BY LATE APRIL, the Allied offensive in north Burma was putting heavy pressure on the Japanese (Map No. 21, page 92). General Stilwell's column had gained 35 miles and was fighting just north of Inkangahtawng, 20 miles from Kamaing. In the Irrawaddy Valley, 45 miles north of Myitkyina, British-led Kachin and Gurkha forces were fighting south toward a large supply base at Nsopzup, having captured the enemy forward base at Sumprabum. To the southeast of Myitkyina, in the Yunnan province of China, Marshal Wei Li-lung was massing Chinese divisions for an offensive in May across the Salween River.
With the enemy's salient in north Burma threatened by attacks from three directions, his communications were imperiled by a blow from the rear. General Wingate's18 3 Indian Division had cut the main enemy supply route well south of the Kamaing-Myitkyina battle area. Four of his brigades had been flown into Burma from Manipur; a fifth had made it overland from Ledo to Mohnyin. Operating in 26 columns of 400 men each, the division had set up a block on 16 March at Mawlu, 80 miles south of Myitkyina on the single railroad into north Burma. This left the Japanese with water transport up the Irrawaddy as their principal means of supply.
Taking advantage of these developments, General Stilwell planned to continue his drive down the Mogaung corridor toward Kamaing, with the Chinese 65th Regiment protecting the right flank of the
18. General Wingate was killed in a plane crash on 25 March, and Maj. Gen. W. D. A. Lentaigne became commander of the 3 Indian Division.
Chinese 22d Division as before. For the third time, the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was to take part in a wide flanking move to the east of the main effort. This was to be the most difficult of the Marauders' missions; they were to strike at Myitkyina itself, the chief objective of the campaign. Myitkyina was the principal Japanese base for defense of Burma from the north. Situated 170 air miles southeast of Ledo, it was the northernmost point of a railroad from Rangoon and was also the head of navigation on the Irrawaddy River. It lay in the proposed path of the Ledo Road, some 170 air miles north of the Burma Road junction with the railway at Lashio. The Marauders' surprise thrust deep into enemy-held territory would, if successful, effectually dispose of the principal air base from which Japanese aircraft had menaced American transport planes flying supplies to China. It would also deprive the enemy of an important stronghold, center of -an extensive military framework, and would quickly paralyze all Japanese operations radiating from Myitkyina.
The Force and the Mission
The strike at Myitkyina would test the limits of the Marauders' staying powers. Since 9 February they had marched and fought through 500 miles of exceedingly difficult country. After Nhpum Ga the troops were physically worn out. During most of the 80-day period they had lived on "K" rations. Leeches had caused many so-called "Naga sores," and nearly all of the men had suffered to some extent from dysentery and fevers. However, Myitkyina, where an all-weather airfield would greatly aid in the supply of the troops under General Stilwell's command and hasten the success of his campaign, was worth every effort.
The 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) had lost about 700 men killed, wounded, or sick. Of this number the 2d Battalion alone had lost about 460, and there were no American replacements in the theater to fill out the Marauder ranks. To provide strength enough for the third mission, General Stilwell decided to reinforce General Merrill with Kachin and Chinese troops, giving his command a total strength of about 7,000 for the Myitkyina operation.
A complete reshuffling of personnel in the 2d Battalion was necessary, for the casualties which it had sustained, especially at Nhpum
Chart : ORGANIZATION OF THE 5307TH COMPOSITE UNIT (PROVISIONAL) FOR THE THIRD MISSION
Ga, seriously disrupted its combat-team organization. The remaining men, about one-half the original number, were formed into two rifle companies, one heavy weapons company, and a battalion headquarters company, which included an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon, a pioneer and demolition platoon, and a communications platoon. Three hundred Kachin guerrillas were attached to the battalion, and the group, commanded by Colonel McGee, was designated as M Force (Chart, page 96).
The 1st and 3d Battalions retained their original tactical formation of two combat teams each. The 1st Battalion and the Chinese 150th Regiment, 50th Division, combined to form H Force. Colonel Hunter was given command of this force, with Colonel Osborne remaining in charge of the Marauder element. Similarly the 3d Battalion and the Chinese 88th Regiment, 30th Division, became K Force under Col. Henry L. Kinnison, Jr. Colonel Beach continued to be commander of the 3d Battalion. To H Force was assigned a battery of 75-mm pack howitzers of the Chinese 22d Division; to K Force, the battery of the 5307th. General Merrill, recovered for the time being from his illness, returned to headquarters at Naubum. He appointed Col. John E. McCammon as his executive officer.
