U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
Skip Navigation, go to content

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY

AMEDD BIOGRAPHIES

AMEDD CORPS HISTORY

BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS

HISTORICAL ART WORK & IMAGES

MEDICAL MEMOIRS

AMEDD MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS External Link, Opens in New Window

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORIES

THE SURGEONS GENERAL

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE SURGEON GENERAL

AMEDD UNIT PATCHES AND LINEAGE

THE AMEDD HISTORIAN NEWSLETTER

Book 2

Contents

Book Two

CHINESE LIAISON DETAIL

A Record of Tolerance


CHINESE LIAISON DETAIL

Walter S. Jones, M.D.

Summer, 1943, in India and Burma was a military nightmare--the sort in which the dreamer strains with agonizing futility toward a goal which he views with fascinated loathing. After the humiliating collapse of an offensive in the Arakan, British morale sank to the bottom. Brigadier Orde Wingate led a hit-and-run brigade into Japanese territory, and he was eager to go in again in 1944. For his troops, however, the experience had been horrifying. One-third of them never returned.

Relations between China and the United States seesawed between grudging partnership and outright hostility. At one point, Generalissimo Chiang demanded the dismissal of General Stilwell, his Chief of Staff for Allied operations. True, Allied negotiations early in the year produced attractive plans for logistical aid to China--an accelerated air supply program, the Ledo Road through North Burma, petroleum pipelines, and enlargement of General Claire Chennault's Fourteenth Air Force in China. But although these promises kept China in the game, the Generalissimo repeatedly looked at his cards, threw down, and waited for a new deal.

In high places and low, Americans stared in disbelief at the disparity between the jobs to do and the tools with which to do them. Item: send a steady flow of supplies to the Chinese Government and armies through the archaic port of Calcutta, up the obsolete narrow gauge railroad and ferryboat line in the Brahmaputra Valley, into depots to be built on airfields yet to be finished, over the Himalayas by air, and out, finally, through medieval channels of distribution to Chinese troops. Item: improve the Chinese Army by concentrating 300,000 ill-organized and demoralized coolies in uniform, feeding, clothing, housing, and healing them according to standards somewhat resembling those of modern times, training or retraining them, creating a will to fight, and leading them into contact with the enemy. To tackle such tasks would be quixotic, under the best of conditions.

But time was short. No one could safely assume that Japan would remain content with her easy conquests of Burma and East China. Supplies, equipment, and weapons were scarce. Without them, the manpower of China and India was almost an embarrassment. China and the United States were sworn partners, yet hardly an officer or soldier in the Chinese and American Armies could exchange a half-dozen intelligible words. As for the environment--geography had always forbidden humans to inhabit much of the region except on the most primitive and pathetic terms. Not a step forward could be


70

taken that was not in the direction of jungle, mountain, mud, heat, rain, and disease.

Nevertheless, there were brave plans. The efforts of 1943 were to presage the reconquest of Burma in 1944. By extraordinary persistence, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten and General Stilwell conjured the Generalissimo into an agreement to commit a significant number of his troops to a North Burma campaign. General Wingate was to lead a second expedition into Central Burma. And British forces were to launch amphibious assaults on the Andaman Islands and lower Burma. Then, at Tehran, in December, Marshal Stalin promised to take Russia into the war against Japan as soon as Germany surrendered. In a few hours Churchill and Roosevelt cut back the Burma plan. Why waste effort in the Far East, delay victory in Europe, and postpone the thrust of Russia's might against Japan? They did not entirely abandon India and China. They retained their earlier intention to reconquer Burma and improve China's political and military condition. But they once again confined Far Eastern measures within limits that might make them indecisive, at best, and unnecessary, at worst.

The men in Burma in 1943 thus fell between the millstones of obdurate circumstances and dubious prospects. Their immediate task was to get down into North Burma. Approximately 275 miles of road were required to connect Ledo, India, with existing routes to China. New construction would be needed for about half the distance, and major improvements of existing trails and cart-tracks tbereafter. Waiting for them was the 18th Division of the 15th Japanese Army. Three other divisions were available if the 18th had any trouble blocking off North Burma while the main Japanese forces assembled to attack India.

All summer American, Chinese, and Indian troops and laborers toiled on the Road. The 38th and 22d Chinese Divisions trained at Ramgarh, India, and then occupied final staging positions north of the Hukawng Valley in Burma. What was the consequence of these efforts of 1943? By the end of the year, a barely passable road trace reached to Shingbwiyang. But Shingbwiyang was only one-third along the required distance to be traversed by the surveyors, cat operators, and 'dozers. What of the Chinese infantry, out in front of the engineers? After their first contact with enemy outposts below Shingbwiyang, the Chinese lay in foxholes, wasting away the winter in false alarms, patrols, and vacillation. One battalion managed to think itself surrounded by a thin line of enemy patrols, and it sorrowfully subsisted for 2 months on airdropped supplies.

Sergeant Fromant and his men at North Tirap Aid Station represent one facet of the struggle against futility in Burma. For them and for thousands during the war, the problem was to accommodate to relatively static circumstances. Whatever deprivation, isolation, or desolation; whatever tedium of daily routine, fatigue, exasperation


71

with the sheer brutishness of weather and things, theirs was not the final responsibility nor the final failure or success. To achieve balance, serenity, patience, and to retain enough resiliency to accept change when change came--this was their merit. Clerks, mechanics, and warehouse laborers, radio repairmen and truck drivers, laboratory technicians and hospital ward orderlies, weather observers, crane operators, railroad brakemen, cooks, and all the corporals and sergeants who supervised them--by the thousands throughout India and the rear areas of the Burma combat zone, the Fromants and Lotzes watched and worked and waited.

But what of those who passed through and were off to the East, where planes were loaded and took flight for China, where engineer regiments and quartermaster battalions and signal wire crews disappeared in the Naga Hills and leech-infested jungle? What was their story? Those dysentery cases, those fever-shaken Chinese, those limping GI's--where had they been that a mud-floored, thatched-roof bamboo hospital ward was a haven, and a regular diet of Spam a reward?

Maj. Walter S. Jones, a gynecologist from Providence, was one of those who headed down the Ledo Road in the summer of 1943. The 48th Evacuation Hospital with which he came to India was a semi-mobile unit, designed to back up such forward medical installations as the battalions and field hospitals. As the Ledo Road progressed and Chinese troops went into battle, the 48th and 73d Evacuation Hospitals (and the 14th which arrived soon afterward) were to provide relatively complete hospital facilities for large numbers of patients. But in the early months of 1943, neither road construction nor combat forces required such support. It soon appeared to Jones that temporary and miscellaneous duties would be assigned to the staff of the 48th. After casting a skeptical eye at several such possibilities, and by taking account of his boyhood experiences as the son of a missionary in China, he quickly secured an assignment which promised action and interest. In a matter of days, he was out on the Road, attached to the l0th Chinese Engineer Regiment as its medical adviser.

Chinese Liaison Detail is the account Jones wrote almost 2 years later of his adventures. For adventures they were--to an adventurer. The ferocious conditions of weather and terrain, the scarcity of provisions and accommodations, the hazards to health seemed to be challenges to him. For months he kept moving up and down the trails and road trace, searching out suitable sites for jungle hospitals, sizing up the quality of the services being provided by American and Chinese medical units, and serving as the "eyes" of the Base Headquarters Surgeon. Where his duties did not take him his curiosity did. He not only mingled with the troops on the road but he often took a storyteller's interest in their personalities, biographies, and achievements. And to these acquisitions of experience and lore, his sharp eyes and scholarly habits added information about geography, history, and cul-


72

ture of North Burma. The result is a hitherto unequaled narrative about the Ledo Road during the most arduous and speculative phase of its development.

Not unnoticed in his reminiscences are the medical features of the North Burma scene. Both in his text and in the appendixes he added, he outlined the essential problem: to institute and maintain sanitation and other disease prevention procedures among the troops on the road. Many of the required measures were elemental. The difficulty was to provide them among ignorant or indifferent troops, with few of the technical facilities which modern public health agencies take for granted, and under circumstances where only a reduction of health hazards--not their elimination--could be predicted.

Obviously, such matters were hardly central in Jones's training in gynecology, although they were, naturally, within the province of any medical officer. Yet his periodic reports to the commander of the 10th Chinese Engineers showed patient and persistent attention even to the least glamorous requirements of camp sanitation and hygiene. Of the fact that he himself suffered from dysentery and malaria, the major diseases of the area, he complained not at all. But he recognized the special significance of his encounter with scrub typhus. When so many facts about the disease were still in doubt, any information which a scientific observer could provide might be of critical importance. Hence the value of his remarkable and unique account of the disease from the victim's vantage point. It deserves a place among the classics of medical literature.

Nor is the scrub typhus episode the only part of Chinese Liaison Detail which possesses literary value. The zest which led Jones out among the roadbuilders, and more than a little literary talent, produce colorful narrative, evocative exposition, and dramatic structure. It is from the latter, which is doubtless the least self-conscious feature of the narrative, that its ultimate strength derives. Schematically, Chinese Liaison Detail is governed by a single organizing principle. This principle can be designated (in Jones's own term) as that of reconnaissance. From beginning to end, he tells the story of an exploratory journey. From America to Bombay, Bombay to Ledo, Ledo to the 10th Engineer Headquarters, and from point to point along the Road, he progresses in a rhythmic sequence of alternating rest and motion. Each new episode of his journey is another effort at discovery, reconnaissance.

One consequence of this structural design in the narrative is the high tone of responsiveness which animates it. The author's many conversational or expository asides, though in excess of his minimum narrative needs, are entirely relevant in a story of travel and exploration. They establish the perception of connectedness between incidents which occur in accidental sequence, and they enlarge the realm of time and space through which the traveler marches. The pilgrim Jones recalls bits of gossip about those whom he meets on the road, and he


73

often pauses to hear them tell their stories. In camp, he ruminates upon the nature of the land which he is exploring and the company he keeps. Long afterward, with a future audience in view, he entertains as he explains and informs. He reenacts the journey.

Dramatic momentum is another effect arising from the sequence of search and recognition. The initial exploratory scenes arouse curiosity, invite an expedition. The middle passages are violent and tense, as Jones and the roadbuilders struggle in the wilderness. Later, when success is imminent, certain omens of disaster appear. After driving east from Ledo and then turning south, in the true direction they must go, the roadbuilders break out of the jungle at their summer's goal, the village of Shingbwiyang. But they have cut the final miles of their road-trace along a pathway of death, the Refugee trail. The generals can congratulate themselves when the Chinese Army in India invades the Hukawng Valley and the Second Burma Campaign is underway at last. But among the casualties Jones sees in Seagrave's hospital at Shingbwiyang, about Thanksgiving time, are a few, say the Chinese doctors, with "the Felix-Weel Disease, you know, Teefus." Thus does the quest, the chase, the journey near its end, and thus do fact and literary design create an ironic climax to Chinese Liaison Detail.

One final word needs to be said. That word is tolerance. It naturally applies to Jones's voluntary acceptance of foul living conditions, onerous obligations, and pain. Unlike most of the men on the road, Jones, because of his medical training, knew full well all the invisible enemies which surrounded him. His tolerance, therefore, went well beyond the minimum of grudging passivity. In the form of fortitude, it was a virtue, not merely a stoical vice. But even more admirable was the tolerance which characterized his work as a medical liaison officer with the Chinese.

Medical aid to China during World War II took many forms--the distribution of medical supplies and equipment in large quantities; the training of medical officers and troops; and the deployment of American medical units with the Chinese Army in battle. To help coordinate the Chinese-American medical system, the liaison officer system of the combat arms was extended to the medical service. Often, the success of the entire effort depended on the liaison system. And the key to effective liaison was tolerance.

One could say as much, in fact, for the entire American war effort in the Far East. It was a gigantic Chinese Liaison Detail. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, although Chinese Army in India Commander, was but Chief of Staff under Generalissimo Chiang, and Deputy Commander of Southeast Asia Command under Lord Louis Mountbatten. Still other complications in his official relations to the Air Forces and to other high-ranking Chinese and British commanders frequently limited his powers to those of representation, advisement, and persuasion. His policy position generally fell between two strongly argued extremes. One, that of Gen. Claire Chennault, called for a major American air


74

offensive in China. Stilwell--usually backed by the War Department--believed Chennault's program would need too much of what was hardest to supply--aircraft and gasoline via "the Hump"--and would make too little use of the more plentiful ground forces in India and China. Doubtful of the possibilities for short-term success, he furthermore saw little likelihood that Chennault's plan would lead to any long-term or postwar improvement in China's own military strength.

The other position, that of the Generalissimo, was mainly defensive. China's chronic poverty, deepened by the long years of war; her intricate and uncertain political structure; and the Nationalist fears of what the future might bring from the Communist enclave in the north--all these argued strongly against the strain of aggressive policies. Stilwell believed, however, that Chinese troops who were properly trained and led, liberally supplied from American sources, and backed by a stable and reform-minded government not only could take a significant part in the war but begin to establish firm foundations for post-war growth and security.

What Stilwell came to over and over was the liaison officer's position: to help others help themselves. Military policies such as Chennault proposed were, according to Stilwell, substitutes for self-help. Their effect, sooner or later, would be to weaken or corrupt an inactive China. Conversely, he feared that unless China accepted technical advice, at least, she would not be able to use effectively whatever material aids to self-help she received. Like the liaison officers within his command, therefore, he attempted to occupy a middle position, one wherein he could demand less often than he could counsel, but wherein a failure by China to help herself under his guidance and with the supplies he controlled might force her once more to go it alone. It was the liaison officer's delicate mission to stand between those Americans who would impatiently groan, "For God's sake, let us do it right!" and those who would cry, "Well, then, have it your own way and be damned to you!"

In this incredibly difficult situation, tolerance was vital. The importance of its presence or absence is suggested by three available documents--the Stilwell diaries and other papers, the reminiscences of Dr. Gordon Seagrave, and Chinese Liaison Detail. In the first of these, the spirit of tolerance hardly exists, and many of Stilwell's subordinates absorbed the suspicion, sense of injured pride, and the rancor which he barely concealed on official occasions and which were otherwise plainly visible. Just short of positive intolerance, these attitudes poisoned the atmosphere, and they constantly gave a bad name to all that was valid in Stilwell's policies and to the very great deal that he actually accomplished. His distrust of the British and his disrespect for Chinese leadership were assumed to exist even in specific instances when he or his subordinates evinced confidence in their Allied partners. Consequently, when he asked for efforts which were especially costly or hazardous, the British and Chinese suspected a hint that they were slackers, and when


75

he commended the troops, that he was slyly condemning their leaders. It may be difficult to argue that Stilwell could have accomplished more than he did between 1942 and late 1944, considering the severe limits placed upon Far East activity. Yet it is very probable that even less would have been more valuable, had it been accomplished in an atmosphere of greater tolerance.

Conversely, Dr. Seagrave displayed the maximum effectiveness of the liaison system. Entirely absorbed in the tasks of aiding an alien people, and itself compounded of men and women from many nationalities, creeds, and customs, the Seagrave hospital was a model of tolerance. Although the best known, it was not the only instance of this virtue. More than a few American medical units gave close-in support to the Chinese in an atmosphere of confidence and respect. The large hospitals in the rear were full of Chinese patients during 1944 and early 1945. Their records convey not the least hint of the ill-winds of irritation which blew in the summit headquarters at Chungking or New Delhi. As late as 1946, a visit to the 14th Evacuation Hospital at Mile 19 on the Ledo Road would demonstrate that, although the long-term care of Chinese casualties had become tedious, there was no visible intercultural antagonism, no active suspicion that China had somehow saddled the hospital with patients she was perfectly able to care for, or that Chinese sick and wounded were malingering in order to postpone the day when they must help themselves. Here, as in the Seagrave hospital, tolerance was a way of life.

Between the two extremes existed the kind of tolerance which Jones and dozens of other liaison officers displayed. Never carried to the extent of complete intercultural blending, and perhaps never entirely free of some Stilwell-like reservations, it nonetheless produced a high and practical level of international interaction. Based on self-respect, as well as the willingness to adjust to another man's cultural and personal habits, the tolerance of such men as Jones produced a common effort to attain common goals. Such tolerance did not mean that either party gave up his own heritage or values. Nor did either become so "soft on" the other that standards of judgment disappeared. The relationship might even deteriorate when the partners encountered extreme adversity or adopted violently contrasting points of view. But even if it fell short of perfection, liaison of this kind also proved durable in unfavorable circumstances.

In fact, a working tolerance such as that which Jones and the Chinese displayed, required that each accept certain limits in the liaison system, just as each had the right to expect certain commitments to the principles of interaction. While Jones worked hard to make some inroads upon Chinese habits which he knew led to increased sick rates, he accepted the probability of partial failure, even to the point of sharing many of the personal risks which those habits produced. Similarly,


76

his Chinese colleagues retained their authority and prestige, but they recognized that when they deferred somewhat to Jones's advice regarding supplies and equipment, the positioning of hospital stations, and the evacuation policy, they gained the opportunity to improve the regimental medical service.

In a world at war, liaison between cultures could not then--and cannot now--survive the intolerance which too typically impeded American, British, and Chinese efforts to work together. Nor could it await the appearance of such generous and benevolent figures as Dr. Seagrave, rare then, now, and always. But that ordinary men in predictably difficult circumstances could develop cultural liaison of a steadfast, practical, and positive kind--this is the challenging record of tolerance in Chinese Liaison Detail.

I. "ACROSS THE FAR HILLS"

For some months now1 the Ledo Road has been a going concern. The convoys are raising columns of dust as they roll on their way to China. People live in houses with tin roofs and cement floors. The Post Exchanges stock girdles and cosmetics, curios and ice cream, even Coca-Cola on occasion.

There are very few people left in this Theater who remember the days when it was an adventure to drive a jeep four-wheel-double-low to Mile 30.2 It is a pity that so few of the old guard put their experiences on paper before they departed. The Road was pushed across the hills by a band of gallant and hardy giants. Some quiet pluggers did their stint with much perspiration but little comment. Others were colorful characters indeed, who rollicked their way through the jungles in the best traditions of James Fenimore Cooper, Bret Harte, and Kenneth Roberts. The literature of this war would be enriched if some of those officers and men could be induced to recount their experiences.

The following material is not an account of the unusual. Many men of the advance parties could tell a better story: Men of the 823rd Engineer Aviation Battalion, the 45th Engineer Regiment, the 330th Engineer Regiment, the 21st Quartermaster Regiment, the 151st Medical Battalion and

    1As of the summer of 1945, when Jones wrote his reminiscences. (His typed copies were sent to the India-Burma Theater Surgeon, and later to the Historical Unit, Office of The Surgeon General. The numerous short chapters, with their original headings, have been grouped into larger units, as above, and titles have been supplied by the editor. Occasionally, trivial verbal slips have been corrected without comment.) The Ledo Road was officially declared open on 22 January 1945. The principal accounts of its construction are Leslie Anders, The Ledo Road (1965), and relevant parts of Karl C. Dod, The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Japan (United States Army in World War II: The Technical Services) (Washington D.C., Government Printing Office, 1966).
    2From Ledo. The engineers reached the Burma border at Mile 43 on 28 February 1943. When the monsoon interrupted road work in May, the roadhead was only 4 miles across the border. See Romanus and Sunderland, II, pp. 12-14.


77

the 48th Evacuation Hospital.3 The object of this narrative is to present a worm's eye observation of a stupendous operation as accurately as possible.

4201 Shipment

The 48th Evacuation Hospital4 arrived at Camp Anza, California from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, on the night of 10-11 January 1943. Here were assembling the units of the 4201 Shipment. These included the 20th General Hospital, 73rd Evacuation Hospital, 478th Quartermaster Regiment, 151st Medical Battalion, 330th Engineer Regiment, 21st Quartermaster Regiment (colored), 7th Ordnance Battalion, and several small separate depot companies. These 6000 odd souls, male and female, white and colored, embarked on 19 January; and the transport left Wilmington, Cal., harbor at 0800 hours, 20 January. The U.S.S. Monticello was the 28,000 ton Italian luxury liner Conte Grande, seized in a Brazilian port and hastily refitted. There was perturbation among certain of the passengers as the ship plowed unconvoyed across the Pacific. This was somewhat assuaged by the rumor that the present Pope had once conducted divine worship on the ornate staircase of the grand salon (now serving as troop compartment C-1). The 42 day trip in a crowded troop ship is another story which has no place here. Bombay was reached on 3 March. From there the units were shuffled across India, via Poona, Deolali, or Ranchi.

Margherita

The bulk of the officer and enlisted personnel of the 48th Evacuation Hospital were introduced to the scene of their future labors at 0700 hours the morning of 19 March 1943. The ramshackle train stopped in the middle of nowhere; but presumably near a village. On the left was a badly rutted road, with a few shacks and tents in the jungle beyond it. On the right was jungle. Ahead the meter gauge track ran toward the smokestack of a small lumber mill. The column was formed and marched a few hundred yards down a muddy lane. We broke ranks at the present Transient Camp area, on the spot where the 18th General Hospital5 nurses inclosure recently stood. It was announced that somewhere in the brush were 28 tents, one of which contained rations. None of the men had had a decent meal or sufficient water for the best part of three days. By 1100 hours a fire was going and the chow line formed. As Detachment Commander, my hours were filled with house-

    3The 823d and the 45th were sent to Ledo in December 1942, and took over the assignment of roadbuilding. The 330th Engineer General Service Regiment, elements of the 21st Quartermaster Group, and the two medical units arrived in March 1943. See Romanus and Sunderland, I, pp. 306, 348. Regarding the 21st Quartermaster Group, see North Tirap Log, p. 11, n. 34.
    4Originally an affiliated unit of Rhode Island Hospital, Providence. It was a 750-bed, semimobile organization. See North Tirap Log, pp. 10, 37, for notes on the 20th General Hospital and the 73d Evacuation Hospital.
    5 The 18th General Hospital reached India in October 1944, after service in the Fiji Islands , and operated a hospital at Ledo from late October 1944, to mid-April 1945. Thereafter, until October 1945, it served at Myitkyina, Burma, and returned to the United States in November.


78

keeping duties. Some time before dark, I chopped 15 stumps (by count) out of the dirt floor of my tent; settled my cot precariously around an outcrop of rock; and washed my face.

It rained fourteen of the next sixteen days. Destined for the tropics, the entire shipment had naturally been instructed to drop all rubber foot boots; and foraging parties were scouring fifty miles back to Tinsukia. The local shoe merchants enjoyed a bonanza. The drudgery of getting settled, however, was relieved by a number of pleasant interludes. Some enterprising citizen discovered the Margherita Club. This Cozy Nook for Tea Planters had a peace time membership of eighteen. When the Americans lined up six deep at the bar, the nightly dole of four bottles of liquor did not go far. The English inhabitants were horrified at the arrival of so many nurses. No self-respecting planter would consider having his wife spend her first Indian summer in Assam during the monsoons. It was sadly predicted that many of the girls would fail to survive the season.

