The Return to Burma

A Hellish Lifeline

By 1937 Japan was set to cut off China’s trade with the world. To supply his army, Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek built a highway to Burma (Myanmar) to reach a rail line from the port of Rangoon. After the Japanese invaded Burma and closed the highway in 1942, the U.S. built a 500-mile (800-kilometer) spur from Ledo, India, and seized the highway from the Japanese. Until the entire route was complete, supplies were airlifted from the Ledo region to Kunming over the Hump – perilous flight across windy mountains that claimed 607 aircraft.

Stilwell with General Sun Li-jen, commander of the Chinese 38th
Division during the Second Burma Campaign, 1944

Stilwell confers with General Liao Yueh-shang, commander of the
Chinese 22nd Division, Second Burma Campaign, 1944.

Stilwell and party take cover during a Japanese artillery or mortar
barrage, northern Burma, 1944.

Stilwell and Admiral Mountbatten, Commander of the Southeast Asia
Command, during Mountbatten’s visit to northern Burma, 1944.

Stilwell decorates Chinese General Liao, northern Burma, 1944.

Stilwell with Colonel Carlton Smith, U.S. Liaison Officer to the
Chinese 22nd Division.

Stilwell and Brigadier General Frank Merrill, Commander of Merrill’s Marauders. The Official Designation of the Marauders was 5307th Regiment (Provisional).

Stilwell address troops of the Chinese 22nd Division at the training
site in Ramgarh, India, 1943.

Stilwell addressing wounded Chinese soldiers at the training facility
Stilwell set up to provide the soldiers with civilian skills once
they were discharged from the Army.

Stilwell eating at the “General’s Mess” in the field. Northern
Burma, 1944.



Stilwell at Myitkyina Airfield soon after the combined force of
Merrill’s Marauders and Chinese troops had captured it. On the right
is Colonel Hunter of the Marauders.

Stilwell talks to some troops from Merrill’s Marauders at Myitkyina,

Stilwell takes a break at Myitkyina.

Stilwell at Merrill’s command post at Myitkyina, 1944

Stilwell arrives at Myitkyina later in the campaign, 1944.

Stilwell observes Japanese positions across the river in northern
Burma, 1944.

Stilwell confers with Colonel Jasper Bell at the new airfield at
Shingbwiyang, northern Burma, 1944.

Stilwell confers with BG Wolfe (Left) and MG Stratemeyer (Center) in northern Burma, 1944.

Stilwell talks to General Lewis Pick, Chief Engineer of the Ledo
Road, near Stilwell’s headquarters at Shadezup, northern Burma, 1944.

Stilwell visits the Chinese 22nd Division, northern Burma, 1944.



Stilwell at a front line briefing, 1944.

Stilwell taking a break in northern Burma, 1944.

Stilwell in northern Burma, 1944.

Father Stuart, right, introduces native Kachin leader Zing Tawng to General Stilwell. The Kachin Rangers provided invaluable assistance to Stilwell’s American and Chinese forces in northern Burma, acting as guides and ambushing Japanese forces.

Stilwell at his headquarters in Chongqing, China 1943.

Stilwell talks to the pilot of his aircraft, Captain Emmett J. Theissen.

Left to right are Stilwell, General Frank Dorn, General Shang Chen,
and General Thomas Hearn (Stilwell’s Chief of Staff).

Stilwell with Chiang Kai-shek at Maymyo, Burma, 1943

Stilwell with Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang, Maymyo, Burma, 1943.

General Stilwell with General Wei Li-huang, commander of the Chinese Y-Force. On the far right is General Frank Dorn, American advisor to the Y-Force.
Between Stilwell and Dorn is General Wei.

Photo taken in Ceylon the day Stilwell was notified of his promotion
to General. On the right is BG Merrill.

Stilwell inspecting troops of the Chinese 38th Division at the
training base at Ramgarh, India, 1942. General Sun Li-jen, commander
of the 38th Division follows Stilwell.

Stilwell checks the results of rifle training, Ramgarh, India, 1943.

Conference concerning training of Chinese troops at Ramgarh, India,
1943. Left to right are unknown Chinese officer, BG Sibert,
Stilwell, General Sun Li-jen, General Liao Yueh-shang.

Stilwell and Chinese General Sun Li-jen check on training at Ramgarh,
India, 1943.



Taking a break on the trail in northern Burma, 1944 .

Stilwell in northern Burma with his Public Information Officer, Fred Eldridge, 1944.

Stilwell at Myitkyina shortly after the airfield fell to Merrill’s Marauders and


  1. Posted April 1, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink


    Do you happen to know if these images are all in the public domain?

  2. forwhattheygave
    Posted April 2, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    The images come from 2 sources – The Grandson of Vinegar Joe and from a group of Chinese who selected them from US Government holdings. They wanted to document and put a face on the Chinese Soldiers who fought against the Japanese. They were to travel around the Country to demonstrate and give meaning to the Chinese effort in the War. Copies were also passed to Stilwell’s Grandson as the group departed.

    Phil Burns
    Class of ’62
    Can Do

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s