On 27 April when the three Marauder forces were organized and ready for the third mission, General Stilwell flew in to Naubum to make final arrangements with General Merrill for the operation, with the airfield at Myitkyina as the first objective (Map No. 22, page 98). The same day General Merrill issued orders to the forces for their movement toward Myitkyina. Both H Force and K Force would move northward from Naubum to Taikri, then head east across the main Kumon Range and south to Ritpong. From Ritpong they would continue south through foothills to Seingheing at the edge of the Myitkyina plain.
General Merrill instructed M Force, still operating near Samlugahtawng, to patrol the Senjo Ga-Hkada Ga area and to block any attempted Japanese advance along the Tanai from the south. This would screen the southern flank during the first stage of the advance.
From the Tanai to the Hpungin Valley
On 28 April K Force moved north to Taikri and turned eastward from the Tanai Valley into the mountains (Map No. 22, page 98).
MAP NO. 22
H Force followed 2 days later. About one-fifth of the 65-mile trip to Myitkyina was over the Kumon Range, rising in this area to over 6,000 feet. The trail across the hills had not been used in 10 years and was reported to be impassable. Capt. William A. Laffin together with 2d Lt. Paul A. Dunlap had started off ahead of K Force. With them went 30 Kachin soldiers and 30 coolies to repair the worst places on the route.
The monsoon season was commencing. The sky was so cloudy that air drops became very difficult. Rain fell every day, and the damp heat was stifling. In some places the trail was so steep that
footholds had to be cut for the pack animals; in others the animals had to be unloaded and their burdens manhandled up precipitous inclines. Occasionally no path of any sort could be found, despite the work of Captain Laffin's advance group. Even the mules slipped on the uncertain footing of the hillsides and plunged to their death in valleys far below. Khaki Combat Team, which was in the lead, lost
MAP NO. 23
15 of its pack animals and their loads of ammunition and weapons; Orange Combat Team, next in the column, lost 5.
For 5 or 6 days the two forces toiled up and down through the Kumon ridges. Upon reaching Naura Hkyat, they received a report that enemy soldiers were in the vicinity. The I and R Platoon of Khaki Combat Team went forward to block the trails at Salawng-Hkayang. No Japanese were encountered there, but a patrol from the 1st Battalion of the Chinese 88th Regiment, heading southward toward Ritpong, brushed with the enemy on the east flank of the marching column. The Japanese were believed to be holding Ritpong in considerable strength.
On 5 May the leading elements of K Force reached a trail junction just over a mile north of Ritpong (Map No. 23, page 100). Colonel Kinnison decided on an enveloping attack and sent a strong patrol from Khaki Combat Team to prepare an approach to the village from the rear. According to information received, there was a trail which encircled Ritpong to the west and joined another trail south of the village. No such trail was found, so the patrol was forced to start cutting a path through the jungle. The main units of Khaki Combat Team took over the task of chopping trail at daybreak on 6 May, and, after working all day, they emerged on the track south of the village. Orange Combat Team was following close behind. Meanwhile, the Chinese 88th Regiment had unsuccessfully attacked Ritpong from the north.
At 0530 on 7 May, while Orange Combat Team remained at the point where it had bivouacked the previous night, Khaki Combat Team began to close in on Ritpong from the south. At a trail fork only a short distance from the start, a Japanese scout went by without seeing the American advance elements. Khaki Combat Team placed a block at the fork and reconnoitered. A combat patrol, investigating a group of huts within 300 or 400 yards, discovered an enemy outpost engaged in cooking a meal, but the enemy got away as the result of a premature shot. A squad of Japanese coming south from Ritpong was wiped out at the trail block. However, when Khaki Combat Team attempted to push on toward Ritpong it was checked by an enemy machine-gun position that dominated the trail.
Since the Chinese 88th Regiment was making progress north of Ritpong, Colonel Kinnison was content to have the Marauders do no more than block the village from the south. To avoid any surprise attack at the rear of the Marauder teams, he sent an I and R Platoon southward to establish a block at Sana. North of Lazu this platoon ran into a well-protected Japanese supply train which was moving up toward Ritpong. A hot fight ensued. The platoon scattered the Japanese, who fled eastward; they dropped supplies that were later retrieved by K Force.
During the night of 7/8 May, the Japanese tried to break out of Ritpong and twice attacked south against Khaki Combat Team. Coming down the trail, the Japanese made good targets for waiting Marauder machine guns and suffered heavily during both attacks. The enemy used smoke grenades in this effort.
