The Siege of Myitkyina was an engagement during the Burma Campaign of World War II. The Allied victory was part of the larger operation of North Burma & Yunnan which succeeded in opening the Ledo Road.
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 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. The Burma Independence Army was trained by the Japanese and spearheaded the initial attacks against British Empire forces.
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.
Battle of Northern Burma and Western Yunnan was the name of the Chinese campaign with their allies in the 1943-45 Burma Campaign. The campaign ended in an Allied victory.
Joseph Stilwell intended to make a rapid march against Myitkyina prophesying it to be a "feat which will live in military history", wanting the town for the nearby airstrip, strategically vital to the campaign as it would be an invaluable source of supplies and aerial support in the notoriously difficult jungle fighting in the China-Burma-India theater. Chinese Expeditionary Force commander Wei Lihuang also played a fundamental role in striking the Imperial Japanese Army. Sun li-Jen, as the second commander of the new Chinese 1st Army, one of the best of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army. The 1st Army has since changed their equipment from old, unsuitable-for-combat caps into US-supplied M1 helmets, and had exchanged their bolt-action Type Zhongzheng rifles for newer American and British weaponry. In addition to that, the Chinese Expeditionary Force (CEF) had finally received artillery and air support from the US and British forces as well, giving them a distinct advantage against the now-malnourished, low-morale Japanese forces around Myitkyina. The US and British played a relatively minor role during the battle, although they also had combat units, such as the famed 'Merrill's Marauders', active in the fighting.
Joseph Warren Stilwell was a United States Army general who served in the China Burma India Theater during World War II. His caustic personality was reflected in the nickname "Vinegar Joe".
Stilwell gave the Chinese 22nd Division orders to advance against the bridges held by the Japanese on March 15. After two months of fighting, Myitkyina was now in reach. With the arrival of the rainy season, the incessant rain didn't stop until May 17. On that day, at 10:00 p.m., the Chinese Expeditionary Force launched an attack with the U.S. Army's 'Merrill's Marauders' unit against the Japanese airstrip at Myitkyina, supported by artillery. Eight Japanese planes were quickly destroyed as the battle escalated. The Japanese were caught by surprise, and, not knowing where their enemies were, poured gasoline onto the airfield in an attempt to disable it and retreated into Myitkyina proper, intending to fight the Chinese and Americans on more favorable terms there. The Chinese and the Americans quickly overran the field relatively intact, whereupon U.S. Army Air Forces and Royal Air Force C-47 transport aircraft moved the Chinese 89th Regiment of the 30th Division to the battlefield to supplement the exhausted C.E.F. and Marauder units already at Myitkyina. Afterward, some Chinese units attacked the town itself, but the attack was soon called off when two Chinese battalions, in the confusion and excitement of the battle, mistakenly engaged each other in a fierce firefight, and when 2 other battalions were moved in, they too repeated the mistake. On August 3, General Genzo Mizukami ordered the town abandoned and took his life in a literal compliance to "defend Myitkyina to the death" as the Chinese and US forces gradually cleared the city and the surrounding area of Japanese troops.
The operations against Myitkyina was particularly hard on the Chinese Expeditionary Force, due to the hard fighting, lack of supplies, difficult terrain, and disease. Owing to excessive casualties, the unit effectively ceased to exist as a fighting force and was therefore disbanded. The long-awaited taking of Myitkyina and its airfield allowed for the opening of the Ledo Road, connecting the old Burma Road with China. The Chinese forces' casualties were the highest among all the battles during the Chinese-intervention of Burma Campaign.[ citation needed ]
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, to aid the war effort against Japan — as an alternative to the Burma Road became required, once that had been cut-off by the Japanese in 1942. 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.
The Burma Road 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.
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33rd Japanese Army: General Hondo Masaki
The 11th Army Group was the main British Army force in Southeast Asia during the Second World War. Although a nominally British formation, it also included large numbers of troops and formations from the British Indian Army and from British African colonies, and also Nationalist Chinese and United States units.
Merrill’s Marauders or Unit Galahad, officially named the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), was a United States Army long range penetration special operations jungle warfare unit, which fought in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II, or China-Burma-India Theater (CBI). The unit became famous for its deep-penetration missions behind Japanese lines, often engaging Japanese forces superior in number.
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.
The South-East Asian Theatre of World War II was the name given to the campaigns of the Pacific War in Burma, Ceylon, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indochina, Malaya and Singapore. Conflict in this theatre began when the Empire of Japan invaded French Indochina in September 1940 and rose to a new level following the raid on Pearl Harbor, and simultaneous attacks on Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Malaya on 7 and 8 December 1941. The main landing at Singora on the east side of the Isthmus of Kra preceded the bombing of Pearl Harbor by several hours. Action in the theatre officially ended on 9 September 1945.
China Burma India Theater (CBI) was the United States military designation during World War II for the China and Southeast Asian or India-Burma (IBT) theaters. Operational command of Allied forces in the CBI was officially the responsibility of the Supreme Commanders for South East Asia or China. However, US forces in practice were usually overseen by General Joseph Stilwell, the Deputy Allied Commander in China; the term "CBI" was significant in logistical, material and personnel matters; it was and is commonly used within the US for these theaters.
Frank Dow Merrill was a United States Army general and is best remembered for his command of Merrill's Marauders, officially the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), in the Burma Campaign of World War II. Merrill's Marauders came under General Joseph Stilwell's Northern Combat Area Command. It was a special forces unit modelled on the Chindits' long range penetration groups trained to operate from bases deep behind Japanese lines.
Myitkyina is the capital city of Kachin State in Myanmar (Burma), located 1,480 kilometers (920 mi) from Yangon, and 785 kilometers (488 mi) from Mandalay. In Burmese it means "near the big river", and Myitkyina is on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River, just below 40 kilometers (25 mi) from Myit-son of its two headstreams. It is the northernmost river port and railway terminus in Myanmar. The city is served by Myitkyina Airport.
Detachment 101 of the Office of Strategic Services operated in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II. On 17 January 1946, it was awarded a Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation by Dwight Eisenhower, who wrote:
The courage and fighting spirit displayed by its officers and men in offensive action against overwhelming enemy strength reflect the highest tradition of the armed forces of the United States.
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.
Fort Hertz was a remote British Military outpost in northeastern Burma in the district of Putao in what is now the Kachin State near the present town of Putao. It was named after William Axel Hertz. Hertz led the first expeditions into the far north of Burma in 1888, was responsible for the 1912 Gazetteer of Kachin Hills area and served as the first Deputy Commissioner of the Government in the Putao District. The military post was established in 1914 and given the name Fort Hertz in 1925 on the retirement of William Hertz from the Indian Civil Service.
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.
Myitkyina Airport is an airport in Myitkyina, Burma.
Merrill's Marauders is a 1962 Technicolor war film, photographed in Panavision, and directed and co-written by Samuel Fuller. It is based on the exploits of the long range penetration jungle warfare unit of the same name in the Burma Campaign, culminating in the Siege of Myitkyina.
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.
Charles Newton Hunter was the author of the book Galahad (1963) a first person account of the Burma Campaign in World War II. Galahad was the code-name for the U.S. Army's 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), better known as Merrill's Marauders. "Colonel Charles N. Hunter had been with Galahad from the beginning as its ranking or second ranking officer, had commanded it during its times of greatest trial, and was more responsible than any other individual for its record of achievement."
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.