Burma Road

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Transportation of Allied Forces in Burma and southwestern China including the Burma Road The Hump and Burma Road.png
Transportation of Allied Forces in Burma and southwestern China including the Burma Road
The "Twenty-Four Bends" (25.821725degN, 105.202600degE), often mistaken for a segment of the Burma Road, is actually in Qinglong County, Guizhou Province. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Western supplies carried over the Burma Road first arrived at Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, then traveled over mountain roads, such as the "24 Bends," passing through cities such as Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, before continuing to Chongqing. Ledo Burma Roads Assam-Burma-China.gif
The "Twenty-Four Bends" (25.821725°N, 105.202600°E), often mistaken for a segment of the Burma Road, is actually in Qinglong County, Guizhou Province. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Western supplies carried over the Burma Road first arrived at Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, then traveled over mountain roads, such as the "24 Bends," passing through cities such as Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, before continuing to Chongqing.
Burmese and Chinese laborers using hand tools to reopen the Burma Road Workers with hand tools building Burma Road2.jpg
Burmese and Chinese laborers using hand tools to reopen the Burma Road

The Burma Road (Chinese :滇缅公路) was a road linking Burma with the southwest of China. Its terminals were Kunming, Yunnan, and Lashio, Burma. It was built while Burma was a British colony in order to convey supplies to China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Preventing the flow of supplies on the road helped motivate the occupation of Burma by the Empire of Japan in 1942. Use of the road was restored to the Allies in 1945 after the completion of the Ledo Road. Some parts of the old road are still visible today. [1]

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Road A demarcated land route with a suitable surface between places

A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places that has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by foot or some form of conveyance, including a motor vehicle, cart, bicycle, or horse.

Southwest China Geographical region

Southwest China is a region of the People's Republic of China defined by governmental bureaus that includes the municipality of Chongqing, the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Contents

History

The road is 717 miles (1,154 km) long and runs through rough mountain country. [2] The sections from Kunming to the Burmese border were built by 200,000 Burmese and Chinese laborers during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and completed by 1938. [3] The construction project was coordinated by Chih-Ping Chen. It had a role in World War II, when the British used the Burma Road to transport materiel to China before Japan was at war with the British. Supplies would be landed at Rangoon (now Yangon) and moved by rail to Lashio, where the road started in Burma.

Chih-Ping Chen Chinese diplomat

Chih-Ping Chen (1906-1984) was a student activist, military officer, statesman, and diplomat for the Republic of China from the 1920s through the mid-1970s. He served in student actions during the establishment of the Republic; was in charge of the building and operations of the Burma Road during World War II; represented the Republic of China in Burma, India, the Philippines, Iraq, Jordan, the Arab Federation, Libya, and Mexico; and was a Chief Delegate for China in eight annual United Nations General Assemblies. At the time of his passing, he held three positions as a member of the Central Committee of the Kuomintang, Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and National Security Advisor to the President.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

In July 1940, the British government yielded, for a period of three months, to Japanese diplomatic pressure to close down the Burma Road to supplies to China. [4] :299 After the Japanese overran Burma in 1942, the Allies were forced to supply Chiang Kai-shek and the nationalist Chinese by air. United States Army Air Force cargo planes, mainly Curtiss C-46s, flew these supplies from airfields in Assam, India, over "the hump", the eastern end of the Himalayas. Under British command Indian, British, Chinese, and American forces, the latter led by General Joseph Stilwell, defeated a Japanese attempt to capture Assam and recaptured northern Burma. In this area they built a new road, the Ledo Road which ran from Ledo, Assam, through Myitkyina and connected to the old Burma Road at Wandingzhen, Yunnan, China. The first trucks reached the Chinese frontier by this route on January 28, 1945. [5]

Chiang Kai-shek Chinese politician and military leader

Chiang Kai-shek, also known as Generalissimo Chiang or Chiang Chungcheng and romanized as Chiang Chieh-shih or Jiang Jieshi, was a Chinese nationalist politician, revolutionary and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975, first in mainland China until 1949 and then in Taiwan until his death.

Assam State in northeast India

Assam is a state in northeastern India, situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of 78,438 km2 (30,285 sq mi). The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to the north; Nagaland and Manipur to the east; Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Bangladesh to the south; and West Bengal to the west via the Siliguri Corridor, a 22 kilometres (14 mi) strip of land that connects the state to the rest of India.

The Hump airlift route in World War II

The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces (AAF) based in China. Creating an airlift presented the AAF a considerable challenge in 1942: it had no units trained or equipped for moving cargo, and no airfields existed in the China Burma India Theater (CBI) for basing the large number of transports that would be needed. Flying over the Himalayas was extremely dangerous and made more difficult by a lack of reliable charts, an absence of radio navigation aids, and a dearth of information about the weather.

From 1942-1944, 98 percent of all US lend lease to China went directly to US Army units in China, not the Chinese military. [6]

Films set on the Burma Road

Burma Convoy is a 1941 film about a truck convoy on the Burma Road directed by Noel M. Smith and starring Charles Bickford and Evelyn Ankers.

