China’s first successful major offensive in more than seven years was against the invading Japanese, opening a land supply route via India from America and the other United Nations to blockaded China..
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Also Included Is A
ENTIRE SALWEEN CAMPAIGN
from the time that the Chinese Expeditionary Force, with the assistance of American supplies, tactical and operational advisers and technicians, crossed the Salween River on May 11, 1944, until all Japanese forces in Western Yunnan Province were killed or had retreated to Burma, and the last Burma Road objective, Wanting, was captured and occupied by the C.E.F. on January 20, 1945.
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First fruit of the successful Salween Campaign was arrival of the first land-route convoy of military supplies to reach China since May 5, 1942.
THIS FIRST CONVOY REACHED KUNMING, CHINA ON FEBRUARY 4, 1945.
This convoy of American miliary vehicles and military supplies for china, driven by both American and Chinese drivers, was the first to traverse, from Ledo to Kunming, the 1,074-mile Stilwell Road (a composite of the new Ledo Road from Assam Province, India, across northern Burma plus the reconstructed Burma Road in Southwest China).
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Compiled and distributed by
Public Relations Officer
Chinese Combat Command
APO 627 P.M., New York
(Entire contents of this brochure cleared for publications by Press Censor Golbert, 61207, USF, CT.)
THE SALWEEN RIVER CAMPAIGN IN SOUTHWEST CHINA
TO RE-OPEN THE BURMA ROAD
PURPOSE:To drive the Japanese invaders from Yunnan Province in Southwest China in conjunction with the similar drive to oust the Japs from Northern Burma, thus clearing the enemy from the territory through which it was planned to build the connecting link between the newly constructed Ledo Road in Burma and that part of the old Burma Road lying within China. This would break Japan’s two-year blockade of China, permitting war supplies for the Chinese armies to be brought in over a land route from India – the realization of “Stilwell’s Dream.”
TIME:Salween River offensive was launched on night of May 10-11m 1944, when Chinese Expeditionary Force and members of Y-Force Operations Staff, American military mission to China, crossed the Salween River in Southwest Yunnan Province to attack the strongly-entrenched Japs west of the river.About 40,000 Chinese troops were ferried over the 398 pneumatic rubber boars furnished by the Americans, in the initial crossing, with loss of only one man by drowning. Additional troops ferried across as the campaign progressed brought the total to 100,000. The campaign continued throughout 1944 and into 1945, including the monsoon season, the last original stated objective of the campaign – the city of Wanting on the China-Burma border – falling to the victorious CLF on January 20, 1945.
RESULTS:Overland supply route to China from India reopened. First convoy arrived Kunming February 4, 1945, following trip from India, through the re-conquered territory of North Burma and Southwest Yunnan where bitter fighting had occurred between the Japanese and the Chinese-American-British forces. As a result of the Salween Campaign, the cities of Tengchung (Tengyueh), Lungling, Pingka, Wanting, and some 400 smaller communities occupied for more than two years by the Jap invader, were restored to the Chinese. It was estimated at the time of the fall of Wanting that 15,000 Japs were killed in the campaign, with Chinese deaths totaling 19,000, the Chinese being the attacking force through most of the campaign and forced to attack well-prepared defense positions.
WHO:The Chinese Expeditionary force, which fought the successful Salween Campaign, was composed of the XI and XX Chinese Army Groups, later reinforced by another Chinese Army. CEF Commander was General Wei Li-huang, (“One Hundred Victory Wei”) with able General Hsiao I-Hau as Chief of Staff. American Forces until early in 1945 were in command of Brigadier General Frank Dorn of San Francisco, who served successively as head of Y-Force Operations Staff and later as Commanding General of the predesignated Chinese Training and Combat Command. General Joseph W. Stilwell was the overall commander of operations in India-Burma and in China, as Chief of Staff to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, until his recall to the United States in the Fall of 1944, after which the China Theater was separated from the India-Burma theater, with Lieutenant General (then Major General) Albert C. Wedemeyer heading the United States forces in the China Theater and Lieutenant General (then Major General) Dan I. Sultan heading those in the India-Burma Theater. Until General Stilwell’s recall General Sultan was deputy commander to General Stilwell, while General Dorn acted as chief of staff in the Salween operations. The 14TH and 10TH U.S. Army Air Forces and the Air Transport and Troop Carrier Commands Cooperated throughout the campaign.
HOW:While Chinese and American and Allied troops were driving the Japs before them in Burma, the Chinese Expeditionary Force in the face of difficult natural obstacles of mountain terrain and monsoon weather, were reducing one Jap-held city after another in the Salween area. Five columns of the CEF crossed the Salween River to attack the Japanese in their strongly-entrenched positions west of the river. A sixth column moved into the Kunlong Ferry area, about 90 miles south of the Burma Road, to act as a holding force against the enemy in that sector. Three of the main columns had as their objective the ancient walled city of Tengchung (Tengyueh), famous since the days of Marco Polo for its products of jade, and since 1942 the principal Jap supply and communications center in the area north of the Burma Road. The other two columns crossed below the Burma Road with their objective Lungling, where a road from Tengchung south intersects the Burma Road, Capture of Tengchung opened several possible routes for a connecting link between the new Ledo Road in Burma and the Old Burma Road in China. Occupation of Lungling secured the hold of Tengchung. Taking of Mangshih, Chefang and other towns along the road south to Wanting on the boarder, insured the protection of the new road from Jap attack.