Orientation

On 22 March an Officers Call was held at Base Headquarters, Ledo. General [Raymond A.] Wheeler and Colonel [John C.] Arrowsmith6 briefed the gathering on this project, complete with maps. One gained the impression that we were in on the ground floor of a major operation. But the obvious obstacles of terrain, transport, material, and man power gave pause for thought. Base Section #3 was so designated on the premise that Rangoon was a port of entry.7 The fact that Rangoon was nearly a thousand miles away, and that we actually occupied about ten percent of the area indicated on the map, lent an ironic touch to the bold panorama. It was a proposition that probably only Americans would have tackled. They went to it with a laugh and a curse, as they took off their shirts.

All hands turned to learning about the country, the natives, and our Chinese Allies--who were much in evidence around the Base. Orientation groups listened to planters and British officers.8 Language classes struggled with the west China version of Mandarin. This was too frequently expounded by an east China interpreter who spoke some English but had a poor Mandarin accent; and relayed through a stolid line officer, with the

    6Major General Wheeler commanded the Services of Supply in CBI; Colonel Arrowsmith comanded Base Section 3, with headquarters at Ledo. Given names are inserted in brackets and unit identifications given in footnotes the first time the individual is mentioned. At the end of Book Two is a list of all who are named in the text. The comments which Jones frequently puts in footnotes are given with his initials. His routine identification of officers and units, and supplementary notes added by the editor are given without initials, except when the effect might be confusing.
    7WSJ: When it was a base section it was the fighting front of the Theater; now that it is Advance Section, it is a base for China.
    8WSJ: One of these lecturers was a joy to behold. The mouths of the spectators hung open as they listened to his story of the retreat from Burma. The raconteur was an officer out of a Gurkha regiment. He was magnificently costumed. Commencing with hobnailed boots, the eyes traveled up a pair of hairy legs to faded shorts. At the waist was an arsenal of knives and revolvers. Thence to a dilapidated gray wool shirt sans sleeves. The spectators observed with awe the flies crawling over a granite face, which twitched never a flicker. All this was topped by a cylindrical hat of lacquered straw, claimed to be a gift of a Naga chieftain.


79

Mandarin dialect but no English. Sweating people crowded into steaming mess shacks to hear American officers describe the Chinese Training Center at Ramgarh. Eager beavers gnawed at the bamboo shoots. It was a period of earnest expectancy, somewhat reminiscent of a carnival.

Excursions and Alarums

The first six weeks provided a sustained tempo of excitement. Nobody knew what would happen next, and it usually did. People were going out on mysterious expeditions.

Major [Eric P.] Stone and Lieutenant [Thomas, Jr.] Perry of the 48th Evacuation Hospital, led a column of porters somewhere the other side of beyond, to establish an aid station along the Pun Yang-Pebu trace.9 It is said that the spark-plug of this jaunt was Sgt. [Walter J.] Marazzi. He taught the porters one stock phrase, which became a shot of adrenalin. His was the tail back position. When these human beasts of burden flagged, he would shout, "Who is the King of the Naga Hills?" The answer "Marazzi!!" ran along the line, and the file would close up. Another unique character was Pfc. [Frank J.] Dabal.10 This barrel of a man was elaborately festooned with tattooing; and he was a never-ending marvel to the hillsmen when he flexed his muscles.

Another intriguing episode was the "Jap Invasion of Ledo."11 This must have been the first week in April 1943, although my notes are not quite clear on the point. General Wheeler was on a reconnaissance to Nathkaw, the farthest southern outpost of the defenses overlooking the Old Refugee Trail. A Jap patrol raided this position, and a tremendous amount of ammunition was expended in the process. In Ledo the repercussions were deafening. My tentmate, the unit Security Officer, was aroused from his slumbers in the cold gray dawn. Patrols were thrown along the Dehing River, and the nurses area swarmed with men ready to do or die. All manner of excitable characters cruised the byways, armed to the teeth with knives, pistols and tommy guns. Apparently nobody considered a minor detail: Nathkaw was a hard seven days march over the easiest trail, and considerably more [?] as the crow flies. In those days the Jap enjoyed a reputation as a jungle infiltrator which subsequent events have somewhat dimmed.

One hot morning officers call was being held in the 48th Evacuation mess hall. The Base Commander [Arrowsmith] sauntered into unit headquarters, followed by a hard-bitten figure chewing on a long cigarette holder and wearing a battered campaign hat. There were a number of enlisted men in the office. They had been in India just about long enough to have reached

    9See North Tirap Log, p. 20. This robbed Aid Station 2 of three men, Craig, Price, and Seith.
    10WSJ: Popularly known as "The Mad Russian." Being a very intense Pole, he resented being called a Russian; and I had to break him twice for getting into fights over it.
    11Small columns of the Japanese 18th Division moved toward Fort Hertz, a British post, and American-Chinese positions at the edge of the Hukawng Valley. The Chinese garrison at Nathkaw held firm. The Japanese patrols soon withdrew. See also North Tirap Log, p. 50. The date Jones gives is correct.


80

the stage where nothing impressed them very much. The first man to register on the visitors was the runner. This lad was hardly the brightest man in the outfit, else he would not have been the runner. A glitter of insignia stimulated him into action. He arrived at the mess shack in a lather. "A couple of Majors are up front," he gasped. It may be mentioned that the then Commander of the 48th [Col. Charles L. Leedham, MC] was one of the ranking regular officers on the Base. It was sometimes his pleasure to allow the common or garden variety of officers to cool their heels. He arose from his seat, visited the latrine, adjusted himself before the mirror. On his arrival at his headquarters Colonel Arrowsmith is said to have remarked: "Colonel, is this the way you receive the Lieutenant General of the United States Army commanding this Theater?" Small sounds were heard from the Colonel as he gazed at "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell.12

The 48th Evac Is Dispersed

It was immediately apparent that one general and two evacuation hospitals were too much support for eight or nine thousand Americans and a division of Chinese. The medical plan that unfolded was logical. The 20th General Hospital took over the small plant in the Margherita polo field, hitherto operated by the 98th Station Hospital.13 The 73rd Evacuation Hospital prepared to move into the new all-bamboo installation under construction on a plateau a mile or so down the road. The 151st Medical Battalion was deployed to make its seasoned personnel most effective. The ambulance company serviced Ledo and the thirty-odd miles of road. One company established a small station hospital at Namgoi (Mile 32 in those days), to serve the troops at road-head. Part of one company went with the Rice Mission.14 The rest of the Battalion went out to establish aid stations at one-day intervals along the trails through the hills.

The 48th Evacuation Hospital was overage. Within a week we were requisitioned for men to go on air dropping, to run gas stations, and to work on the rail transport system. By the end of a month, so many enlisted men were out on detached service that it was difficult to run the housekeeping. On 18 April Colonel Leedham flew to Delhi to discuss a new assignment. On 5 May rumors began to ooze around that part of the organization would go to operate a station hospital for the Chinese Training Center at Ramgarh.15 Twenty officers, forty nurses, and approximately half the enlisted

    12In the spring of 1943, Stilwell inspected his India bases, and, among other tasks, he quieted the excitement over the Japanese foray. After a trip to Washington in May, he returned to India to carry out a severe shakeup of several major enterprises, the road project included. See Romanus and Sunderland, I, pp. 309, 347-348; and Stilwell Papers, pp. 201-202, 216-218.
    13A 100-bed hospital which had served at Ramgarh in 1942 and had been at Ledo since January 1943. From Ledo it went to Chakulia, near Calcutta, where it stayed until mid-summer 1945. After a few final months in Shingbwiyang, Burma, it was sent home.
    14Lt. Col. Earle M. Rice, MC, who had been with a Military Observers party in India in 1942, became Assistant Theater Surgeon in March 1943 and Theater Malariologist in October 1943.
    15To replace the Seagrave unit, by then establishing medical stations for Chinese infantry moving into Burma. The 48th took over the Ramgarh hospital on 15 May 1943.


81

men were destined to leave in the near future. My instructions were to break down the detachment with a view to sending off personnel for a station hospital, and retaining enough technicians to run a small field hospital here at a later date.

Six officers interested in nutrition and tropical medicine were earmarked for the Rice Mission. This mysterious expedition, it later developed, was a combination of malaria survey and a study of nutritional problems among Chinese troops. It spent some four months in the lower Assam Valley; and its members returned with a prodigious number of tall stories.16

The balance of the unit was bait for odd job details. Ledo Sector Combat Command17 wanted liaison officers for Chinese duty. Medical officers were needed at remote forward outposts. Nurses were used at Base Headquarters as stenographers. It was this residual remnant that probably accumulated the most interesting assignments, and had the most varied experiences of the scattered 48th.

Chinese Detail

I was supposed to remain with the detachment at Margherita as executive officer. All kinds of curious jobs were going begging, however; and it behooved me to look after myself, unless I wanted to moulder in the mud at the Staging Area. It appeared that the most fun lay across the far hills. What could be better than getting out with the Chinese? I was born in China, and had lived there fourteen years. Although twenty-five years in the States had pretty well washed away any command of the language, even that limited background was a premium. Very few people in the area wanted to have anything more to do with our unfamiliar Allies than was necessary.

On 10 May I contacted Dr. [Franz] Kriegel18 then Combat Surgeon. I spent the next day up the Road with him visiting the 6th Motor Transport, 38th Division Headquarters, 112th Infantry, and the 10th Engineers.19 After dinner with General [Haydon L.] Boatner, a deal was in the making.

    161st Lt. Milton Korb, MC, and Captains Irving A. Beck, John S. Dziob, Israel E. Garber. William L. Leet, and Frederick A. Webster, MC. At Chabua, the "Mary" project studied the antimalarial effects of several drugs: Diary entries for 26-27 April 1943, of Col. Robert P. Williams, MC, the Theater Surgeon, a copy of which was sent to the present editor by Colonel Williams; also, U.S. Army Medical Service, Malaria, p. 35.
    17Headquarters Company 5303d (Provisional) Combat Troops directed support operations for the Chinese Army in India. The staffs for the 5303d and CAI headquarters were the same. The 5303d was redesignated on 1 February 1944, as Northern Combat Area Command. See Romanus and Sunderland, II, pp. 28-32, 138-139.
    18WSJ: Dr. Franz Kriegel was an interesting character, and my dealings with him were always of the pleasantest. A Polish Jew, educated in Czechoslovakia, he left central Europe one jump ahead of the Nazis. He served with the Spanish Republicans; and when Franco won out, moved on to China with the Red Cross. He had been almost 4 years fighting the Japanese. He spoke Chinese about as well as he did English. * * * Kriegel and the other Czech and Polish contract surgeons serving with the Chinese were the most typical Men Without a Country I have ever known. Middle aged and war weary, they had no prospect of going home; and they doubted if they would have homes to go to if they could. [See North Tirap Log, p. 19.]
    19Chinese units moving from Ramgarh into Burma to complete their training, screen the advancing Ledo Road, and ultimately inaugurate the Second Burma Campaign. The 112th Infantry, 38th Division, was the lead regiment in the movement. See Romanus and Sunderland, II, pp. 28-48.


82

The 48th was told to make ten officers available for liaison duty. So 13 May, Kriegel and I took four other men the rounds of the Chinese camps. One incident of that trip will never be forgotten. Kriegel was a stocky, brisk, fast-talking little fellow with a manner of mixed domineering and condescension which the Chinese always resented. We passed the guard at the Field Artillery Bn with a curt word, and walked over to the dispensary on the far side of the area. In a few moments, the Officer of the Guard appeared and engaged in earnest conversation with the Chinese medical officer, who was obviously embarrassed. The officer requested that we return to the gate, report to him, and then return to the dispensary. Otherwise he would lose face. It was raining slightly and it would be a long walk. If we complied, Kriegel would also lose face. He refused in his most vehement Chinese, on the basis that as Combat Command Surgeon he could enter any area. The Officer of the Guard repaired to the quarters of the CO. There was loud talk and sounds of someone being beaten with a stick. The poor officer emerged in a hurry and urged us to depart. Kriegel was in a bad spot; but he elected to play his hand out, and started over for the CO. A few orders were shouted, a whistle blew, and we were surrounded by an armed guard. There was no need or desire for further argument. We were marched off the area between two files of grim Chinese fingering tommy guns. We went at once to 38th Division Hq to demand an apology. Here we were very politely but firmly informed that the General [Sun Li-jen] was having his afternoon nap, and would probably not wake up for two or three hours. The whole episode was a sound lesson in how not to deal with the Chinese, a characteristic example of how they react to an officious approach. If you want to be aggressive with Chinese troops, you need plenty of rank, and it has to be in the Chinese army, not the American or any other.20
Needless to say, none of the officers with us could thereafter be induced to volunteer for liaison duty.

Liaison Officer

This is as good a point as any to pause and consider the function of the Liaison Officer. Theoretically he is the tie that binds, the personal touch in Allied operations, the lubricant which permits two commands to mesh without clashing of gears. After eight months experience in this uncomfortable position, I think of him as a thumb-like appendage which springs from the palm. When the hands are clasped across the sea, in the classic gesture of two totally different races fighting any war for a common purpose, he is caught in the middle. Through him channel the conflicting aims, hopes, fears, suspicions, and squeeze plays of two commands who live on opposite sides of the fence. He is the first echelon ambassador. If he is a sound officer

    20Within days after reaching Burma in 1942, even Stilwell had made this discovery and never felt entirely certain where he stood in respect to Chinese Army lines of command, even when they presumably led to or through his headquarters. Jones's description of the liaison officer's position might well be compared to the official accounts of Stilwell's command and to Stilwell's own letters and diary. See Romanus and Sunderland, I and II; and Stilwell Papers.


83

he will early appreciate one fact: On his approach, friendliness, tact, hard work, and good judgment, the service whose uniform he wears stands or falls in the eyes of the unit to which he is attached. To a dozen, or to a few thousand men, his performance is of more significance in international amity than any potentate whose photograph smiles out of the pages of the Sunday Supplement. It is necessary on state occasions to get all horsed up in suntans and tie; but one may better operate on the theory that the appropriate uniform is a set of fatigues, a pair of boots, a pistol, and a cheerful grin.

It is not easy for any man to detach himself from the environment in which he was raised, or which he has built for himself. In a physical sense, soldiers have done this with reasonable success since the days of the Trojan Wars. In an emotional sense, it is not so simple. The subtle differences, and the fundamental differences, present barriers which require the mobilization of all resources before attempting to hurdle them. The fundamental difficulty for the liaison officer (aside from language) is the cumulative wear and tear of living in close contact with people who are so alien in habits and mannerisms. No matter how he may try to see their point of view, or how he appreciates their better qualities, the thousands of little things whittle away at his good humor. An irritable liaison officer is a liability. He loses the friendship and confidence of the command to which he is attached. This in turn creates frictions for the command he represents. It is my personal opinion that the effective term of service for the average liaison officer is six to ten months of continuous field duty. The shorter period applies when a man has been the only American with a unit, particularly if he has lived largely on the Chinese ration. After that he should have at least a month in which to rehabilitate himself.

II. "MY NEW HAPPY HOME"

Chinese Camp

On May 15, 1943, I moved in.21 This arrival was greeted with a large dose of curiosity, close scrutiny, and courteous attention. All afternoon droves of polite and friendly officers dropped in, by twos and threes, to see what kind of a specimen Uncle Sam had tossed into their midst. As the word spread that the American had actually asked for the assignment, more people found reasons to consult with the Regimental Surgeon. Pretty soon, I noticed that the orderly required the assistance of an excessive number of enlisted men to carry small items around the tent.22

    21With the 10th Engineer Regiment.
    22WSJ: The curiosity which greeted my appearance in camp was no great surprise. As a small boy I had spent my vacations going the rounds of my father's parishes in Chekiang Province. It was an old story to stop at a village for a bite to eat, and to be the cynosure of all eyes. Before one had thanked the host, practically every man, woman, child, dog, and chicken in the community would be hanging through the windows, jostling in the doorways, and prowling about the room. I grew up having my luggage examined, the texture of my clothing fingered, and listening to remarks about the whiteness of my skin and the blondness of the hair I once had. I am used to it, but I still do not enjoy it.


84

Naturally my first request was to be accorded the consummate honor of reporting to the Colonel of this glorious Regiment, to which I was attached to do such duties as my limited capabilities and profound ignorance permitted. I was informed that he was at the moment engaged in matters of high import; but that he would presently greet me in the manner befitting the arrival of a representative of the noble and mighty ally of China. In about half an hour, there was a first-rate stir as "Colonel ----" entered and was introduced. The air that accompanies the arrival of a Chinese officer is a fair index of his relative importance. I quickly looked him over. He was a youngish sort of chap, and gave the impression of lacking what it takes to be the commander of an "independent" regiment. So I threw him a first-class highball [salute] but just a shade under the best. He proved to be the Lieutenant Colonel serving as Executive Officer. My initial disappointment in him was short lived. He was not of unit commander caliber; but he was a sound, level-headed cooperative officer of fine type. He became one of the best Chinese friends I had in the 10th Engineers. I went through the same business with two other Lt. Colonels, both of who can play ball on my team any day.

In due course, I was informed that the Regimental Commander awaited my pleasure.23 I walked across under escort and met Colonel (now Major General) [L. C.] Lee. He was a small, shrewd, quiet article well worth careful consideration. He had spent his entire adult life in the army: building canals, harassing bandits, and fighting the Japanese. He had worked up the military ladder the hard way, until he became Superintendent of the Chinese Military Engineering Academy, following which he sank all his assets (and the Lee family fortune) in organizing a regiment. The 10th Engineers were his personal property, and most of the officers were his hand picked former students.24 I had a long and close association with Colonel Lee. He was a reasonable gentleman to work with, and a game little bantam when it came to climbing a steep trail. He was as good, or better, a unit commander of field grade as I have personally served under--Chinese or American.

My new happy home was quite a proposition. In the first place it was right next door to the regimental guard house. A Chinese officer of high rank usually keeps the panoply of power visible in the foreground. This includes heavy and well armed personal guard details. It also includes having the dungeon in a place where all visitors can see what happens to him who displeases the strong man. Thus it follows quite naturally that the hoosegow, the security guard, the office tents, and the regimental QM depot should all be crowded together in close proximity to the officers quarters. More than one night my sleep was disturbed by the groans, cries, or drunken conversation of the inmates of the regimental jug. Many of these men were sick with malaria and/or dysentery. Being prisoners, they were in disgrace;

    23WSJ: Chinese officers are not properly addressed by grade of rank, but by command title: "Battalion Commander," "Commander of the Transport Company," "Commander of the Regimental Medical Company," "Commander of Troops Cleaning Latrines."
    24WSJ: In much the same manner, "Light Horse Harry" of the same surname formed a troop of cavalry in the Revolution; and Wade Hampton of South Carolina became a general officer of the Confederate States of America.


85

and they received scant sympathy. The Regimental Surgeon was perfectly capable of disregarding, with a clear conscience, the lamentations of these unfortunates. They would have had the privilege of attending his sick call if they had only been good boys.

The Surgeon and I shared a British tent which had seen better days. It managed to spring at least three leaks, preferably over a bed, with every rain. The plain dirt floor was a little lumpy, but usually not muddy. We each inhabited one side lengthwise, separated by a shelf of bamboo slats which served us as a library. He had a comfortable folding beach chair constructed of scrap lumber and burlap sacking. I acquired an Indian cane chair. Our bamboo desks also served as washstands, or if necessary as dinner tables. Our cots maintained an even keel on the floor with the assistance of a few stones. Our trunks were set off the ground on ration boxes, to prevent too much rusting. The ditch encircling our domicile gradually assumed a chalky hue from the tooth powder expectorated into it. Directly in front, about eight feet away and at a slightly higher level, was the main street of this tent city. It was built of unmatched hardwood saplings, insecurely pinned down by stringers at the sides. On rainy nights the logs rattled and creaked, and the mud under and between them squelched. One grew accustomed to the racket of passing strangers who sounded as if they were about to fall in on top of you.

The two principal animal needs of man were provided for at convenient distances. About 35 yards up the back hill were the latrines. Ours was a bamboo slat shanty with a leaf roof. The pit was covered by a log platform having four squat-hole openings. As an added concession to the officers, each hole was provided with a board cover having an upright stick for a handle. An even slab on each side of the hole furnished a secure footing for assuming the necessary angle.25

The mess tent was a few yards away. Directly in front of the main entrance was the Colonel's table. The three by three foot split bamboo top rested on legs of untrimmed saplings driven into the dirt floor. The benches were two bamboo trunks placed side by side, to a total width of about six inches, on bamboo uprights. Seven officers ate around this over-sized checker board. My name, in Chinese characters on a slip of paper, was posted on the table leg at the place to the Colonel's right.26 This placed me with my neighbor close on the right. In juggling a bowl of rice and chopsticks, it required the exercise of great care to keep my elbow out of his left ear. Four similar tables were spotted around the tent. At each side entrance, an issue tin pail stood on a ration box. In this was the piece de resistance of every meal of every

    25WSJ: The Chinese have a high regard for the physiological advantages of this angle. It is, however, a little hard on the knees, especially if dysentery compels frequent visits. Our Allies consider sitting on a toilet seat to be an unsanitary foreign habit. By preference they habitually stand on the seat and squat. Their aim is not always too good. The GI's running the small camps in the hills took pride in creating comfortable seats of woven bamboo. The aforementioned practice was therefore the cause of much bitterness toward Chinese visitors.
    26WSJ: This is the seat of honor at informal meals. On formal occasions, the seat is directly across the table. This enables the host to gaze on the pleasant countenance of the guest.


86

day of the month--rice. Netting of any kind was a critical item on the base. What the Chinese troops wanted they had to buy themselves. They were not particularly concerned about the presence of flies, which after all are perfectly normal insects. Consequently, there was no screening whatsoever.

The customers sauntered in casually after the bugle blew. They were always hungry, but etiquette demanded that they appear to be in no rush to eat. Only the head table used the front entrance. The rest sloshed around through the mud to the side doors. They filled their bowls, took their seats, and then the noise began. The Colonel frequently came in late. Everybody stood to attention; he made a short bow from the waist; they bowed; then all sat down. Nobody resumed eating until the Colonel took his first bite. Colonel Lee seldom took advantage of his prerogative of the dramatic entry. He was usually late because he was busy. His men so respected him, however, that they invariably accorded him all the meticulous niceties of courtesy.

The problem of how to feed me immediately reared its ugly head. Initially, it was suggested that I be served American food in my own tent. To have eaten alone would have implied that I was segregating myself from the most sociable moments of the day--chow time. This would not help to establish the bond of camaraderie and mutual confidence essential to a liaison operation. Aside from the diplomatic aspect, there were practical considerations. It would not be feasible to draw a one-man American ration and have it properly prepared. Chinese food is so cooked that it is generally served steaming hot, and is sanitary if eaten from clean dishes. Certain American items are subject to contamination in Chinese kitchens; and it would require time to train a cook. On the other hand, the regiment could not draw a Chinese ration for me, nor could I draw one through their channels. The upshot of the whole business was that periodically I purchased a fourteen day dry ration from QM with emphasis on sugar, flour, canned fruit, sausage and jam. This was turned over to the mess officer for use as a luxury supplement. In exchange I ate their rice.

