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?

SBConnor
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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...).

Tom from Cornwall
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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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