WHERE:The Salween Campaign took place in that part of Yunnan Province occupied by the Japs after they had crossed the Burma-Cina border at Wanting in 1942 and driven up the Burma Road to the Salween River by May 5, 1942. There they had been stopped in 1942 but they spread out and occupied all of Yunnan Province West of the river on a front of approximately 100 miles along the river north and south of the Road. The Chinese had destroyed the bridges crossing the river and taken up defensive positions along the east bank. The Japs made several attempts to cross but by the fall of 1942 they had settled down to holding what they had. The territory which they occupied and in which the Salween Campaign was fought is dominated by the Kaolikung Mountains, a range lying between the Salween and Shweli Rivers with peaks 12,000 feet high, crossed by only a few primitive trails, some of them literally above the clouds. The Japs had to be dislodged from their prepared positions in this part of Yunnan Province and driven back down the Road to Burma before the land route from India could be reopened.
Tengchung(Tengyueh) Largest city in the area and main objective of the drive west of the Salween. Taken September 14, 1944 after a 51-day siege by the Chinese Expeditionary Force, with the siege by the Chinese Expeditionary Force, with the cooperation of the 14th and 10th U.S. Army Air Forces, whose planes bombed and strafed the city and breached its thick walls in preparation for the ground attacks.
Lunglind(Dragon Hill) Largest city on the Burma road west of the Salween and principal supply outletfrom Jap-occupied central Burma to Tengchung, 40 miles to the north. Second main objective of the campaign. It was almost completely occupied by the Chinese on June 10, 1944. The Chinese failed to hold their gains and withdrew, but finally definitely occupied the city on November 3.
MangshihThird main objective of campaign. Located on Burma Road 14 miles southwest of Lungling. On June 10 Chinese threw road blocks across the Burma Road both below and above the town. Finally taken by Chinese November 20, 1944.
ChefangAdded objective of campaign when it was resolved to drive Japs completely out of Yunan Province. Located on Burma Road south of Manshin. Taken by CEF December 1, 1944.
WantingLast important city on Burma Road in China. Another added objective when it was decided to drive Japs back into Burma. After Chinese had entered it early in January, 1945 only to be driven back in counter attack, it finally fell to the CEF after midnight January 20, 1945 following a 24 day battle.
SungshanJap position on fortified peaks dominating the Burma Road at the Salween known as the “Gibraltar of the Burma Road.” By-passed in the initial crossing operation, it proved to be one of the most difficult positions to reduce. To take one of its mountain-top strong points, the Chinese, with the assistance of American engineers, detonated 6,000 pounds of TNT in tunnels dug under the position. Finally taken on September 7, 1944.
PingkaKey village in the Salween bend southeast of Lungling. Captured by the Chinese May 15, it was retaken by the Japs May 23. After numerous attacks and counterattacks it was finally taken by the CEF September 23, 1944.
HungmoshuKey village on the trail directly westward from Paoshan. After three days fighting the Chinese captured it May 15. It changed hands twice again and finally fell to the Chinese early in June.
Mamien PassKey point on the northern trail through the Kaolikung mountains. Stubbornly defended by the Japanese throughout May after Chinese units had by-passed it.Finally fell to the Chinese on June 15, 1944.
ChiatouTown on Shweli River which was taken by the Chinese on May 17. It changed hands three times in the following month but the Chinese recaptured it on June 16 and drove the defending Japanese south from the area.
Kaitou Town on the Shweli River four miles south of Chiatou, captured by the Chinese on May 24, recaptured by the Japs on May 28, and finally captured by the Chinese on June 2and held through the rest of the operations in the Shweli River Valley.
WatienTown on the Shweli River, captured on June 20 by the Chinese.
ChiangtsoImportant trail junction town southeast of Watien. Strongly defended by the Jap garrison it finally fell to CEF on June 21, the Jap resistance collapsed in the valley of the Shweli in China.
TatangtzuKey pont on the trail through the Kaolikung mountains to Chiangtso and Wation. Chinese made contact with Japs at that point on May 12 and kept up a continuous and blood assault on it for more than four days. It finally fell on May 24TH.
Laifengshan(“The Mountain Where the Birds Come”), strongly defended town which the Chinese took before Tengchung in probably the best executed and best coordinated attack of the campaign. Laifengshan fell on July 26. American flame throwers were effectively used in this attack.
Hwei Tung BridgeBurma Road bridge over the Salween River. Destroyed by the Chinese in 1942 to prevent a Japanese crossing of the Salween, it was rebuilt during the Salween Campaign by Chinese Engineers and workmen under American supervision.
ROUTING OF JAPS WINDS UP CAMPAIGN
With the driving of the Japanese invaders of Yunnan Province out of their strongly entrenched positions west of the Salween River, back to the Burma border, the Salween Campaign, as such, was completed. The object of the campaign was to rout the Japs out of that part of Yunnan Province through which it was planned to build the connecting link between the new Ledo Road from Assam, India across north Burma and that portion of the old Burma Road lying within China. That objective was accomplished.
The campaign in North Burma had the same objective -- to makepossible the reopening of an overland supply route from India to China, across Burma, sometimes referred to as “Stilwell’s Dream”.