The regiment ate twice a day, at 1000 and 1600 hours. The diet was an unvarying monotony of rice, corn beef, and what squash or bamboo sprouts could be procured locally. The rice was below Chinese peasant standard. Purchased through Indian sources, it contained considerable husk, dirt, and gravel to pad the weight. (In the next few months I broke two fillings biting down on stones.) Sausage and sweets were welcome additions to this ration, and my friends were most pleased. Every two weeks, the mess officer would make a speech to the effect that the delicacies on the table were the contribution of their distinguished guest and comrade in arms.

I had no reason to regret this solution to the ration problem, but my stomach did. Rice and corn beef were not just what the doctor's stomach ordered. I made it a point to hold sick call at some American camp along the line daily, whenever possible at mealtime. By this means one did not get fat, but could manage.


87

The 10th Engineers

Being an "independent" regiment, the 10th Engineers had certain prerogatives peculiar to such privately raised and financed organizations. The structure was roughly that of a miniature division, minus artillery and cavalry. (There would have been cavalry if horses were available.) Nine engineer line companies, in three battalions, with basic infantry training formed the bulk of the regiment. In addition were one each Signal, Motor Transport and Special Service (MP) companies, together with a woefully understrength Medical Detachment. The commander of such a unit could be a Major General (there are no Brigadiers in the Chinese Army). The strength fluctuated between 2400 and 2600.

Chinese channels of higher command are loose. There are many pretexts for failure to comply with orders. The same applies to by-passing one or more echelons to get to the commander who will issue the orders one cares to obey. The situation was complicated by another factor. All other Chinese troops were attached or assigned to the 38th Chinese Division. The 10th Engineers were attached to American SOS for duty. What is more they were the largest organized group of any nationality working on the Road at the time. Their channels were therefore Chinese or American as desired. This opened up opportunities for duplication of requisitions, side-slipping of responsibility, and squeeze plays for additional equipment. It was the kind of chess game dear to the Chinese mind.27

Evidently the row to be hoed would be long and devious. I was an unknown and presumably weak reed to lean upon. But I was the only American medical officer present who knew anything about the Chinese. If this sucker was willing to bite, the command was willing to gamble. Thus I became the first American medical liaison officer to be attached to troops in the Ledo area. Until relieved by reason of sickness, I served the longest continuous period with the same unit.

I had been placed with the 10th Engineers primarily for three reasons: (1) Because of the excessive non-effective rate in the regiment. (2) Because a disproportionatey small number of sick men were admitted to American hospitals. (3) To watch the requisitioning and expenditure of medical supplies. The Chinese were quite aware of this, in spite of their meticulous courtesy and superficial appearance of welcome. For many weeks it was a matter of fencing delicately around, in search of the chinks in a wall of polite oriental obstinacy.

The first major problem was the Regimental Hospital. The 38th Division had a field hospital; the 10th Engineers must have one as a matter of prestige. That the entire medical detachment would make a second-rate showing as a battalion dispensary was no consideration. Requisitions had included equipment ranging from vaginal speculae to major orthopedic

    27WSJ: In fairness to Colonel Lee, it must be said that he took a minimum advantage of the situation. During my service with the regiment, in every instance in which he incurred the ire of the Americans by appearing to hang back on an assignment, subsequent events proved his judgment to have been sound.


88

tools. The Chinese respect certain aspects of western technical progress; but often the modern trappings seem more important than the knowledge of how to use them. In general, medical officers lack even enough professional background to recognize their own limitations. Patients are abundant and stoical. If the Americans dish out the equipment, the sky is the limit.

The 50-bed installation was in a deplorable state. Patients were crowded 8 to 10 per tent. There were no decent messing or latrine facilities. There was no attempt to segregate cases by type; nor any system for screening cases admitted. There was no administrative system at all. The only piece of paper relating to any patient was a scrap of toilet tissue showing medication given. Medical officers were not even certain how long patients had been in hospital. The Headquarters Dispensary, at which sick call was held for 1600 men, kept no records of any kind.

There were adequate facilities for evacuation to American hospitals in Ledo. During the first week the active tuberculars, acute dysenteries, and all except minor surgical cases were cleaned out. The physical plant was gradually improved and necessary equipment secured. A record system was set up. The officers were taught to write at least a reasonable facsimile of a diagnosis in English, on the slip of each patient transferred to the American hospital. Ward rounds were conducted daily, with the emphasis on simple teaching. (For an obstetrician, I ran a pretty fancy course in tropical medicine.) By rotating battalion surgeons into the hospital, the new ideas were fairly well disseminated through the medical detachment.

The aim was to gradually whittle the patient population down to malaria and short term cases. Acute and long term cases were evacuated to American hospitals more promptly. In the course of time, the hospital was physically much more attractive, and the service obviously improved. The command began to give up its grandiose ideas of a general hospital doing major surgery. As a long range policy all this paid dividends. After the regiment moved farther forward and became strung out along and ahead of the Road, I was frequently absent from headquarters. At these times reasonably good judgment continued to be exercised in triage of cases;28 and the battalion surgeons ran much better dispensaries in isolated locations.

Sanitation is a thorn in the flesh of any medical officer with Chinese. This is not entirely because they are personally dirty or slovenly. It is based on their reluctance to accept modern ideas of the transmission of disease. There is in fact no great incentive for them to wish to control disease. In a land teeming with undernourished millions, disease is considered a blessing bestowed by nature to keep the population down within the limits of the food supply. Of course, it is undesirable to have one's own family sick; but there is no urgent reason to worry about the other fellow. This underlying concept is fundamentally the reason for the low status of the Chinese medical service. Manpower is the most expendable commodity the Chinese Army has. A man keeps up, or the dogs eat his carcass in the ditch. Why tie up personnel and equipment

    28Sorting of casualties at the time of admission, with respect to retention or further evacuation, as required by the nature of the case and the capacity of the unit to handle it; or, sorting with respect to the type of sickness or injury.


89

looking after a man who can not perform duty? Furthermore, why exert energy in preventing the diseases sent by heaven? All except the most intelligent officers think our doctrines of transmission of infection are crazy foreign ideas. Even the better officers are hard to convince that a trained man is an asset, and that to keep him well is sound economy. The only approach is to repeatedly compare sanitary conditions in companies against their sick rates; and to dramatize the man-days lost. Colonel Lee was anxious to keep his effective strength up, in order to make a good showing. He was receptive and cooperative; but he had little support from his battalion and company officers. It was difficult to get even the medical officers interested in sanitation. On returning to headquarters after prolonged trips, it was always apparent that latrine policing and other public health measures had deteriorated. It was never possible to get the Officers Mess to institute a proper system of scalding utensils.

Medical supply was a perpetual headache. Requisitions for both equipment and supplies were sometimes fantastic. Three times to my knowledge, vaginal speculae were requisitioned simply because they looked pretty in a catalog. There was no rhyme or reason to either the quantity or assortment of drugs ordered. Review of back requisitions on file had raised the question of black market operation. I never found any evidence to substantiate this. The trouble seemed to be one of all around poor arithmetic. The Chinese are noted for their business acumen. It seems incredible that all the medical officers, including the Supply Officer, could be so totally lacking in any sense of planning for requirements and expenditures. To add to the confusion, drugs were doled out with very sketchy relationship to the disease presented, or to the expected period of therapy. All this was gradually improved (but never wholly corrected) by a series of round table discussions. When supplies were due, all officers would bring in their requisitions. Each was edited by making the officer justify each item, on the basis of anticipated sick rates and on accepted treatment schedules. The greatest obstacle to this scheme was their extremely limited knowledge of elementary diagnostic and prognostic medicine.

In spite of it all, most of these young officers were keen, conscientious, and eager to learn. They developed into good doctors by Chinese Army standards. Curiously enough, the best of the lot was the Veterinarian. He was a competent, middle aged man who could transpose his understanding of animals to handling men. Since there were no horses with the regiment, he was utilized as a battalion surgeon. He did so well that I saw to it that he was assigned to the company which was currently most isolated from support.

What Makes the Chinese Tick?

To the Chinese, their customs, mannerisms, and the way of life in general are very logical. To get along effectively with them as a liaison officer, one must try to view them from the angle at which they look at themselves. The sum total effect of their disregard for privacy, their table manners, and the smell of their latrines at times becomes almost unbearable. Along with


90

this, one may have prickly heat, be hungry, and be running a temperature. It is a temptation to swear that not even the family shirts will go to a Chinese laundry after the war. This, however, is to lose the sense of human values.

Chinese are extremely friendly, gregarious, and given to endless social small talk. They are accustomed to being densely packed together in family and clan groups, in school dormitories, and in military quarters. They actually feel restless and lonesome unless there is a crowd around. Hence they neither understand or care for personal privacy, nor recognize the need for it on the part of others. Their personal possessions are subject to scrutiny, comment, and use by the community. Their curiosity is insatiable. They open each other's mail with a perfectly innocent and friendly air.

When I moved in, my possessions included a small locked tin trunk. This proved useful for purposes other than to prevent theft. In nearly eight months, small articles, possibly to the sum of $2.50 were stolen. In spite of the Chinese reputation for being light fingered, they have a delicate sense of from whom not to steal. This parallels the G.I. courtesy in purloining objects only from somebody else's company area. The liaison officer, although he never really "belongs," has a recognized place in the regiment with which he sleeps, eats, and works. As such he is a second class guest. To steal from him is a reflection on the honor of the organization.29 My locked trunk was principally a defense against curiosity. After keeping my pistol hanging near my cot for some time, I put it away. Somebody working the unfamiliar mechanism might shoot himself. Eventually my trunk contained less clothing, and more personal letters and official papers. When a regular American ration of cigarettes began to come into the base, I had to hoard my limited supply. My friends developed a habit of "borrowing" my American brands, and paying me back in equivalent numbers of "Navy Cut." This was done on a meticulously accurate basis, but was hardly an even swap to my taste.

Last Christmas [1944] I had an experience which throws another light on the Chinese mentality. Driving from Myitkyina to Namti [Burma], I met one of my friends, a 10th Engineer battalion commander, tearing down the road rolling up a cloud of dust. He slammed on his brakes and walked back a hundred yards to shake hands and talk about old times. I noticed he talked about those days in very passable English. That is one point to remember about the Chinese. They adjust to their environment even to learning the language. They believe in education whenever or wherever it can be obtained.30

    29WSJ: I am aware that this attitude has deteriorated of late. Long campaigning accustoms any army to minor looting. As the old outfits are seeded with replacements, some of the finer points of view very understandably break down. Furthermore the American, with his wealth of money, food, and fine equipment, is a constant temptation. The perpetually hungry, poverty-stricken Chinese soldier was a coolie not many months ago.
    30WSJ: If you get up early enough in the morning as you pass the Ledo station, you will observe every small Chinese youngster in the bazaar area trooping across the tracks to school. You can't sell any people short who turn their kids out to school at the crack of dawn, even though they may not be well able to afford it. The Chinese have not been an independent nation for thousands of years by coincidence!


91

It must be remembered that any troops are a cross section of their country. The Chinese units in this area are not even a fair cross section. The more civilized and cultured eastern coastal areas are in Japanese hands. The Chungking government has therefore to conscript the peasantry of the undeveloped west. Not many years ago the provinces of West China enjoyed an unenviable reputation. They were as remote and inaccessible as the Rocky Mountains in Civil War times. It is as fair to rate China on the basis of the Chinese Army in India, as it is to assume that a crowd of colored service troops on their way to a movie give a complete picture of America. Nevertheless, these country boys have proved themselves to be hardy marchers and patient sufferers. To disparage their fighting quality is to lose sight of the fact that they have little tradition or experience in offensive warfare, and that they are called upon to cope with modern equipment for which they have no technical background of knowledge. A jeep is a strange and wonderful toy in the hands of a kid whose father may own a single cow.

One of the most serious defects of the Chinese military machine is the general low standard of education, which is reflected in the quality of NCO and junior officer personnel. This not only makes for dubious leadership, but is an impediment in such simple matters as routine correspondence, and in the transmission of messages and orders. As a result, there appears a system which has always existed in illiterate armies. This is a composite of rigid channels of command, refusal to permit initiative in NCOs and junior officers, and centralization of responsibility at field grade or higher levels. A machine built out of this material is bound to be slow, uneven, and awkward in action. Chinese soldiers have been accused of being balky, when the obvious thing to do is readily apparent. The reason for this is simple. Chinese conscripts have been so steeped in the concept of fixed command channels, that they hesitate to take orders from strangers. They may even refuse to obey officers of adjacent Chinese units. They wait until the Old Man talks; and sometimes they are still waiting after he is dead.

A superior officer is superior in any man's language, whether he developed himself by sweat and hard work, or had the benefit of education and a cultural background. One of the battalion commanders of the 10th Engineers was twenty-nine years old. He had been fifteen years in the Army. Starting as a farmer boy in the ranks, he picked up an education as he went along to be a Lt. Colonel. He was an avid reader, shrewd judge of men, and a fine leader. A striking example of the cultured type was Colonel Lee, who obviously came of good family.31 Any American officer could be proud to have his urbane good manners, both on formal occasions and in the performance of his daily business. My observation is that Chinese units have their share of good officers, but in considerably lesser proportions than American units; and the quality tends to fall off sharply in the lower grades.

    31WSJ: Colonel Lee was raised in Shantung. That is the province where Confucius was born and lived. The Old Sage spent his days serving his government as a minor official, and his nights writing philosophy. Colonel Lee was a good representative of that tradition.


92

The race had walled cities and a mature culture when our ancestors roamed North Europe in wolfskins. In the twentieth century, China lacks the technical and mechanical background whereby both the western powers and the Japanese have out-stripped her. This does not mean that China is a backward nation in potential. The history of civilization disproves that. Gunpowder and printing, craftsmanship and art, and an ancient slant on life which is still sound, are not the marks of a poor race. The principal difference between the Chinese and us is really no great difference at all. They simply like their own way of looking at the world, and they don't give a damn about anybody else's. An American can understand that viewpoint. A generalization is a dangerous thing, because it destroys flexibility of thought. It is possible, however, to make one safe generalization. The Chinese are intelligent, aggressive, shrewd, patient, and hard working. China has remained a cohesive and self-sustaining nation for six thousand years, because of many of the same qualities which enabled America to build an empire in a hundred and fifty. We will do well to hold together as long as she has. Much of the friction which has become evident in this campaign stems from a single factor: For once the American soldier is dealing with an alien army which is as independent, cocky, and self-centered as he is. It is easy to wise-crack about the Boo-Hows,32 but often it does not make much sense.

The Chinese is seldom the mystical and inscrutable Oriental portrayed by Hollywood. Probably his most striking characteristic is his inborn ability and willingness to laugh, rain or shine. My friends used to ask me how I could voluntarily live so cheerfully with the Chinese, and appear to take their part in case of argument. I could do it because they were good guys, and because they were in the right in at least fifty percent of the arguments.

There were diverse characters in our little club. The good old phrase: "You can't tell one Chinaman from another," is not at all sound. The troops were largely West China farmers; but the officers were a composite of the nation. They varied in complexion; they differed in speech; and they were poles apart in personality. The Adjutant, for one, was a short, squat, unimaginative man who closely resembled portraits of Genghis Khan. Like many officers in the American army, he was over age in grade and painfully conscious of it. He seldom spoke unless necessary, and then with irritation. Certainly he was nobody's bosom pal; but he had a rare touch of something that was a continual surprise. Somehow on the nights that I dragged my weary carcass most painfully into camp, his orderly would appear to invite me to share a snack with him. He had such a charming manner of looking at an American cigarette that I did not resent the occasional disappearance of a pack. He never failed to replace twenty with a British tin of fifty. The night of 7 June 1943 is still a vivid recollection. I was aroused from slumber

    32American pigeon-Chinese for "bad." "Hao bu hao" (how goes it?), "Bu hao," (bad), and "Ding hao," (good) were the common counters of cultural interchange between the two armies.


93

with the request that I partake of a few delicacies in his tent. Said delicacies proved to be a bottle of Calcutta gut-rot somebody had smuggled in. He had already drunk his assistant under the table, and had reached a stage of pugnacity which had his personal staff intimidated. Nevertheless, we had a swell evening, although I coasted along under wraps. Many things were discussed: the birds and the bees, the Chinese lack of a rotation policy33 (which was the same as ours in those days), the cherry blossoms on the bough, and personal opinions of the military system as seen through civilian eyes. When his limited English and my scanty Chinese failed, we understood each other perfectly, as happens on such occasions. After I poured him into bed, I nearly broke my neck in a slit trench on the way home.

Another officer was the younger brother of a prominent Nose and Throat specialist in a famous Yangtze River town; and the nephew of the Chinese ambassador to Colombia. He was an intelligent and charming person, and a thoroughly competent officer. He had figured some angle to get an American education. At his insistence, I wrote a letter on his behalf to the President of Harvard University.34

Another boy, about nineteen years old, was a Lieutenant in the Medical Detachment. He was a dreamer if there ever was one. As Medical Supply Officer, he soon demonstrated a complete lack of command of simple arithmetic; but there was something about him that appealed. One week he went to town to pick up a requisition, and was AWOL35 for five days. It took me a day and a half to find him; and I never quite determined whether he had been to church or had been shacked up with a girl. In the end, however, it was so arranged that he was not courtmartialed.

There were many prize characters in the 10th Engineers; and probably the prize of them all was the Colonel's interpreter. This lad told several stories of his antecedents. The best one was that he was the son of an ex-Chinese Ambassador to Germany, and had been born in Berlin. As far as I know, this was never disproved. He always used the first name of Frederick in introducing himself, with a good German pronunciation. One night he confided to me that he was going to America. A few days later he disappeared. Eventually he was pulled off a transport at an Indian port as a stowaway. Instead of being shot, he was reassigned to another unit; and I have seen him several times since. Numerous people, at one time or other, have questioned the good judgment of Colonel Lee in using this boy as his regular interpreter. No doubt the astute Colonel utilized him as a stooge, for exactly the same reason that I never exhibited my entire Chinese vocabulary in the presence of the Chinese.

The world cannot be a dull place, as long as one enjoys the people that live in it, of whatever color.

    33A policy of returning troops to the United States after long overseas service.
    34WSJ: I was a little dubious as to how much influence this might have. The Registrar could probably determine that I once had been an undistinguished student at the medical school.
    35Absent without leave.


94

III. ON THE LEDO ROAD

Namchik Valley

From May to September 1943, I lived at Regimental Headquarters at Mile 23 and roamed the Namchik Valley. I was the only American medical officer on fifteen miles of road. In addition to my duties with the Chinese, I became the village doctor for the scattered small American units in my territory. These included the lst Veterinary Company (Mile 20), a small POL36 station operated by men of the 48th Evac Hosp (Mile 23.3), a detachment of the 115 Ordnance Company (Mile 24), and a Signal Detachment (Mile 24.5). Capt. [Douglas F.] Watson built a bamboo dispensary at the lst Vets, where sick call for all these units was held. This aid station was manned by two reliable technicians from the 48th Evac Hosp.37 At Mile 20, there were some fifty Indians engaged in building the veterinary stables,38 so my responsibilities became cosmopolitan.

My relation with the Americans along the Road is not properly a part of this narrative; but their proximity was a godsend to me. Sick call at 1100 hours meant one square meal a day; and every few miles there was someone who could talk English. There were many experiences to remember. Such as the night I sent [1st Lt. Paul H.] Breidenbach39 to the hospital, with a temperature of 105°. He had refused to leave his men for the past two days, because he was the only officer present. By using weekly sanitary reports as a weapon, I was able to help [2d Lt. William J.] Smith secure proper mess equipment for his orphans.40 Visiting the Chinese companies at Namgoi and Hellgate,41 I frequently stopped at the hospital "D"

    36Petrol, oil, and lubricants.
    37WSJ: T4c. Adam Bagaskas, and T5c. Joseph Ravin. These men used uniformly good judgment. While I was absent or sick in hospital, they selected, treated, and evacuated cases to the complete satisfaction of all concerned.
    38WSJ: As the malaria rates among Americans rose to crippling levels I combed over these natives. The first lot inspected, 14 June 1943, showed 40.4% with enlarged spleens or active symptoms of malaria. * * * Skat [an insect repellent], netting, and other antimalarial supplies were extremely limited. It was difficult to protect the men against adjacent natives, except by clothing regulations. Almost all of the units I serviced had construction labor in or near their camps. The noneffective rate was staggering. The weekly man-days lost from malaria alone by the 1st Vet Co. rose: 9 June--0.8%; 16 June--2.2%; 23 June--6.3%; 30 June--15.2%. * * * For the 4 weeks ending 28 August--15.6%. For the 5 weeks ending 31 July, the 115 Ord. Co. Det. lost 15.8% man-days. * * * For the 6 weeks ending 28 August, the Base Signal Det. lost 15.6%. All of these figures were elevated by other diseases and injuries. It took the Medical Department many months to convince higher authority that the policy of quartering native labor in American camps was disastrous.
    Ed.--Col. John M. Tamraz, Services of Supply Surgeon, had guessed in February 1943 that the American sick rate would run as high as 20%. The British thought that the rate for malaria would be 25%, basing their estimates on prewar experience. See North Tirap Log, p. 24, n. 90, and references cited; Romanus and Sunderland, I, p. 308.
    39115th Ordnance Company.
    40Troops of the Base Signal Detachment, which Smith directed. Jones adds in a footnote: "This hot potato got action. But the Base Signal Officer would have killed me on sight for a month thereafter, as it bounced through channels." Smith, wrote Jones, was a "smart young Texan" who was "one of the wheelhorses of the telephone service all the way down to Myitkyina and beyond."
    41East of Ledo.


95

Company, 151st Medical Battalion was operating at the Namgoi crossing.42 Here I used to see [Capt. Floyd T., Jr.] Romberger;43 and for several months [1st Lt. Hubert] Holdsworth44 was running the sub-depot dispensary at Hellgate.

On 19 June, a radio came in from Delhi ordering another officer and myself to China, attached to the 14th Air Force. I happened to come to Ledo on Sunday, 20 June, and heard about it. It sounded like a good show; but General Boatner requested the orders be rescinded, on the basis that I was already serving with Chinese troops. [1st Lt. Rolden F.] Canfield45 however, went over on a veterinary mission about that time.

Every week or two I would drive to Ledo in the weapons carrier the 1st Vets let me have on M/R46 in exchange for holding their sick call. There I used to see [Capt. George F.] Conde,47 and Webster, who came up on the Rice Mission business once in awhile.

