Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

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daveshoup2MD
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Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by daveshoup2MD » 24 Apr 2021 07:53

My understanding is that at the end of the Burma campaign, some 9,000 ROC troops retreated, in various detachments, west into India (many other retreated north into China, but set that aside); if the US had chosen not to set up the US mission to the Chinese forces in India (so no Ramgarh training center, no effort by Stillwell and his subordinates to train and re-equip the ROC forces, no airlift from China of additional personnel, etc.) what happens?

9,000 veteran soldiers with knowledge of Burma and experience against the Japanese, and some respectable commanders - Sūn Lìrén and Liào Yàoxiāng appear to be well-regarded, for example - doesn't seem like an asset that would be simply set aside.

Historically, the agreement between the ROC government, the Americans, and the British was tripartite; Ramgarh was a British installation, of course, and the British (and Commonwealth, etc.) provided material (both from British sources and re-directed L-L) to the Chinese, etc., which suggests the British certainly "could" have set up something roughly similar to the US mission ... and they had a tradition of supporting various "exile" armies, from the Free French to the Ethiopians, during WW II and before. Of course, that being said, Anglo-Chinese relations were not especially close, for multiple reasons.

But if the Americans had passed on the idea of a military mission, would the British have picked it up? If so, who fills the role of British chief advisor? de Wiart went to China in 1943, and was a prisoner before then; Lindsay Tasman Ride and Tony Keswick had the requisite knowledge of China and the Chinese, but both were doing other things at the time, and were not professional soldiers.

Was there a British officer with the sort of experience working with the Chinese that Stilwell had?

If there was, and the 9,000 or so Chinese troops are what they have to work with, presumably the end result is a brigade group (under one of the Western-trained general officers, with the other commanding the training center with British advisors) that ends up as part of 14th Army, how are they used?

Thoughts?

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by SBConnor » 23 May 2021 16:53

The British Government hated the idea of 'Asians' liberating Burma and Malaya. British prestige had been damaged enough by the Japanese invasion. It did not wish to see 'locals' free themselves from the Japanese yoke. For London the war against Japan was always a minor campaign (reflected by the fact that the men designated to fight the Japanese in hot, monsoon climates and in gruelling jungle conditions as well as malaria- endemic areas were largely over 30 and unfit). London preferred a delaying game: finish Germany first, then tackle the Japanese at will (with US assistance). Mountbatten was regularly denied men and equipment. (In any case Britain did not have the shipping to allow for major operations in Southeast Asia.)

The British (and, it must be said, Gen. Chang) put huge obstacles in the way of Stilwell. His capture of Myitkyina embarrassed the British and forced them to act in the south of Burma. That said the casualties among the Chinese troops were very high. Many were unfit for duty after the campaign.
Barbara Tuchman's 'Stilwell and the American Experience in China' is a good, detailed study of what might have been (especially if Stilwell had been under Bradley in the European Theatre...).

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 23 May 2021 19:51

SBConnor wrote:
23 May 2021 16:53
For London the war against Japan was always a minor campaign (reflected by the fact that the men designated to fight the Japanese in hot, monsoon climates and in gruelling jungle conditions as well as malaria- endemic areas were largely over 30 and unfit).
Have you got a source for that assertion?
SBConnor wrote:
23 May 2021 16:53
Mountbatten was regularly denied men and equipment. (In any case Britain did not have the shipping to allow for major operations in Southeast Asia.)
So was he denied men and equipment or was it just that the British had higher priorities and a lack of shipping?

Regards

Tom

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by MikeMeech » 27 Jun 2021 14:28

SBConnor wrote:
23 May 2021 16:53
The British Government hated the idea of 'Asians' liberating Burma and Malaya. British prestige had been damaged enough by the Japanese invasion. It did not wish to see 'locals' free themselves from the Japanese yoke. For London the war against Japan was always a minor campaign (reflected by the fact that the men designated to fight the Japanese in hot, monsoon climates and in gruelling jungle conditions as well as malaria- endemic areas were largely over 30 and unfit). London preferred a delaying game: finish Germany first, then tackle the Japanese at will (with US assistance). Mountbatten was regularly denied men and equipment. (In any case Britain did not have the shipping to allow for major operations in Southeast Asia.)

