted air drop completed successfully at 0730 hours north of Shaduzup, Burma for the 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). On the same date, battalion medics recorded the spread of dysentery among the troops; looking for someone to blame, they noted that the accompanying Chinese 113th Regiment troops must be the cause.
19 Mar 1944 Chinese 66th Regiment captured Jambu Bum ridge in northern Burma, about 140 kilometers northwest of Myitkyina.
20 Mar 1944 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) suffered 1 dead and 2 wounded after encountering a Japanese machine gun nest north of Shaduzup, Burma. Also on this date, Frank Merrill met with his officers at the village of Japan and gave orders. Orange Combat Team of 3rd Battalion was to remain in Janpan. 2nd Battalion and Khaki Combat Team of 3rd Battalion were to cut off Kamaing Road south of Shaduzup somewhere between Warazup and Malakwang, under Colonel Charles Hunter's tactical command; they would depart within hours with Blue Combat Team of 2nd Battalion at the vanguard. The forward elements reached Nhgum Ga by the end of the day.
21 Mar 1944 Troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) received an air drop at the village of Auche, Burma. Colonel Charles Hunter gave the villagers the parachutes as compensation for their assistance. Meanwhile, Chinese troops captured Jambu Bum ahead of schedule, thus Frank Merrill ordered Hunter to establish a roadblock on Kamaing Road 36 hours earlier than originally planned. Merrill also ordered the Orange Combat Team of 3rd Battalion to depart Janpan and form a block near Auche.
22 Mar 1944 In Burma, the villagers of Auche hosted a celebration for Frank Merrill and his headquarters staff. Meanwhile, Colonel Charles Hunter's troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched along the difficult trail following the Nampana River, crossing it many times. 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), which marched in support of Hunter's units, suffered 1 dead and several wounded after being ambushed north of Shaduzup.
23 Mar 1944 Colonel Charles Hunter, with his troops now 6 miles southeast of Inkangahtawng, Burma, decided to establish the roadblock at that location. He ordered the Khaki Combat Team to be held in reserve while the forward elements he sent out reached as far as the eastern bank of the Mogaung River, the village of Ngagahtwang, and a position 300 yards east of the Kamaing Road; from the latter location, the American soldiers were close enough to the Japanese to hear arriving trucks disembarking Japanese troops. The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was supposed to establish another roadblock a few miles to the north, but 1st Battalion fell behind schedule, leaving Hunter's troops exposed without Hunter's knowledge. Also, unbeknownst to the Americans, the Chinese 22nd Division halted its southward advance to rest, further exposing Hunter's troops.
24 Mar 1944 Troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) fought off a Japanese attack near the Mogaung River in Burma, advanced, and reached the village of Ngagahtawng. In the same area, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Beach of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) ordered the intelligence and reconnaissance platoon, led by Lieutenant Logan Weston to set up roadblock at Poakum, 7 miles north of Kamaing. He also ordered a rifle platoon under Lieutenant Warren Smith of K Company of Orange Combat Team to setup a roadblock on Warong-Tatbum road. These were to protect 2nd and 3rd Battalions' northeastward withdraw from Manpin. On the same day, Merrill moved his headquarters to the village of Nhpum Ga, which was about 7 miles north of Weston and Smith.
25 Mar 1944 Lieutenant Colonel William Osborne of 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) sent a platoon to attack the Japanese along the Kamaing Road as a diversion for another group of his troops to advance down the trail toward the main objective, Shaduzup, Burma. Meanwhile, Men of Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.'s 2nd Battalion departed the village of Ngagahtwang at 0500 hours, many wounded in tow. Colonel Charles Hunter, whose radio is broken, surveyed the field in an L-4 aircraft and spotted McGee's column. Realizing the many wounded after landing and speaking to McGee, he ordered the aircraft to return without him, and to quickly return with litters to help evacuate the wounded. Hunter scolded McGee for foolish field decisions, but McGee told him that some of the tactical decisions were made by Frank Merrill directly, thus deepening the chasm between McGee/Merrill and Hunter. Finally, on 3rd Battalion's front, Japanese troops attacked in force, destroying the radio set carried by Lieutenant Logan Weston of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, thus rendering him without communications; he made contact with Lieutenant Warren Smith also of 3rd Battalion, who assisted with Weston's retreat.
26 Mar 1944 In Burma, Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. and the troops of his 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) departed camp at 1000 hours, and Colonel Charles Hunter followed after all wounded were evacuated by air. McGee arrived at Manpin at 1200 hours, where Hunter ordered McGee to clear a field for a resupply by air. At 1700 hours, McGee departed camp toward Auche while Hunter remained at Manpin, where he was joined with Lieutenant Colonel Charles Beach of the 3rd Battalion to plan on an attack on Kamaing. The attack was overruled by Frank Merrill, who ordered Hunter to withdraw instead.
27 Mar 1944 Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. and the troops of his 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Auche, Burma at 1000 hours. The remainder of the 3rd Battalion arrived in afternoon. Frank Merrill ordered 2nd Battalion to withdraw to Nhpum Ga and 3rd Battalion even further north to the clearing named Hsamshingyang to prepare an airfield.
28 Mar 1944 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) eliminated a Japanese position near the Mogaung River north of Shaduzup, Burma at 0430 hours. After sun rise, Japanese 70-millimeter howitzer and 77-millimeter mountain guns fired on American positions to clear the road to Shaduzup as Shaduzup was now under attack by Chinese 22nd Division. Meanwhile, Japanese troops counterattacked Chinese troops near Jambu Bum ridge. Elsewhere in Burma, The 2nd Battalion departed Auche at 0600 hours, Japanese troops in pursuit. The first units of the 2nd Battalion began arriving at Nhpum Ga at 1000 hours. Frank Merrill left the defense of Nhpum Ga to the 2nd Battalion and moved his headquarters to the clearing of Hsamshingyang. Merrill was visibly pale and unwell en route to H. The doctors believed he had suffered a minor heart attack and arranged Merrill to be evacuated by air.
29 Mar 1944 Four howitzers of Chinese 113th Regiment forced Japanese artillery to cease firing on 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), which had been ongoing since the previous day, and further advanced to force the Japanese guns to fall back; by nightfall, the Allies would learn that the Japanese were evacuating Shaduzup, Burma and the Chinese would capture the city before dawn. Elsewhere, Frank Merrill was evacuated by air in the morning from Hsamshingyang toward 20th General Hospital at Ledo, India. Colonel Charles Hunter assumed command of the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) and moved to Nhpum Ga, but which time Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. and the 2nd Battalion had completed defensive preparations at Nhpum Ga, which was near the clearing at Hsamshingyang. Between 1040 and 1400 hours, some supplies arrived at Hsamshingyang by air. Hunter departed Nhpum Ga at 1530 hours.
30 Mar 1944 Japanese troops attempted to capture Nhpum Ga, Burma against the 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), with infantry attacking in waves throughout the day and artillery pieces bombarding in-between.