General Stilwell’s return to the United States did not halt the Salween offensive nor that in Burma. His last act on his way out of China was to visit the Salween front and there confer with General Wei Li-huang (“One Hundred Victory” Wei), head of the Chinese Expeditionary Force, and Brigadier General Frank Dorn, commander of the Y-Force Operations Staff, on plans for the final stage of the campaign designed to make possible forging of the final link between the new Ledo Road and the old Burma Road.
Members of the Y-Force Operating Staff, after that American miliary mission together with the Z-Force, had been redesignated as the Chinese Training and Combat Command commanded by General Dorn continued to “carry on” with their work of aiding the Chinese in their offensive against the Japs in Yunnan Province. Despite the necessity of meeting the new threat against Kweiyang on the Kunming-Chunking road in Kweichow Province, China, Americans of the new Chinese Combat Command, which early in 1945 was organized from part of the former Chinese Training and Combat Command, continued to assist the Chinese in fighting against the Japs at the Burma Border, as well as on the new front around Kweiyang on the Kunming-Chungking Road.
A WAR FOR A ROAD
The Salween Campaign was a war to reopen a road.
Huge, sprawling China, isolated by the Jap invaders who held her whole coastline, had been slowly choking to death for lack of the corpuscles of war flowing into her veins. For a brief period prior to 1942 the old Burma Road, built on the blood and sweat of hundreds of thousands of coolies and farmers without benefit of modern equipment, served as the major artery of supply to China, but the Japanese conquest of Burma closed the road and twisted the garrote around the Chinese throat.
Since early 1942 China had no land route of communication or supply. The U.S. Army’s Air Transport Command, performing gargantuan labors, increased air tonnage over the treacherous Himalayan “Hump” from nothing to 44,000 tons a month. The China National Aviation Corporation, operating with only a few pilots and planes flew considerable tonnage into China. But the efforts of ATC and CNAC together amounted to scarcely the proverbial drop in the bucket in relation to China’s war needs, although Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek credits ATC with keeping China open to the world.
To rebuild the fighting strength of the Chinese armies, to train and supply a military force which could be used in coordination with any future landing on the coast of China, the Burma Road had to be reopened. The Salween Campaign constituted this effect to establish an interior bridgehead for the United Nation armies when the final assault begins against the Asiatic empire Japan has established on the mainland of China.
On the gigantic canvas of a World War, the Salween Campaign took only a few brush strokes – yet it can be of great significance to the completed picture . For, in order to fight the campaign to open the road, Chinese troops had to be trained and equipped by Americans upon the basic conception that properly trained, supplied and led Chinese soldiers were fully capable of beating back the Japs.
The success of the SalweenCampaign proved this premise for, Chinese troops, trained, equipped and advised by the Americans, crossed the most difficult terrain in the world against the fire of long-entrenched Japs, effected a juncture with the Chinese forces fighting in Burma, and took all the objectives necessary to permit completion of the overland route from India.
The Salween Campaign was a success. All of the original objectives were taken and the Chinese armies, imbued with their new offensive spirit, drove further south along the old Burma Road, to take Mangshin and Chefang, and finally Wanting on the Burma-Chinese boarder.
Tengchung was occupied after a long siege; Tatangtzu, Kaitou, Wation and Chiangtso were taken; Pingka and Lungling before the assaults of the Chinese; Sungshan, the “Gibraltar of the Burma Road” was wipe out, and the Japs were driven out of Western Yunnan province with the capture of Wanting.
There were an estimated 15,000 Japs killed. The Chinese losses in killed (17,000) and wounded, were more than 40,000, due to the fact that they, the attacking force, were fighting in probably the worst battle terrain in the world, a veritable ‘battleground above the clouds” and against strongly prepared positions.
The Salween Campaign began with the XI and XX Chinese Army Groups, which were later reinforced by another Chinese Army, brought up from the French-Indo boarder to complete the conquest of Sungshan.
These forces, comprising the Chinese Expeditionary Force, were under the command of General Wei Li-huang, with General Hsiao I-Shu as Chief of Staff. The Americans who served with the CEF were under command of Brigadier General Frank Dorn USA, of San Francisco, The Americans were not in command of the Chinese, but served as advisors, in their status as “guests” of the Chinese government. They did, however, play as important part in training, equipping and supplying the troops who participated in the Salween Campaign.
Under General Dorn, Colonel Walter S. Wood commanded the American liaison teams with the XI Army Group, Colonel Harry A. Buckley those with the XX Army Group and Colonel Carlos G. Spaht those with the other Army. Colonel Wood was replaced by Colonel John K. Sells when the former returned to the United states upon completion of two years overseas service.
When the Salween Campaign was launched less than a year after the establishment of the Y-Force Operations Staff, the American military mission charged with training, equipment, supplying and advising the Chinese, each Chinese unit which went into combat was accompanied by American advisors, technicians and specialists.
AMERICANS IN FIELD WITH CHINESE
Every branch of the American army was represented. Artillery officers supervised the firing of the American-supplied 75-milli-meter pack howitzers; veterinary men cared for the animal transport; medical men treated the wounded; air support (later termed “cooperation”) officers “talked” planes in to their targets; officers of all branches advised in the making of plans for armies and the tactics of small units. In the rear supply men expedited the smooth delivery of supplies by truck along the Burma Road, by pack trains or coolies over the mountains, or by air dropping.
