Chindit vs Japanese Infantryman: 1943-44 (Combat)
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This gripping study offers key insights into the tactics, leadership, combat performance and subsequent reputations of six representative Chindit and Japanese infantry units involved in three pivotal actions that hastened Japan's defeat in Burma during World War II.
In order to keep China in the war against the Japanese, the Western Allies knew they had to return to Northern Burma. Colonel Orde Wingate, a military maverick and proponent of guerrilla warfare, believed that a different type of British infantryman was required for this role - the Chindit, indoctrinated with special training - to re-enter the jungles and mountains of Northern Burma in order to combat the victorious Japanese forces there. The Chindits' opponents would include the 18th Division, one of Imperial Japan's most seasoned formations, which by 1941 had already accumulated as much operational experience as most Anglo-American divisions would acquire in the entire 1939-45 war.
In a host of encounters the two sides clashed repeatedly in the harsh conditions of the Burmese jungle; the intended role and subsequent operational performance of the Chindits remains fraught with controversy today.
Wingate for Operation Thursday by having 1st Air Commando Group evacuate wounded Chindits from rudimentary airstrips using Stinson L-5 Sentinel liaison aircraft, or from the larger ‘stronghold’ airfields via C-47 Dakota aircraft. (NARA 208-AA-11B-14) air, but this became more difficult when the columns had to disperse. Some British soldiers found themselves receiving special training as mule handlers, and many grew fond of their charges. All ranks had to be carefully instructed in packing
sent all their troops away to Pinlebu. As far as we could make out there were not enough left to stop us doing the job, although they might cause a bit of trouble when the bangs started and they realized we were on their doorstep. However, I was pretty confident we could hold them off without straining our resources too much … We moved in on the 6th – my thirtieth birthday – as planned. (Calvert 1965: 133) Maj Michael Calvert (seated second from right) at the Bush Warfare School in Maymyo,
quick look around and then said to Major [John] Jefferies, “How many men can you spare to attack Pagoda Hill?” “About twenty.” “Right, we’ll go straight up”’ (quoted in Chinnery 1997: 129). As the fighting intensified, Durant later wrote, [Lt] George Cairns, the mortar officer and I, hearing this, picked up some grenades, got out our revolvers and prepared to go too. We had been shot at all day, and everyone felt like getting into the Japs and exacting a bit of retribution, besides which I was
its tank with a long cane and use the gasoline to clean my wounds. Otherwise the maggots would grow huge. Gasoline was the only thing that I could find to kill the maggots. My life, every day, had become a struggle to stay alive. (Quoted in Webster 2004: 312) Mogaung was strongly garrisoned and surrounded by water obstacles, so a direct frontal assault was immediately eliminated as a possibility by the Chindits. According to Lt W.F. Jeffrey of 1st Lancashire Fusiliers, ‘We began to receive
resupply, in addition to providing ‘aerial artillery’ for Wingate’s brigades. This novel aerial dimension allowed Wingate to exist behind enemy lines without any land or sea LOC. Wingate’s air component would revolutionize LRP as the heavy machine guns, cannon and bombs carried by fighter-bombers (P-47 Thunderbolts, P-51 Mustangs, and RAF Spitfires and Vengeances) and medium bombers (B-25 Mitchells) became aerial artillery for close infantry support. The transports (C-46 Commando and C-47