Chinese-American relations were good, and many amusing incidents occurred. Probably the most gala occasion was the opening of the Namchik Bridges. The original road came off a steep bluff, and crossed the stream under a log structure which threatened to give way whenever the water rose. The road was straightened by bridging a tributary, building a fill over a neck of land, and erecting a steel span across the main river. The smaller bridge was built by the 10th Engineers and was known as the "Chinese Bridge." The "American Bridge" was steel-rigged by the 45th Engineers (colored). There was a friendly rivalry on the job, and a big celebration was planned for the simultaneous opening on 2 July. A platform was erected midway on the gravel fill. After a preliminary dinner given by Colonel Lee, the party repaired to the Namchik. Laudatory speeches were made by the Chinese and Americans, and interpreted in the reverse direction. The 45th Engineer band played the "Star Spangled Banner" and something intended to be the Chinese National Anthem. Two Chinese nurses48 and several

    42WSJ: One of the choice items of the Medical Department lore is the Namgoi Bridge, long forgotten by most. The Namgoi is a little stream with a large watershed. (The history of the "Life Line to China" has been a struggle with little streams draining large watersheds.) The fundamental error in the planning of the Namgoi Hospital was that the detachment area was across this placid little rill from the wards. Nobody considered this point at the time, but our Operations Section would know better now. A few yards upstream was a temporary log bridge; while next to it the Chinese worked round the clock pouring concrete and rigging steel for a new span. About 5 July the new structure would carry traffic. The temporary and permanent bridges were a bit inconvenient for the 151st Med. Bn., so they threw across a small suspension to connect the two sections of the hospital. During the big flood of 3 July, both the log and the steel bridges washed out. For days thereafter, all the rations and fuel for the troops east of Namgoi were carried on the back of natives over a swinging, creaking, three-foot link of wire and bamboo. Meanwhile the 45th Engrs. frantically rebuilt the vehicular structure. When the boys with Castles on their collars make tart remarks about the Caduceus Club, a most effective rebuttal is the bridge the medical engineers built across the Namgoi.
    43151st Medical Battalion; original editor of North Tirap Log.
    4448th Evacuation Hospital.
    451st Veterinary Company.
    46Memorandum receipt.
    4748th Evacuation Hospital, also serving as a liaison officer.
    48WSJ: There were several civilian Chinese nurses attached to the 20th General Hospital during the summer and fall of 1943. They had been trained in American mission hospitals, and were of great assistance with the influx of Chinese patients. They generated a heated competition among the young Chinese officers in Ledo.


96

American girls from the 20th General Hospital and 73d Evacuation were present. The final act was to drape one each Chinese and American nurse on the fenders of a jeep. The crowd cheered as they snipped the ribbon across the roadway in unison. Then everybody took off to the cocktail party at the 45th Engineers Headquarters near Hellgate.

Malaria and Dysentery

Life along the Namchik, however, was not all skittles and beer. It rained torrents the night of 30 June, and continued to pour about all of 1 July. It cleared long enough to hold the bridge ceremonies on 2 July, but started again that night.

I had been feeling miserable all day, and did not go to the party at Hellgate. Back at camp a group of us finished up the remains of the Colonel's luncheon. Soon after I got to bed I had a stiff chill. Around 0200 hours, the Officer of the Guard asked me to see a sick man. He had malaria all right, but didn't look as sick as his physician felt. Another chill before breakfast finished off the night. We had no atabrine49 in camp, so I dosed myself with quinine before I went down to the Vets for sick call. The river was rising rapidly. Immediately after lunch all hands turned out to evacuate the kitchen and tents from the lower level. By the time the last of the equipment was carried up to the bluff, the lower area was 4 feet under water. About then someone came by with the news that the Namgoi and Namchik bridges had gone out, and that Tate's Dam (actually a causeway and bridge) had washed away.

Things did not look too good. I was the only American medic in a twenty mile stretch, isolated from the hospitals on either side by broken bridges. Ting50 was at the 20th General with dysentery. Chang51 was sick. We had better than 2000 Chinese in the area, plus some 200 Americans, with no prospects of evacuation for at least a week. Besides, three American boys had showed up to sick call with obvious malaria that morning. The best thing would be to dose myself as best I could, and stick around.

Back at camp, bed looked awfully good. I woke with a chill about 1400 hours; went back to sleep; and woke again in an hour or so vomiting up the quinine. My orderly, Yang Hun Hsin, had slept in the tent the night before to watch me. Now he was hovering around like a mother hen. The next time I woke, my musette bag was packed and he was trying to get my shoes on. Obviously I was getting goofy. A doc with probable cerebral malaria, vomiting quinine and with no atabrine, would be of little use to anybody. It did not require much of a struggle to persuade me to take off.

    49A synthetic drug, Atabrine, was the principal chemical weapon against malaria during World War II, when quinine-producing areas were in enemy hands. In 1943, CBI authorities still were cautious about prescribing it as a suppressive, fearing the results of "concealing" infections in order to keep men on duty, and anxious that troops not neglect antimalarial discipline by relying on Atabrine suppressive measures. See Romanus and Sunderland, II, p. 286; U.S. Army Medical Service, Malaria, chapter VII; Infectious Diseases, chapter XV; and The Marauders and the Microbes, p. 395, n. 152.
    50Regimental Surgeon, 10th Engineer Regiment.
    51Assistant Regimental Surgeon, 10th Engineer Regiment.


97

Watson gave me a driver; we picked up the three sick Americans; left word for the 151st Medical Bn to send someone down from Namgoi if necessary; and headed for town. Fortunately the phone was still working. The lst Vet ration truck called out to say they were stranded outside of Ledo, and they were told to come as far as possible to meet us.

At Tate's Dam the bridge was out, but there was a three-foot tree fallen across the gully. Abandoning the vehicle, we worked across that astraddle. I was at the rear, and had a job to keep the lad ahead of me from falling off. On the other side a six-by-six had been sitting all day with a load of meat. The driver offered to take us back to the next road block. The meat stunk so high that two of the boys started vomiting over the tailboard. So we threw the stuff out. Near Mile 7 the road was too far under water for the truck to pass, but we managed to walk about a mile along an embankment. Here a jeep picked us up. At the Tirap River bridge two of us had another chill together. Of course we were soaking wet, and that one might not have been from the malaria. The road was blocked at Mile 4.5; but when the officer on guard took a look, he piled us into a truck. The driver slammed through until his motor stalled. They winched us out from the other end. The 1st Vets welcomed us with open arms, and we flopped into the ration truck.

3 July was my thirty-ninth birthday. May there never be another one like it.

I remember lying on a bench in the receiving room at the 20th General. Sometime later [Lt. Col. Thomas] Fitzhugh52 came in and said that the blood smear was loaded with falciparum. Oral medication was abandoned for intravenous quinine (which thrombosed the veins in my right arm); and I recall [Major Dickinson S.] "Red" Pepper getting out of bed to readjust a needle dislodged by thrashing around. It was noon of 5 July before I really came to enough to take stock of the situation. Thereafter recovery was without complications and discharge was in two weeks.

I was sent to quarters with the 48th Evac Hosp Detachment at Lekhapani under the watchful eye of [lst Lt. William F.] Stankard.53 After two weeks I returned to duty on 30 July. The new hospital construction was well under way, and most of the patients had been moved from tents to the new bashas. Sanitation had slipped badly. No latrine oil had been requisitioned during the month of my absence. The place was crawling with flies and the kitchens were filthy again. On 9 August I was in the hospital again with bacillary dysentery for twelve days.54

    52Chief of Medical Service, 20th General Hospital.
    53In an extended note, Jones describes the large hospital for Indian laborers which Stankard and a few others from the 48th Evacuation Hospital operated at Lekhapani. By scrounging odds and ends of supplies and equipment, Stankard managed to care for as many as 750 patients, did major surgery, and ran "one of the best good-will shows in the area."
    54WSJ: These were the days before suppressive Atabrine, and when all materials for ordinary sanitary facilities were at a premium. If one lived with Chinese troops, malaria and dysentery were perfectly normal occupational hazards. They required the same philosophical disregard as Housemaid's Knee.
    Ed.--In the incidence rate of diarrhea and dysentery, as in malaria, the CBI Theater led all overseas commands. The average rate of incidence for the war years was 131 per annum per 1,000 troops. In the peak year of 1944 the rate was 181 per annum per 1,000. Putting the point in another way, CBI had 1.8% of Army troop strength but 10.9% of all cases of dysentery and diarrhea. Of the 56,951 reported cases of diarrhea and dysentery, the common forms of diarrhea were the most prevalent. Bacillary and unclassified dysentery accounted for about 21% of the reported cases. With a peak rate in 1943 of 15.45 per annum per 1,000, bacillary dysentery had a 1942-45 average incidence rate of 8.9. However, the number of actual cases, as opposed to reported cases, probably ran up to a rate of 20 per annum per 1,000.
    The widespread infection of Indian and Chinese troops and of civilian laborers, and their inadequate sanitary practices produced a very difficult situation. But it was not unbeatable, as Jones showed. On a theaterwide scale little improvement occurred until 1945, after the visit of a special commission from the Army Epidemiological Board. Its surveys and recommendations, when applied by comprehensive sanitary regulations, produced a marked decline in enteric disorders. Sulfadiazine was used to treat patients with bacillary forms of dysentery, and the disease was rarely fatal. See Romanus and Sunderland, II, pp. 286-287; U.S. Army Medical Service, Communicable Disease * * * Respiratory and Alimentary Tracts, pp. 376-389.


98

Prepare To Move

During July and early August the situation at road-head was in a state of flux. Rain and mud were impeding operations. Several plans were discussed to increase forward progress once the monsoons stopped. It was once proposed to have the 10th Engineers maintain the road, and send the 823rd Engr Avn Bn to the front of the line. This would entail transferring heavy equipment to the Chinese and training operators. It was finally decided to pull them off bridge and culvert building, and to deploy them to fell timber along the right of way and along the trace ahead of the point.

On 29 July and 3 August conferences were held at the Surgeon's Office to discuss medical support for both the "Chinese Jeep Road"55 and the Refugee Trail between Namlip and Tagap. A plan was formulated which was carried out except for the location of the installations proposed at Loglai and Tagung.56

Hitherto Chinese units had been equipped more or less helter skelter. About this time there was an effort to bring order out of chaos by developing a provisional T/O & E57 for all Chinese units. Because the 10th Engineers were not properly a part of Combat Command, the establishment of their equipment list was palmed off on SOS. I am in no position to judge the efficacy of the items from other depots, but the experience with medical equipment was sad. It appeared that this had been allocated without consultation with the Surgeon. The authorized items were naturally CDS British stock.58 They must have been picked sight unseen from the catalog,

    55WSJ: This was never a Jeep Road in any sense of the word. The stretch between Nawng Yang and Namlip became known as the Tincha Trace. The section usually known as the Chinese Jeep Road extended from Chinese Midway to Tagap. It was constructed by hand by the 12th Chinese Engineers during the period when the 10th was clearing the trace.
    56Jones included a photocopy of the plan in his narrative. It shows the intention of Services of Supply to provide three new aid stations along the road. Seagrave already had a hospital at Tagap, and 151st Medical Battalion stations were to assist in evacuation to the rear.
    57Table of Organization and Equipment. To develop them not only stabilized the Chinese Army in India and regularized its supply system, but helped modernize the Chinese Army in general. Eventually, standard tables were worked out for all types of units, from coolie transportation companies to infantry divisions. They were applied to the Chinese troops selected for modernization under American auspices.
    58CDS: Chinese Defense Supplies. Some of the supplies which the United States provided the Chinese Government on credit were actually procured from British sources in India. By this means the refugee Chinese divisions were rapidly reequipped at the Ramgarh Training Center and a portion of Britain's Lend-Lease debt was cancelled by "reverse Lend-Lease." Jones's dissatisfaction with British materials and levels of supply typified the American reaction, generally.


99

with selection of items nearly approximating American nomenclature. The result was unrealistic to say the least. In addition, some of the items were not available on the base. Nevertheless, there it was in black and white on official paper.59 I spent the next six weeks walking through warehouses, taking inventory, justifying, stalling, and trying to get my hands on substitute items. It did not take the Chinese long to catch on that SOS had no sound idea of what the T/E authorized comprised, and that most of what had been promised would not be available in the predictable future. The only thing that saved American "face" was the fact that the 22nd and 38th Chinese Divisions were being alerted for the Hukawng Valley push. Once in awhile it was possible to fall back on the statement that they had priority on medical supplies for the purpose of saving the lives of the brave Chinese fighting men.60

Reconnaissance

Colonel Lee delayed starting the movement until he was assured of a workable supply system for the isolated companies. After protracted negotiations he decided to go see for himself.

The party61 left Mile 23 early the morning of 3 September. We proceeded by jeep to roadhead. This was at Garo Brook62 on the south slope of Pangsau Pass at a point then Mile 44. There we picked up twenty-five porters and were joined by Colonel [Robert E.] York, Road Engineer, who walked with us through calf-deep mud to Nawng Yang. Here we had a late lunch with Major [Edmund H., Jr.] Daves and Captain [Embree W., Jr.] Morgan.63

The 2nd Battalion Headquarters, 330th Engineers, was perched on a steep half-cleared hillside. The officers quarters and orderly room were on a level with the mess shack roof, whose floor in turn was on a level with the dispensary roof, etc. Housing was in pyramidal tents, with a few bamboo-frame tarpaulined shacks. About a hundred slab steps led down to what would some day be a road.

We proceeded along the muddy dozer track to Thursday River, a famous and once busy spot. The old Refugee Trail ran almost due south from

    59In a note and an appendix Jones reported that the small first aid kits authorized for medical noncommissioned officers were available, but the even simpler kits for aidmen were not. No officer's medical chests--seven were allotted--could be located. In the standard, prepacked cases of medical supplies, most of the surgical instruments were missing, and one of the four cases which constituted the regimental supply unit never was found.
    60WSJ: Now the gentle reader understands what is meant by the liaison officer being in the middle.
    61WSJ: The party selected to go consisted of: Colonel Lee; Major Chow, Acting Vice Commander; Major Wang, 3rd Bn Commander; a Warrant Officer; the Colonel's orderly and another soldier; Mr. [Fay H.] Lawler, the interpreter; and myself.
    62WSJ: So called because here was a large camp of porters from the Garo hills. They were sturdier and better carriers than the Nagas, and were hired in considerable numbers on a 6 month basis. Many of these Garos were Christians. One told a friend of mine, I am American--American Baptist." The ranking civilian leader and spiritual adviser of these natives was Dr. Telford, an American missionary. The evening singing of the old evangelistic hymns at Garo Brook was a local attraction; even better than the sundown services of Seagrave's Burmese nurses.
    63WSJ: Major Daves had been Provost Marshal on the Monticello, with Morgan as his assistant. I became acquainted with them on the ship; and during my tour along the Road they became two of my best friends. Their camps at Nawng Yang and at the Ngalang crossing are spots of fond memory. The genial hospitality and good chow were unfailing; and I spent many nights there in the course of my wanderings.


100

Nawng Yang over three high ranges to Namlip. The survey for the new road avoided this land mass by skirting around it to the east, along the Nawng Yang and Loglai River Valleys. There was an overgrown preexisting trail part way around this bend, but for all practical purposes the trace partly chopped through a virgin jungle wilderness. Thursday River was the first of the camps [Capt. Russell] Rupert64 established along this line in April 1943, and it was used as a supply base for a long time. The site was on an acre or so of flat land where a little stream tumbles down a steep hill to join the Nawng Yang. The trace climbed out of the valley onto a high ledge behind. The entire party spent the night here, except Major Daves who went ahead to where "D" Company was pushing the point. Here for the first time I met renowned [Capt. George M.] Burgett.65

The morning of 4 September we made slow time to Midway. A bulldozer track in rainy weather is hard walking. The treads gouge a pair of deep ruts; the blade throws up a parapet of soft dirt on each side, and the center strip is scraped flat by the chassis. Rain collects in the ruts and soaks both sides of the channel. It is frequently almost impossible to find firm footing. At such places the porters swing either up or down the hillside and beat a new path. This has the disadvantage that it involves tiresome scrambling up and down hill off the road. We found Major Daves waking up for lunch after spending the night with the lead dozer.66

At Midway our party reorganized. Major Wang and one soldier returned to bring the 3rd Battalion into Thursday River. Colonel Lee, Chow, Lawler, the Warrant Officer, one soldier and I went on. With us was Sgt. [Monroe H.] Cherry,67 whom Daves loaned us as a guide. As we left Midway the lead dozer was just cutting past camp, at a point now about Mile 49. From

    64WSJ: He commanded the trace-cutting parties of the 330th Engr Regt which developed the road trace from Nawng Yang to Tagap. He was in the jungle from April to October 1943. During the last month he was completely exhausted and in poor health. He walked out 4 days to roadhead with me 26-30 October, and was sent to the 20th General Hospital for several weeks. He was never fit for field duty after that; and became Mess Officer of the Headquarters Officers Mess, Ledo, until his return to the United States in the winter of 1945.
    65WSJ: This officer was famous along the Road, all the way from Pangsau in the summer of 1943 to Bhamo in the winter of 1945. He was original in his ideas and somewhat of a nonconformist. His opinions, voiced with a stammer which became more pronounced the hotter he got, were not infrequently at variance with higher authority. He preferred to live as far at the head of the line as he could get from Road Headquarters. With the possible exception of Daves, he was the subject of more hilarious anecdotes than any of the men who built the Ledo Road. If he ever writes his story the way he talks, I will surely buy the book.
    66WSJ: This was common practice when the going was rough. He was a compact, grizzled little man in his middle fifties. His vocabulary was garnished with the gems acquired during the years spent with the railroads. In a campaign hat curled up like a sombrero, an antique six-shooter on his hip, he was a familiar figure along the Road. He was usually to be found prowling around at the point where the fallen timber was thickest and the mud deepest. He treated his men like a father, and they responded in kind. No battalion commander in the area got as much output from his men by sheer leadership. He was sometimes called the "Iron Major," and he certainly deserved the title as much as the original owner did [the "Iron Duke," Wellington].
    67WSJ: 330th Engineer Regiment. His name derived from his being part Cherokee Indian. This quiet, tobacco-chewing Texan was a great friend of the Nagas and the Kachins, but could not abide the Chinese. He was famous as the semiofficial scout and guide along the trails. He saved his cigarettes for trading, and always carried a handful of silver rupees and a small box of crude opium. He was the middle man in numerous transactions involving rings and jewelry the natives had secured in the refugee days. This was supplemented by his talents as a dice and poker player. He will have a tidier nest egg after the war than most officers.


101

here the trace was a thin slash through the jungle, patted down to a slippery path by the bare feet of the porters hauling rations out to the survey teams.

We spent the night at Loglai two miles beyond (now Mile 51). Two habitable shanties on a little bluff overlooking the river, remained of the old camp built by Rupert. Some annoying things came to light as we settled down. Only Cherry and I were properly equipped. Lawler68 had a mosquito net, but no cot or mess kit. The colonel had cot, net, a cup and a spoon. The rest had blankets, cups, and chopsticks. For the rest of the trip the seven of us shared the two mess kits and utensils. This kind of carelessness is costly and uncomfortable.

Loglai in those days was a beautiful spot. We sat on the rocks at the edge of the bluff, around a little fire. It was a clear night, and the dome of sky over the little valley was ablaze with stars. Somehow the stars seem brighter in Burma than any place I have been. The Americans and the Chinese alternated in singing, while the porters squatted listening in the dark.

The next morning (5 September) we walked the four miles across the Tagung River to Tincha. I was the first one in, and received a hearty greeting from [1st Lt. Wilbur B.] Manter,69 attempting to build a field hospital there in anticipation of the extension of the Road. He was living on short rations with two colored cooks. Most of his native labor was sick with what was probably the first unrecognized outbreak of scrub typhus we had encountered.

On 6 September we headed over [Capt. Samuel D.] Clark's70 trail for Gared Ra pass. It was eight miles to the top and another five to Namlip. We were told that rations were cached in an old tent for us at Gared Ra.

    68WSJ: Another well known figure. He was sometimes called the "Boy Scout" from the high laced boots and stiff brimmed campaign hat he habitually wore. He had lived for many years in China, and was fluent in some seven regional dialects. At the outbreak of the war he was in Indo-China managing one of the Chinese concerns importing war material over the railroad into Yunnan. His mother and sister were caught by the Japanese in Shanghai, and were interned there until 1944, when they were repatriated. He came to India with the Chinese Army, in the capacity of civilian interpreter. A quick, irritable, active little man. Forgetting his equipment was quite in character with some of his other oddities. After a series of contract details with the 10th Engineers, he spent considerable time with Colonel [James G.] Truitt's advance location parties. He developed a large hernia during his service in the jungle, which he was about to have repaired when I last saw him in the spring of 1945.
    69WSJ: 48th Evacuation Hospital. An All-Maine football player while at Bowdoin. This splendid officer was a hound for punishment, and nearly killed himself carrying out his assignments. One of his exploits occurred while he was building the hospital at Tincha. Suitable bamboo was very scarce on the west bank of the Loglai. He swam across the river and found a good stand on the other side. The streams were still flooded and few of his natives could swim. So he built a boom down which he planned to log his timber. At the last minute the boom broke, and Manter was very nearly drowned. [Jones also quotes the official commendation which Manter received for participating in a strenuous reconnaissance mission to locate sites for hospitals along the projected road, and for building the hospital at Tincha.]
    70WSJ: 48th Evacuation Hospital. He went with Manter on Rupert's original advance party. He made friends with the Nagas, and used to go to their villages to treat and visit them. While one group cut southwest from Tincha, another went down to Namlip via the Refugee Trail and worked northwest. They were to meet at Gared Ra, on the divide between the Loglai and Namlip watersheds. There were no native villages in this area. It was blind cutting in rough, densely wooded country. The story which I had never heard before goes that things were getting nowhere fast, until Clark and a group of his Naga pals took out one fine day and chopped the connection across the pass. The route itself tended to confirm this tale. It climbed the shoulders at steep grades and crossed the divide at its highest point, in typical Naga fashion. After the bulldozers had developed it, only a limited amount of truck traffic was able to negotiate the route. The present Road had to be relocated across a lower saddle to the north. The enlisted men used to call Clark one of the best engineers on the trace. He had itchy feet, and liked to see the country. He returned to Ledo in late August 1943. He then wandered all over eastern India on his leave. After a couple of months of clinical work at the 20th General Hospital, he joined the 48th Evac Hosp element at Tincha. Not satisfied to sit still, he volunteered to operate the aid station at Namyang. He later moved to Taga Sakan. When the entire 48th Evac was pulled back to Ledo, so much civilization got on his nerves. He asked for another field assignment, and was loaned to one of the NCAC Portable Surgical Hospitals on the left flank of the push south from Kamaing to Mogaung. [This was the 43d Portable Surgical Hospital supporting the Chinese 38th Division.--Ed.] He was with the Chinese and the British 36th Division in the Railroad Corridor [leading south from Mogaung; possibly he now was attached to the 60th Portable Surgical Hospital.--Ed.]. The high spot of this venture was a reconnaissance on the Indawgyi Lake with some British officers. The last thing he did was to ride one of the first convoys to China. A footloose troubadour if there ever was one. One wonders how he will be able to settle down again to the monotony of practice in a small New England town.