31 Mar 1944 At 0530 hours, Japanese artillery on the American positions at Nhpum Ga, Burma intensified, paving way for a second day of infantry assaults. Meanwhile, another group of Japanese troops moved toward the clearing at Hsamshingyang and set up a roadblock, cutting off Nhpum Ga's main supply route; this roadblock was discovered by troops of Orange Combat Team of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), but the Americans were unable to break the roadblock. Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr., commanding officer of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), reported 3 men dead, 9 men wounded, and many mules killed; though casualties were relatively few, McGee nevertheless feared that the supply situation would become impossible to overcome by the next day. Colonel Charles Hunter, in command of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), at Hsamshingyang, began to organize a mule train to leave for Nhpum Ga the next day, to ensure his own position did not get surrounded by the Japanese, and to request fresh water to be delivered by air.
1 Apr 1944 The Japanese attempt to capture Nhpum Ga, Burma slowed as heavy rain poured. Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. at Nhpum Ga was informed by his superior Colonel Charles Hunter that Hunter was expecting a delivery of two 75-millimeter howitzers by air on the next day, which would hopefully relieve the pressure that the Japanese had been placing on McGee's 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional).
2 Apr 1944 Two 75-millimeter howitzers arrived by parachute at the clearing at Hsamshingyang in Burma in crates. As soon as they were set up, Colonel Charles Hunter of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) ordered their usage against suspected Japanese gun positions at Kauri south of Nhpum Ga. Meanwhile, the Japanese assault on Nhpum Ga continued.
3 Apr 1944 Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr., whose 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) had been under near constant attack by the Japanese at Nhpum Ga, Burma for several days, sent a warning message to his superior Colonel Charles Hunter at the clearing of Hsamshingyang nearby, noting that the constant pressure by the Japanese and the lack of fresh water were about to break the morale of his men. With 1st Battalion five or six days away and Chinese allies more than ten days away, Hunter only had the tired troops of the 3rd Battalion to attempt to rescue the besieged 2nd Battalion. He planned to strike out from Hsamshingyang toward Nhpum Ga at 1200 hours on the next day, with Orange Combat Team at the front and Khaki Combat Team ready to flank the first Japanese position that Orange Combat Team would encounter.
5 Apr 1944 The Japanese launched a frontal assault at Nhpum Ga, Burma before dawn, in multiple waves. The 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was able to stop the attacks, inflicting heavy casualties on the Japanese. During the day, the 2nd Battalion received a supply of ammunition by air, though the badly needed drinking water would only come later. Meanwhile, to the north, 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit continued their offensive toward Nhpum Ga, gaining 300 yards of jungle.
6 Apr 1944 Troops of Chinese 38th Division advanced to about 10 miles north of Hsamshingyang, Burma, relieving pressure from the rear of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). On the 3rd Battalion's front, it had reached about 500 yards north of Nhpum Ga by the end of the day.
7 Apr 1944 The 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Hsamshingyang, Burma at 1700 hours after marching through 30 miles of jungle, which took 5 days. The 800 men were exhausted, and 200 of them were suffering from acute dysentery. Colonel Charles Hunter immediately organized an offensive toward Nhpum Ga for the next day, and Osborne of 1st Battalion committed 254 of his men who were in decent enough of shape to fight.
8 Apr 1944 Troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) assaulted Japanese positions north of Nhpum Ga, Burma, making use of the pack howitzers that had just arrived recently.
9 Apr 1944 At 0700 hours, US aircraft dropped supplies at Nhpum Ga, Burma. At 1000 hours, a patrol from 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) began to advance up the hill, observing a great number of Japanese dead from the recent artillery barrage. At 1100 hours, a patrol from Orange Combat Team pushed toward the western edge of Nhpum Ga. At 1200 hours, the 3rd Battalion reached Nhpum Ga.
18 Apr 1944 Charles Hunter started drills and parades to reinstate military organization to the US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) in Burma after difficult fighting at Nhpum Ga, Burma.
21 Apr 1944 Joseph Stilwell gave orders to launch a desperate plan in an attempt to capture Myitkyina, Burma, having Chinese and American troops march over the difficult Kumon Mountains starting on the following day.
22 Apr 1944 Troops of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) began marching through the jungle for Myitkyina, Burma.
24 Apr 1944 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched 8 miles through the jungles of northern Burma toward Myitkyina. 5 men passed out from heat exhaustion.
26 Apr 1944 Troops of the 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Naubum, Burma. Joseph Stilwell, already there by aircraft, revealed to the soldiers that Myitkyina was to be the next objective. Frank Merrill told Charles Hunter that Hunter would have tactical command of the operation, with Marauders, US 150th Infantry Regiment, Chinese 50th Division, and the 88th Regiment of the Chinese 30th Division under him, totalling 6,000 men. Hunter divided the troops into three forces. He was to personally lead H Force, consisted of the 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), the Chinese 150th Regiment, and a howitzer battery. Colonel Henry Kinnison was to lead the K Force, consisted of 3rd Battlion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), the Chinese 88th Regiment, and two howitzer guns. Finally, Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. was to lead M Force, consisted of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) and 300 Kachin guides and guerrilla fighters.
29 Apr 1944 H Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), under the command of Colonel Charles Hunter, departed toward the Kumon Mountain Range in Burma. Joseph Stilwell opted not to inform Louis Mountbatten regarding this offensive toward Myitkyina, Burma in fear of a possible failure that would make him appear incapable in front of the British.
30 Apr 1944 K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) approached the summit of the 6,100-foot elevation Naura Hkyat Pass, en route to Myitkyina, Burma.
3 May 1944 The US Joint Chiefs of Staff directed Joseph Stilwell to make Myitkyina, Burma his primary goal, independent of SEAC, in order to develop communications with China in support of the American effort in the Pacific.
5 May 1944 K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) reached the trail junction one mile south of Japanese-held Ritpong, Burma.
6 May 1944 Khaki Combat Team of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) began hacking through jungle northwest of Ritpong, Burma; they encountered a Japanese field kitchen and captured braised buffalo mean, canned fish, and other foods. Meanwhile, two companies of Chinese 88th Regiment moved into position to attack the village.
7 May 1944 Two companies of Chinese 88th Regiment began to attack Ritpong, Burma from the northwest while Khaki Combat Team of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) fired mortar rounds on the village from the south. Meanwhile, M Force (Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.) of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) began marching for the Kumon Mountains in Burma.
9 May 1944 Two companies of Chinese 88th Regiment and Khaki Combat Team of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) captured Ritpong, Burma.
11 May 1944 K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) departed Ritpong, Burma toward Tingkrukawng.
13 May 1944 Colonel Henry Kinnison ordered K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to fall back and then to move toward Myitkyina, Burma.
14 May 1944 Colonel Charles Hunter sent Joseph Stilwell the code phrase Cafeteria Lunch to note that the troops were ready to strike Myitkyina, Burma within the next 48 hours.
15 May 1944 The Kachin guide leading H Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was bit by a venomous snake, but Colonel Charles Hunter forced him to continue forward to stay on schedule of the Myitkyina, Burma offensive. Meanwhile, M Force (Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.) reached Arang, Burma; by this time, most of the men of M Force were sick and exhausted; 50 were left behind for evacuation by air under the care of medical officer Captain Henry Stelling, while the others continued the march toward their objective of Myitkyina Airfield further south.