Medical officers did a particularly commendable job, not here to fore equaled in the history of the Chinese Army. American portable and field hospitals took in more than 15,000 of the Chinese Army casualties, nearly 10,000 of which were battle casualties .(This was in addition to those cared for in the Chinese Army hospitals). Only about five percent of those cared for by the Americans died, a low figure considering the difficulties of terrain, supply and climatic conditions under which the medical men worked. Only 2,000 died from illness in the malaria-ridden, monsoon swept battle area as compared to the estimated 17,000 Chinese battle deaths. In view of the fact that the Chinese Army in past has looked for the same number of casualties from illness as from battle wounds, the record speaks well for the disease-prevention methods which the Americans introduced to the Chinese in this campaign.
THE SALWEEN CAMPAIGN
The plan of campaign for the Salween offensive, on which General Dorn and other officers of Y-Force Operations staff advised the Chinese Expeditionary Force, was essentially a simple one, although the terrain over which it was to be fought constituted the highest and most rugged battleground in the world.
The Salween River in this section of Yunnan province runs through a gorge cut deep into the backbone of southeast Asia. The surface of the river is 3,000 feet above sea level in this sector, with mountains on both sides towering 9,000 feet above the river bed The river is rarely more than 150 yards wide, but it runs deep and cold. When the rains come it is swollen to an angry torrent almost impossible to cross. Hence its name, Salween, or “Angry River.”
West of the Salween the Kaolikung mountains lift their towering heads. There are few trails in these mountains and only three useable passes to the west. The first of these is Hpimaw Pass at the northen end of the front and is 9,000 feet high. The second is Mamien Pass, which is 10,000 feet high and the third is the pass between Tatangtzu and Chiangtso at the same level.
The ruggedness of these mountains is incredible and it is doubtful if any people other than the Chinese could have successfully traversed them, particularly with the stubborn Japs defending fanatically at every possible strategic point.
Roads do not exist — it required the labor of thousands of coolies working over a period of years to build the Burma Board, which coils its serpentine way across the lower reaches of the Kaolikung.
Trails are narrow, so narrow that in may places pack trains cannot pass without brushing off some of the tiny pack horses into the chasms which border most of the trails.
There are no broad valleys, no level marches to relax strained leg muscles. The trails up the mountains are precipitous, so precipitous that they lap back and forth every few yards because it is impossible to ascend directly up. The strain imposed by the altitude and the sharp incline on lungs and legs slows up the sturdy Chinese soldier and coolie.
The decent is scant improvement or relief, for steep paths quickly turn knee-joints to jelly and calf muscles quiver with tension.
In the monsoon season, these trails become roaring mountain streams in some localities; in others they turn in to a slick slippery mud which throws even the sure-foot mules. Some trails become quagmires of knee deep, clinging mud which clings inches thick to shoes. The Chinese frequently remove their rope and grass sandals in order to obtain a better footing.
The rains quickly penetrate the Chinese cotton uniforms and even American raincoats are not of much value on the march, for the perspiration induced soon renders the wearer as wet as if he wore no protection.
When the Chinese crossed Mamien Pass and Snow Mountain, west of Tatangtzu, ten thousand of these American raincoats were cropped to them to counteract the combination of altitude and cold rain which had turned to sleet and snow.
The troops used the raincoats to sleep in and for protection when they were not moving, but the majority of them were carried during marches and attacks.
To cross this incredible terrain on a ration of rice is a feat worthy of admiration. It is doubtful if any unit of the American Army could have accomplished the crossing under these conditions.
American officers and war correspondents who had experienced the rigors of the Owen Stanley mountain range stated that the Kaolikung was a far worse obstacle.
The Chinese soldiers and coolies who toiled laboriously up from the tropical verdure of the Salween gorge to the snow-capped peaks, backs bent double under heavy loads of ammunition and rice, fully justified their name of “ku li” bitter strength.
These men went where the mules, horses and oxen of the pack trains could not. They climbed paths which were almost vertical for an eight-hour march; and some of the, returning, carried the green litters of the wounded.
The Japs thought it foolish, foolhardy and impossible for these poorly-clad, always-defeated Chinese “lao ping” to tackle the worst terrain the in world at the worst possible time of year – the monsoon season, bane of the orient – but the Japs underestimated their enemy – and lost the campaign.
THE SALWEEN TERRAIN
Beyond the Kaolikung mountains and only fifteen miles from the Salween lies the Shweli River. This river is smaller than the Salween, but it runs through the same type of mountain gorge. It lies 6,000 above sea level. It is anatural avenue of approach to Tengchung. West of the Shweli River the mountains barring the way to northern Burma are not as high as the Kaolis, but they are very difficult to pass.
The Japanese had been in occupation of the ground west of the Salween for almost two years. They had prepared strong positions which were easy to defend and were firmly entrenched throughout the mountains. The Chinese had an overwhelming advantage in numbers but that advantage was offset by the strength of the Japanese positions.
The plan of the Chinese Expeditionary Force involved two main thrusts by five columns. Three columns were to cross the Salween well north of the Burma Road. The two northern columns were to cross the Kaoli mountains by way of Mamien Pass and the Tatangtzu Pass and capture the Japanese installations along the Shwali River. From there they were to drive south of Tengchung. The third column north of the Burma Road was to cross due east of Tengchung and drive straight on that ancient fortified city.