The British (and, it must be said, Gen. Chang) put huge obstacles in the way of Stilwell. His capture of Myitkyina embarrassed the British and forced them to act in the south of Burma. That said the casualties among the Chinese troops were very high. Many were unfit for duty after the campaign.
Barbara Tuchman's 'Stilwell and the American Experience in China' is a good, detailed study of what might have been (especially if Stilwell had been under Bradley in the European Theatre...).
Hi
The British had lots of 'Asians' liberating Burma and Malaya it was called the Indian Army, which also included Africans. SOE was also supporting resistance groups in both Burma and Malaya. As for Stilwell, his NCAC included the British Chindits (who were ill used by him) and then the British 36th Division (which my father was in). So I am not sure your statements totally stand up.

Mike

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by daveshoup2MD » 04 Jan 2022 10:06

All of the above is interesting, but - anyone have an idea on:

a) a British "Stilwell" - presumably a regular general officer, infantry specialist, who spoke Chinese?
b) if such a formation was organized and trained, what does SEAC/11th Army Group/14th Army do with it?

Thanks

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Jan 2022 13:36

daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Jan 2022 10:06
All of the above is interesting, but - anyone have an idea on:

a) a British "Stilwell" - presumably a regular general officer, infantry specialist, who spoke Chinese?
b) if such a formation was organized and trained, what does SEAC/11th Army Group/14th Army do with it?

Thanks
The British were not interested in China per ce. China was largely an American interest. China was the base for USAAF air attacks on Japan. until the occupation of Okinawa and Iwo Jima brought Japan in range from the Pacific. Once that happened China was largely irrelevant.

Churchill's objective was to recover Singapore and Malaya thus restoring some element of credibility to British power in SE Asia. This was behind Churchill's obsession with capturing the northern tip of Sumatra and the source of many arguments with Brooke and the other chiefs of staff.

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by daveshoup2MD » 05 Jan 2022 04:40

Sheldrake wrote:
04 Jan 2022 13:36
daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Jan 2022 10:06
All of the above is interesting, but - anyone have an idea on:

a) a British "Stilwell" - presumably a regular general officer, infantry specialist, who spoke Chinese?
b) if such a formation was organized and trained, what does SEAC/11th Army Group/14th Army do with it?

Thanks
The British were not interested in China per se. China was largely an American interest. China was the base for USAAF air attacks on Japan. until the occupation of Okinawa and Iwo Jima brought Japan in range from the Pacific. Once that happened China was largely irrelevant.

Churchill's objective was to recover Singapore and Malaya thus restoring some element of credibility to British power in SE Asia. This was behind Churchill's obsession with capturing the northern tip of Sumatra and the source of many arguments with Brooke and the other chiefs of staff.
Thanks, but again - the question is given the historical 9,000 ROC soldiers on the ground in northeastern India after the 1942 retreat from Burma, under a pair of reasonably proficient professionally-trained and Western-educated officers, namely Sūn Lìrén (VMI) and Liào Yàoxiāng (St. Cyr), which - given the exigencies of the British position in northeastern India in 1942-43, seems a resource worth considering ...

So, IF in this case, there is a lack of a US mission to sustain these ROC soldiers - what do the British do with them?

In other words, was there a general officer anywhere in the British or Indian armies who spoke Chinese, was an infantry specialist, could see the potential, and could lead and create a staff filling a similar role to Stilwell, Sibert, Boatner, McCabe et al, first to re-train and re-equip such a Chinese contingent and then to support it in action against the Japanese?

Any information responding to the above question would be appreciated.

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by Sheldrake » 05 Jan 2022 11:51

daveshoup2MD wrote:
05 Jan 2022 04:40
Sheldrake wrote:
04 Jan 2022 13:36
daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Jan 2022 10:06
All of the above is interesting, but - anyone have an idea on:

a) a British "Stilwell" - presumably a regular general officer, infantry specialist, who spoke Chinese?
b) if such a formation was organized and trained, what does SEAC/11th Army Group/14th Army do with it?