16 May 1944 H Force arrived at the village of Namkwi, Burma, 4 miles north of the airstrip at Myitkyina. Colonel Hunter ordered his troops to intern the villagers in case any were informants for the Japanese. In the evening. Hunter sent the code phrase Strawberry Sundae to Joseph Stilwell to indicate the offensive would begin in 24 hours. After dark, he ordered Sergeant Clarence Branscomb to sneak onto the Japanese-held airfield to see how many defensive structures were manned and whether the airstrip had any unepaired bomb craters; Hunter gave Branscomb his opened bottle of Canadian Club whiskey as a gesture of appreciation. Branscomb recruited Tom Frye and Walter Clark, who finished the whiskey before moving out in the dark. The group would successfully complete the reconnaissance mission.
17 May 1944 At Myitkyina, Burma, Colonel Charles Hunter ordered Chinese 150th Regiment to attack the airstrip west of the city, and ordered 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) under Lieutenant Colonel William Osborne to capture the ferry terminal at Pamati one mile southwest of the airstrip on the Irriwady River. The Chinese attack began at 1030 hours and the airstrip was captured at 1200 hours, with most Japanese troops falling back into the city aboard trucks. 1st Battalion Red Combat Team remained at the ferry terminal and White Combat Team moved to the airstrip to reinforce the Chinese. At 1530 hours, Joseph Stilwell learned of the success, and gleefully noted in his diary that this capture would embarrass the British. When informed of the capture, Louis Mountbatten was angered by Stilwell's decision to hide this offensive from him. Nevertheless, Mountbatten gracefully sent a message to Stilwell to praise his leadership and to congratulate the success. Stilwell, however, did not think of sending any messages to the commanders in the field to thank them. Colonel Charles Hunter, the tactical commander, was surprised that his superior Frank Merrill failed to show in the first group of aircraft to land at Myitkyina Airfield; instead, Merrill sent a team of engineers to repair an airstrip even though Hunter had already reported that the airfield was captured in tact. Merrill also failed to send any badly needed food and ammunition. Shortly after capturing the airfield, Hunter ordered K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to move toward the airfield with speed. On the Japanese side, troops were quickly gathered at Tingkrukawng to the northeast and would arrive at Myitkyina within 24 hours.
18 May 1944 Joseph Stilwell arrived at Myitkyina Airfield, Burma, not with badly needed food and ammunition for the US US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) and its Chinese allies, but instead with 12 war correspondents who happily took photographs of the general on the newly captures airfield. The next transport again failed to bring any supplies, instead it disembarked anti-aircraft gunners. In the afternoon, Stilwell ordered a Chinese battalion to probe Japanese defenses at the city of Myitkyina to the east, which by this time had grew to a strength of 700 men. Meanwhile, K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) marched toward the village of Charpate five miles northwest of Myitkyina near the Mogaung-Myitkyina Road while H Force White Combat Team of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) captured the ferry terminal at Zigyun southeast of Myitkyina.
19 May 1944 Frank Merrill finally arrived at Myitkyina Airfield in Burma, but would suffer another minor heart attack; rather than appointing Charles Hunter, who had spearheaded the recent successes for US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), to take Merrill's place, Stilwell chose Colonel John McCammon; McCammon had a history of going along with Stilwell's orders without any questions. Meanwhile, M Force (Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr.) of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) arrived at Namkwi, four miles northwest of Myitkyina, Burma; 25 men were ordered to be sent to Myitkyina Airfield for evacuation by air due to sickness.
20 May 1944 Food and ammunition arrived at the Myitkyina Airfield in Burma for the first time. Meanwhile, three battalions of Chinese 150th Regiment attacked the city of Myitkyina in the afternoon; strong Japanese defenses led to high casualties, and battlefield confusion led to a series of fatal friendly fire incidents.
22 May 1944 Joseph Stilwell promoted John McCammon to the rank of brigadier general to command all American and Chinese troops in the Myitkyina area in Burma, despite his recent arrival and lack of field command experience. On the front lines, after dark, men of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), tired from spending so long fighting in the Burmese jungles without rest, allowed a Japanese force to march right past their foxholes as they slept, losing several men, including Lieutenant Warren Smith who might not had woken from his sleep when he was killed. By this date, the strength of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was down to only about 400 soldiers who were fit for combat.
23 May 1944 Men of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) engaged Japanese positions as they marched toward Charpate, Burma. A number of the Americans reported falling asleep amidst the firefight due to exhaustion from having fought in the harsh Burmese jungles for extended amount of time.
24 May 1944 Colonel Henry Kinnison received orders to pull back K Force of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) two miles southward behind Chinese-held lines in northern Burma.
25 May 1944 Joseph Stilwell flew to Myitkyina Airfield. Charles Hunter personally handed him a letter listing all the grievances from the field officers and men of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), noting that the area commanders had betrayed them by depriving them of rest and treating them as expendable, leading to the whole of 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) becoming practically ineffective as a combat unit.
26 May 1944 The strength of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) dropped to only about 50 to 60 men as most of the battalion who survived the four months long campaign in the Burmese jungle had been evacuated to India due to wounds or disease.
30 May 1944 Brigadier General Haydon Boatner relieved John McCammon as the commanding officer of all American and Chinese units in the area of Myitkyina, Burma.
31 May 1944 The strength of 3rd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) dropped to about 30 soldiers and one officer as most of the battalion who survived the four months long campaign in the Burmese jungle had been evacuated to India due to wounds or disease.
1 Jun 1944 US Brigadier General Haydon L. Boatner was appointed to command the Myitkyina Task Force in Burma. On this date, the strength of 1st Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was down to 18 officers and 366 men.
2 Jun 1944 Lieutenant Colonel George McGee, Jr. requested 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) to be relieved and be evaluated from Myitkyina, Burma to India. Both Colonel Charles Hunter and Brigadier General Haydon Boatner agreed.
3 Jun 1944 The men of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), whom on the previous day received Brigadier General Haydon Boatner's approval to be evacuated to India for rest, began boarding aircraft at Myitkyina Airfield in northern Burma.
4 Jun 1944 By this date, most of the men of 2nd Battalion of US 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) had been evacuated from Myitkyina, Burma for India. A few were left behind to train the two freshly arrived replacements, coming directly from the United States, not yet acclimatized and inexperienced in combat.
26 Jun 1944 Brigadier-General Theodore F. Weasels took over command of the Myitkyina Task Force from the sick Brigadier-General Haydon Boatner following another bout of malaria.
26 Jun 1944 Brigadier General Theodore Wessels relieved Haydon Boatner as the commanding officer of American and Chinese troops in the Myitkyina, Burma region.
3 Aug 1944 A two-month siege by US and Chinese forces at Myitkyina in Burma finally succeeded in capturing it.