102

The porters protested at a haul of eight miles, but were assured of a night at the pass. Fortunately we got off to an early start. The Garos made good time and I stayed with them, while the rest of the party dallied to eat at the Ngalang crossing. There was a gain of over 1000 feet in the three miles from Kichu Creek to the top. I arrived dead beat at 1330 hours in a driving rain. Instead of a tent and rations, there were two dilapidated bamboo shacks. Even the thatch and side walls were soggy and there was insufficient dry fuel to start a fire. The bustees were crawling with vermin. I have an aversion for the combination of natives and fleas. When the rest of the party came up at 1500 hours, it was decided to push on to Namlip, after a half hour rest. It was a five mile race against darkness down a wet and unfamiliar trail. I pulled in with the lead porters at 1900 hours. Chris Hill's71 camp certainly looked good. That was one of the three worst days I ever had on the trails. It took almost twelve hours walking time to make thirteen miles.

After dark we became concerned for the rest of the party. I went back a mile or so and met Lawler and Colonel Lee. Half an hour behind, in came Cherry shepherding Chow and the Chinese Warrant Officer.

The next morning was devoted to rest and care of blisters. In the afternoon I talked with [lst Lt. Robert C.] Barker72 about medical support of the battalion which would be based at Namlip. Then Colonel Lee, Lawler, and I climbed to the dropping ground to look over the ration stock pile in the warehouse.

On 8 September we started north on our way back over the old Refugee Trail. This was another rough climb. The trail led over one ridge down into the Ngalang Valley, and up to the dropping ground on a shoulder of Ngalang Bum. The net gain in elevation was 2400 feet, most of it in the last two miles.

    71WSJ: 1st Lt. Christopher F. Hill, 330th Engineer Regiment. He was in the 20th General Hospital with scrub typhus at the same time I was, in December 1943 and January 1944.
    72WSJ: In the summer of 1943 he supervised the Namlip and Chang Rang aid stations. When I was there on this trip, he was building a 150-bed hospital at Namlip. In November he moved forward with the first party of "D" Company, 151st Medical Bn, that took over the Shingbwiyang hospital from Seagrave.


103

Sisney's73 dropping ground was a famous alpine resort that catered to all transients. He had two comfortable bustees for himself and for his colored boys of the 21st QM Regiment. (Now part of the 21st QM Group). The mess hall may not have been tops in sanitation, but the chow was good. [1st Lt. Lloyd H.] Arnold74 had a radio station nearby, and [1st Lt. Ashley] Pond75 ran an aid station half way down the south slope.

Ngalang was a beautiful spot. The Bum, 4808 feet, was the highest peak in the immediate vicinity of the upper road. It shut off the view to the north and west of the dropping ground, but the panorama of ranges to the east and south was grand--undulating lines of green clear over to the China border.

In the morning the hill stuck up out of a snowbank of clouds at our feet. Just as we left, Arnold picked up the news flash that Italy had surrendered. We had not even heard that the invasion from Sicily to the mainland had taken place.

The twelve miles to Nawng Yang was a double stage coming south; but it could be made in one day going north, because of the drop off Ngalang. We stopped at the 151st Medical Bn aid station on the Tagung River for lunch, and arrived at Nawng Yang at dusk.

The road had been improved during a lucky spell of dry weather in our absence. Trucks were getting through from Garo Brook to the Nawng Yang bridge, and a jeep picked up Lawler and the Chinese. Cherry and I spent the night at Daves' headquarters. On 10 September I went to Ledo to report to the Surgeon.76

IV. ALONG THE TINCHA TRACE

Naga Hills

For me this expedition was an experience in a new mode of travel,77 and I learned some practical points that stood me in good stead later.

The Naga Hills are a spur of the Himalayas which run from northeast to southwest separating the Brahmaputra from the Irrawaddy River systems.

    731st Lt. Elza R. Sisney, 21st Quartermaster Group.
    74A Signal Corps officer--WSJ: "stringing the field telephone wire to Tagap."
    75WSJ: 151st Medical Battalion. During the summer of 1943 he supervised the aid stations at Tagung and Ngalang. During the fighting around Kamaing he operated the air clearing station at Tingkawk strip. He went as medical officer with [Capt. James H.] Kaminer on the expedition that walked from Myitkyina to Paoshan over the Tengchung cutoff in August 1944.
    Ed.--This last exploit is of special interest: the capture of Tengchung, near the Burma border, by Chinese troops under Stilwell's command showed that troops could get through from North Burma to the West China front. Stilwell used this point to strengthen his hand during very difficult negotiations with Generalissimo Chiang. See Romanus and Sunderland, II, p. 435.
    76Jones submitted a detailed report on his reconnaissance, describing the trail and terrain, and suggesting to the Base Surgeon the means of providing medical service along the Road trace. His colorful style offered a sense of the rigors and limitations in the situation, along with the facts about trail conditions, hospital sites, and ongoing operations.
    77WSJ: As a small boy, I shagged all over the countryside with my father as he made the rounds of his mission stations; and I became a pretty fair long-strided walker. Twenty years ago I was not the worst intercollegiate cross-country runner in New England. But I really learned what punishment was on those hill trails.


104

Politically this is almost unadministered territory which forms the geographical boundary between India and Burma. The last Assam police outpost is only about ten miles as the crow flies from Ledo, and the political officers did not venture far beyond that. The Burmese police patrolled up to Shingbwiyang with occasional punitive raids higher into the mountains.

The hills through which the Road was built are known as the Patkai Range. This is rough country. The peaks run between 4000 and 8000 feet; but the valleys are narrow and steep-sided. It is not uncommon to gain or lose as much as 2000 feet in two or three linear miles. The whole country is broken up by mountain brooks, fair sized streams, and gorges.78 The whole country is blanketed with virgin jungle. Hardwood trees reach 150 to 200 feet into the air, their branches beginning at 100 feet up. One common variety has a silvery gray bark which gleams through the brush and gives it a peculiarly naked look when the shrubbery is cleared away. Between are smaller trees and a dense matting of vines. Bamboo patches are scattered here and there, but are not plentiful except along the streams. The undergrowth is so dense that it is possible to see only a few yards off the trails. The sun penetrates this tangle with difficulty. In the monsoon season the path is perpetually wet and slippery. Even when it is not raining the trees drip moisture. One is soaked with dew and perspiration a quarter of an hour after starting out in the morning.

Mosquitoes, black flies, crickets, and all manner of humming, buzzing and screeching insects keep up a constant undertone of sound, to which one rapidly becomes accustomed. This noise is loud enough that a man may not hear a fair sized party approaching on the trail unless they are talking.

There is considerable game in this country79 although it is seldom seen. Monkeys, black flying squirrels, and barking deer can be heard. Cat tracks may be found along muddy spots and sand bars. A few mountain lions or panthers, both yellow and black, have been seen. Game however is too thin and hard to stalk to make the mountains attractive to tigers, which are found in both the adjacent plains. Semi-wild water buffalo, the communal property of the native villages, are found in the more lush river bottoms.

The inhabitants of this country are rather shy but generally friendly folk. The active head-hunting Nagas live farther down on the Imphal-Burma frontier. The Patkai Nagas are less aggressive. They are subordinate to the Kachins80 to the south and east of them; but they look down on the Kukis who inhabit the hills near Ledo to the west. They average about five feet in

    78WSJ: Colonel [James G.] Truitt had spent many years in Alaska engineering highways and railroads. On our trip from Namlip to Shingbwiyang, he told me this was the most rugged country he had ever seen.
    79WSJ: I heard a British officer who purported to be an authority make the statement that there is "no game in those jungles." Cats big enough to make some of the tracks I have seen require considerable deer to keep them alive.
    80WSJ: Seagrave states that the Kachins are the most warlike of the North Burma tribes, and are feared by the Shans and Karins. Ngalang Bum ("Hill of the Buffalo") is said to be named for the peace treaty feast which followed a great Kachin defeat of the Nagas. A great bulk of the native levies who joined the Allies in the North Burma campaigns were recruited from the Kachin villages. [Ed.--As guerilla, reconnaissance, and intelligence troops, the Kachins were invaluable, especially in conjunction with long-range penetration operations, such as Merrill's Marauders carried on. See Romanus and Sunderland, II, pp. 36-37.]


105

height and are slightly built and stringy. Although they are great mountain climbers81 they do not have the muscular development of the Garos.

They live in groups of three or four families, each in its "bustee" perched on stilts. Each such clan has several hillside clearings where rice is grown. They avoid valleys, possibly because of the mosquitoes and the "bad air" which brings malaria. They move from one clearing to another when a death occurs or when the soil becomes depleted. Their wants are simple; deer, monkey, or buffalo meat. Jungle vegetables. Salt and a little cloth. Before the war they were metal-poor and depended on outside trade for their knife blades. In the great Retreat they acquired money, jewelry, and some small arms.82 When the Americans first crossed Pangsau Pass cigarettes, candy, or salt would buy almost anything. They would trade for "C" rations to secure the tins. Coin had little monetary value, and was prized principally for making necklaces. Now all these things are commonplace, and they are rolling in luxury with the profusion of scrap metal that came in with the road building.

Because their desires were few, they could seldom be induced to porter or build. They moved away from any trail that was much used, although they would come down off the hills to watch the strange Americans work, or to trade wild bananas and eggs to them. The only item in which they showed any consistent interest was raw opium.83

Travel in this country presents several problems, which fundamentally center around the necessity of taking your rations with you. Rations mean porters; and porters mean more rations. It was early found that air dropping into the valleys was impractical. They were too narrow, frequently foggy, and subject to air drafts. The C-47s came over the target at such a height that the loss was too wasteful. Dropping grounds were developed on suitable hillsides, but there were not enough good sites at the proper intervals. A Garo porter can not handle over forty pounds efficiently; most will refuse a load over thirty-five. He can make five to eight miles in a day, depending on the terrain. Therefore sufficient rations must be carried to take the entire party to the next dropping ground where the stock is known to be adequate. A little careful planning will enable you to make double stages, as your porters come in light to a good depot.

    81WSJ: Naga trails are the shortest and often the hardest line between two given points. They almost always follow high shoulders; and they usually cross the highest part of a ridge instead of seeking an easier grade over a saddle. The Refugee Trail, which was several old trails linked together and slightly improved, followed an almost direct course straight north. Several very sharp ridges could have been avoided by swinging to the east, along the course of the present Road.
    82That is, from the refugee Burmese and Indian civilians who bartered for services or simply left their possessions along the Trail in desperation.
    83WSJ: At one time great opium smokers, this practice was dying out. The British throttled down the import channels, and gradually reduced the consumption to old habituees. As these died off, there was insufficient available opium for the young men to acquire the habit. However, opium remained the most sought-after currency in the hills. It was used as a reward for military information, for bringing in lost fliers, and for special work which would not be done for money. I have seen Nagas paid off in opium for portering and for building construction which they would never ordinarily do. A lump of raw opium balanced on a beam scale against an eight anna piece would pay six to eight men for a week's labor. This quiet and rather small traffic in opium might not please certain elements of public opinion. But it was "any port in a storm" those days.


106

There is a workable minimum of equipment to take on the trail. The following items are sufficient to get along; but if porters are packing the equipment, there is no advantage in reducing weight to the point of unnecessary discomfort. One or more blankets, a change of clothing, spare socks if you prefer to wear them, a pair of canvas sneakers and a mosquito net can be rolled handily in a shelter half. The spare clothes and sneakers are for use around camp in the evening. For many reasons a folding canvas cot is desirable to the point of being essential. The jungle hammock is a relatively fancy new item. It is too short to sleep in comfortably when tired legs want to stretch out. A raincoat is a nuisance. One is soaked with perspiration in half an hour anyway, and a little rain water refreshes the hide. Even in the winter it is hot walking, although a field jacket and extra blankets are needed at night. Into a musette go small articles. The cot and bedding roll are one fair porter load. The musette bag is added to the shortest pack of rations. My preference of clothing is single-piece fatigues, and a mechanics cap. Pistol and canteen balance well at the waist when worn low over the hips. If camps are close enough together to forego the canteen, the pistol is more comfortable in a shoulder holster. Selection of shoes is important. Ordinary issue boots allow mud and gravel to work around the ankles. Leggings are not mud proof, and the understrap rots through in a few days of sloppy going. I used three-buckle issue riding boots, cut down to legging length. This is a convenient height to tuck trousers in, and the tongue is high enough to keep out dirt under ordinary conditions. The new paratrooper boot dispenses with the buckles and is even better. It has the serious disadvantage of composition rubber sole and heel. A steel-edged heel digs into the earth, and can prevent a bad fall going down a steep wet trail. Hobnails are invaluable for traction going up. The cheap grade castor oil used by the Vets, frequently applied, is an excellent waterproof and leather softener. Rain or shine, cigarettes and matches must be kept dry. The tin cover of the old issue first aid package is a good case; it will also hold a wrist watch when it is raining.

A waterproof map case to fit in the hip pocket is easily made from a piece of leather blacksmith's apron. Into the map can be folded a few silver rupees. A compass has no great practical value when following established trails. When in doubt take the best beaten path, or look for the glow of the sun through the clouds. A trace used by Americans is always marked by a litter of old rations tins, cigarette butts, and chewing gum wrappers.

The Tincha Trace

After Colonel Lee's reconnaissance the regiment prepared to pull up stakes and move forward. The principal problems confronting the Medical Detachment were: (1) The decision to continue operating the hospital at Mile 23 until most of the patients had been cleaned out. Ting would remain behind to close up. Then he would move with the rear echelon and set up at Thursday River. (2) Reshuffling the medical personnel in support of the isolated companies. (3) Arranging for medical supply. This was to be carried in by companies except for what was dropped to the battalion at Namlip. There


107

the unit would draw directly from the 151st Medical Battalion Hospital. The Regimental Hospital was functioning smoothly, so I elected to get out with the lead companies.

On 16 September I went to Nawng Yang and arranged to live with Daves until headquarters was in position at Thursday River. Manter came into Ledo on 19 September to report that his construction was proceeding at snail's pace. The Rice Mission was over. Stone was preparing to send out the advance elements of the reunited 48th Evac to start operations at Tincha. On 28 September I turned in my sadly battered weapons carrier and moved my belongings to Lekhapani. Sgt. Cherry came in with a command car to pick me up. We planned to start in the morning, but it had been raining for four straight days and we did not get started until 30 September.84

The situation along the Tincha Trace was not pleasant. Plans had been made on anticipated weather. Since the Loglai Valley was practically unexplored country, Ledo precipitation figures had been used. The past week of rain had crossed everybody up.85 On 2 October Morgan and I took a hike down the line to see what things looked like. They were a sight to behold. The dozer track was a lane of mud partially washed out by slides in places. Large trees were felled across the right of way in every direction.86 The few bulldozers which had not slid off the hillsides were isolated between roadblocks. We walked out almost to Loglai and back, a round trip of seventeen miles over some of the worst going I have ever seen.

The next six weeks along the Tincha Trace was largely a matter of walking from one end of the line to the other. Jerry [Capt. Gerald] Jones87 and

    84WSJ: The road to Pangsau was passable, but there was barely one lane around a landslide at Garo Brook. From Mile 45 the road was a quagmire. We were towed into Nawng Yang by a tractor.
    85WSJ: Quoted from my diary, 1 October 1943: "The Situation here is not good. Almost six companies of the 10th Engrs and four companies of the 330th Engrs, in addition to the 48th Evac are ahead between Nawng Yang and Gared Ra. There is an acute shortage of porters and rations are slim. Point dozer is below Tincha but not running because no gas. Between the road is blocked by fallen trees and slides. Every cat from here to Tincha is off the road. Looks as if I will sit here for awhile."
    86WSJ: The mission of the 10th Engineers was to build bridges and to clear a swath fifty yards wide along the survey trace. Unfortunately half the regiment was put at clearing to the rear of the point. These Chinese were not from the big timber country and had little conception of how to handle large trees. Much of the stuff along the trace was 150 and 200 footers with two to three foot diameters. The boys chopped and sawed around the trunks like beavers. The trees fell unpredictably in any old direction, and more than one chopper was crushed or killed by the backlash of the butt. Several travelers were also killed on the road-bed by falling timber. Traffic was a series of halts and then dashes for safety. The Chinese thought it was great fun. The Americans considered it most unhelpful. Actually it made an awful mess of the supply line. Dozers can knock standing timber off the line fairly expeditiously; but these gigantic trunks piled across the road like jackstraws were hard to handle. Those that could not be pushed aside were chopped away by hand. Those too big to chop easily were blasted. Daves showed the Chinese the cute trick of notching a log, laying a stick of dynamite in the crease, and shooting it off with a pistol. They enjoyed this immensely; but the fusillades of wild shots were so dangerous to the passing public that the practice had to be stopped. Anyway, the Chinese needed the dynamite to blow fish from the streams when their rations ran low.
    87WSJ: 330th Engineer Regiment. This officer was one of the unsung heroes of the Nawng Yang to Midway era. As 2nd Bn Surgeon, he operated a bedded dispensary at Daves' headquarters, and cruised forward to the advanced camps of "D" Company. He used a small bulldozer rigged to carry two litters, and might take as much as five days to complete the round trip. If the cats could not make it, he walked. When he was ordered home because of illness in his family, the 330th lost the best medical officer they ever had.


108

I usually alternated our rounds so that we would be approximately at opposite ends. He handled Chinese emergencies in the Nawng Yang area when I was away, while I would stop at all his companies when I went forward.

The 48th Evac was filtering into Tincha as rapidly as porters were available. Webster and [Capt. Theodore B.] Rasmussen88 started the setup, and Leet soon joined them.89 They got into position just in time. "D" Company, 330th Engineers had been on the point most of the summer. They were exhausted and destitute of equipment. Daves went forward to see them one day and failed to return. On 6 October Morgan and I walked out fourteen miles to see what was going on. Part of "D" Company was at Loglai and part at Tincha; the half that was not sick in bed had no shoes. Every company officer except one was unfit for duty. The lead dozers were out of operation. For all practical purposes the entire company was stranded until the road could be cleared enough to reach them.

We found Daves, [lst Lt. Francis A.] Bleecker,90 and [Major Alfred K.] Allen91 in bed at Tincha. Since the hospital wards were not finished, all this personnel was being treated in quarters.92 A couple of days later Daves, Bleecker, and [Capt. John G.] Stubenvoll93 were able to walk to Nawng Yang and were evacuated to hospital in Ledo.

The Chinese were even worse off. At first they thought the trip into the woods was a lark,94 but they soon got into a serious ration shortage. The companies between Thursday River and Tincha were supplied from Nawng Yang. They did not fare well, but they did not starve. The troops from the Ngalang crossing to Gared Ra were supposed to be rationed by porter from the air drop at Namlip. Since the Garos refused to work for the Chinese, they kept themselves alive by carrying in their own rice and dynamiting fish. On 9 October the company at Ngalang was on one meal a day.

There was a serious shortage of porters at the time. The men on the Trace had been kept over their contracted time, and replacements were coming in behind schedule. As I bitterly reported: "The picture * * * was that of more and more men moving in, with less and less supply, over a road that was getting worse and worse, for the enlightened purpose of felling more and more trees across that road."

    88WSJ: 14th Evacuation Hospital. The 14th Evac was newly arrived in Ledo. Their personnel was used as fillers [for other units] pending completion of their hospital at Mile 19. [The 14th Evacuation Hospital was affiliated with the University of Southern California.]
    89WSJ: I made their basha my forward base of operations, and eventually stored my footlocker with them.
    90WSJ: This officer had been with the point dozer from Midway to Tincha, usually sleeping a few hours during the day and working nights.
    91WSJ: He came in with Road Headquarters in Colonel York's time and is still in the section. When he first arrived he annoyed the engineers cutting trace with his "by the book" ideas. After the bout of malaria at Tincha, he was a changed man, and could gripe with the rest of them. Popularly known as "Monsoon" Allen.
    92WSJ: Webster supervised the thirty-odd enlisted men who were practically having to build their own installation. Leet and Rasmussen divided the medicine and surgery respectively.
    93WSJ: Commanding "D" Company, 330th Engr. Regt. Familiarly known as "Klotz," he was famous for his stories and for his ability with mess-kit and bottle.
    94WSJ: Quoted from my diary, 4 October 1943: "Four fifths of the medical officers took off to Ledo this A.M. under the guise of evacuating three sick men. This leaves one officer to cover about 1800 men in eight camps over a stretch of ten miles." By that time the 151st Medical Battalion ambulance relay was making a turnaround at the Nawng Yang bridge, but evacuation back to that point was difficult.


109

On 10 October I started back95 to see what could be done about both the medical problem and the Chinese ration situation. Two days later I was in Ledo reporting to the Surgeon.96

Things gradually straightened out as the weather improved and more American engineer units were pushed out beyond Pangsau Pass. Every effort was being made to build up a stockpile at Nawng Yang. [Lt. Col. James E.] Darby97 had assumed command of the Hellgate depot and was reorganizing the porter corps. [2d Lt. Arthur C.] Martin98 was opening a QM warehouse. [2d Lt. George J.] De Broeck99 was setting up a medical supply depot across the river from the bridge. By 20 October I was able to ride a weapons carrier clear through to Tincha with [Capt. James H.] Kaminer.100

I believe the cutting of the Tincha Trace was the bitterest part of the building of the Ledo Road. In June, July, and August 1944 things were bad. One practically needed a canoe to get from the Tarung to Tingkawk.101 The main bridges were cut. People sloshed around in the muck and cursed all the Gods there be. But the airstrips were open, and the rations came in. On the big bend of the Loglai in 1943 there were no airstrips. The men at the end of the line knew their daily bread depended on too many factors. They fought rain, mud, fallen trees, fuel shortages, porter desertions, and general all round frustration to keep going. That is a nice piece of road to drive over

    95WSJ: Quoted from my diary, 10 October 1943: "Walked out from Tincha to Nawng Yang (14 miles-7 hours). On the way through Loglai heard a rumor that Chabua had been bombed this a.m. by the Japs. Circumstantial confirmation is the fact that aircraft came north of the Loglai Valley before dawn today. Road is improving. Some trucks of rations were towed into Midway last night." Back up the Road a week later I heard the finale to the bombing rumor: Both Digboi and Ledo had been wrecked.
    Ed.--The Japanese had, in fact, attempted an air offensive in October, bombing airfields in Assam and around Imphal. In addition, Japanese fighters, beginning on 13 October and continuing for several weeks, harassed and shot down several cargo carriers over Assam. The official Air Force history does not mention bombings at Chabua at this time, although it was hit in October 1942 and nearby Dinjan was bombed in December 1943. North Tirap Log reports a downed Japanese flier not far from the aid station on 28 October. See Romanus and Sunderland, pp. 85-86; Craven and Cate, IV, pp. 432-433.
    96In his report to the Surgeon, 12 October 1943, Jones described the situation as vividly and frankly as he later did in his reminiscences. The quotation from the text above is from the earlier report. Additional illustrative details were included: "On Sat., Oct. 2, I walked from Nawng Yang to below Midway. On the road I counted about 60 gas cans; the officer with me tapped each one. All were full. They represented loads dropped and abandoned by porters * * * For the ten days preceding Oct. 10 (when I started out), the point dozer had not moved for lack of fuel * * * On or about Oct. 4, an American soldier died in the Tagung area. It was absolutely impossible to evacuate him before he died. By using a combination of littering and tractor relay, his body was brought through Nawng Yang on Oct. 5 * * * On Oct. 9, I visited the 6 Co. of the 10 Engineers at the mouth of the Tagung. The outfit was celebrating. Reason:--they had just received some rice, and were going to have two rice meals that day. For some days previously, they had subsisted on 'porridge,' bamboo shoots, and what fish they could get out of the river with the dynamite on hand * * * At present, the priority for carrying is: (1) rations, (2) gas, (3) more rations * * * This eliminates all medical and other supplies."
    9721st Quartermaster Group commander.
    9821st Quartermaster Group.
    9973d Evacuation Hospital.
    100WSJ: In August 1944 he led a party on a survey of the Tengchung cut-off from Myitkyina to Paoshan, China. For this he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. [See n. 75, p. 103.]
    101WSJ: Quoted from my diary, 19 July 1944: "Left Road at 0700 hours. Down Lamung, up Tanai, and up Narrow River by barge. 20 miles in the rain in nine hours. Ripped off six shear pins and lost one outboard motor on the way. Got off at Walawbum and caught a truck to Tingkawk."