A Yank on the Burma Road is a 1942 drama film directed by George B. Seitz and starring Laraine Day and Barry Nelson. It is also known as China Caravan and Yanks on the Burma Road.

Further reading

Jonathan David Latimer was an historian and writer based in Wales. His books include Operation Compass 1940, Tobruk 1941, Deception in War, Alamein, Burma: The Forgotten War and 1812: War with America which won a Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History and was shortlisted for the George Washington Book Prize.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

See also

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Northern Combat Area Command

The Northern Combat Area Command or NCAC was a subcommand of the Allied South East Asia Command (SEAC) during World War II. It controlled Allied ground operations in northern Burma. For most of its existence NCAC was commanded by US Army General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell. In 1945 after Stilwell was recalled, his deputy, Lieutenant General Daniel Sultan, was promoted to and assumed command.

Burma campaign Series of battles fought in the British colony of Burma, South-East Asian theatre of World War II

The Burma campaign was a series of battles fought in the British colony of Burma, South-East Asian theatre of World War II, primarily involving the forces of the British Empire and China, with support from the United States, against the invading forces of Imperial Japan, Thailand, and collaborator units such as the Burma Independence Army, which spearheaded the initial attacks against British forces, and the Indian National Army. British Empire forces peaked at around 1,000,000 land and air forces, and were drawn primarily from British India, with British Army forces, 100,000 East and West African colonial troops, and smaller numbers of land and air forces from several other Dominions and Colonies.

China Burma India Theater

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Ledo Road road in Myanmar

The Ledo Road was an overland connection between India and China, built during World War II to enable the Western Allies to deliver supplies to China and aid the war effort against Japan. After the Japanese cut off the Burma Road in 1942 an alternative was required, hence the construction of the Ledo road. It was renamed the Stilwell Road, after General Joseph Stilwell of the U.S. Army, in early 1945 at the suggestion of Chiang Kai-shek. It passes through the Burmese towns of Shingbwiyang, Myitkyina and Bhamo in Kachin state.

North-east Indian railways during World War II

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Pangsau Pass

Pangsau Pass or Pan Saung Pass, 3,727 feet (1,136 m) in altitude, lies on the crest of the Patkai Hills on the India-Burma (Myanmar) border. The pass offers one of the easiest routes into Burma from the Assam plains. It is named after the closest Burmese village, Pangsau, that lies 2 km beyond the pass to the east.

X Force

X Force was the name given to the portion of the National Revolutionary Army's Chinese Expeditionary Force that retreated from Burma into India in 1942. Chiang Kai-shek sent troops into Burma from Yunnan in 1942 to assist the British in holding back the Japanese. These Chinese forces became broken up, and in the retreat out of Burma part of these forces entered India. These were cantoned at Ramgarh Cantonment in Bihar, brought up to five-Division strength, and re-equipped and re-trained by American instructors at British expense.

Operation Alpha was the US inspired plan, in late 1944, to protect the capital of Yunnan province, Kunming, against a further Japanese offensive.

Wei Lihuang Chinese military officer

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Long Yun Chinese politician

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Battle of Yunnan-Burma Road was the name of the Chinese intervention to aid their British allies in the 1942 Burma Campaign. Its forces were composed of the Fifth, Sixth and Sixty-sixth Army under the command of the Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma, commanded by Lt. General Joseph Stilwell, Lt. General Luo Zhuoying was his Executive Officer.

Chinese Expeditionary Force Chinese military unit in World War II

The Chinese Expeditionary Force was an expeditionary unit of the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army that was dispatched to Burma and India in support of the Allied efforts against the Imperial Japanese Army during the Japanese invasion and occupation of Burma in the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War.

Chabua Air Force Station Indian Air Force base in Chabua, Assam, India

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<i>The Stilwell Road</i> (film) 1945 film

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Burma Campaign 1944

The fighting in the Burma Campaign in 1944 was among the most severe in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II. It took place along the borders between Burma and India, and Burma and China, and involved the British Commonwealth, Chinese and United States forces, against the forces of Imperial Japan and the Indian National Army. British Commonwealth land forces were drawn primarily from the United Kingdom, British India and Africa.

Y Force was the South East Asia Command designation given to Chinese National Revolutionary Army forces that re-entered Burma from Yunnan in 1944 as one of the Allies fighting in Burma Campaign of World War II. It consisted of 175,000 troops divided into 15 divisions.

References

  1. Voy:Burma Road
  2. Burma Road - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  3. Seagrave, Gordon S., Burma Surgeon, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1943
  4. Lorraine Glennon. Our Times: An Illustrated History of the 20th Century. October 1995. ISBN   9781878685582
  5. Winston Churchill. The Second World War, v. VI, chap. 11.
  6. Jay Taylor, Stilwell's The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China, pp. 271