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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Cleve Archibald says:
14 Oct 2006 04:19:56 PM

This a search to idetify Caribbean countries whose citizens made up Merrils Marauders in operation Galahad in the libaration of Burma (1943-1944.

Thank you,
Cleve
2. Anonymous says:
4 Sep 2007 05:24:40 PM

This is a fine report despite minor typosgrammar errors. It would have been excellent if it had maps! Without maps, it is really hard to grasp the story.
3. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
14 Jan 2008 02:56:25 AM

At 1000hrs on the 17th May 1944, under cover of an attack being made by the 150th Regiument of the Chinese 50th Division, Galahads 1st Battalion slipped over the Irrawady by ferry, and within an hour had surprised and captured the nearby airstrip. Stilwell, in typical unco-operative fashion, then took it upon himself to order up reinforcements without first consulting the Supreme Commander (Mountbatten). The latter to his credit did sent a congratulatory message to the tactless Stilwell, but Churchill was utterly enraged when he learnt, not only of Stilwells blatant act of insubordination, but that, in fact, the important town had not been captured at all (as Stilwell was now boasting) only that the now utterly shattered Galahad Force held just a meagre bridgehead across the river. A situation that would now require substantial resources, to maintain the siege of the town, which might have been better employed in accordance with Allied Forces plans elsewhere.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
15 Jan 2008 04:44:24 AM

The first Allied formation to actually enter the town of Myitkyina was the 72nd Brigade (6th Bn,The South Wales Borderers, 9th Bn, The Royal Sussex Regiment, 10th Bn,The Gloucestershire Regiment) of 36th Infantry Division (the only British Division in Theatre operating under American Command).
5. sean says:
17 Sep 2008 08:33:38 PM

Hello, if anyone knows any veterans from the marauders, I would be interested in interviewing them for a history project. I can be contacted at siegfried1313@hotmail.com
6. My Cousin was KIA at Myitkyina with 5307th says:
12 Feb 2009 08:30:08 AM

Seeking any info on battle and units. My cousin reported to 5307th on 1 Jun 44 and KIA 28 Jun 44 battle for Myitkyina. He was a replacement leaving Hampton Roads, VA POE 20 Apr 44 I believe on the the Wm. Mann. Any details appreciated arrived Bombay (record not clear). Thanks Vin
7. Day says:
15 Jan 2011 04:30:32 PM

My father was a flight engineer on one of the 1st C-47s to land at Myitkyina. He said the *** were shooting knee morters at them.
If anyone has info about the 1st planes that flew in, please e-mail me.
8. Jacqulyn Meyers VanderHoff says:
23 Aug 2011 10:22:47 PM

Seeking info on my Uncle, PFC Donald D. Meyers. Type o on the 5307 list spelled his name Mayers. He was a Merrill's Marauder 2nd Battalion Company "E" Blue Combat Team Serial # 16050907 this # is on his certificate for his Bronze Medal & his daughter Paula Meyers Carter, Has his medals, certificate, & patch. He survived the war & we believe he wasn't injured, (no Purple Heart.) If at all possible to know what his assignments were, what weapons he handled, if he was in all 5 of the major battles, or was he one of the many who got sick & had to be evacuated. Are there any public medical records documenting any illnesses. I don't know how many of the 200 survivors are left, (he died on Dec. 1, 1985& he never spoke of the war or what he did)) or if they check your site. Thank You for any help.
9. Joe A. Watson says:
18 Jun 2012 08:32:25 AM

My late dad's 209th Engineer Combat Battalion (along with the 336th) was deployed to Myitkyina on May 24, 1944. He served as a medic. As have others here, I have been unable to reconstruct much of a record of his service. In 1973, at a National Archives St. Louis facility, 80% of U.S. Army service records related to the years 1912-through-1963 were destroyed by fire ... including those we family members would need.
http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html
10. Robert says:
17 Aug 2012 10:29:43 AM

Joe A. Watson,

Obviously, you did not share your father's name.
I am involved with a nephew of a former member of the 475th Infantry Regiment
in the process to receive full recognition towards combat service.
Did your late dad receive full recognition? Please email me.

Robert
Robersabel@aol.com

11. Anonymous says:
9 Jan 2013 09:46:53 PM

It must be monsoon 1942. We retreated from Rangoon to Waingmaw, a village across the River Irrawaddy and Myitkyina. Ir was training heavily one morning and suddenly a huge truck stopped by the front of our rented house on the Bhamo-Myitkyina main highway. My dad and eldest brother waved to the 2 young Brits signalling to ask them to come in for coffee and for a rest from the rains. To make the story short, the Brits said they were on their way to Myitkyina to catch a (probably the last)flight to India and that if they don't return here, please take the bundle of books they handled to my dad to deliver to any British Embassy or consulate in China if we made it there. We did reach Kunming, Yunnan province, and my dad did deliver the "books" to the Brit consulate/embassy. My dad and eldest brother are deceased now and I have been wondering all these past (70)years who were those Brits, are they still alive and where are they or their close relatives now. Perhaps the Brit Govt may have information for me before I leave this earth too. Thank you very much.
Dick.
12. Dick says:
11 Jan 2013 11:54:44 AM

I wrote the foregoing comment No.11 and would appreciate any relevant information. I may be reached at tmaw@sbcglobal.net
Thanks much.
Dick
13. Dick says:
11 Jan 2013 03:12:50 PM

I am confused. Some reports stated that Myitkyina was recaptured by Gen. Stilwell while others reported that it was Gen Daniel I. Sultan. I have a photo showing my dad presenting a banner (only days after the liberation of Myitkyina)to a U.S. General, whom I believe to be General Sultan, according to the Chinese letters embroidered in the banner. Could any American WWII/CBI veterans/heroes please give me the correct answer? I was only 13/14 in Calcutta, India, during that time.
Thank you very much and God Bless.
Dick
14. Rex Matts says:
28 Feb 2013 06:34:36 PM

My brother was a mule skinner with the 5307th. He would never talk about the Marauders. He died five years ago. I did talk with his long time friend who served with him from the mule traing at Camp Carson till they were both discharged, They both came home health and unharmed. I asked his frined what was the worst experience. He said the cold when they crossed the high mountains because they only had jungle clothes.
15. Branthafer says:
12 Mar 2013 10:54:44 AM

My Father-In-Law, Floyd B. Branthafer, served in Burma as a Merrills Marauder and married into the family for over 30 yrs never knew he was a Marauder.I knew he was in the service but he never spoke of any details.His Sons say they never remember him telling war stories or telling them he was a Marauder.Other family Veterans would mention the circumstances of Floyds service in Burma as " a bad deal", and other negative terms.Floyd past away 2 yrs. ago and before his death started talking about his time in service and told us he rescued a baby bear whose mother had been killed. He said he took care of it until he had to leave and someone else took it to find a home. He talked of going to India and Israel[?] and we didnt know if he always had his facts in order.Some family members have done research to try to verify some of the things he told us.If anyone knew Floyd in Asia or elsewhere we would be happy to hear from you or yours and would like to know of any books or information about his time in service. Thanking you in advance.
16. Barbara says:
20 Aug 2013 11:13:04 AM

Hello, I am writing a historical fiction novel and have read about all the documents out there (by Marauders, Chindits, Stilwell's diary, Hunter's debriefing, army military history plus any web sites tied to the construction of the road, Marauders, or Mars Task force. I'm looking for a survivor from any branch that served in that area to interview. Please contact me at bejhawk@gmail.com. Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.
17. Mal Cooper says:
21 Dec 2013 08:43:23 PM

In 1967-68 My co-workers and I went into the mountains to build a house for a friend. Ralph Pina, Whom I had been working with for 7-8 years said He hadn't spent a nite otside since the war. He told us He had been with Merrils Mauaders and gave us quite a story of His service. He was, I think 17 or 18 years old at the time. He was wounded in the ankle by rifle fire while bringing amunition to His comrades. He never recieved a Purple Heart. He told us many of the men had minor wounds and just comntinued on "You couldn't leave" He said. If anyone knew Ralph I would love to hear about His sevice in Burma. He never spoke of His time in service after that week. He is on the "Pass in Review' List of Merrils Mauraders.
18. Stephanie says:
27 Dec 2013 10:49:42 PM