On 8 May the 88th Regiment again attacked the north edge of Ritpong. Orange and Khaki Combat Teams, from their positions south of the town, laid down a barrage of mortar fire to support the drive, but it failed. The following day the village was finally entered. Leaving the Chinese to mop up, the Marauders marched south to Lazu where they established a protective trail block and bivouacked.
Diversion at Tingkrukawng
During the delay at Ritpong, H Force had caught up with K Force, and on 10 May both were at Lazu, about 35 miles northwest of Myitkylna (Map No. 22, page 98). Less than 20 miles to the east, the Japanese in considerable strength were resisting British-led Kachin and Gurkha levies in the:r drive toward the enemy supply base at Nsopzup. As a result of the engagement at Ritpong, the enemy had learned of the presence of an American unit in the Hpungin Valley, and the Marauders would therefore need to screen their eastern flank. To this end, K Force was to feint toward Nsopzup, occupy the attention of the enemy troops in that vicinity, and thus protect the rear of H Force in its advance for a surprise assault on the Myitkyina air strip.
Early on the morning of 11 May, K Force struck out toward Ngao Ga. The trail ran up and down steep inclines, and the day was the hottest the Marauders had known. Many of the men collapsed from weakness and exhaustion. At 0950 the next day, K Force ran into Japanese, estimated to be a platoon in strength, about 400 yards north
west of the village of Tingkrukawng (Map No. 24, below). Orange Combat Team attacked without delay. As the attack developed, the enemy strength was revealed to be approximately a reinforced battalion, and the Marauders were soon pinned to the ground. Khaki Combat Team, to the rear of Orange Combat Team, supplied mortar support. Orange built up its line, but the going was hard.
A company from the Chinese 88th Regiment was dispatched to cut a trail around to the right, find the Japanese position, and attack the enemy left flank. This attempt failed, for the Chinese ran into heavy opposition and suffered many casualties. Orange Combat Team worked its way to high ground on both sides of the trail. The men round that the Japanese held commanding ground on the opposite side of the village, with dug-in gun positions dominating the approaches.
That night Colonel Kinnison conferred with his commanders. He ordered Khaki Combat Team under Major Briggs to make a circling movement east of the village to hit the enemy from the rear, as Orange
MAP NO. 24
Combat Team pushed straight down the trail. To effect this maneuver, Khaki Combat Team had to cut a trail through the jungle.
At 0615 on 13 May the members of Khaki Combat Team began their task. By noon they had cut their way to a point where precipitous slopes stretched up toward their objective east of the village. The country was so rough that the Marauders could take along neither their animals nor their heavy weapons. With great difficulty the outfit managed to inch its way up the incline. Reaching the crest, the men discovered that the Japanese had constructed a heavy block along the trail. A Japanese patrol from the block tried to work around the
Marauders' right flank and attack their rear, but was checked by two of the combat team's platoons.
Khaki Combat Team was unable to bypass the trail block and get closer to Tingkrukawng. The maneuver yielded one advantage: from a rise in the ground Major Briggs could see Japanese positions in the village and directed Orange Combat Team's mortar fire on them. By 1645 the troops of Khaki Combat Team had used all their ammunition. They had been without food all that day. Since dropping supplies to them was impossible, Colonel Kinnison ordered Major Briggs to withdraw. The evacuation of wounded slowed the withdrawal, which was already made very difficult by darkness.
A Chinese battalion, sent around to the southwest of Tingkrukawng to replace the company which had failed in its attack on the Japanese left flank, achieved no better results. Orange Combat Team's frontal attack was not making any progress.
The Japanese were now receiving reinforcements from the east; furthermore, the operation had provided sufficient diversion to allow H Force to get well under way in its march south. The Marauders had little to gain by continuing the attack, and Colonel Kinnison decided to break off the engagement. He withdrew his troops under the protection of an artillery barrage fired by K Force's guns from Katanbum. Turning southwest on the trail to Marawngkawng, Kinnison's command pushed toward the route already taken by H Force. Marauder casualties in the engagement at Tinkrukawng were 8 killed and 21 wounded. Chinese casualties were heavier.