The two other Chinese columns were to cross the river south of the Burma Road and drive on Lungling through Pingka. After the fall of Tengchung and Lungling the Chinese would then be in a position for a drive down the Burma Road to Wanting on the Burma boarder.
A sixth Chinese column was involved in the operation far to the south. This column was to start well east of the Salween River, clean out the few Japs who had crossed the river in that area and then capture the Jap stronghold of Kunlong on the river. From Kunlong a motor road runs due west forty miles to the Burma Road at Hsenwi, which is only 35 miles north of Lashio. This Chinese force represented only a secondary effort to keep the Japanese occupied in that sector and prevent them sending reinforcements to the Japs farther north.
CROSSING SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISHED
Clouds hid the moon as the Chinese began to cross the Salween on the night of May 10-11, 1944, protecting the main body as the two columns of troops crossed in pneumatic rubber boats furnished by the Americans, on bamboo rafts and even on rafts supported by empty oil drums. The crossing was accomplished successfully despite the swiftness of the river current and the inexperience of the Chinese in this sort of operation.
The columns operating north of the Burma road crossed the river at Mengku ferry, Mengta Ferry and Shuanghungchiao, and at Hweijen Bridge. These were the troops who had as their objective. Tengchung.
In the south, the two crossings were made at Tahei Ferry, with Pingka and Lungling as the immediate objectives. The sixth force, which moved out on May 17 in the Junlong Ferry area, captured Panglong and Hopang by May 28, neutralizing the Japs in the Kunlong area.
JAPS CAUGHT OFF BALANCE
As in the south, the Japs were caught off balance by the “impossible” Salween crossing and never entirely secured the initiative. The northernmost column, crossing at Mengta Ferry, left a containing force at Mamien Pass and the bulk of the force by-passed the Japs in that area to move on the Shweli Valley. On May 15 they reached the Scheli and on May 17 they took Chiatou. The Japs counterattacked and retook the village on May 28, but were again driven out by the Chinese on June 4.
The second column, crossing the Mengtu Ferry and Shuanghungchiao, stormed up the steep sides of the Salween gorge to assault the strongly defended Jap village of Tatangtzu. Tatangtzu changed hands several times, but was finally captured on May 24, the Japs fleeing west toward Chiangtso.
Hungmoshu, on the trail between Paoshan and Tengchung, changed hands three times before the Chinese finally occupied it on May 20.
All of these operations were conducted in exceedingly difficult terrain, among the rugged peaks which the Japs had spent two years fortifying.
Pillboxes were so strongly-built that only a direct hit by artillery or an aerial bomb effected them. Fourteenth Air Force planes assisted the troops with bombing, strafing and the new wing bazooka, a rocket which probably packs the kick of a 105-mm artillery gun.
Ground supply was inadequate, and the original striking power of the campaign was maintained only with the assistance of the American Troop Carrier Command which flew supplies packed by the Y-Force Air Dropping detachment and dropped to the troops in the front lines.
The two columns south of the Burma Road simultaneously hit Pingka which they captured May 15, lost to Japs on May 23, took again on the 24 and lost again the same day, whereupon they fell back to the hill positions around the town to contain the Jap garrison.
Weather grew progressively worse. Probably a major reason for the initial success of the Salween Campaign was the fact that the Japs could not conceive an offensive on such a scale in the monsoon season.
However, while this gave a great advantage to the attacking Chinese in the beginning, it hampered the campaign considerably after the rains had started.
North of the Burma Road, the high altitudes combined with the rain to create a considerable hazard to the poorly clad Chinese soldiers. Despite their tough qualities, it was only the dropping of 10,000 American raincoats which saved many of them from death by exposure to the elements.
The northen column took Kaitou on May 24, but lost it two days later to the Japs, fighting desperately against this Chinese effort to retake Western Yunnan.
For some periods - week of June 3 - the monsoon rains became so heavy that even air supply was impossible, and Chinese and Americans alike lived on a scanty ration of rice, bamboo soots, grass and the occasional cow they were able to locate.
Jap reinforcements retook Chaitou on May 28, but Chinese reinforcements moving through the newly-captured Tatangtzu Pass moved in to take Kaitou on June 2 placing themselves between the Japs further north and the Jap base to the south.
Chiangtso, on the trail to the Shweli, was captured early in June, but the Chinese were driven back to Changpo by a Jap counterattack on June 5. However, this did not reduce Chinese pressure on the area. A strong Jap counterattack also forced the Chinese out of Hungmoshu to position at Paomashan, about seven miles northeast. Continued attacks on Pingka were unsuccessful and the Japs still held the town.
The weather improved during the last week of the first month of the campaign and air support was resumed. Hamion Pass was still holding out against the increasing pressure of Chinese troops and lack of supply. Chaitou was again captured, but had fighting continued in that area.
The Jap garrison at Chianagtse had been reinforced from the south and began a series of counterattacks which had some success but still did not reduce Chinese pressure on the town. The Chinese were also pressing on Watin, a town on the Shwali River south of Kaitou and northwest of Chiangtso. At Hungmoshu, positions had changed little, and the Chinese in defensive positions at Paomashan were engaging a considerable number of Japs at that point. Unsuccessful attacks against Pingka continued.