My granfather, James Yaboni (32105963) served in Merrill's Mauraders Company "E". If anyone has any information regarding that, please email me @luvsnyr@gmail.com. He passed away in 1998 at 80 years old and never really spoke about his time in WWII. The only story I recall him telling were about a monkey they had trained to play a drum.
19. Anonymous says:
20 Apr 2014 06:49:45 PM

To Mal Cooper,
I am Ralph Pina's daughter. Just this past year my mom gave me his service record, a book chronicling Merrill's Marauders mission with notes my dad hand wrote in the margin. I would love to hear from you. 28zana@gmail.com
20. Anonymous says:
14 Feb 2015 07:48:49 PM

My Uncle, Wade H. Clements, died in the offensive. Anybody out there know of him?
21. Keenan Boyle says:
14 Oct 2015 04:07:37 PM

My great uncle was Frank D. Merill of Merrill's Marauders. I would love to hear from anyone that has information on Frank Merrill. I am trying to collect photos and other useful information. I can be reached at keenan@columbiacommercial.com
22. Byron Boucher says:
13 Dec 2015 01:02:50 AM

My grandfather was a Merrill's Marauder in Burma he was a first sergeant in G company his name was Harold Boucher but he went by Harry I am trying to get info on what battles or engagements he was In During the war He did not talk much about it other than he said they ate Python becuse they where hungry and killed ***
23. Maria Teresa Johnson says:
27 Aug 2016 09:33:35 AM

! Thank you very much to all of you ! May God reward you abundantly. I am the widow of Pvt. Merle F. Johnson who was a Meriill's Marauder in Burma. He was the one that had his boots blown off, as reported on the website http://www.ww2tags.org
24. Angela Massman (Dulaney) says:
24 Oct 2016 08:54:57 AM

I have just started to research my grandfather's military service. Every time I speak to my father, he remembers more and more of the stories. My grandfather died with I was 10, so I never knew him as an adult. From the sketchy remains of his official records (due to fire) what we know is he was a combat engineer who specialized in demolition and explosives. While he was not a Marauder, he was with either the 209th or the 236th who came in and was their relief at the Battle of Myitkyina. This is only the beginning, so hopefully I can find more information.
25. Anonymous says:
12 Apr 2017 09:41:24 AM

My Father was a warrant officer in the all black 699th engineering division he helped build the Stillwell road. His US army division fought in the battle of Myitchyina as well you foo's like to forget that fact
26. Anonymous says:
17 Jul 2018 08:25:54 AM

Not a usual fan of war details, I am seeking to understand 'nicely' what might be known of 1 Japanese soldier who may have died March 27, 1944 in Burma. I know only that he was likely a Fugi-i and from Hokkaido, he probably was in his 30s. Legend has it that an American sniper shot him. I am not seeing many Americans other than Merrill's men and Air Force suppliers. Any one have advice or clarification? Thank you.
27. Byron Boucher says:
27 Aug 2018 05:44:12 AM

My grandpa was a first sergeant in G company of the 5307 composite regiment (provisional) Mars task force Harold Boucher we all called him Harry or gramps I know he had jungle rot from the mud luckily he never got Malaria but he did have skin issues his whole life after the war grandpa got a marksman iron cross and Purple Heart he did tell me about the war in Burma when I asked him back in 2003 when he was still alive he said yes he was a Merrill’s Maurerder and he would get teary eyed when he told me the story’s about the Japanese knee Mortor that blew a guys guts out and peices of bloody human chunks landed on gramps and how they had very little to eat K rations so they ate python a few times and the water gave them all diarrhea he said he spent multiple nights in a mud trench or fox hole something along those lines buried in mud and one guy shot his 45 Thompson so fast in melted the barrel so gramps learned to fire in spurts rather than all at once he said short trigger pulls at the enemy not to melt the barrel he also fired a 30 cal machine gun that took two men to operate one to feed and one to shoot but mostly he went on combat missions with the 45 in the push for the air field he said he met Indian Curkuas I think he meant Chindits but just couldn’t pronounce it and fought side by side with them against the Japanese he called them *** but I say Japanese he said one time a jap sniper was tied up in a tree that was shot hanging there and everyone was useing him as target practice until Gramps told them to save there ammo and not be dummy’s and give away there position and get em all killed so they just left him hang there with his guts hanging out he said they killed a lot of Japanese and that war was hell he said a American soldier got wounded and he could not breathe so gramps gave him a in the field Traciotomy with a fountain pen he took apart and stuck it in there so he could breathe and then the medics took over gramps cried about that one anyway that’s what I can remember him telling me gramps died in 2006 after the war he enjoyed clam digging fishing hunting watching baseball and eating ice cream and was married to my grandma forever he had 3 kids my Dad was one of those kids what I remember most about gramps most was going to the ocean and hanging out with him fishing and clam digging not the war stories just thinking of the sacrifices he made and the hell he made it through brings tears to my eyes you are loved and missed Grampa you where one tough G dam* cookie
28. Anonymous says:
28 Apr 2021 11:10:28 PM

What a story by BYRON. His Grampa was a hero has were all his mates in this horrific episode of the War.
29. Anonymous says:
29 Apr 2021 10:08:36 AM

Looking for any information on the 779th. EPD company stationed in Burma from 1944- 1945. My father was there but didn’t talk too much about the war. He did say the OSS did a background check on him and tried to recruit him. He declined but was amazed at the extent of the background check. They he’s even interviewed his elementary school teacher.
30. Jim says:
21 Aug 2022 11:30:12 AM

Pop had lots of stories, a few made it into print, like this one.
Pop’s Account of 504th