110

now. There are individuals in these parts of late who do not comprehend what it cost to build it.

12 to 16 October was spent in the Ledo area, helping Ting make final plans to move the Regimental Hospital up to Thursday River. The 14th Evacuation Hospital plant at Mile 19 was almost complete and the unit was preparing to start operation. The 151st Medical Battalion was being redeployed, and a detachment of the 14th Evacuation Hospital under Major [Walter J.] Farr102 was taking over at Namgoi.

On the way back into the hills I stopped at Hellgate to visit Holdsworth and [2d Lt. Philip U.] Farley.103 Here [Capt. Gail R.] Palmer104 and [Capt. Roy A. W.] Krows105 were planning an expedition to Namlip and Tagap to study hospital and warehouse construction requirements. I was anxious to inspect the camps of the Chinese 1st Battalion in the Gared Ra-Namlip area, so arranged to go with them.

I proceeded out to Tincha, where they joined me on 21 October. Next day with six fresh porters we made the run to Namlip. In many ways this was a worse trip than the last time over this route. The Chinese had felled so many trees across the right of way that between a quarter and a third of the trail was impassable. The three of us clambered and slid the thirteen miles in ten hours. The porters were delayed by having to move their loads across the fallen timber. They spent the night in the woods and did not catch up with us until the following afternoon.

The last five miles into Namlip had been in driving rain. We found "C" ["A"?] Company, 151st Medical Battalion settled down and operating the new hospital. They had a census of about 150 Chinese and Americans. The non-active wards were full of American transients moving forward to Tagap.106

[Capt. Bernard G.] Schaffer,107 [lst Lt. Richard W.] Trotter,108 and [1st Lt. Henry A.] Settlage109 loaned us dry clothes and blankets; and we slept on litters in one of the wards. That night we were awakened by an earthquake which was felt in Ledo and throughout the hills. While waiting for the porters I visited all the nearby Chinese camps. Things were in pretty

    102WSJ: 14th Evacuation Hospital. This officer commanded at Namgoi for several months until he was injured * * * In the summer of 1944 he was with the detachment of the 14th Evacuation Hospital which operated the installation in the Staging Area where Merrill's Marauders were hospitalized.
    103WSJ: 48th Evacuation Hospital. He served at Hellgate during the summer of 1943 in the dual capacity of Medical Inspector and Adjutant of the subdepot.
    104Forward Area Engineer.
    105WSJ: 45th Engineer Regiment. He was one of the officers who surveyed the trace from Namchik to Pangsau Pass. When Hellgate became the advance subdepot, he worked as Palmer's assistant on forward construction. He specialized in timber surveys, procuring construction materials, and handling native labor.
    106WSJ: The hospitals were usually in operation before the QM moved forward to set up depot installations. All along the trace the medics dispensed professional service and ran transient hotels. [Jones's identification of Captain Schaffer and other information on the 151st suggests that the detachment at Namlip was from A Company.]
    107WSJ: Commanding Company A, 151st Medical Battalion. When the hospital at Namlip was closed, he moved back to Tincha and took over that installation from the 48th Evac Det. March 1944.
    108WSJ: 151st Medical Battalion. During the summer of 1944 he operated a 25-bed dispensary at the Tanai River. During the period that the Tarung and Tawang bridges were out, this served as station hospital for a troop strength of some 2,300.
    109151st Medical Battalion.


111

good shape. Malaria and dysentery were falling off110 and the rate of timber accidents was not excessive. Supplies were flowing fairly smoothly. The three of us had dinner with [Capt. Taylor S.] Womack,111 whose camp was half a mile from the hospital.

On 24 October we made the four miles to Chang Rang in time for lunch. The 151st Medical Battalion aid station was a comfortable setup of four bamboo shacks. The small group of enlisted men112 had been at the station all summer and were getting jungle happy. Their isolation had recently been relieved by the field telephone line from Namlip to Tagap, and by the increasing number of transients moving over the trail. We put up for the night in the empty ward basha, after an afternoon of washing clothes and bathing in the Yung Sung.113

Next day came the gruelling twelve mile haul to Tagap, which took six and a half walking hours. We followed the Refugee Trail to the bluff overlooking Chinese Midway.114 Here we turned east on the shortcut, and climbed to the Naga village on the other side of the narrow valley. A little beyond was a Chinese ration dropping ground where [lst Lt. Edgar M.] Smith's115 Trail branched off to the east to make another shorter shortcut. Not wanting to break our legs on this, we continued down the Chinese path to the Namyung. The high ground south of the river was studded with rifle pits and mortar emplacements, as a secondary defense if the Japanese should break through the Nathkaw position. The 12th Engineers had not

    110WSJ: When the new camps with clean latrines were established, dysentery among the Chinese would fall off. After a few weeks of active fly breeding it rose again. When the company moved forward the whole cycle would be repeated.
    111WSJ: Company C, 45th Engineer Regiment. In August 1943 it was decided to leapfrog three bulldozers over the old Refugee Trail from Nawng Yang into Namlip. It was hoped that by the time the Tincha Trace broke into Namlip there would be a road already cut to below Chang Rang. The 330th Engrs took the cats in, after a rugged run over Ngalang Bum. (On Sept. 9 I met them coming down off the ridge about half a mile north of Tagung) * * * It was Womack's "C" Co that tried to keep the Combat Road open at Walawbum in June and July 1944. When Stilwell called for more ammunition, a convoy of trucks was gambled in an effort to get it through. The colored boys worked the clock around hauling 6x6's through the mud. The convoy got through, but most of the vehicles never returned to Ledo until after the monsoons.
    112Jones identifies a CBI Roundup article of 23 September 1943 about one of the 151st Medical Battalion aid stations, and a picture on 15 October which showed the Chang Rang station and one of its aidmen, Pfc. Gomer Williams, who, Jones states, died of malaria in the same month. See North Tirap Log, p. 25.
    113WSJ: The Yung Sung is a pleasant little stream that meanders from the east to join the Namlip. At that season the water was low and the sandy floor clearly visible. One of the enlisted men bathing with us picked up a Victory Medal from World War I, evidently dropped by somebody during the retreat from Burma the year before.
    114WSJ: Not to be confused with the Midway between Thursday River and Loglai on the Tincha Trace. Here was a camp of the 12th Chinese Engr. Regt. They were building their "Jeep Road" from both ends. The link between this camp and the Namyung was not yet completed. The camp was on a high ridge of land between two streams. From the Refugee Trail one went several hundred feet down a perpendicular wall to the first stream; up again about half that distance; down to the second stream; and up another steep bluff to an elevation a couple of hundred feet higher than the start. It took the porters better than an hour to negotiate this climb. About half a linear mile was traversed.
    115WSJ: He was with Rupert on the survey from Chang Rang to Tagap. The trace had to make an easy grade from near Chinese Midway to the Namyung bottoms, but for foot travel Smith cut himself a shortcut. This dropped almost straight southeast from the dropping ground to the river. Smith threw a suspension bridge across a relatively narrow gorge by swimming the lead line across himself. The path then joined the Refugee Trail a mile or so up the hill. This route saved several miles, but was so steep and difficult that it was little used. The remains of this suspension bridge could be seen as late as the early spring of 1945.


112

completed their wooden bridge116 so we waded and swam the Namyung, which was not very deep but running strong. Then came the five mile, 2300 foot climb to Tagap.

This post in the fall of 1943 was an interesting spot, humming with activity. The 38th and elements of the 22nd Chinese divisions were massing for the thrust into the Hukawng Valley. They had just started to feel their way down the trail from Nathkaw four miles to the south. The Tagap camp was on the northern down slope of an east-west ridge of about 3200 feet elevation. It extended about a mile across from [Lt. Col. Gordon] Seagrave's Hospital117 on the east to the pack animal corrals on the west. Water was running low with the onset of the dry season, so the new hospital was being started near a stream beyond the horse area. Due north was a separate knoll called the "Chinese Outpost," connected with the main ridge by a flat shoulder. On this saddle was the dropping ground, with its sentinel tree.118

Tagap on a clear afternoon or evening is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. The near ranges are green; the distant ones fade from blue to purple; and all the way across the northern horizon stretch the snowcapped Himalayas. In the fall the nights are cold and we slept rolled up with parachutes outside our blankets. The open hearth fire at Rupert's camp was very welcome.

We started back to Ledo on 27 October, taking Rupert with us. We used as porters some Nepalese that Palmer was relieving because their contracts were up. They were in poor shape and made slow time.119 The trip to Namlip and over the Refugee Trail to Nawng Yang took four days.

Back at Ledo I found I was working for a new Surgeon. [Major John T.] Smiley120 had been in the hills and had a sound appreciation of the terrain, construction, and supply problems we were up against out there. On 2

    116WSJ: The Namyung is a treacherous stream which flashes into sizable floods in heavy rains. The bridge mentioned was the first of at least four vehicular structures that have washed out.
    117WSJ: This installation at Tagap was the hospital in the jungle Seagrave mentions in the last chapter of his book Burma Surgeon, which has recently been published. When I was there this time Major [John H.] Grindlay was in charge. In an issue of Life magazine early in 1944 appeared an article about it, entitled "Life Visits an Army Hospital in Burma." The shots of the wards illustrate the bamboo buildings and the use of "chungs" [bamboo cots] for Chinese patients. This type of bamboo construction was standard for all the hospitals in the area at that time.
    118Referring to a CBI Roundup article on 23 September 1943, with accompanying pictures, Jones identifies the dropping site on Ngalang Bum--Lt. Elza R. Sisney's "famous alpine resort" (see p. 103). In a later set of pictures in the Roundup (15 October), he identifies the "sentinel tree" at the Tagap dropping grounds. He continues in his note: "This [tree] was located at a somewhat inconvenient spot near the drop, but it was not cut down because it served a useful purpose. For nine months in the year the early morning fog rises from the Namyung Valley and blankets the hills. The supply planes would begin to circle around about 0900 hours. As the mist burned away, the Tagap ridge would show, then the Chinese outpost. When at last the top of the tree came through the fog carpet, the C-47's had their pinpoint, and would come roaring over the target."
    119WSJ: On the climb from the Namyung River to Chinese Midway Krows and I had to carry the loads for two of them. They finally quit at Ngalang, and Sisney loaned us some of his Nagas to get into Nawng Yang.
    120Hitherto the 151st Medical Battalion Executive Officer; he succeeded Lt. Col. Victor H. Haas, a Public Health Officer serving with the Army. Of Smiley, Jones wrote in a note: "He was tactful, shrewd, and extremely hardworking, with a gift of getting people to cooperate for him. He built an effective operating team out of a skeleton staff. With it he bucked uphill against a continuous series of difficulties and crises: supply shortages, construction problems, the necessity to develop an impromptu evacuation system on short notice, and hospitals overcrowded with American and Chinese casualties. All this with sometimes rather dubious support from higher echelons * * * It is my considered opinion that John Smiley made the most important contribution to the medical support of the Ledo Road construction, and of the North and Central Burma campaigns, of any single individual in the Theater."


113

November I returned to Regimental Headquarters which was now established at Thursday River.

The Last Takeoff

By the first week in November, supply trucks were getting into Tincha. The road was barely passable beyond there, from south of the Ngalang River crossing almost to Gared Ra. Timber had been cleared off the trace down to Chang Rang Hi. Three companies of the 330th Engineers were poised at Gared Ra, prepared to move into the Namlip-Chang Rang-Namyung area as soon as their lead dozers connected with Womack's party at Namlip. The 849th Engr Avn Bn121 was moving up to improve the surface from Nawng Yang to Tincha.

It was time for the 10th Engineers to shove ahead of the line again. At a conference at Thursday River, 10 November, Colonel Lee briefed his battalion and company commanders. Wang was now a Lieutenant Colonel and would take over the 1st Battalion. This would pull out of Namlip, and spread south from new headquarters at the Namyung bridge to Nathkaw. The 2nd Battalion would finish the bridge work between Ngalang and Namlip, while the 3rd Battalion would leapfrog into the Chang Rang-Namyung stretch. Later, the 2nd Battalion would leapfrog them both, and extend from Nathkaw to Shingbwiyang. Presumably the Regimental Hospital would be put into operation somewhere south of Tagap. Until then, the personnel could be used to reinforce the company dispensaries.

Colonel Lee planned to make a reconnaissance below Tagap, as far as Shingbwiyang if possible. Wang and I were to accompany him; and he insisted that Ting, who had always avoided these walking jaunts, should come along. The advance party of Regimental Headquarters was to start at once to establish camp below Namlip, and our party was to rendezvous there on 13 November. Following this officers call, there was a grand dinner to introduce the newly assigned Vice Commander and to celebrate Wang's promotion. The afternoon was spent prodding and cajoling the medical officers of the hospital to pack and report at the advance companies. They hated to break up the comfortable establishment they had enjoyed at Thursday River. Aside from the gloom on their part, however, there was a hum of anticipation in the nearby camps. The regiment had bitter memories of the rain, muck, falling timber, and scanty rations along the Tincha Trace. Any change would be welcome. Furthermore, new American units were crowding up the line, with better equipment and a refreshing enthusiasm. The Chinese boys caught the general feeling that the whole mechanism was winding up for a great thrust forward. Their spirits perked, and they wanted to be out ahead of the point again.

    121Reached CBI in September 1943.


114

We were hitting for Shingbwiyang. Since April that name on the map had been the goal for everybody building the Road. Now it seemed in sight just over the next few hills. It would be a long hard hop, but it would be fun.

This was to be my last takeoff. Seven months service with the 10th Engineers ended three weeks later.

V. THE REFUGEE TRAIL

To Nathkaw

On 11 November I hooked a ride to Tincha, where I found Krows. The hospital construction there was pretty well along. He wanted to move forward, but the porters Palmer was to send him had not showed up. It was rumored that one could get by jeep to within a mile of Namlip. The obvious thing to do was to lay over a day. Then we could proceed by porter or truck depending on whether the road was open. After dark Major Stone and [lst Lt. Robert E.] Dietz122 pulled in with a supply convoy. Roy [Krows] got a message that there would be no porters, and that he was to remain at Tincha.

Next morning, a ration truck took me to below the Ngalang bridge; soon a command car came by bound for Gared Ra. Here were Col. Gleim and Major [Clarence L.] Lyle of the 330th Engrs. "E" Co. was camped on the pass and [Capt.] Frank [H.] Haines'123 lead dozer had broken through to Namlip. The four of us rode a jeep into town, where there was a great taking of pictures of the first vehicle to arrive.124

The point was climbing the slope to Chang Rang Hi, where Womack turned the operation over to Lyle. The 10th Engineers were building a headquarters a mile and a half south of the hospital, at the new log bridge crossing the Namlip River, near the point where the Yung Sung empties into it. Col. Lee had taken off down the trace an hour before, with Major Ting and a handful of soldiers. It was not clear whether he had actually started to Shingbwiyang. Since Lt. Col. Yang also understood that the rendezvous was for the next day, he presumed that the Colonel would return; and he proposed to sit tight. I had lunch with Womack, and went back to the hospital. The situation called for a demonstration of oriental patience.

That night two of the American wards were crowded with transients. Elements of the 3rd Bn, 478th QM Regt, of the 115th Ordnance Co, and officers and men of "D" Co, 151st Med Bn were heading south for Tagap and Shingbwiyang. Also present were a handful who said they were the

    122WSJ: 36th Quartermaster Battalion, 21st Quartermaster Group. During the spring and early summer ot 1943 this young officer was in charge of one of the supply drops on the "West Axis" trail. [See North Tirap Log, n. 34, p. 11.]
    123330th Engineer Regiment.
    124WSJ: Later it developed that Colonel Lee had stolen a march on Colonel Gleim. He got through in a jeep on the heels of the bulldozer shortly after dawn.


115

advance party of the 1905th Engr Avn Bn, an outfit none of us had ever heard of before.125

Next morning at the 10th Engr Hq I learned that a runner had come in during the night with orders for Yang to join Col. Lee at Namyung immediately. He started at dawn, leaving word for me to follow as soon as I could. This did not look promising, as there were too few troops in camp to ask the Adjutant to detail me porters. [2d Lt. John] Pica126 at Namlip was extremely short of Garos, and Darby had instructed him to give porters to no one.

While I was talking to Pica, Major Lyle drove up with a Colonel of Engineers whom he introduced as Col. [James G.] Truitt.127 It seemed that the latter had just arrived from the States, had flown over the trace once in a cub, and now was under orders to proceed by foot to Shingbwiyang. He had authority to draft porters wherever he could find them. Lyle told him I knew the country to Tagap, and he asked if I would take him all the way through to the Hukawng Valley. This providential request solved my transportation problem. Pica coughed up ten porters with good grace.

The rest of 14 November was spent oiling equipment, talking over plans, and swimming. The water was cold, as the days were getting chilly along the river bottoms. Everybody soaked up the sun for the few hours it shone into the narrow valley. All day muddy convoys of American engineers, Chinese, and rations rolled through town to the new road head.128

It was decided to take the old trail through Chang Rang to the Namyung bridge. To follow the dozer track to the point, and jump off along the blazed trace, would mean taking an unknown route through rugged country. If any of the porters failed to keep up, there was the uninviting prospect of spending the night at Chinese Midway. We got off to an early start and made the Chang Rang station before noon. The place was not too crowded. Most of the American parties moving south had instructions from NCAC to spend the night at or beyond Chinese Midway.129

During the noon swim the dozers could be heard plowing along the high ground to the east. I had been tempted before to explore down the Yung Sung toward its confluence with the Namlip, and the sound of machinery was a lure to Col. Truitt. We followed the stream as it flowed north and east. There were some sand bars where the walking was good, and where evidence of game was abundant; but most of the way was over slippery

    125It had just reached CBI among other reinforcements for the roadbuilding operation, now--since 17 October--under the direction of Col. Lewis A. Pick.
    126An Ordnance officer supervising porter crews with the 330th Engineer Regiment.
    127Road Location Engineer.
    128WSJ: It was interesting to observe the reactions of the Nagas, who were attracted down from their villages by all the commotion. Bulldozers they were familiar with, but these were the first wheeled vehicles ever seen in those hills. They perched along the small cliff across from the hospital, where the cut skirted the stream. The "beebees" (young girls) slapped their hands and squealed with delight.
    129WSJ: This was apparently on the theory that it was nearer the halfway mark to Tagap than was Chang Rang. The filthy condition of Midway, and the fact that it would be packed with 10th Engineers and other Chinese moving forward, had not been taken into consideration. Most of the Americans could find no shelter. Some went on that night to the sheds on the Chinese dropping ground. Many more went all the way to the Namyung after dark, and slept on the planks of the bridge.


116

rocks in twelve to eighteen inches of water. After a couple of miles, we were in a narrow little gorge. The dozers seemed to be immediately above us on the summit of the steep shoulder of Chang Rang Hi on our right. A precarious trail led up in the general direction of the Naga village. We climbed it hand over hand for three quarters of an hour. The point crew was found plowing through the bamboo thickets down a gently sloping saddle within half a mile of the village. This had been deserted at the approach of the road, leaving the fall wild rice crop unharvested. A company of the 330th Engineers were hauling their vehicles behind cats to a new camp site close behind the point. After an exchange of greetings and comparing maps, we worked down a small gully to the river and back to camp.130

The early morning of 16 November found us Tagap-bound. Lt. Col. Yang, pushing back north, came up as we were taking a break at the fork of the path near Chinese Midway. He reported that Col. Lee and Ting were a day beyond us, headed for Shingbwiyang. The double gorge climb through Midway and over the dropping ground was not attractive. To save wind for the final climb to Tagap, we took the longer but easier original Refugee Trail. We reached there in time to clean up at Rupert's old camp, and had dinner with [John P.] Willey.131 Major [Lillard N.] Simmons, the NCAC132 forward echelon Surgeon was present. I arranged to meet him at Shingbwiyang in a few days, when the Headquarters moved there to be closer to the fighting at Ningam Sakan.

Next morning we stopped briefly at the small cub strip the 12th Engineers were building by hand labor at Kumkidu, on the crest of the Tagap ridge. Half way to Nathkaw the 9th Co, 10th Engineers were setting up camp. Here the east slope of Hill 4257 saddles over the long north-south shoulder of which Nathkaw is the high point. The steep-walled little gorge thus inclosed was known as Tiger Valley because the trace parties had so slashed up and down its sides, looking for a grade and looking for each other in the dense underbrush. At the head of this valley was the lean-to camp of [1st Lt. Thomas A.] Hardison's133 party, where we stopped for lunch. From there to the next camp downstream was a little over a mile as the crow flies, but the

    130WSJ: Col. Truitt's fine new mosquito boots were totally ruined. Thereafter he never took the trail without issue foot gear. For a man who wanted to start a long march easy, he was certainly a game little walker. Every day "off" during the trip he was out on some kind of a hike for his own amusement. My journey to Shingbwiyang with him proved to be the most pleasant and congenial of all of them.
    131Chief of Staff for Headquarters 5303d (Provisional) Combat Command under General Boatner; later Commanding General of the 5332d Brigade ("Mars Task Force").
    132NCAC: Northern Combat Area Command, the 1944 designation of the former Headquarters 5303d (Provisional) Combat Troops. See n. 17, p. 81. Col Vernon W. Petersen, MC, succeeded Simmons as NCAC Surgeon and served in that capacity throughout the Second Burma Campaign.
    133WSJ: 330th Engineer Regiment. He was another of the many fine junior officers who faithfully spent many months in the jungle, to the detriment of their health and of their chances for promotion. It has been said with some justice that a considerable length of the Ledo Road was built by "orphans"--the special and temporary men. This applies to both the rough advance field work and to the staff functions. In the first two and a half years, the Surgeon's Office was organized around the nucleus of seven key officers. Three of these were assigned to the Headquarters allotment most of the time. The remaining four were present in the Ledo area a total of 104 months. Of these an aggregate of 71 months (68%) were on a special duty basis. It was possible to obtain promotions for only four of the seven, only two to field grade. The same situation pertained with important enlisted men. Other branches of the service can probably present a comparable record.