Thanks
The British were not interested in China per se. China was largely an American interest. China was the base for USAAF air attacks on Japan. until the occupation of Okinawa and Iwo Jima brought Japan in range from the Pacific. Once that happened China was largely irrelevant.

Churchill's objective was to recover Singapore and Malaya thus restoring some element of credibility to British power in SE Asia. This was behind Churchill's obsession with capturing the northern tip of Sumatra and the source of many arguments with Brooke and the other chiefs of staff.
Thanks, but again - the question is given the historical 9,000 ROC soldiers on the ground in northeastern India after the 1942 retreat from Burma, under a pair of reasonably proficient professionally-trained and Western-educated officers, namely Sūn Lìrén (VMI) and Liào Yàoxiāng (St. Cyr), which - given the exigencies of the British position in northeastern India in 1942-43, seems a resource worth considering ...

So, IF in this case, there is a lack of a US mission to sustain these ROC soldiers - what do the British do with them?

In other words, was there a general officer anywhere in the British or Indian armies who spoke Chinese, was an infantry specialist, could see the potential, and could lead and create a staff filling a similar role to Stilwell, Sibert, Boatner, McCabe et al, first to re-train and re-equip such a Chinese contingent and then to support it in action against the Japanese?

Any information responding to the above question would be appreciated.
One poossible British candidate might have been Orde Wingate. He was acharismatic individual with a talent for developing unconventional forces such as Jewish settlers in Palestne and Ethiopian irregulars in the dismemberment of the Italian East African Empire. Not noted as a chinese speaker, he had an aptitude for language.

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by Steen Ammentorp » 05 Jan 2022 21:09

daveshoup2MD wrote:
05 Jan 2022 04:40
In other words, was there a general officer anywhere in the British or Indian armies who spoke Chinese, was an infantry specialist, could see the potential, and could lead and create a staff filling a similar role to Stilwell, Sibert, Boatner, McCabe et al, first to re-train and re-equip such a Chinese contingent and then to support it in action against the Japanese?
Any information responding to the above question would be appreciated.
The British/Indian armies was painfully short of officers who spoke Chinese. In November 1939 there was only 8 officers qualified as 1st class intepreters in Chinese (though others may have spoken Chinese), non above the rank of major.

The only possible candidate of these is Adam Tyrie Wilson Brand (1900-1952), of whom I know very little, beside that he served in China 1931-1935, a Brigadier since July 1942 and senior British liaison officer to the Chinese Expeditionary Force in 1944, and commander of the 2nd West African Brigade in Burma in 1945.

Another of the Chinese speaking officers were Leonard Frank Field (1898-1978), chief liaison officer to the Chinese forces in Burma in 1942 and later military attaché to China, also a Brigadier. He however was from the Royal Army Service Corps.
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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by daveshoup2MD » 06 Jan 2022 07:04

Sheldrake wrote:
05 Jan 2022 11:51
daveshoup2MD wrote:
05 Jan 2022 04:40
Sheldrake wrote:
04 Jan 2022 13:36
daveshoup2MD wrote:
04 Jan 2022 10:06
All of the above is interesting, but - anyone have an idea on:

a) a British "Stilwell" - presumably a regular general officer, infantry specialist, who spoke Chinese?
b) if such a formation was organized and trained, what does SEAC/11th Army Group/14th Army do with it?

Thanks
The British were not interested in China per se. China was largely an American interest. China was the base for USAAF air attacks on Japan. until the occupation of Okinawa and Iwo Jima brought Japan in range from the Pacific. Once that happened China was largely irrelevant.