During the week of May 28 XI Army Group crossed the Salween south of the Burma Road, by-passed the mountain bastion of Sugshan which controlled the road where it crossed the river, and on June 4 captured Lameng, four days later taking Chenanso.
CHINESE ENTER LUNGLING
The main body entered Lungling on June 9 and took three-quarters of the town the same day, while troops from the Pingka area, leaving a containing force around the town, moved east and south to surround Hsiangta and throw blocks across the road both north and south of Mangshin.
As the second month of the campaign began on June 11, the Chinese had pushed spearheads deep into Jap-held territory, fully exploiting the advantages of surprise gained in the initial assault. The advance had not, perhaps, been rapid, but it has been surprisingly good considering the difficult terrain, the monsoon, the green troops and above all the stubborn defense of the Japs in their well-fortified positions.
This was a battle for peaks. All though the Kakolikung mountains, the Japs had chosen positions which dominated the few trails and there they had built pillboxes which could only be destroyed by direct hits from artillery or bombs and rabbit-warrens of trenches through which they could withdraw upon attack to sully forth when the appropriate moment came.
The untried troops of the Chinese had not learned to consolidate their positions, when taken, and Jap counterattacks were often successful because the Chinese were caught unaware and unprepared. Almost every position changed hands several times because of this situation.
The American specialists, technicians and advisors of Y-Force continued with the CEF armies their advise as to tactics and strategy was not always followed, but their technical advise was frequently used to considerable advantage, especially in artillery matters.
Y-Force portable surgical hospitals and field hospitals saved the lives of more Chinese soldiers than ever before known in the military history of China, and the work of the veterinarians preserved much of the scanty transport facilities. Engineers were instructed in demolition within range of Jap guns, and the effects of their work was particularly noticeable in the capture of the exceedingly strong Japanese pillboxes.
It was impossible to maintain an even line of advance. Mamien, Sungshan and Pingka had been by-passed, leaving strong pockets of resistance in the Chinese rear. However, the Chinese maintained a degree of flexibility, where as the surrounded Japs were pinned to their defenses.
During the second month of operations, from June 11 to July 10, the Jap efforts to reinforce their beleaguer garrison in Mamien Pass were turned back and the Pass was reduced on June 15.
In the Shweli valley elements of the XX Army Group which composed the northern columns of the offensive, battled the Japs fiercely. Driven out of Chiatou on June 11, they were reinforced by additional Chinese from Mumien Pass and retook the town and large stores of material on the 15TH, part of the Japs crossing the Shweli and the remainder falling back on Waton..
The Chinese, pursuing, took Kutungkai on the west bank of the river, on June 19 and Watien, on the east bank, on the 20th, the Japs retreating to Chiangtso and across the Shweli.
The Chinese troops who had practically surrounded Chiangtse since June 3 were reinforced by fresh troops from Tatangtzu area on June 12, and a full week of bitter fighting ensued. By the 19TH the XX Army Group had taken the surrounding villages on the south, east and were in position for a final assault.
Two days later the Chinese captured the town, together with a considerable quantity of artillery ammunition and other material. One small Jap pocket in the area was not taken until August 20, when most of the defenders were starved to death.
The Japs made one more minor effort to hold back the Chinese advance, but it was unsuccessful and on June 22, the Chinese armies were only ten miles from the important supply and communications center of Tengchung.
In 40 days of battle, the XX Army group had regained 4,000 square miles of territory held by the Japs for two years, and this achievement was accomplished under the most difficult condition of terrain and weather.
Tengchung was also threatened by two Chinese columns in the Hungmoshu area, which regained the initiative and recaptured the town on June 12, then pressed on to take Yengtzechiuh and advanced westward towards Tengchung.
Simultaneously, attacks continued in the Sungshan area. Sungshan, the principal peak, gave its name to an area two by three miles square, much of which was criss-crossed by trenches. Almost every peak and tiny village pimpled by strong pillboxes and the mountain walls were pierced by deep and curving caves and tunnels into which the Japs could retreat doing a bombardment.
On June 15 the Chinese attacked the hill positions in the “Pine Mountain” area. They took Tayakou that day and stormed up the almost vertical slopes of Yingtungshan to take it two days latter. American anti-aircraft batteries were placed on this peak and later fired horizontal fire to assist the Chinese attacks on other positions.
Heavy artillery from the east bank of the Salween bombarded the remaining Jap positions almost daily, and the Japs attempted to place artillery fire on the Hiwei tung bridge being construct below them across the Salween, but unsuccessfully.
Jap Zeros dropped supplies to the garrison, but the parachutes often fell into Chinese hands.
Lungling, meanwhile, had been heavily reinforced by Jap columns on June 14, and after considerable resistance the Chinese were force to withdraw to the east where they occupied hills about five miles to the northeast, east and southeast of the cit, where they began to reorganize.
The 14TH U.S. Army Air force, which had already hit Tengchung, began to blast Lungling on June 19. They bombed the city four times in two days, and also struck at Mangshih and the Tengchung-Lungling and Mangshih-Lungling roads.
Until July 5, when the Chinese regained the initiative in the Lungling area, the Japs made several strong but unsuccessful counterattacks. By June 10, the Chinese were again in position to take up the assault.
Hsiangta, surrounded by the Chinese on June 10, was stormed and captured on the 13TH, after beating back two Chinese were driven out of the town by strong enemy columns which, however, were unable to dislodge the troops of the XI Army Group from the hills around Hsiangta.
On June 19, the Chinese struck back, took Hsiangta on the 24TH and continued west to cut the Burma Road three miles north of Mangshih, with some units ranging north of the road to clean up Jap pockets. No attempt was made to take Mangshih.
Jap combat aircraft appeared for the first time on July 6, when four fighters assisted a Jap ground attack on Chinese forces between Mangshih and Lungling.
In the Pingka area, part of the Jap garrison, on July 1, broke through the Chinese encirclement and fled north, but the pursuing Chinese killed many and forced the remainder back into the town.
Probably the best coordinated attack of the Salween Campaign took place in the Tengchung area during this second month of operations, when the Chinese of the XX Army Group, having surrounded the city on three sides, attacked and took Laifengshan in two days, completing the conquest of the strong pointon July 26.
Laifengshan, just south of the walled city, had been well-fortified by the Japs; competent observers believe that the pillboxes on this position were the strongest encountered during the entire campaign.
The attack and subsequent capture of Laifengshan marked several important “first” in the Campaign. After the plan had been drawn up and commended by the Americans the Chinese on the 24TH made a through reconnaissance of the position.
When the attack was launched, units were used in total, instead of in the piece-meal fashion approved by Chinese military tradition. Further, having captured one point, the troops continued the advance instead of the usual pause for consolidation and looting.
American-supplied flamethrowers were used for the first time in the campaign. American engineers flew to the area and gave quick instruction to Chinese engineer troops in the use of this weapon, which was used with considerable advantage.
The result of these innovations was a rapid reduction of the Jap stronghold. Assisted by 14TH Air Force fighters carrying bombs, the Chinese took the hill, captured a considerable quantity of material, killed or wounded an estimated 600 Japs and, in addition, repulsed a 300-400 man Jap counterattack in the early hours of the 27TH .
By the latter part of July, the Chinese had moved to within a half-mile of Tengchung on all sides, capturing a number of small villages and fortified positions in the process. Two days later they wee at the walls of the city.
This operation received considerable assistance from the 14TH Air Force, which several times bombed and strafed the Jap garrison using bombers as well as the fighters which rendered the chief support in the Kaolikung.
Other Chinese forces moved south toward Lungling, capturing large stores of Jap ammunition at Shangmenglin, ten miles southeast of Tengchung and then continuing south to effect a juncture with the XI Army Group.
Guerrilla forces, operating to great advantage during the first two months of the campaign, occupied Chang Hsi, 26 miles west of Tengchung and only 25 miles from Sadon, held by advance elements of General Stilwell’s armies in North Burma.
Guerrilla operations were very successful in destroying Jap communications and supply lines and in general harassing the enemy.
During the fourth month of operations the assault on Tengchung continued with increasing fury. The U.S. 10TH Army Air force joined the 14TTH in air assault, breaching the 35-foot-high walls by skip-bombing and strafing the Japs within the city.
Through the breaches pored the Chinese, to join in bitter house-to-house, hand-to-hand fighting. The hundreds of pillboxes on the walls and in the compounds within the city were eliminated one by one, in some cases by pouring gasoline through tiny embrasures and then firing it with flamethrowers.
After a 51 day siege, Tengchung fell on September 14. Of an estimated 2,600 Japs, including 50 officers, only a few escaped to be tracked down and subsequently eliminated, and only 50 were captured. A number of Japanese soldiers committed suicide.
In addition to the soldiers, 13 women were taken. Fifteen pieces of artillery, including heavy mortar and anti-tank guns, were captured, as well as over 50 machine guns, more than 800 rifles, 14 trucks and seven radios.
During the period from the crossing of the Salween on May 11 to September 10 just before the fall of Tengchung, the XX Army Group had lost an estimated 8,000 men killed.
SUNGSHAN PEAK BLOWN UP
In the south, the other Army had been brought from the French Indo-China front to relieve the units of the XI Army Group attacking Sungshan. On August 20, Chinese engineers under direction of Y-Force officers had tunneled under the main Jap position in two places, planted 6,000 pounds of TNT, and blown the peak and its defenders into oblivion.
This was the opening blow in the final assault, which ended with the exterminating of the Jap garrison on September 7. Of the estimated 23,000 Japs on Sungshan nine were captured, ten escaped. The Chinese suffered 7,675 casualties on Sungshan and the adjacent peaks, owing to the exceedingly difficult nature of the terrain and the extremely strong defenses of the enemy.
A considerable amount of material was captured, including a large store of blankets discovered later in a covered pit. Several women were captured here as in Tengchung.
The reduction of Sungshan opened the Burma Road to Lungling, allowing direct supply by road of the Chinese forces in that area. During the siege of Sungshan supplies for Lungling were trucked to Sungshan, packed around the base of the mountain and then trucked on captured Jap trucks further forward.
By August 10 the troops at Lungling had contacted the XX Army Group forces moving
The battle for the hill positions around both Lungling and Manshih seesawed, with the Chinese gradually pressing forward.On August 22 the old town of Lungling, just north of the city proper, had been taken by the Chinese.Strong Jap reinforcing columns began moving against the Chinese on August 26 from the Mangshih area and despite bitter opposition forced the Chinese back for the second time. At the end of the forth month of operations, the Japs had regained many of the mountain positions at terrific cost to themselves, and controlled a small sector of the Lungling terminus of the Lungling-Tengchung road.
There were literally scores of attacks and counterattacks and the entire Lungling Mangshi area was in a state of flux with the Japs suffering heavy losses because they were forced to attack the hill positions, strongly fortified which they had previously lost to the Chinese.
Fighting for the first few days of the fifth month, from September 11 to September 15 was exceedingly heavy around Hanchang, a village on the Tengchung road about three miles north of Lungling. Chinese resistance stiffened, and patrols entering Hanchang on September 15 found that the Japs, having suffered excessive casualties, had withdrawn, leaving over 400 bodies in that village alone.
Chinese reinforcements, flown to Paochan and then trucked or marched from there to Lunglind, arrived in the area and by the end of September the Chinese had regained all of the ground lost previously and held a general line just west of Hsiangta, eight miles east of Mangshih, and again were poised on three sides of Lunglind.
Pingka, surrounded since July, was taken during this period. On September 22 a column of 500 Japs was reported near the town and at 2 A.M. te next day, the garrison began to evacuate. The Chinese forces immediately moved into the town, and dispatched units to pursue the withdrawing enemy columns.
On September 25 the main Jap body reached Mangshih, after suffering some casualties.
From this date until October 24, there was little ground activity in the Lunglind-Mangshih sector although the 14TH Army Air Force struck continually and persistently at the Burma Road beyond Mangshih, and at the Jap supply lines and storehouses from Mangshih to Wanting, causing an estimated 1,0000 Jap casualties in one ten-day period.
Except for minor skirmishes and patrol activity, the Chinese during this period regrouped their units, collected supplies and organized for the final assault on Lungling.
The attack on Lungling was launched October 29.Expertly supported by the 14TH Air Force, the Chinese forces took a hill two and a half miles southwest of Lungling as well as three hilltops three miles southwest of the city. In the Mangshih area, all except one Jap position on Hungyuenshan, three miles northeast of the city, had been taken by night fall. This position was taken the following day.
American planes throughout the attack continued to fly bombing and strafing sorties against the Japs and on the night of November 2-3 the remaining Japs in Lungling withdrew. Chinese forces marched into Lungling early in the morning of November 3, 1944. They found a shattered city, with scarcely a building standing intact.
Bombers of the 14TH Air Force continued their attacks on Manghih, Chefang and on Jap storage areas in Wanting, and there were minor sorties, attacks and counterattacks in the vicinity of Mangshih. Mangshih was taken on November 20 and Chefang on December 1, 1944. At year’s end the fighting was in progress on the very border of Burma, with Japs cleared from Yunnan province north of the border line.Wanting fell after midnight January 20, 1945. This was the virtual close of that phase of the combined Chinese-Burma operations known as the Salween Campaign.
The Chinese armies had suffered large casualties, being on the offensive and forced to assault Jap positions which had been in process of construction for two years, some of which were perched on peaks and had to be attacked up an almost vertical slope practically bare of cover.
Of the total of more than 40,000 Chinese casualties suffered during the Salween Campaign between the offensive crossing of the Salween River May 11, 1944, and the fall of Wanting January 20, 1945, 17,000 died of battle wounds, 2,000 died of illness, and more than 21,000 were non-fatal casualties . The saving of thousands of the Chinese non-fatal casualties was credited to American medical nits of Y-Force, who returned great numbers to duty
AIR COOPERATION GIVEN
In addition to the air cooperation of the 10TH and 14TH Army Air Forces, a Liaison Squadron, attached to Y-Forces, performed aerial miracles in their tiny L-5 planes. The squadron carried supplies for the Americans of Y-Force in combat, acted as courier, evacuated wounded and ill American, and carried out hundred of missions under the most adverse conditions of weather and enemy air activity.
During the intensive battle period from June 16 to the end of October 1944, the sergeant pilots of the liaison squadron flew over 5,500 hours, of which 3,800 were combat hours accounting for almost three-quarters of the 4,000 missions. Over 125 tons of freight were carried and 1875 passengers.
In the successful completion of the Salween operation lies promise for the future, when supplies flowing in an endless chain of trucks over the Stilwell Road from Assam, in India, provide biceps for the Chinese giant, whose rejuvenation will greatly assist the defeat of Japan on the Asiatic continent.
Psychologically, the opening of “The Road” should have a considerable impact, not only upon China, but upon the world at large, for the Stilwell Road (a composite of the Ledo and Burma Roads) has become a symbol – the lifeline of China. China, which regained the initiative for the first time in seven years of war in the Salween Campaign, may be able to remain on the offensive. The armies should provide a psychological spearhead for all the Chinese forces throughout the Republic.
Militarily, the supplies carried over the road can be used to army the forces which will
NOTE: Although this report is undated one must assume, from the closing statements on this page, that it was written soon after the end of the Salween Campaign. It refers to future offensive movements to rid China of the enemy and the future attacks upon the Japan. The fact that iswritten by the Chinese Combat Command (Y-Forces) overseeing the entire campaign we must assume it to be most accurate.
We know it to be the only official report of the Salween Campaign.
Lines highlighted are so placed for assistance to the Twenty-Seventh Troop Carrier Squadron’s Historian.
Harry A. Blair
Twenty-Seventh Troop Carrier Squadron
La Crosse, Wisconsin
9 January 1997