Ex-CBI Roundup
Burma (Myanmar) 1944-45
January 1998 Issue
By James L. Watson
I would assume that all veterans of the C.B.I, believe that their own particular unit was the hardest worked, most deprived, most abused, and did more to win the war than any other single unit. And so it is with the survivors of the 504th Engineer Light Pontoon Company.
The Company was formed in 1942 at Camp Gordon, GA. It was a single unit, attached at times to various Battalions, but mostly operated on its own. It had its own H.Q. company, motor pool, supply system, and mess personnel. It was commanded by an unorthodox R.O.T.C. Captain. It had a Headquarters platoon, two Bridge platoons, and one Light equipage platoon. Our mission was to make forced river crossings with the very fast storm boats. Follow up with our M-2 assault boats, then a treadway bridge, followed by a ten-ton pontoon bridge reinforceable to twenty tons.
After spending two years as a S/Sgt. Drill Instructor at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, I attended the Engineer Officer Candidate School and upon graduation was assigned to the 504th Engineer Light Pontoon Company as commander of the first bridge platoon.
The only place at Camp Gordon where there was enough water to build a pontoon bridge was at the Litner mill pond. The big problem here was that it was full of large stumps. These were removed by using a lot of hard labor and a goodly amount of shear pins on the truck winches. At this time we were living in barracks and had our own mess hall. The motor pool was run by a very capable crew commanded by Lt. Pat Confredo. The motor sergeant was a very competent Sgt. Grace. He had more skill in his left hand than most motor sergeants.
Our administrative officer was Lt. Ben Lester, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute. It seemed like our company commander was off attending some school or other the whole time I was with the unit, so Lt. Lester was what you might say, the de-facto company commander.
We set up for some time down on the Savannah River and got in a lot of practice building bridges in swift water instead of a flat mill pond. We also filled an M-l assault boat with iced down beer which made the mosquito population bearable. The profit from the beer sales went into the company fund. My wife and Lt. Flatley's were living in Augusta, GA, at this time so, of course, he and I took a couple of trucks and went to town several times. Then, the captain found out about it and we were grounded. So, that night we took an M-l assault boat down the river several miles and wound up at a huge dam. On the way back to camp, we hit a submerged stump and tore the bottom out of the boat. We managed to get the boat and motor back to camp by daylight, however, the captain was not the least bit amused. So, we spent the rest of the nights on the Savannah River staying in our tent.
Came time for the BIG war games in Tennessee and it was decided that we were capable of getting there, and maybe we might even build a bridge over the Cumberland River. We bivouacked next to the cemetery at Granville, TN. Lt. Flatley and I made some arrangements with a very nice farm family, and our wives joined us in the big war games. The captain was not amused. We made a few points with the local townspeople by using our air compressor and jack-hammers to dig some graves for them. Lt. Confredo got invited to a poker game with some of the local men and came away with a goodly bit of their money. I don't think he was invited back. The portable hot water showers that Sgt. Grace designed and built really worked great.
The BIG, BIG war game finally got started. We were to erect a ten-ton bridge across the Cumberland, and two heavy Pontoon battalions were to erect two 20-ton bridges. It rained and it rained, and the river came up. We got our bridge up in record time. Neither heavy bridge made it across. We reinforced our bridge with air floats and got our forces across. This was a big mistake. The powers that be decided we were ready for overseas duty. Our wives had gone home to Birmingham, AL, so the weekend before we headed for Camp Forrest, TO, for overseas processing, my best friend and I "borrowed" a couple of motorcycles and headed southwest. On Monday, we both had very sore tall ends. Not from the long bike ride but from the fangs of our captain.
We finally embarked for North Africa from Camp Patrick Henry. There were 450 troops crammed into one hold of a Liberty Ship named the S. S. Guihan. We disembarked at the port of Oran and the troops went on to Algiers by rail. A few of us stayed behind to get our T.A.T. equipment.
The trip across the Atlantic was quite a cruise for a bunch of men who were primarily from New Jersey and Indiana. The bunks were so close together it was impossible to sit up on one of them. The showers, of course, were salt water. One was enough for most all of us. The convoy was the largest one sent across at that time. Considerably more than 100 ships. We must have been in the middle because as far as we could see there was nothing but ships. We were fed two meals a day, a lot of mutton and a lot of rotten fish.
Being curious, as all good engineers are, it was discovered that there were hundreds of cases of "C" rations next to our hold, and that a way could be found to gain access to them. They were intended for the 1200 German P.O.W.'s who would make the return trip. I am sure none of them starved like a lot of our men that they held prisoner.