117

old trail climbed up to the ridge at Nathkaw and down the shoulder in a circuit of about three and a half miles.

The position at Nathkaw commands the two valleys east and west of the ridge, and the only accessible trail up the slope between them to Tagap. It had been occupied since the great retreat in the spring of 1942, in recent months by troops of the 38th Chinese Division. It was well dug in and fortified, with a clear field of fire and a barbed wire and brush abatis. The ground was liberally strewn with old 50 caliber shells, evidence of the Jap raid in April 1943.

The Refugee Trail

People wonder at the mass flight of the civilian population known as the refugee retreat of 1942. The following background was told me by Mr. [B. C.] Case,134 who had been for many years an agricultural missionary in Burma. I cannot vouch for its entire accuracy; but it is plausible enough, and I have never heard it denied.

The true Burmese are related to the Malay stock and appear to have come into the country from the sea. They inhabit principally the southern and western lowlands. In the mountainous section to the north and east, along the China and Indo-China border, they met another racial group [with] which they had never amalgamated wholly. Due to the mountain barrier between India and Burma, the cultural and economic relationships of the latter leaned more toward China, to which nation it paid a nominal tribute.135

The British conquered the Burmese in two wars at the end of the nineteenth century. Mostly Indian troops were used; and the civil service and police force were recruited in India. Behind the flag came in enterprising merchants and capital. In the next fifty or sixty years, they upset the agricultural Burmese economy. Eventually Indians dominated small business and became the large land owners. An additional irritant was the policy of settling retired Indian and Gurkha soldiers and police on the land. The basic hostility of the Buddhist Burmese toward the Hindu and Moslem Indians was reinforced by the resentment against being economically overwhelmed. Eventually the British were forced to separate Burma from the control of the Indian Government and make it a separate colony. This did not completely satisfy the Burmese, and the independence movement welcomed the Japanese as a means of getting rid of the Indians.

    134WSJ: He is the Mr. Case mentioned in Seagrave's well-known book Burma Surgeon. In the summer of 1943 he was attempting to improve the diet of Chinese troops in the Ledo area by encouraging them to plant gardens. The following winter he worked with the Kachin refugees at Namyung. He was drowned in the Mogaung River, summer 1944, when his pontoon boat tipped over in the swollen stream. [See Seagrave, Burma Surgeon, p. 180.]
    135WSJ: These Kachins, Shans, and Karens are descendents of the ancient Tai (or Thai) empire which once covered Southwest China, North Burma, and parts of Northern Indo China and Siam. This confederation was broken up by the Chinese in Marco Polo's time. His Travels recount his part in one of these expeditions. The Kachins and Shans were crowded west across the Salween. The Siamese were pushed south into the land they now call Thailand. The latent hostility between the Burmese and these mountain people explains why the latter accepted British rule fairly peaceably. It is this element of the native population which remained anti-Japanese, and which joined the Allies in the reoccupation.


118

Viewed in this light, one understands why the native Burmese remained on the land, and appear to have lived a not too discontented life during the Japanese occupation. It also explains why almost everybody one meets who fled in the retreat are Indians, British, Anglo-Indians, Anglo-Burmese, or Chinese.136

How many people took part in that flight will probably never be known.137 One of the first British officers to arrive in the Tagap area138 told me that he counted over 5,000 corpses on that hillside when it was cleared off to make the old air dropping ground and camp. 20,000 people are supposed to have died in the Namyung bottoms, or attempting to get across the river which was then in flood. Judging from what I saw below Nathkaw, it is possible to believe a figure around 100,000. The loss of life from exhaustion, disease, and starvation must have been even greater further up towards Pangsau Pass. Another large mass escaped into Manipur over the Stilwell line of retreat. The remnants of the 22nd and 38th Divisions (Chinese), together with parties of British and Indian troops came out through Shingbwiyang.

The upper section of the route had remained in Allied hands, and had been pretty thoroughly cleaned up by burial squads wherever the trail was used. Large numbers of skeletons were still to be found, as above Hellgate, where the new road bypassed sections of the trail, or in the jungle around regular stopping places. The 151st Medical Battalion stationed at Namlip and Chang Rang had sizable collections of skulls.

Below Nathkaw had been no man's land until late October 1943. The Japanese did what patrolling there was. As one started down the slope below the perimeter, signs of a great human disaster were only too evident. At that time the trail had been opened only about three weeks, and had been used by parties too heavily loaded with rations and equipment to do much souvenir hunting. The abodes of the weary dead had hardly been disturbed. At every slightly level spot, the path was bordered by small fork-stick lean-tos with brush roofs. After a year and a half in the open, the skeletons had been picked and weathered clean; and most of the clothing had rotted away. The little family tragedies and the large group tragedies could easily be reconstructed. In isolated bustees would be the skeletons of one or two adults and two or three children. The obvious family grouping confirmed stories that relatives would stick together when the weakest lagged or fell. By that time the rest would be sick and food had run low. In the next camp

    136WSJ: That the vast bulk of the refugees were of this category is borne out by the physical evidence along the route. There was a profusion of characteristically Indian clothing, utensils, idols, and other personal possessions to be found along the trail north of Shingbwiyang.
    137WSJ: Edgar Snow: "Some 400,000 Indians started back from the occupied territories, and those who got home had gruesome tales * * * to relate. Thousands of Indians had died of thirst, starvation, and disease an the so-called Black Road." People on Our Side, New York, 1944, p. 33.
    138WSJ: Major Leedham, an English police official who lived in the Myitkyina-Bhamo area. His estimate is that a minimum of 80,000 and more probably 120,000 souls started into the hills from the Hukawng Valley. Leedham married an Anglo-Burmese girl, who escaped into India by air. He was a rather unorthodox official, with sympathy and considerable regard for the mountain tribes. We spent two weeks together in hospitals; and he gave me part of the background presented relative to the Nagas. He used to patrol up to Shingbwiyang yearly; and had been into the hills as far as Ngalang Bum.


119

or so they would lie down to die. Large potters fields were at each stream crossing and at the top of all tough hills. Here crowds stayed near water rather than attempt the next hill; or having made the climb, were out of water and could go no further. At Saturday River, on the hill just north of Taga Sakan, and all down the south face of Kabkye Bum were hundreds of bustees containing remains of bodies. Along here the timber was high and shady, and the undergrowth thin. In these open parks the eye could sweep around large camps. I have no idea how many thousands of skeletons I saw in those three days, or how many more could be found in the brush in a few yards off the trail.

The masses of dead became depressing enough; but the small things were more pitiful. When [2d Lt. Clement C.] Chinquist139 cleared his camp site at Saturday River, they came across a soldier with his rifle beside him. In his thorax were a Victory Medal, one apparently for the Palestine campaign during World War I, and a Wazaristan campaign decoration. His arms were around a woman clothed in the remnants of an embroidered sari. About a mile south, the sun glinted on something at the top of a little knoll. In the center of a small clearing were two skeletons. A large tin suitcase close by had apparently been opened by looters who had flung the clothing carelessly away. The surrounding low bushes were draped with saris worked in gilt and silver. Sufficient cloth remained to hold the fabric together and to give splashes of color. The effect was that of tinsel hanging from a ring of fantastic little Christmas trees. The path was littered for miles with the flotsam and jetsam of families retreating in panic; crockery, shreds of blankets, brass bowls, suitcases, and shoes. The worst of all to see were the children's shoes and sandals. People desperately retained their dearest personal possessions. On the very top of a high hill two days from Shing, a fourteen-inch pile of records stood beside an expensive Victrola. A genuine English pewter mug with a cracked glass bottom was in an orderly row of skeletons and rifles at one military camp.

Near the top of Kabkye Hill, more than a day out of Shing, and three thousand feet above the valley level, were the frames of two rusty bicycles. Coming down hill near Taga Sakan, a hollow log lay closely parallel to the trail. In its mouth was the skeleton of a small baby, wrapped in the remains of a blanket. Cattle had been driven up the first few hills. Often their skeletons were in bustees beside those of their owners. In one such lean-to was what was left of a little girl in a pink dress with her arm across the flank of the family calf.

There were plenty of rifles, hobnail boots, bayonets, and pack saddles along the way. A battle field is bad enough; but men go to war and are licked for some purpose. This picture of the useless starvation, exhaustion, and weary death of so many fathers, women, and children is something that cannot easily be forgotten.

    139330th Engineer Regiment.


120

Down to the Hukawng Valley

We spent the night of 17 November with Chinquist at Saturday River. His place was crowded, and his cook facing a ration crisis. Seven of us slept in one pyramidal tent, and a party of the 151st Medical Battalion in the other. The valley was so deep and narrow that the sun shone into it only between 1000 and 1400 hours. A small fire of bamboo slats in a sandbox was very welcome during the bitterly cold night. The next morning Col. Truitt and Chinquist started up the valley to try to connect with Hardison by following the sound of shots. They missed him, but finally worked their way to Nathkaw, and came back down over the trail late for supper. I scouted around the river crossing looking for a dispensary site, and it was obvious that this would be a logical place for a transient camp a day from Tagap. The trace party would soon move out; and a night camp in the hills meant an aid station or vice versa.140

On 19 November we made the ten miles to Chinglow, taking Chinquist along. We passed and were repassed by elements of the 151st Medical Battalion, moving down to Shingbwiyang under forced draft.141

The trail started from about 2750 ft. up a sharp rise to 3500 ft., where there was an abandoned Chinese perimeter. Then a sharp drop to Taga Sakan at 2500 ft. This pretty little stream was littered with rotting baskets of rice, which had missed the target when air-dropped. On the north bank was a level bench occupied by a fortified Chinese camp. This was later cleared off, and Captain Sam Clark ran an aid station here with a detachment of the 48th Evacuation Hospital. From Taga there was a long steady climb to the top of Kabkye Bum at 3772 ft. At the top of this hill was another unused Chinese fort. About a quarter of the way down the almost precipitous south slope was the Chinglow dropping ground, run by an officer and three colored boys. It was inside the perimeter of a Chinese post used now principally by transients. Here we met Col. Lee and Major Ting on the way back from Shingbwiyang. The Colonel hoped to throw his forward battalion into the Taga-Shing area ahead of schedule, and was concerned about the hospital situation there. The Seagrave Unit was pulling out, and the 151st Medical Battalion was not yet established. In the course of the conversation, Ting told me he had seen a number of cases of "Felix-Weel Disease, you know Teefus" at Shing. This hardly seemed likely, as the 38th Division was not known to be lousy at the time. If they had become infested after leaving Ledo, one would expect them to come down with typhus before reaching Shing.

The next morning we clambered down the steep face of Kabkye and made the last eleven miles. The fallen log that served as a bridge at Salt

    140WSJ: The terrain is to be considered in spotting such locations. There must be plenty of water for drinking and bathing, not too near a native camp. A short, stiff, uphill stretch outweighs a long, easy slope on the other side. If this is not possible, the camp should be sited so that the worst of the climb can be made when fresh in the morning. Wherever camps appear to be irregularly spaced on the maps, these factors have determined the choice of location.
    141D Company, shifting from Namgoi to replace the Seagrave unit at Shingbwiyang, as the latter moved on to support Chinese infantry in contact with the enemy.


121

Springs had rotted away at one end so we took off our pants and waded the stream. The rest was more level going, and numerous bicycles and abandoned carts littered the way. Shingbwiyang, long the distant objective of all our efforts, was a sad disappointment. The original village lay in a clearing in a semicircular bend of the Tawa [Tawang] River. The place had been bombed by the British to cover the retreat a year and a half before; and had since been thoroughly strafed to discourage the Japs from developing a base there. One fairly intact Kachin bustee with a damaged roof stood on its stilts. Only two other hardwood house frames remained. The village paddy field was being leveled off into a small airstrip. At the time only rations, ammunition, and equipment for the 151st Med Bn were being dropped in. Cargo planes could not use the field for about another week. Around several acres of flat land extended the heavily patrolled Chinese perimeter. The Jap position at Ningam Saken some fifteen miles away due east was under attack; but another Jap force was above Taro to the southwest in such a position as to make a flank raid possible.142

Near the village headman's ex-house was Forward Echelon, NCAC. This comprised a dilapidated tent housing Major Leedham143 and two very weary looking young American officers. Leedham's Kachin levee guards were camped around it.

On entering the post from the north, one passed the temporary installation out of which the Seagrave Unit was moving. This was being operated by a handful of the 151st Med Bn, pending completion of their new hospital. Here we looked at and discussed the patients the Chinese thought had "Teefus." Some had rashes, and the clinical symptoms and course were suggestive.144

We put up at the new hospital a mile or so away behind the airstrip. Construction was going slowly. Personnel were housed under an open frame lean-to with a tarp roof. The kitchen was barely functioning. The mess crew was busily rushing construction of a stove. There were so many five-foot cart wheels lying around that men were busily chopping them up for

    142WSJ: Capt. [Frederick W. S.] Leix and Capt. [Ewing L.] Turner [73d Evacuation Hospital] were on this flank with the Chinese. They spent several weeks south of Hkalak Ga at Wang Ga and Ngajatzup. One of their enlisted men was killed while acting as aidman on a patrol. Both of these officers were awarded the Bronze Star Medal for this mission.
    Ed.--Leix, Turner, and 12 enlisted men were alerted on 14 October for their mission as a surgical team with the 3d Battalion, 112th Infantry, 38th Chinese Division. They marched from the roadhead to Hkalak Ga, hurried on to Wang Ga, and finally reached Ngajatzup, where the Chinese had dug in after encountering the Japanese. For 3 months, in a small bamboo hut covering an underground operating room, the team treated a steady flow of sick and wounded averaging 70 per day. All supplies and equipment were airdropped; evacuation was impossible until the battalion was extricated by other Chinese troops in January 1944. Enlisted men were frequently sent out with Chinese patrols. One of them, T4c. Ronald M. Brown, was killed by enemy fire from ambush. The Chinese company he was with fled in disorder, leaving behind its dead and wounded despite the protests of an American medical liaison officer. See Stone, Medical Service in Combat, I, pp. 196-201.
    143WSJ: Capt. Harold Hocker, DC, Capt. Irwin I. Rosenthal, MC, and Capt. Alphonse R. Deresz, MC. Our arrival coincided with that of Hocker and Rosenthal. In their pockets were new railroad tracks [captain's insignia] for Deresz and Barker, who were unaware that they had been promoted under the new policy of upgrading Medical Corps lieutenants.
    144WSJ: Seagrave was said to have asserted that there was no typhus in North Burma. At any rate, something was going on. Patients were dying daily. Later Major Leedham told me that he had seen similar cases among natives in his journeys into this area. Because of the sustained fever and rash, they had been called Typhoid in lieu of a better diagnosis.


122

kindling, and hammering the steel rims into grates. Subsistence was air-dropped C and D ration, but the chow smelled good.

The next day I went over the site of the old refugee village at the end of the airstrip. It was another pitiful sight. Every few feet in the tall rice were bundles of bones. There were hundreds of skeletons scattered around, together with all manner of household possessions lying with their owners or abandoned by those who started into the hills. There were so many brass pots and vases that everybody had enough and it was too much trouble to collect any more.145

It appeared that the medical facilities at Shing would be adequate as long as Seagrave could handle the casualties at Ningam, and provided the typhus-like outbreak did not develop into an epidemic. (DDT was unheard of in those days).146 Supplies and equipment were dropping in. The 10th Engineers would be provided for, although the [151st Medical] Battalion had no instructions as to supplying them.

Back to Ledo

On 22 November, the return journey commenced with Kabkye hill. This first leg northward was reminiscent of the climb up Ngalang Bum. The trail was almost perpendicular in places; and the gain in elevation was 3,100 feet in the last three linear miles. All day long we met small groups of medics, quartermasters, and ordnance men. We arrived at Chinglow camp by mid-afternoon. The dropping ground here was a narrow strip, surrounded by tall timber, running up the hillside well below the crest. The planes had no chance of making a saddle approach, which would require a swing up and over after the drop. They had to come in close, with careful eye on the cliffs to the right. Consequently many parachutes were dangling from trees. The heavy influx of transients had made the ration situation none too good. Cooks looked wistfully at the dangling loads. By that time the porters were pretty destitute of clothing and they eyed the parachutes. It was not difficult to arrange a deal for them to keep the chutes from every load they salvaged. This kept them busy scrambling around in the trees until dark. The next day we made Saturday River.

We dropped Chinquist at his camp and climbed to Tagap the next morning.147 The trail from Nathkaw to Tagap was littered with brown, wax covered boxes. It was the first time I had seen or heard of K rations.

That afternoon I visited the hospital.148 They as yet had very few Chinese

    145WSJ: Barker showed me a graceful little silver loving cup, trophy of a tennis match, which he had found placed like a headstone on a child's grave.
    146Not unheard of, of course, but DDT and other insecticides were very scarce in India.
    147WSJ: At Nathkaw we ran into a platoon of the 1905th Engr Avn Bn. They had pulled in during the rain the night before, carrying full packs and reserve rations. They were a lost, sorry looking lot.
    148WSJ: C Co, 151st Med Bn, recently moved in. Present at the time were Capt. Eugene L. Cook, MC, and Capt. Wilton M. Lewis, MC. Both these officers had been at Jorhat [India] and other places in the Assam valley in the summer of 1943. Elements of C Co coordinated with the 48th Evac in the Rice Mission. This 151st Med Bn hospital at Tagap was in operation for several months servicing American engineer and convoy troops in the hills, along with Chinese and Indians whenever necessary.


123

patients; but they were prepared to care for and supply all of the 10th Engineers in the area.

Coming down the hill the morning of 25 November we met the lead dozer149 widening the old jeep Road. Considerable progress had been made on the trace since we went south. We ate Thanksgiving dinner at the Namyung bridge,150 and visited the nearby Chinese camp.

Working south from Chang Rang Hi the dozers had got onto the old Refugee Trail above Chinese Midway. They followed this line down to the river bottoms about a mile from the 12th Engineers log bridge. The track thus made was a lane of soft dirt and mud, but a few supply vehicles were using it. We thumbed a ride into Namlip, where we found the hospital crowd having roast duck in lieu of turkey dinner.151

Next day I went over to see Ting. We agreed that he would proceed as soon as possible to get his dispensary into operation at Nathkaw. We reviewed the deployment of the companies, and arranged the medical supply channels. I would rejoin and live with him at Nathkaw on my return from Ledo. That afternoon Major Daves picked me up at Namlip, and we spent the night at his camp by the Ngalang bridge. Next day to Ledo by jeep to report to the Surgeon.

Washed Up

About two days later one of the numerous leech bites on my leg appeared infected.152 On 2 December I was in the hospital with Scrub Typhus.153

    149WSJ: C Co, 330th Engineer Regiment, commanded by Capt. Paul J. Bamberger, CE.
    150WSJ: We were guests of Mr. Baretta and his assistant. This Anglo-Burmese had escaped in 1942, and had been working for Darby as civilian supervisor of porter labor. The meal was C rations eaten from the can, standing around a split log table. The hot tea tasted good even though there was no milk.
    151WSJ: As called for in the Theater menu. Some of the outfits as far out as Chang Rang actually received an issue of canned turkey and cranberry sauce.
    152On 20 February 1944, Jones sent a report to Maj. Francis C. Wood, chief of medical service of the 20th General Hospital, wherein he described the "Subjective Symptomology of Mite-Borne Typhus" in his own case. He opened his report by describing his activities in November, his whereabouts, and his contact with patients at Shingbwiyang who were suspected typhus cases. "I looked around [the Seagrave hospital] casually, without handling or carefully examining any of the patients * * * During this trip I sustained a few leech bites on my legs, and numerous black fly bites on my arms and neck. As far as I know, I had no tick or mite bites. I was in excellent physical shape and weighed about 150 pounds stripped. When I returned to Ledo I was tired but feeling well." Jones's report constitutes the remainder of this section.
    153Scrub or mite typhus is a serious infectious disease caused by the rickettsia R. orientalis and transmitted to man by the Trombicula, a genus of mites. Encountered during the war in the South Pacific islands and in Burma, it was not statistically an important cause of sickness. However, for several reasons, fear of it far outweighed its mere incidence among troops. Americans knew very little about it. The specific mite of North Burma which carried the disease had never been identified. The reservoir host and other aspects of the ecology of the disease were unknown. Finally, it was very dangerous. Of all infectious and parasitic diseases, it ranked fourth in the mortality rates for overseas troops. Among CBI troops, it caused the highest death rate from infectious and parasitic diseases--14.6 per annum per 100,000 troops. Methods of prevention could not be developed without additional information--and it was precisely the danger of acquiring such information that was the problem.
    When cases of apparent typhus first appeared among the troops of the Chinese 38th division at Shingbwiyang, the Theater Surgeon, Col. Robert P. Williams, and his medical inspector, Col. E. E. Cooley, rushed to Ledo to study the situation. Under the supposition that louse-borne typhus might be present, they called for air shipments of vaccine. A correct diagnosis soon followed the rapid rise of the incidence of the infection, and by December, a few Americans were among the victims of the disease. A lull occurred thereafter for several months The disease reappeared in May among troops of Merrill's Marauders, subsided, and then attacked the Mars Task Force which completed the Second Burma Campaign. All told, 804 cases and 64 deaths from scrub typhus occurred in American forces in the China-Burma-India Theater. About two-thirds of all cases appeared in combat troops. No reliable records exist to indicate its incidence among Chinese troops. It would be proper to suppose that the rate would be as high or higher, since they were operating under the same field conditions as the American infantry. British forces, too, suffered from the disease.
    Studies which medical officers carried out in the winter of 1943-44 suggested little more than the possible location of two dangerous areas along the road. Instructions to troops then and later were of the empiric order: prompt detection and evacuation of those with the disease, avoidance of grounds once cleared and subsequently overgrown, use of insect repellent (dimethyl phthallate on skin and clothing). At the 20th General Hospital, extensive and cautious care--no specific measures of therapy were available--pulled most patients through. And vigorous, although often inefficient, measures to guard troops against mite-bites by impregnating clothing with repellent, apparently afforded some protection. At least, medical data from Japanese forces, which did not make much use of insect repellents, showed that they had a higher level of morbidity and mortality from scrub typhus (as is true for all the major tropical diseases which the troops in Burma encountered). See U.S. Army Medical Department, Communicable Diseases * * * Respiratory and Alimentary Tracts, pp. 26-29, 39-40; Environmental Hygiene, pp. 231-232. For British experience, see With Wingate's Chindits, chapters IV and V. For American combat force experience, see Marauders, chapter VII.