H Force's Attack on Myitkyina Air Strip
After 11 May, during the time K Force was engaged at Tingkrukawng, H Force was on its way toward Myitkyina (Map No. 22, page 98). From Lazu Colonel Hunter and his men proceeded southward along the trail through Marawngkawng, Manazup Sakan, and Seingheing. After crossing the motor road southwest of Seingheing the force was guided by a Kachin trained by OSS Detachment 101. He led them on a devious course through paddy fields and jungle in order to reach Myitkyina without being seen by either Japanese or natives. At 2030 on 15 May, just as the force reached the upper Namkwi River about 15 miles from the objective, the guide, Nauiyang Nau, was bitten by a poisonous snake. He tried to go on,
but within a short time his foot was badly swollen, and he was too sick to move. Without his guidance, the Marauders would have had difficulty finding their way in the dark through the intricate maze of paths. Captain Laffin and Lieutenant Dunlap slashed the spot where the fangs had penetrated Nau's foot and for 2 hours sucked poison from the incision. By 0230 the Kachin was able to mount Colonel Hunter's horse and continue leading until the column reached its destination for the night.
After a brief rest, H Force resumed its march at noon on 16 May and again crossed the Namkwi River, south of the village of Namkwi. So far only two natives had seen the column, and they had been taken along with the force in order to prevent their alerting the enemy. Only 4 miles now from the Myitkyina air strip, Colonel Hunter took more precautions to keep the movement of his force unknown. With the help of the Kachin guerrillas, his men rounded up all the inhabitants of Namkwi, some of whom were known to be of doubtful loyalty, and confined them within H Force's lines until the next morning. The force at this time cut neither the railroad nor the telegraph line, wishing to maintain secrecy about its arrival so close to the airfield.
Colonel Hunter set the time for the attack on the airfield at 1000, 17 May (Map No. 25, page 107). His plan was for the 1st Battalion of the 5307th, under Colonel Osborne, to lead the Chinese 150th Regiment to the southwest end of the field and leave the regiment to attack the strip at that point. Osborne and his men were then to push southwest to the ferry terminal at Pamati. By taking this terminal, the Marauders would control the nearest crossing of the Irrawaddy River. Colonel Hunter's plan for the attack on the air strip was based on the knowledge that because of recent strafing of the field., the Japanese habitually withdrew during daylight to positions in the thick scrub and bamboo clumps at some distance from the strip. In addition, from intelligence brought back by a six-man patrol under Sgt. Clarence E. Branscomb of White Combat Team, Colonel Hunter knew how many Japanese troops and Burmese workmen were about the strip on 16 May.
The attack came off exactly as scheduled. Colonel Osborne left the Chinese 150th Regiment to carry out its part of the mission and, with his Marauders, hastened to Pamati. By 1100 he had taken the village
MAP NO. 25
and ferry. Red Combat Team was instructed to hold the ferry site, and White Combat Team was sent back to the air strip, where it received orders from Colonel Hunter to seize Zigyun, main ferry point for Myitkyina. At 1700 Osborne and White Combat Team left the air strip and moved southeast to the Irrawaddy River in close proximity to Rampur. There they bivouacked for the night in position to move on Zigyun next morning.
Meanwhile the attack on the airfield by the 150th Regiment had made good progress. The strip was not strongly defended, and the Chinese thrust had come as a-complete surprise to the enemy.
Throughout the day sporadic fighting went on in widely separated spots around the airfield, but by noon the field was in Allied hands.
Reinforcements for H Force
When no Japanese reinforcements appeared at the air strip on 17 May, Colonel Hunter concluded that the enemy did not hold Myitkyina in strength. Intelligence reports confirmed his assumption, so he decided to press home the advantage of his surprise assault by attempting to take the city. It was inevitable that the Japanese would soon reinforce their garrison from troops within close reach of the city. The question for Colonel Hunter was whether he or the enemy could build up strength the quicker.
Immediately after capturing the air strip Colonel Hunter radioed General Merrill asking for more troops and supplies. The strip was ready to receive transport planes, which could deliver without loss cargoes 30 percent greater than could be loaded for air drops. Light motor transport and supplies too bulky or too heavy for parachute dropping could now be brought in. The Chinese 89th Regiment, waiting on rear fields, was ordered to leave for Myitkyina, and one battalion arrived by air from Ledo late in the afternoon. Simultaneously Colonel Hunter sent an urgent request to M and K Forces for their assistance. Each force was about a 2 days' trip from Myitkyina. M Force had already moved eastward over the Kumon Range and was at Arang when Colonel McGee received Hunter's call. The force started southward as soon as possible and covered the distance of more than 30 miles by forced marches. K Force had just reached Hkumchet In, about 20 miles north of Myitkyina, when Colonel Hunter's message came over the radio. Colonel Kinnison also ordered his column to continue without delay to assist H Force.