Ten-ton Pontoon Bridge. Photo by James L. Watson.
The convoy split up somewhere off of the Straits of Gibraltar. Our part went on to Oran. We went overland to Algiers and were loaded on an L.S.T. numbered 21. It was built in Evansville, Indiana. There were eleven of them in this group, each one with a landing craft tank chained down on the lop deck. The tank deck was empty.
This was quite a bit better than the Liberty ship. Our company was split up on two of the ships, so we had lots of elbow room. I bunked in a room with the Engineer Officer who, like the rest of the crew, were Coast Guardsmen. The trip though the Mediterranean Sea was like a cruise. Going through the Suez Canal was an eye opener. The partially sunken ship hulls and bombed out facilities ashore was our first look at war. We tied up every night and we all went ashore. When we had to tie up for an hour or two during daylight a bunch of us went swimming! Our cooks worked with the crew's cooks and our motor pool men helped in the maintenance, so our Captain decided his two junior officers should stand watch with the Officer of the Deck. I found this to be quite boring.
The ensign really didn't do much. The enlisted men really ran the ship. When we got out into the Indian Ocean we got into a cyclone, and it was no longer boring. The ship, being top heavy with the L.C.T. on top and nothing below, had a tendency to ROLL. To a landlubber like me it was really scary! We picked up a life boat with some Greek sailors somewhere out of Aden, Arabia. As soon as they got aboard, the skipper told the gun crews to sink the life boat. As it disappeared over the horizon, it was still floating.
We went ashore in Aden, Arabia, two of us hired a 1929 Chevrolet taxi and saw a lot of strange sights. If you have never seen a Parsi Tower of Silence, I recommend you read up on it. Bombay was next and we got ashore twice. Very interesting. Had anti-aircraft practice on a towed target off of Colombo, Ceylon. We were not impressed by their accuracy. Then, on up the Hooghly River to Calcutta.
We were trucked to our new temporary home, the Kanarni Estate apartments. Each apartment had two large rooms and a bath. The men were distributed out among the apartments. Not too crowded for a change. It was on the sixth floor and had a perfectly good elevator. Much like Gen. Lear of Yoo Hoo fame, being in a war itself wasn't bad enough punishment. "You will not use the elevator" said the Port Commander. At least he didn't have us singing, "This is the Army, Mr. Jones."
What Gen. Lear couldn't hear was the parodies, all rhyming with Lear. When it comes to making up songs, any G.I. would put Irving Berlin to shame. Remember "Dirty Gerry from Bizerte, hid a mousetrap beneath her skirty. made her boyfriends fingers hurty, made her boyfriends much alerty."
Anyway, we moved in on Thanksgiving Day and the *** bombed the docks on Sunday. No L.S.T.s were hit but a goodly toll of humans were killed. Three thousand dock workers left town and the 225 members of the 504th became stevedores.
Our orders to proceed to Ledo were cancelled and we took over the unloading and warehousing activities. The Indians did everything by hand, even though there were a lot of new fork lifts sitting there. If it has wheels and an engine, any G.I. can operate it. As I recall, the Port Battalion that was to operate Calcutta Docks were taking basic training somewhere in the States.
Next it was decided that we would assemble two floating cranes that had arrived in hundreds of pieces. This task fell to my buddy, Lt. Flatley and his 3d Platoon, with the assistance of me and the 1st Platoon. Skids were placed and a big diesel crane was purloined from somewhere, and the work of assembling the huge barge was started. Everything was bolted together with gaskets. By the time the sides and inner compartments were going in place it started to really get hot. An English civilian, who was assembling a somewhat smaller rig next to us, was using Indian labor and a hand-cranked crane. He told us he didn't think our barge would slide down the ramps we had built. But, who would believe a dumb old British civilian? We kept on bolting!
Then a ship arrived with 20 wooden hulled, 36-foot motor towing launches. They had come as deck cargo and the wood had dried out. When they set them in the water they started to sink. So, the first platoon and me left the crane operation and took over the Tug Boat fleet. We got out pumps going and after a few days the boats swelled up enough to stop leaking. Then I was told to fuel all of them up. Eighteen of them were gas burning Chrysler marine engines and two were Cummins diesels. Each boat held 800 gallons of fuel.
After a few days of five gallon jeep cans, I figured there had to be a better way. I had made the acquaintance of a Lt. Col. supply guru from the air base one night in the bar of the Grand Hotel, so I asked if he, by any chance, had a spare tank truck I could "borrow." Sure. Just go get a driver and he would take us out to the Base and fix us up. I did, and he did, and we started fueling up those pesky boats.
Two days later, the Lt. Col. appeared at the docks and demanded his tanker back by dark or he would have us court martialed. That night we took the tanker back and I had a jeep with a couple of jeep cans of gas with me. After bidding the colonel goodbye at the officers club, I went out to the park where the tankers were. At least 200 of them. I left the driver and the two jeep cans and headed for Calcutta. The next morning we resumed fueling with the tank truck that was sitting there.
Shortly thereafter, a major from Gen. Cheves office came around and told me that we would start making use of those tugs and help the British tugs push the incoming Liberty ships around the various locks. (The Hooghly River had a 16-foot tide, so all ships were loaded and unloaded in Locks.) The men of the First Platoon were mostly farm boys from Indiana. The river had boat traffic like our present day freeways. Rules of the road? What's that? Boy, did we ever get a lot of horns, bells, sirens and fists pointed our way!
It was quite interesting how the men reacted to this life of a seaman. Alter 55 years, I can remember Dominic Balloco, RFC, Skipper of one of the river-going tugs. They slept on board, cooked and ate on board. After a few days, the Major came down and told me we would start ferrying some troops who were bivouacked at Howrah. How many men could we carry per trip? How do I know? Let's try 25. The boats were a little top heavy and rolled a bit, but 25 it was.
Then, the Red Cross decided we should run some Sunday excursions. The boats were busy little beavers. Meanwhile, the other boats in the fleet were moving barges around, still pushing Liberty ships in and out of locks and generally making themselves useful. Lt. Flatley and his platoon worked diligently to complete the first barge to erect a 110-foot Washington Whirley crane on.
Came the great day for the launching. Everyone stood back for the great event while the cable restraint was cut with a torch. Nothing! Zilch. T-5 Arnold gave it mighty shoves with his crane. No movement. We hooked three of our tugs to it and pulled mightily. Nope.
The Indian Navy happened to be in the lock and offered to give a pull. When their inch steel cable snapped, they left. The Englishman working next to us offered to have his crew of native Indians jack the thing up and put his well-used teakwood launching timbers under it, if in return we would set his steel in place with our power crane. A deal. This time it sailed down into the water with a great splash! The crane parts were then erected. Two 200 H.P. diesels turning a generator that operated the 110-foot boom. The name "George" was painted above the trade name Washington, and it went to work. One of our tugs was tied to it at all times. The other crane was completed and put to work in very short order. And, our humble apologies were given to the very wise English gentleman that we had laughed at before.
About that time, the Port Battalion started up the Hooghly River, and we set out for Ledo by rail, side-wheeler, train, river and finally, narrow gauge railroad. The really tough part of that trip was getting our vehicles lowered enough to go through the tunnels. Tech Sgt. Charles Grace was the man that this job fell to. In my eight years of service, Sgt. Grace was the best motor sergeant I saw. No matter what mechanical problem came up, Sgt. Grace could handle it left handed!
One little incident that happened on the ferry still gives me a laugh. We slept where ever we could find a place to lie down. One man got his shoes kicked overboard. For some reason or other, we had to get him some new shoes the real military way. A report of survey no less, that said "... a thorough search was made with grappling irons . . ." Wow!
We finally arrived in Ledo and trucked out to Margherita to the so-called staging area. Each split bamboo basha had a well in front with an old-fashioned up and own handle for pumping. We took the pump off of one well and hooked one of our gas-powered pumps up. Set up the heating coil and shower heads and we were in business. Within a few days, Sgt. Grace had a concrete slab poured for his motor pool. No one asked where he got the concrete, and he never volunteered any information.
We were put to work doing all sorts of things around the 20th General Hospital. We had bricklayers in the Company, so they built a brick, air-conditioned ward for typhus patients.
It seems that there is always something for an Engineer company to do. Someone decided it would be a good idea if we used our semi-trailers to haul pipe up to Shingbwiyang for the P.O.L. outfit. It was during the rainy season and the road being slick, the trailers kept sliding off the road on the curves. We tried hauling the pipe on our Diamond T 6x6s, and that worked fine. Meanwhile, by the grace of God and with the help of Sgt. Grace, we acquired a concrete floor for the mess hall.
When the 5307th Infantry came through on their way to Burma, quite a few of them used our showers. They even brought fire wood for the "heater." Little did we know that we would meet up with the Marauders some time later.
We kept on working around Ledo doing all sorts of work. Some of it was even fun. Then, came that day when the Marauders captured the air strip at Myitkyina. We will never know who ordered the 504th to draw their assault boats and motors from the Engineer Depot and fly them into Myitkyina NOW! Before mid-afternoon, the first plane was loaded and my best friend and tent-mate, Lt. Flatley, and eight of his men were airborne.
Before the second plane was loaded, word came down that we were not to proceed to Myitkyina, but should turn the boats in and stay at Margherita. When Flatley reported to Col. Hunter, the colonel couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Boats," he yelled. "I'm out of everything I need to fight this war and they send me boats!" He told Flatley where to dig in and went storming off.
They buried the first Marauder killed at Myitkyina and then just kept on doing anything that needed doing. Lt. Flatley and one of his men became really ill after a week or so and Col. Seagrave sent them back to Ledo.
Lt. Lester, the acting C.O., told me to get out to the airfield and get the first plane to Myitkyina. Before I left, I asked Flatley what the men needed. He said a little booze would be nice. I loaded eight cases of beer and a couple fifths of whiskey and a wind-up phonograph with some Andrews Sisters records in an outboard motor shipping box and left.
After a few days, the Lt. Col. I was reporting to sent us down below Pamati where an infantry platoon had a river block set up on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River. A little after dark, we went out on the river using flashlights for a look-see. We found several makeshift rafts with *** hanging onto them. We destroyed both the *** and the rafts. We kept this up until our flashlights got too dim to see anything.
At daylight, I went up to the airstrip and asked my "boss" for some batteries. When I told him why, and that we sure could use some bigger lights, he said he would see what he could do. He came down to our river block that afternoon and told me some belter lights were on the way. He also took the infantry platoon back to the airstrip with him.
Next day, we had a 5 K.W. generator and an anti-aircraft search light. Also a P.F.C., in starched pants, who was supposed to show us how to operate the "Thing" and then get back to Chabua. I told him we would talk about the going back part later. About two months later, I can't remember his name or unit after all these years, but I can say that he was one hell of a soldier.
The searchlight lit up the river to the bend, about a half mile upstream. This gave us the chance to plan how we were going to make our attack. By staying out in the dark, with the light on the nearest target, we could take care of half a dozen rafts in one trip.
The next morning my boss, the Lt. Col., came down to our "block" and wanted to know what all the shooting was about. When I told him, he asked if it would be possible to get a couple of prisoners. We would try.
By afternoon we had a field phone strung down to us. Shortly after dark, three rafts came in sight. We destroyed the first two, then managed to get the three *** on the last one into the water and swimming for the shore. When we got alongside, the first *** kept diving under water so we disposed of him. The other two stopped swimming and we pulled them into the boat. We stripped their clothes off and as soon as we got ashore, tied them up with some parachute shroud lines. Then, it was back on the river for the rest of the night. Called the colonel at daylight and he sent a jeep down for the prisoners. That afternoon, he sent us a light .30 and one heavy M.G. with several cases of ammunition.
I could go on and on about the operation, but night after night it was the same thing. Except one night, a well built raft came down with five *** on it. When we got close to it, two of them jumped off and started swimming. After we took care of them we headed back towards the raft. Still in the dark, but close enough to see them clearly, it turned out we had two officers and one female. They offered no resistance so we took them ashore. We had the officers strip but didn't touch the woman. One officer, who spoke some English, said she was a Korean "nurse." She had a satchel with her that was full of *** invasion rupees. We had a small fire in a dugout and threw the "money" into it. She screamed bloody murder!