Churchill's objective was to recover Singapore and Malaya thus restoring some element of credibility to British power in SE Asia. This was behind Churchill's obsession with capturing the northern tip of Sumatra and the source of many arguments with Brooke and the other chiefs of staff.
Thanks, but again - the question is given the historical 9,000 ROC soldiers on the ground in northeastern India after the 1942 retreat from Burma, under a pair of reasonably proficient professionally-trained and Western-educated officers, namely Sūn Lìrén (VMI) and Liào Yàoxiāng (St. Cyr), which - given the exigencies of the British position in northeastern India in 1942-43, seems a resource worth considering ...

So, IF in this case, there is a lack of a US mission to sustain these ROC soldiers - what do the British do with them?

In other words, was there a general officer anywhere in the British or Indian armies who spoke Chinese, was an infantry specialist, could see the potential, and could lead and create a staff filling a similar role to Stilwell, Sibert, Boatner, McCabe et al, first to re-train and re-equip such a Chinese contingent and then to support it in action against the Japanese?

Any information responding to the above question would be appreciated.
One poossible British candidate might have been Orde Wingate. He was a charismatic individual with a talent for developing unconventional forces such as Jewish settlers in Palestne and Ethiopian irregulars in the dismemberment of the Italian East African Empire. Not noted as a chinese speaker, he had an aptitude for language.
Wingate would be an interesting possibility; presumably that means someone else converts 77th Indian brigade for the Chindit mission, and unless the Chinese are to be organized in a LRP role, not sure that Wavell would change his assignment - the same goes for Joe Lentaigne, for similar reasons. In both cases, there's also the issue that the ROC were, essentially, Allied (not British/CW/Imperial troops) conventional - if light - infantry, with their own chain of command and officer corps. The situation is more akin to the European exiles etc. than the Ethiopians.

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by daveshoup2MD » 06 Jan 2022 07:28

Steen Ammentorp wrote:
05 Jan 2022 21:09
daveshoup2MD wrote:
05 Jan 2022 04:40
In other words, was there a general officer anywhere in the British or Indian armies who spoke Chinese, was an infantry specialist, could see the potential, and could lead and create a staff filling a similar role to Stilwell, Sibert, Boatner, McCabe et al, first to re-train and re-equip such a Chinese contingent and then to support it in action against the Japanese?
Any information responding to the above question would be appreciated.
The British/Indian armies was painfully short of officers who spoke Chinese. In November 1939 there was only 8 officers qualified as 1st class intepreters in Chinese (though others may have spoken Chinese), non above the rank of major.

The only possible candidate of these is Adam Tyrie Wilson Brand (1900-1952), of whom I know very little, beside that he served in China 1931-1935, a Brigadier since July 1942 and senior British liaison officer to the Chinese Expeditionary Force in 1944, and commander of the 2nd West African Brigade in Burma in 1945.

Another of the Chinese speaking officers were Leonard Frank Field (1898-1978), chief liaison officer to the Chinese forces in Burma in 1942 and later military attaché to China, also a Brigadier. He however was from the Royal Army Service Corps.
Thanks very much. Both sound like very interesting possibilities; I also found a couple of mentions in passing that Field was deputy director of military intelligence Far Eastern Command, and director of intelligence ABDA Command, in 1941-42, which suggests a more active career than the RASC; he also apparently had a liaison or observer role with de Lattre de Tassigny's staff in Indochina in the early 1950s...

I could see Field serving in a senior role as GOC of a British military mission to the ROC forces in India, with Brand as the commander at Ramgarh (or it's equivalent); my guess is that one of the two ROC general officers (Sun, presumably) would be the Chinese brigade group commander, and the other (Liào, presumably) being Brand's deputy at the training camp.

If the end result is a Chinese infantry brigade group (call it the 38th) being ready for active service in 1942-43 (and the training and replacement pool at Ramgarh is the 22nd, on paper), then what do the British do with them? Commit them to the Arakan offensive under Irwin and the 14th Division? Or keep them in reserve farther north?

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by Sheldrake » 06 Jan 2022 13:53

The whole point of the Chinese force in Northern Burma was to clear the Burma Road, the land connection between China and India.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma_Road
Even without US support the Chinese objective would have been to clear the route through Northern Burma around Myitkyina. Whether they would have been able to do so without US leadership or the Chindits is a different question.