Preliminary Assault on Myitkyina
Immediately on learning of the success at the airfield, General Merrill flew in and established his headquarters (Map No. 25, page 107). His second-in-command Colonel McCammon, ordered Colonel Hunter to attack the city with the disengaged portion of H Force. One battalion of the Chinese 89th Regiment, which had arrived from Ledo, would defend the air strip while two battalions of the 150th
Regiment attacked Myitkyina. The other battalion of the 150th Regiment would be in reserve at the strip. White Combat Team, near Rampur, would continue toward Zigyun to secure the ferry crossing south of the city. If Red Combat Team held the ferry crossing at Pamati, two of -the three approaches to Myitkyina from the south would be under the control of H Force.
Early on the morning of 18 May, White Combat Team troops took possession of Rampur where they found several warehouses filled with clothing and other supplies. Colonel Osborne then moved on to Zigyun. His team occupied the town without any opposition by 1000 and took several Burmese prisoners. Defensive positions were being prepared when Osborne radioed to Colonel Hunter for further instructions. Hunter informed him that a company of Chinese was on the way to relieve White Combat Team, which was to report back to the airfield the moment the Chinese arrived. However, the relief of White Combat Team was considerably delayed as the Chinese unit engaged several groups of Japanese stragglers en route and did not reach Zigyun until 48 hours later. The Chinese dug in nine times in 5 miles.
The two battalions of the Chinese 150th Regiment attacked Myitkyina during the 18th from the north. After taking the railroad station, they became involved in confused fighting and had to retire to a line about 800 yards west of the town. There they dug in.
Meanwhile, K Force was closing in on Myitkyina from the north. About 8 miles from the city the guides leading Kinnison and his men lost their way in the darkness, and K Force bivouacked where they were for the night. Daylight on the 19th disclosed the Myitkyina-Mogaung motor road within 50 yards of their perimeter, and they pushed on along it. When General Merrill learned that K Force was coming in on the road, he radioed Colonel Kinnison to attack and secure Charpate. The village was taken during the morning without appreciable Japanese resistance. The 3d Battalion dug in around the village while the Chinese 88th Regiment moved to the southwest on a line extending roughly from the vicinity of Charpate to the railroad. Kinnison ordered the 3d Battalion to block the Mogaung road and send patrols to block all trails converging on Charpate.
The village stood in the midst of a flat area surrounded by rice paddies. Four or five hundred yards to the northwest the ground rose slightly and was covered with a dense growth of scrub and vines.
In preparing its defensive position, the 3d Battalion overlooked the importance of this high ground. On 19 May the battalion was hit from the northwest by small bands of Japanese who were trying to get into Myitkyina via the Mogaung road. However, none of these engagements was serious.
To the southwest of Charpate, General Merrill was building up a force along the Namkwi River. On 19 May Red Combat Team was relieved at the Pamati ferry by a company of the Chinese 150th Regiment, and the team took up a position on the Namkwi River south of the town. During the evening M Force reached Namkwi. McGee and his men were weak and ill from hunger, for the supplies of food which they had anticipated during the trip south from Arang had not been dropped. After getting food from H Force, McGee's unit was able to outpost Namkwi and patrol to the west and southwest.
General Merrill's forces were now so placed that Japanese reinforcements could reach Myitkyina only from across the Irrawaddy River to the east or along the Myitkyina-Mankrin or Myltkyina-Radhapur roads from the north. The Allied troops were disposed in a semicircle covering all approaches from the northwest, west, southwest, and south. So far, enemy activity was slight in this area. Even at the airfield the continual sniping did not prevent the planes from landing with an ever increasing amount of supplies. If General Merrill retained these positions, he could make a coordinated attack on Myitkyina.
For this purpose he was forming a Myitkyina Task Force, which involved reshuffling of all the units under his command. H and K Forces were dissolved; the Marauder battalions were once more combined under Colonel Hunter; and the Chinese regiments operated as separate units. After this reorganization General Merrill, again ill, had to be evacuated, and Colonel McCammon took over command.
The Myitkyina Task Force was not able to undertake its mission. Instead, a sudden reversal of fortune saw the Allied forces, during the last 10 days of May, thrown back on a defensive struggle to hold the air strip (Map No. 26, page 111). Despite the Marauders' effort to cover main approaches to Myitkyina, the Japanese had been able to reinforce the garrison: an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 enemy had come in from the Nsopzup, Mogaung, and even the Bhamo areas. The
MAP NO. 26
Japanese had built up more strength at Myitkyina than the Allies and by 23 May were passing over to the offensive.