PACK ANIMALS belonging to the O.S.S. Det. 101 preparing to cross river.
Photo by James L.Watson
The colonel came down with a red-bearded major from the O.S.S. and told me he was my new boss. From then on, we spent the daylight hours ferrying his men and supplies, and sometimes we would convert our boats to ferry and haul mules across.
The night Myitkyina fell was the worst of all. My new boss had gotten us another heavy 30 M.G. and a light 50 M.G. so we stayed up on the high bank and watched the rafts coming down the river. It looked like a freight train. We just kept blowing them out of the water - almost continuous fire. A lot of the *** got ashore on the east bank and the O.S.S. men took care of them.
For the next month we were kept busy moving troops across the river. Mostly Chinese. We also moved the 475th Infantry across. Then I got seriously ill and was evacuated to the 20th General Hospital in Ledo.
The commander of the second bridge platoon flew into Myitkyina to continue the ferry operations. Then, the entire company was flown into Myitkyina. Once again, Sgt. Grace and his crew, supervised by the motor officer, Lt. Pat Confredo, had to get our trucks cut down to a size that would fit into a C-47.
I was still hospitalized at the time so didn't see how this was done. Our unit was attached to the British 36th Division and we joined up with them at the Mogaung River. The long truss bridge had been so badly damaged the *** hadn't even tried to repair it. They had built a rail bridge upstream, and a foot underwater!
The 504th was in the process of repairing the main bridge when I returned from the hospital. First thing I was told to do was get our Quickway crane mounted on a flatcar and start driving piling. We found an eight-wheel flat car and mounted the crane with the pile driving rig attached on one end. We took our large air compressor off its truck and mounted it on the other end. In the middle we had six Hobart welders. The local Burmese helped get the piling for us and did any other thing we asked them to do.
The bridges had been bombed many times and finding steel beams was quite a problem. We drug some of the pieces up out of the river and cut out the bad sections and welded in whatever we could find that we could make fit. A lot of 500 pound bombs that had failed to explode were laying around most bridges. If it was possible, Lt. Confredo would remove the fuses and we would shove them out of the way. If he couldn't get the fuse out we just buried them or left them alone. I know several bridge abutments on that railroad that have bombs poured in the abutments.
We found a great supply of steel beams at a sugar mill at Sawmah and were happily tearing down the mill when the British Civil Officer found out about it. That stopped that! At one bridge, with short spans, we used 12x12 teakwood beams, two high, for beams.
Getting back and forth from our camp to our work site was a problem. Our jeep with rail wheels had plenty of power but not much traction. Ten or twelve of us piled on the jeep with a couple of men with sandbags sanded the rails. When this failed, we all got off and pushed. Since we had only the jeep brakes, coming down a hill was sometimes rather exciting. We were always in 4-wheel drive, but one time the clutch let go on the jeep and we had a real thriller!
As the 36th Division pushed the *** south, we moved up with them to keep the supply trains going. At Mohnyin we lost Sgt. Conti. He just disappeared. We hunted, and the villagers all hunted, but we never found any trace of him. I checked the Military Records two years ago and he had been carried as missing in action for two years, then to killed in action.
After the 36th got across the Irrawaddy and onto plains, we were recalled to Myitkyina. We were going to build a hospital to go along with the plans to build a B-29 base on the east side of the Irrawaddy. By this time, a side road from the Ledo Road had been built Into Myitkyina so getting supplies was a bit easier.
My best friend and tent-mate and I poured a concrete floor for our tent, and since it was the cooler season we built a fireplace. Lt. Ftatley and his platoon had received a portable saw mill so they started cutting lumber. Another platoon set up a cement batching plant. First things first. Concrete floors for everything. Wood framed mess hall.
Lt. Flatley and his platoon started sawing some local timber but found it had too much shrapnel in it. S/Sgt. Grace converted some *** trucks we had liberated into logging trucks, and mounted a Jaeger Dixie hoist on a 6x6 with a boom for loading. We had a large number of Burmese loggers using water buffalo, and one elephant. The second platoon was mixing concrete and hauling it in dump trucks to the various sites. If concrete isn't constantly agitated, the water separates and it becomes useless. We told the drivers to go like hell so it wouldn't separate. A certain Lt. Col. objected to these "speeding" trucks and insisted on the M.P.s pressing charges against them. Since it was the Summary Courts Martial officer, I saw my duty and sentenced each "speeder" to be reprimanded. No fine.
My platoon was back on the river, this time with our ten-ton Pontoon boats. We built a three-boat, two-bay ferry with three 22 horse outboards. We pulled a 30-foot launch out of the river. It had been strafed and the antique Chevy engine was ruined. We plugged up the holes and S/Sgt. Grace rigged up a Studebaker engine into it. Since we didn't have a marine clutch, Sgt. Grace cut the blades off the propeller and welded them back on in an inverted position. This worked fine and was really a great help in moving the ferry, especially when the river was up and running fast.
Shortly after V.E. Day, the Army came out with a point system for sending some of our troops Stateside. After figuring and re-figuring, I found I had enough points to go HOME. Then, the great news arrived that the "Green Project didn't apply to officers." Aw shucks! Back to the river and hauling mules and one elephant across the Irrawaddy.
Then, in late June, the Company Commander came down to the river and handed me my orders to go Stateside. By air transport yet! He told me a plane would be stopping by for me in one hour. That was the longest 55 minutes I ever spent sitting alongside the Myitkyina air strip!
Spent the first night in Ledo, then on to Karachi. Was there three days and nights. T/5 John Thompson, who also had the necessary points, told me the E.M. Club was lousy. One beer per man. I loaned him some bars and took him in the Officers Club. When he saw all that booze, his eyes popped out. Then, on to Baghdad, then Bahrain, Cairo, Tripoli, Oran, Casablanca, and finally Dakar. From there, it was a C-54 over to Natal, Brazil. Then sort of island hopping to Miami, FL. on the Fourth of July.

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More on Battle of Myitkyina
Participants:
» Beach, Charles
» Hu, Su
» Hunter, Charles
» Kinnison, Henry
» McCammon, John
» McGee, George
» Merrill, Frank
» Osborne, William
» Pan, Yukun
» Stilwell, Joseph
» Sun, Li-jen

Location:
» Burma

Related Books:
» Merrill's Marauders
» Merrill's Marauders
» The Burma Campaign: Disaster into Triumph 1942-45

Battle of Myitkyina Photo Gallery
Men of the US Army 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) Frank Merrill with two Kachin scouts, Naubum, Burma, circa 30 Apr 1944
See all 3 photographs of Battle of Myitkyina


Famous WW2 Quote
"Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"

Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943


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