124

On 29 November I [had] noted an itching, mosquito bite-like lesion over the tibia at the lower third of the left leg. By the next day this was a raised, purplish-red lesion about the size and shape of a small bean. It was painful rather than itchy. The corresponding inguinal glands were sore but not enlarged. There were no systemic symptoms. Since this was in the area of recent leech bites, it was assumed that one of them had become infected. Hot saline soaks and sulfathiazole were started. The next day the lesion was the size of a nickel with surrounding induration, and was developing a yellowish moist surface. The inguinal glands were egg-sized, and there was an increasing sensation of general malaise. In the evening temperature went to 102°, and I had a slight chill. On 2 December the lesion had increased somewhat in size, and the scab was turning a dark brown. Malaise was severe, with temperature about 101°. A malarial smear done by the technician at the Lekhapani Hospital was negative. About noon I had a severe chill with temperature rise to 103°. In the early afternoon I turned in to the 20th General Hospital, and was admitted to the Surgical Service as an infected bite with lymphadenopathy.

During the next two days with hot soaks, elevation, and sulfa drugs, my leg became less painful and obviously better. Equally obviously, I was getting worse. Temperature was spiking to 104°. Malaise, headache, and backache were severe; and I realized that I was becoming mentally confused. Repeated malaria smears were negative; but because of the close similarity of symptoms, I insisted that I must be coming down with another dose of malignant tertian. On 5 December temperature was 104° and I had a series of chills. I was then transferred to the Medical Service, moved to Ward D-21, and routine anti-malarial therapy started. The only response to this was that it made me vomit as usual. On 7 December, while bathing, I noted generalized adenopathy and a fine macular rash on my chest. I drew


125

this to the attention of Major [James E.] Cottrell, and mentioned the alleged typhus I had seen at Shingbwiyang. A provisional diagnosis of mite typhus was made, and anti-malarial therapy stopped.

For the last two or three days, I had been becoming increasingly confused, but would come back into good contact when stimulated. About 7 or 8 December [I drifted] out of Ward D-21 into a world of my own. The charted material, and the nurses' and physicians' notes for the next two weeks, give a good picture of the objective clinical course:

    8 Dec. Sustained temperature 103-104°. No delirium or confusion, but mental fatigue and irritability. Rash fading but lymph nodes larger. No spleen. Hgb. 14; RBC 4.2; WBC 11,600 with shift to left. Chest clear except for crackles at right base.

    9 Dec. Transfusion attempted, but only 100 cc introduced. (All transfusions were given in the left arm, as the veins on the right had been thrombosed by intravenous quinine the previous summer.)

    10 Dec. Disc margins blurred and veins very tortuous.

    11 Dec. Sleeping but restless. Continues to moan and groan. At 1300 hours thinks it is night. Response very sluggish when called. Condition unimproved.

    12 Dec. Patient shows myoclonic twitching of hands and jaws, especially when sleeping. Neck slightly stiff. Discs blurred. No further rash or adenopathy. Transfusion 500 cc. Condition serious. Confused at times. Apprehensive and restless. Intermittent pulse. Put on Seriously Ill list. (This radio went out of Hq, Base Section #3, but apparently was not forwarded from Delhi. My family never received notification from the War Dept., and frantically wondered what had happened to me for a month as no mail came in.)

    13 Dec. Generalized twitching. Talking incoherently at times. Respirations shallow and rapid. Talking and moaning in sleep.

    14 Dec. Patient appears stuporous. Must awaken for fluids. Talking incoherently.

    15 Dec. Temperature seems to be breaking. Occasionally irrational. Face twitches.

    17 Dec. Seems much more rational today. BP 96/68.

    18 Dec. Temperature still up and down, but downward trend. Seems slightly but distinctly better.

    22 Dec. Patient shaved himself today. (With disastrous results.)

    23 Dec. Temperature under 99° all day for first time since admission. (In addition to the above, there were frequent nurses' notes of incontinence of bowels and bladder during this period.)

    (27 Dec. Walked to latrine without assistance.)

    (28 Dec. Removed from Seriously Ill list.)

    (13 Jan. Walked outside ward and sat in sun.)


126

    (16 Jan. Afternoon temperature 100° to 101° past two days. X-ray shows patch of consolidation at left middle. This is not same as the shadow at right base during acute stage of typhus. Diagnosed Atypical Pneumonia and put back to bed.)

    (24 Jan. Out of bed.)

    (28 Jan. Put on uniform for first time in eight weeks.)

    (9 Feb. Scab fell off initial mite bite lesion. Weight 138. Discharged to quarters. In hospital ten weeks to the day. In those days patients were not picked up automatically into Detachment of Patients at the end of 60 days hospitalization.)

The diagnosis of Mite or, as it is now called, Scrub Typhus was not made for several days after the appearance of the rash. This clinical entity was not then known to occur that far north in Burma. A few sporadic cases of what were probably mild scrub typhus had been seen; for want of a better term they were loosely called "CBI Fever." Within a week of the time I was admitted, the Shingbwiyang air strip was landing cub planes. Four other liaison or engineer officers were flown into Ledo [with scrub typhus]. All blood agglutinations were positive for OXK and negative for OX19. A sixth case was picked up in an Air Corps officer who was making a slow recovery from a walk out of the jungle. It was recognized that a minor epidemic was in progress, and Lt. Col. [Alexander G.] Gilliam was sent out to investigate. After one field trip, he got typhus too, and was in the next bed to me. Sometime in the spring of 1944, Life magazine published an article on tropical diseases. In the section on typhus there was an illustration of a rack of eggs inoculated with rickettsia from all parts of the world. One egg was labeled "GILLIAM-ASSAM-1944." I own about one-seventh of the stock in that egg.

For two months the thin, hungry, irritable group of officers who growled around the far end of Ward E-34 were known as the "Typhus Tigers."

Shortly after I was discharged, the literature describing a similar disease in the Southwest Pacific arrived in Ledo. All except two of the seven of us returned eventually to duty. When the long period of debility was later recognized, severe cases of this type were routinely dispositioned home.

From these data it might be supposed that the patient was more or less an inanimate object. On the contrary, I lived in an interesting, rather bizarre, but to me perfectly rational world of my own. Many of the details are as clear in my memory now as they were two months ago. Either just before or just after being transferred to Medical, I began to live on an island in the harbor of Fremantle, Australia. My bed was placed at the open end of a large warehouse which stretched away to my left. I could see the rafters quite clearly in the semi-darkness, but could not get a good view of the rest of the interior. At my head and obliquely to my right was a wall which shut off my view. In front and half-right, the lawns and cement walks of the tip of my island sloped gently down to the water some twenty or thirty yards away. At water's edge the island was surrounded by a low ornamental brick wall, pierced at three or four points by small brass cannon. The whole pic-


127

ture was characteristically British. I was sure the location was in Fremantle from my limited view of the harbor, and because of the fact that the peculiar pattern of the brick work of the wall was identical with that of the Perth Hospital, which I had visited. While I could hear voices on the other side of the wall to my right, I saw nobody while I lived on this island. The location was sunny and warm, and I had a peaceful enjoyable time except for two major discomforts.

The first was the prodigious amount of noise from the other side of the wall on my right. This consisted of the rattling of chains, the clash of metals, and the grinding of gears, which I assumed came from nearby docks. All these noises set up terrifically painful vibrations in my head. At times it seemed as if I would be lifted bodily off the mattress by the pain in my skull. The second annoying feature was the problem of my bowels. Under my bed and around the tip of the island ran a small narrow gauge track. Once or twice a day, a small vehicle, about the size of a foot locker set on edge with a trap door in the top, trundled around the circuit of this track. Apparently this at one time had been an ammunition carrier for the cannon; and was now used to cart refuse. I was vaguely aware of the fact that I was having incontinent bowel movements, and was naturally most embarrassed about it. So every time the little trundle cart came by, I would struggle to stop it and defecate in it--without much success.

After a number of days on my island, I shifted abruptly to a new environment. (Probably corresponding to the move from Ward D-21 to E-34.) This was a bizarre and rather uncomfortable setup. I was at the stern of what appeared to be a small luxury excursion or nightclub boat. At my left was an ornately carved and gaudily painted bulkhead, with a door at the foot of the bed. I seemed to be out on the deck itself; but at my right was a light wall or screen which shut off part of my view. Across the foot and half-right of my bed I could see the rail of the boat pitching against the distant horizon. The bed itself was a large grand piano with the mattress placed on the closed lid. It seemed to be dark much of the time, and there was a great deal of activity on the boat. People walked by the foot of the bed; frequently they were peculiar in that I could see only their heads. Sometimes they were carrying musical instruments. Often I could hear music on the deck. On the other side of the wall to my right there was a lot going on; laughter, music, sometimes the smell of cooking. But nobody seemed to pay much attention to me. I particularly resented not getting any of the food. I came to the conclusion that the boat was some kind of entertainment concession. Here as on the island, noise, especially that of music, bothered me. There was an added feature of torture in the form of Gremlins who came in the night and tried to pry up the lid of the piano I slept on. They used to dance on my feet, which were very tender. I recall sitting up most of one night swatting them away from my feet with a rolled up magazine.

Curiously enough, although the above would indicate that I was hungry, I have no recollection of either eating or drinking during this period, either


128

actually or in fantasy. I am told that I constantly demanded fluids. Having been trained in the early days of massive intravenous fluid therapy, I apparently had a deeply enough ingrained instinct for fluids to keep my water balance.

Most of this well organized system of hallucinations had a basis of fact to which it referred. In both Wards D-21 and E-34 I occupied the extreme far bed in the right hand corner. Because of the bed screen on my left, I could see only the roof of the warehouse on the island and the lefthand bulkhead on the boat. The wall to my right was the end wall of the ward, on the other side of which the convalescent patients washed and shaved. The march of the bodyless ghosts past the foot of my bed was the parade to the latrine, on the other side of a low screen separating me from the aisle. The dockyard noise on D-21 was the truck traffic along the road a few yards from my bed. (The E area was under construction at the time. The only access road was past the D area.) On E-34 the music was from the radios and victrolas belonging to other patients. Why the boat rocked continually I am not certain. It probably referred to a mild vestibular upset associated with the deafness. The Gremlins dancing on my feet referred to pressure from bedclothes, which was later a major discomfort. (Bed hoops were not constructed until later. In the early cases, it was not realized that pressure pain in the extremities was a common symptom of scrub typhus. The reader must recall that we were the first clinical guinea pigs of a disease about which American medical officers knew little or nothing. Some of the comments I made at the end of this report are now rather standard procedure.)

During all this time I remember only about half a dozen incidents in which I was in contact with reality. These were all produced by fairly strong stimuli, physical or mental. I recall being transported from the surgical ward to D-21, and from D-21 to E-34. Later I have been reminded of other visits and incidents in which the visitors thought I was in fairly good contact. After careful thought, I can hazily remember some of these. But for all practical purposes, most of three weeks in December 1943 is lost to my cerebral storehouse.

About 20 December I began to notice that I was being laboriously spoon-fed by some patient nurse. Gradually the periods between feedings began to fill in with details of the life around me. Then suddenly on 22 December everything cleared up. I was amazed to learn the date, and to hear details of what had been happening around me. I was even surprised to find that I was in a new ward. Although I clearly remembered being moved, it had not impressed itself on my mind as a reality. I insisted on sitting up on the side of my bed and shaving, as sort of a token to myself that I was operating on my own again. But by the time I had nicked myself for the third time, I wished I had never started. (With a three weeks growth of beard masking a gaunt face, I was a reasonable facsimile of one of Wingate's Raiders.)

From then on, the outstanding subjective symptoms grouped themselves as follows:


129

1. General Weakness--When first weighed (29 Dec.) I was 122 pounds, a loss of thirty pounds. This was regained very slowly, in spite of a ravenous appetite. On discharge at the end of the tenth week, weight was 138. With an initial height of 6'1" and weight of 150 odd, it is obvious that most of this loss must represent muscle atrophy. Some tremor remained at the end of the eleventh week. The same symptoms in the legs and feet were more serious. Walking was slow and painful. In the twelfth week a certain amount of pain on walking continued in the knees and arches of the feet.

Transfusions of whole citrated blood (500 cc) were given on 24 and 26 December. Each of these effected an appreciable physical lift.

2. Deafness--During the period 20-22 December, I had an idea that the auricles of my ears were set off from my head at the end of eustacian tubes about six inches long. I used to feel around for them periodically to be sure they were there. As I regained consciousness, it was apparent that I was extremely deaf. As contrasted with the deafness to ordinary external wave sounds, however, loud noises penetrating to the sensorium were built up as tremendously painful vibrations in my head. The sensation was somewhat like being close to a very loud, highpitched steamer or factory whistle. A bed scraped along the concrete floor was uncomfortable. In the fourth week, a patient at the other end of the ward played a victrola with rags stuffed into the amplifier. It was so uncomfortable that I put my head under the pillow. This sensation gradually diminished as my hearing improved. By the end of the sixth week hearing was practically normal, and loud noises were no longer annoying. (Slight deafness remained for several months. As late as the summer of 1944, I had to listen closely to follow the conversation at staff conferences.)

3. Pain in Hands and Feet--Probably the most annoying and persistent symptom was tingling and pain in the hands and feet. The pathological findings in typhus are said to include multiple small thrombi in the capillaries, including those of the extremities. This may be associated with the common finding of engorged retinal vessels and blurred discs. It may also account indirectly for the deafness. Because of the tingling, as distinguished from the pain, I was inclined to suspect that the mechanism was neurological rather than directly vascular. Careful observation failed to show any color or heat changes that I could observe. The sensations in the hands were annoying but never severe. By the end of the fourth week they had pretty well disappeared. Pain and tingling in the feet were a real problem. The area involved included the soles over the ball of the foot, the soles of the toes, around the nails, and down the dorsum of the toes to the terminal joint. The dorsum of the foot was not involved. It was common to wake at night with pain from pressure of the bedclothes on the toes. Walking was limited the first two weeks more from pressure pain than from weakness or any other factor. It was the eighth week before I could get my feet in shoes. The symptoms in the hands disappeared by the sixth week. In the twelfth week, I still had a certain amount of soft tissue pain (as distinguished


130

from painful arches), and could keep my shoes on only a few hours a day. (In June I did most of my work in the office sitting in a wicker chair with my feet on the desk. As late as that, I was wearing either mosquito boots or shoes a size larger than normal.)

4. Blindness--In spite of findings of papilledema and tortuous retinal veins which persisted into the ninth week, at no time was I blind. Nor did I ever have any difficulty in reading fine print.

5. Eschar--The scab fell off the ulcerated lesion on my shin at the end of the tenth week.

On the basis of my own experience, I would suggest the following minor points in nursing technic for severely ill typhus patients:

1. A gatch bed if the state of the circulation allows. The flat position over a period of time becomes most uncomfortable. It is also difficult for a very weak patient to get up on his elbow for feedings.

2. Insofar as possible, keep the patient on a quiet ward at the back end of the lot. Cotton plugs in the ears might relieve the discomfort. This seems trivial, but one has to experience the extreme discomfort from noise to appreciate it.

3. Bed hoops for pain in the feet. In this connection, I am under the impression that in their anxiety to start walking to the latrine, patients are apt to talk the ward officer into allowing walking too soon.

4. I was much impressed by the increased feeling of well-being after transfusion. This might be tried more frequently in a small series of cases.154

After ten weeks in the 20th General and two more months in quarters,155 I began to get itchy again. In April Smiley asked me if I felt up to going down to Yupbang to straighten out some minor difficulties with the 10th Engineers, who then had no liaison officer with them.156 This was an interesting trip, but it convinced me that I was washed up for any field duty for some months to come. I hauled my carcass behind the desk I have been digging my spurs into ever since.

I would not have missed those seven months with the Chinese. The work and the diplomatic finagling were demanding, but whatever could be accomplished was well worthwhile. In addition, roving up and down the trails was an experience. It gave an unparalleled opportunity to watch the Ledo Road built, and to get to know the men who did the job. The malaria, hunger, dysentery, sore legs, and typhus were not much fun; but they were compensated for by other things. There is a certain rather dubious satisfaction in being the first American officer to contract scrub typhus in Burma. It so happened simply because I was one of the first Americans to walk over the hills into the Hukawng Valley, before the Ledo Road was punched through.

    154Here Jones's report on scrub typhus ends. The text of his reminiscences is resumed and concluded in the next two paragraphs.
    155WSJ: There were no convalescent facilities in those days. While I was fretting around at the 48th Evac, the call for volunteers for Merrill's Marauders came in. That would have been a good detail.
    156WSJ: It was quite a thrill to fly from Ledo to Shingbwiyang in less than an hour. The last time I had been there it was a good eight day trip by jeep and foot.


131

Index of Names157

Allen, Alfred K., Maj., CE, Ledo Road Headquarters
Arnold, Lloyd H., 1st Lt., Signal Corps
Arrowsmith, John C., Col., CE, Commanding Officer, Base, Section 3, S.O.S., 1942-43
Bagaskas, Adam, T4c., 48th Evacuation Hospital
Bamberger, Paul J., Capt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Baretta, ----, supervisor of porters
Barker, Robert C., 1st Lt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Beck, Irving A., Capt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Bleecker, Francis A., 1st Lt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Boatner, Haydon L., Brig. Gen., Deputy Commander, Chinese Army in India and Headquarters Company 5303d Combat Troops
Breidenbach, Paul H., 1st Lt., Ord, 115th Ordnance Company
Brown, Ronald M., T4c., 73d Evacuation Hospital
Burgett, George M., Capt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Canfield, Rolden F., 1st Lt., VC, 1st Veterinary Company
Case, B. C., English agricultural expert originally at Pyinmana, Burma
Chang, ----, Captain, Asst. Regimental Surgeon, Chinese 10th Engineer Regiment
Cherry, Monroe H., Sgt., 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Chinquist, Clement C., 2d Lt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Chow, ----, Major, Acting Vice Commander, Chinese 10th Engineer Regiment
Clark, Samuel D., Capt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Conde, George F., Capt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Cook, Eugene L., Capt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Cottrell, James E., Maj., MC, 20th General Hospital
Dabal, Frank J., Pfc., 48th Evacuation Hospital
Darby, James E., Lt. Col., QM, 21st Quartermaster Group
Daves, Edmund H., Jr., Maj., CE, Commanding Officer, 2d Battalion, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
De Broeck, George J., 2d Lt., MAC, 73d Evacuation Hospital
Deresz, Alphonse R., Capt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Dietz, Robert E., 1st Lt., QM, 21st Quartermaster Group
Dziob, John S., Capt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Farley, Philip U., 2d Lt., MAC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Farr, Walter J., Maj., MC, 14th Evacuation Hospital
Fitzhugh, Thomas, Lt. Col., MC, 20th General Hospital
Garber, Israel E., Capt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Gilliam, Alexander G., Lt. Col., Public Health Service
Gleim, Charles S., Lt. Col., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Grindlay, John H., Maj., MC, Seagrave Hospital
Haas, Victor H., Lt. Col., Public Health Service, Surgeon, Base Section 3, 1942-43
Haines, Frank H., Capt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Hardison, Thomas A., 1st Lt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Hill, Christopher F., lst Lt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Hocker, Harold, Capt., DC, 15lst Medical Battalion
Holdsworth, Hubert, 1st Lt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Jones, Gerald, Capt., MC, Surgeon, 2d Battalion, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Kaminer, James H., Capt., CE, Ledo Road Headquarters
Korb, Milton, lst Lt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Kriegel, Franz, M.D., a civilian doctor with the Chinese Army in India
Krows, Roy A. W., Capt., CE, 45th Engineer General Service Regiment

    157Identifications are those given by Dr. Walter S. Jones, occasionally supplemented by the editor. In cases where the office or functional title of the individual is given, it may be assumed that he was on duty with Services of Supply Headquarters, Base Section 3, at Ledo.


132

Lawler, Fay H., British civilian interpreter with Chinese 10th Engineer Regiment
Lee, L. C., Col., Commanding Officer, 10th Chinese Engineer Regiment
Leedham, Charles L., Col., MC, Commanding Officer, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Leedham, ----, Maj., British political officer
Leet, William L., Capt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Leix, Frederick W. S., Capt., MC, 73d Evacuation Hospital
Lewis, Wilton M., Capt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Lyle, Clarence L., Maj., CE, Commanding Officer, lst Battalion, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Manter, Wilbur B., 1st Lt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Marazzi, Walter J., T3c., 48th Evacuation Hospital
Martin, Arthur C., 2d Lt., QMC, 21st Quartermaster Group
Morgan, Embree W., Jr., Capt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Palmer, Gail R., Capt., CE, Forward Area Engineer
Pepper, Dickinson S., Maj., MC, 20th General Hospital
Perry, Thomas, Jr., Capt., 48th Evacuation Hospital
Pica, John, 2d Lt., Ord, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment (?)
Pond, Ashley, 1st Lt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Rasmussen, Theodore B., Capt., MC, 14th Evacuation Hospital
Ravin, Joseph, T5c., 48th Evacuation Hospital
Rice, Earle M., Lt. Col., MC, CBI malariologist, 1943
Romberger, Floyd T., Jr., Capt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Rosenthal, Irwin I., Capt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Rupert, Russell M., Capt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Schaffer, Bernard G., Capt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Seagrave, Gordon S., Lt. Col., MC, the "Burma Surgeon" of Namhkam
Settlage, Henry A., 1st Lt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Simmons, Lillard N., Maj., MC, Forward Echelon Surgeon
Sisney, Elza R., 1st Lt., QMC, 21st Quartermaster Group
Smiley, John T., Maj., MC, originally Executive Officer, 151st Medical Battalion; became Surgeon, Base Section 3, in 1943
Smith, Edgar M., 1st Lt., CE, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Smith, William J., 2d Lt., Sig. C., Base Section 3 Signal Detachment
Stankard, William F., 1st Lt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Stilwell, Joseph, Lt. Gen., CBI Commander
Stone, Eric P., Maj., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Stubenvoll, John G., Capt., CE, Commanding Officer, D Company, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment
Sun Li-jen, Brig. Gen., Commanding General, 38th Chinese Division
Tamraz, John M., Col., MC, Services of Supply Surgeon, CBI
Ting, ----, Major, Regimental Surgeon, 10th Chinese Engineer Regiment
Trotter, Richard W., 1st Lt., MC, 151st Medical Battalion
Truitt, James G., Col., CE, Ledo Road Location Engineer
Turner, Ewing L., Capt., MC, 73d Evacuation Hospital
Wang, ----, Major, Commanding Officer, 3d Battalion, 10th Chinese Engineer Regiment
Watson, Douglas F., Capt., VC, Commanding Officer, 1st Veterinary Company
Webster, Frederick A., Capt., MC, 48th Evacuation Hospital
Wheeler, Raymond A., Maj. Gen., Commanding General, CBI Services of Supply
Willey, John P., Col., Inf, Chief of Staff, Headquarters 5303d Combat Command
Williams, Gomer, Pfc., 151st Medical Battalion
Womack, Taylor S., Capt., CE, Commanding Officer, C Company, 45th Engineer General Service Regiment
Yang, ----, Lt. Col., Chinese 10th Engineer Regiment
Yang Hun Hsin, orderly from 10th Chinese Engineer Regiment, assigned to the author, Walter S. Jones
York, Robert E., Col., CE, Commanding Officer, 330th Engineer General Service Regiment, Ledo Road Engineer

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS