THE INFERNO - NEVER
TO BE FORGOTTEN
“Bill” Voices On The Evils of War”
Lieutenant DUNDAS and I were towing a glider north to partake in the invasion of Myitkyina when the glider, piloted by FORSYTHE, Jack B. broke loose from its tow rope. After watching it make a safe landing in the field below, we returned to Sylhet where we were met by Major CALDWELL.
The Major handed me a box of 30 caliber ammunition and advised that I was to leave as soon as possible for “Clydeside” to take charge of a radio landing instruction station. That was the only information given me and I know not where it came from as Major BURWELL had been relieved of command of the squadron and sent on to 443RD Troop Carrier Group.
It was late when I arrived and found that BARKALOW, Frederick and WRIGHT, Tom had the unit set up and operating. The Royal Air Force had another set operating. The British felt strongly that our set had far too much power that the Japanese could use it to home in on. After arrival of all flights for the night, the British packed up their equipment and disappeared into the night. We, in turn, shut down for the night.
At the break of dawn we were heavily shelled by the enemy. We were advised by the British forces that we should hide our radio power unit (P.E.-75) to keep the Japanese from blowing it apart. No assistance was given as the troops did not wish to be exposed to the heavy sniper fire. The three of us concealed the unit from sight.
Having met the English Commander of Forces stationed at “Clydeside” it was my impression that his troops were there to prevent enemy supplies from going north to Japanese troops fighting around Myitkyina.
The enemy had at least one artillery piece which they kept hidden except when they shelled us and when their aircraft were bombing us. The gun was put in place with use of Elephants. The British had 25 pounders but seldom used them due to shortage of ammunition.
A large majority of the Japanese shelling was directed at the hill occupied by the English and beyond at their 25 pounders. Out slit trench was on the forward slope of the hill which meant the shells flight took them directly over our heads. One morning, after a rather heavy shelling, I found a piece of shrapnel sticking out of the sand bag right over my head.
The last night we were at the strip I was advised the British were planning to pull out due to the fact that their patrols had spotted tanks moving in. At that time one R.A.F. aircraft flew in to pick up wounded. The aircraft had room for another man so I sent WRIGHT out
BARKALOW went out on a later flight. Subsequently HUNT, Robert H. flew in with STACKHOUSE, Burdette H. as his Co-Pilot to pick me up. They landed under very heavy enemy tracer fire. Two British soldiers were onboard. I was to guard the right wing - an area where the Japanese had a habit of rolling grenades at the aircraft. After loading the equipment aboard the plane I gave my fatigue jacket to the R.A.F. in charge as he had no shirt – only tattered shorts. I also left my carbine and what little ammunition we had left.
We made it out safely through very heavy enemy fire. The British forces remaining took one tremendous beating - the worst of the North Burma Campaign.
Transcribed from audio
tape submitted by SIEGEL, William F.
Harry A. Blair
Twenty-Seventh Troop Carrier Squadron
La Crosse, Wisconsin
22 September 1966