The tired Allied forces seemed pitifully inadequate to deal with a strong enemy counterattack. If the Japanese could recapture the airfield, the American and Chinese troops in the Myitkyina area would be left with no way of escape except the jungle trail over which they had come, and they were in no condition for such an ordeal. The fruits of the brilliant campaign were at stake. The most drastic measures were justifiably taken to collect a force adequate to defend the airfield. Reluctantly the higher command directed that evacuation of sick and exhausted Marauders be held to an absolute minimum.
Requests were sent to the camp at Dinjan for Marauders convalescing in hospitals after evacuation from Burma as casualties. Some 200 convalescents were rushed to Myitkyina, but about 50 of these men were judged unfit for combat by the doctors at the airfield and were immediately sent back. A group of replacements who had just arrived in India and were at Ramgarh for training were also rushed in by air. These desperate expedients warded off the immediate peril; then Marauder reinforcements, with the 209th Engineer Combat Battalion, strengthened the Allied forces at Myitkyina and kept the Japanese from attacking the airfield.
The enemy concentrated his attacks north of the field, where the first evidence of difficulty showed on 21 May. The 3d Battalion of the 5307th had left Charpate at 1000 to reach the road junction north of Radhapur. Just short of the junction, Beach encountered a prepared enemy position. Tight bands of automatic fire directed over level terrain pinned his force to the ground. The battalion dug in. During the night the Japanese came down the Mogaung road through Charpate to attack the 3d Battalion's rear, but our artillery fire drove them off. In the morning Beach withdrew his battalion to the original position at Charpate and resumed his patrolling.
At 2200 on the night of 23 May a battalion of Japanese launched an attack on Charpate from the rise northeast of the town. Beach's force had been depleted by sickness, and some of his men were out on patrol. The Japanese attack penetrated the 3d Battalion's position early in the action. From the south 75-mm artillery supported the battalion's defense. The Marauders, fighting stubbornly, repelled the attack, but they suffered severe casualties. On the morning of 24 May at 0935, the 3d Battalion had to face still another attack. The fight was going badly when Hunter ordered Beach to break contact with the enemy and move to the railroad, 2y2miles to the south. The Japanese occupied Charpate and held it in force as soon as the 3d Battalion withdrew.
Two days later the Japanese, supported by mortar fire, attacked Namkwi heavily, and the 2d Battalion pulled back to a ridge about halfway to Myitkyina. The Japanese then occupied Namkwi and fortified it strongly. They had now taken over two of the towns on the main approaches to Myitkyina.
On 27 May Company C of the 209th Engineer Combat Battalion
was attached to the 2d Battalion. McGee was ordered to reconnoiter the Charpate area and to attempt reaching Radhapur once again. Just south of Charpate, McGee's forces were attacked. The Japanese were not present in great strength, but the 2d Battalion was so wasted by fatigue, dysentery, malaria, and malnutrition that the unit was not effective for combat. During the engagement several men went to sleep from exhaustion. Colonel McGee himself lost consciousness three times and between relapses directed the battalion from an aid station. Although the attack was beaten off, McGee became convinced that his troops were unfit for further employment and asked to have them relieved as soon as possible.
For most of the Marauders, this was the last action at Myitkyina. Both the 1st and the 3d Battalions were back near the air strip, and neither one had enough men fit for combat to be a fighting force.
When Myitkyina itself did not fall on 18 May, it was apparent that a larger force was required to besiege the city, a task for which the Marauder unit had not been trained and which it was not strong enough to accomplish. By June the unit was expended. Only 1,310 men had reached Myitkyina, and of this number 679 were evacuated to rear hospitals between 17 May and 1 June. Allied reinforcements arrived to carry on the fight, and about 200 men of the 1st Battalion remained in the area until the fall of Myitkyina on 3 August. The remnants of this force took part in the final attack on the town.
The Distinguished Unit Citation awarded to the unit summarized its campaign:
"After a series of successful engagements in the Hukawng and Mogaung Valleys of North Burma, in March and April 1944, the unit was called on to lead a march over jungle trails through extremely difficult mountain terrain against stubborn resistance in a surprise attack on Myitkyina. The unit proved equal to its task and after a brilliant operation on 17 May 1944 seized the airfield at Myitkyina, an objective of great tactical importance in the campaign, and assisted in the capture of the town of Myitkyina on 3 August 1944."
page created 29 June 2001
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