By Frank McLynn

ISBN-10: 0300171625

ISBN-13: 9780300171624

This publication, in essence a quadruple biography, tells the tale of the 4 larger-than-life Allied commanders whose lives collided within the Burma crusade, essentially the most punishing and persistent army adventures of global struggle II. starting from 1942, whilst the British suffered the best defeat within the background of the Empire, in the course of the an important battles of Imphal and Kohima ("the Stalingrad of the East"), and directly to final victory in 1945, this account is shiny, brutal, and enthralling.Frank McLynn opens a brand new window at the Burma crusade, concentrating on the interactions and antagonisms of its critical gamers: William slender, the intense normal commanding the British 14th military; Orde Wingate, the formidable and idiosyncratic commander of the Chindits, a British strength of irregulars; Louis Mountbatten, one in every of Churchill's favorites, overpromoted to the placement of splendid Commander, S.E. Asia; and Joseph Stilwell ("Vinegar Joe"), a hard-line U.S. basic, additionally a martinet and Anglophobe. McLynn attracts cautious pictures of every of those males, neglecting neither strengths nor flaws, and indicates with new readability how the plans, designs, and techniques of generals and politicians have been translated right into a hideous truth for squaddies at the flooring.

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14 From Rangoon Wavell flew to Chungking for what would be a disastrous meeting with Chiang Kai-shek. Wavell was scarcely charmed: Chiang, he wrote, ‘was not a particularly impressive figure at first sight: he speaks no English but makes clucking noises like a 20 friendly hen when greeting one. Madame [his wife] of course speaks perfect English. ’15 Chiang offered two Chinese ‘armies’ (roughly equivalent to a weak British division) to help Burma, but Wavell turned down the offer. Quite apart from scepticism (warranted) as to whether Chiang would make good on his offer, Wavell did not want the Chinese in Burma for a number of reasons.

All of them, British, 38 Indian and Gurkha, were gaunt and ragged as scarecrows. Yet as they trudged behind their officers in groups, pitifully small, they still carried their arms and kept their ranks, they were still recognizable as fighting units. 86 At last, on 15 May, the vanguard began entering Assam, and by the 28th nearly all the troops of BURCORPS had crossed into India, having accomplished a 900-mile retreat. Parties of refugees continued to dribble in until October. No reliable estimate has ever been attempted of fatalities on this grim march.

21 At first it was proposed to ‘sweeten’ Chiang by offering him command of the entire body, but Roosevelt soon had second thoughts. Knowing Chiang’s relish for 22 grandiose titles, he appointed him Supreme Allied Commander of the Chinese Theatre (which he effectively was anyway) and made Wavell Supreme Commander of ABDACOM. There was little Wavell could do once Churchill had agreed to the American proposal, but he must have seen that he was being offered a genuine mission impossible. After all, Japanese triumph in this precise area was all but complete.

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The Burma Campaign: Disaster into Triumph, 1942-45 by Frank McLynn


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