These were Chinses forces under Chinese command. They could not simply have been deployed on tasks that pursued British objectives.

An old family friend, now long dead served in the Second World War as a navigator in 113 Squadron RAF. His war story was that his Squadron was sent to Crete where it was bombed on the ground, then to North Africa where it was bombed on the ground. They were sent to Burma and launched a raid with 12 aircraft on Bankok. The return raid was by 100 Japanese aircraft on their airfield near Rangoon.

He and his crew were evacuated to China where they ended up flying a Ju 52 for the Chinese, often flying Chiang Kai Shek and Soong Mei-ling. He said that one thing about the Ju52 was that the engines were held on with a single bolt. On one flight an engine fell off while they were taxiing.

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by daveshoup2MD » 07 Jan 2022 05:58

Sheldrake wrote:
06 Jan 2022 13:53
The whole point of the Chinese force in Northern Burma was to clear the Burma Road, the land connection between China and India.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma_Road
Even without US support the Chinese objective would have been to clear the route through Northern Burma around Myitkyina. Whether they would have been able to do so without US leadership or the Chindits is a different question.

These were Chinses forces under Chinese command. They could not simply have been deployed on tasks that pursued British objectives.
True, but absent a US commitment, the "re-open the Burma Road" goal (or build the Ledo Road, of create the Hump Airlift, etc.) is likely to be agreed to as a great idea for the future, but in abeyance at the moment - certainly in 1942-43, when the British committed a corps-worth of troops to the Arakan.

They lost - heavily - but that's a different story, of course.

Likewise, given the reality of 9,000 ROC troops retreating to India after the collapse in Burma in May, 1942, it's not like they are going to be flown back to China.

The Free French, Poles, Greeks, Czechs, Belgians, Dutch, forces under British command in 1942-43 all had the "goal" of returning home and liberating their respective countries, but in he meantime, fought (more or less) when and where they were told, otherwise, until that day came (i.e. , for the French, Poles, Greeks, etc, at Bir Hakeim, 1st Alamein, Alam Halfa, 2nd Alamein, etc.) ...

If the British are (essentially) paying the bills for 9,000 ROCs in India in 1942-43, presumably Wavell/Giffard/Irwin/etc. will expect them to be useful.

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by daveshoup2MD » 06 Feb 2022 19:08

Steen Ammentorp wrote:
05 Jan 2022 21:09
daveshoup2MD wrote:
05 Jan 2022 04:40
In other words, was there a general officer anywhere in the British or Indian armies who spoke Chinese, was an infantry specialist, could see the potential, and could lead and create a staff filling a similar role to Stilwell, Sibert, Boatner, McCabe et al, first to re-train and re-equip such a Chinese contingent and then to support it in action against the Japanese?
Any information responding to the above question would be appreciated.
The British/Indian armies was painfully short of officers who spoke Chinese. In November 1939 there was only 8 officers qualified as 1st class intepreters in Chinese (though others may have spoken Chinese), non above the rank of major.

The only possible candidate of these is Adam Tyrie Wilson Brand (1900-1952), of whom I know very little, beside that he served in China 1931-1935, a Brigadier since July 1942 and senior British liaison officer to the Chinese Expeditionary Force in 1944, and commander of the 2nd West African Brigade in Burma in 1945.

Another of the Chinese speaking officers were Leonard Frank Field (1898-1978), chief liaison officer to the Chinese forces in Burma in 1942 and later military attaché to China, also a Brigadier. He however was from the Royal Army Service Corps.
Found another candidate - full general, fluent in Chinese:

https://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.u ... e-V1_1.pdf

Little senior, but interesting career, and he was certainly available in 1941-42... might have saved his career, actually.;)

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Re: Anglo-Chinese "joint" operations in SEAC, absent US mission

Post by LineDoggie » 27 Apr 2022 17:58

Sheldrake wrote:
06 Jan 2022 13:53
He said that one thing about the Ju52 was that the engines were held on with a single bolt. On one flight an engine fell off while they were taxiing.
Sure they were
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