Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Raid on Myitkyina

The Raid on Myitkyina
Translated from Pan Lei’s Private First Class

That morning, over one hundred sorties of aircraft took off incessantly from two air bases at Moian and Jorhat, India, to bomb the airfield located west of Myitkyina. When the Japanese garrison was taking refuge in the air raid shelters, a large number of transports and towed gliders then landed under cover of fighters. At the same time, the troops of Sino-American Composite Group and the 150th Regiment hiding nearby launched attacked. My friend Shen Bing-hua's mission and I was to repair the vehicle, left by the enemy when they retreated in a hurry, for our use.  

Immediately after getting off the planes, the men of the 89th Regiment of 30th Division were making full efforts to sweep the remaining enemy near the airfield, and the 150th Regiment tried to take the Myitkyina Train Station. Unfortunately, due to poor communication that failed to call for resupply, Japanese took the advantage to counterattack. Out of ammunition, our men had to use their bayonets to break through and retreated to the airfield. As a result, Japanese used this opportunity to regroup and redeploy, reinforcing their fortifications of four defense zones of Myitkyina. Thus saw the setback of our surprise attack, which might achieve victory in one day but instead, take us three months to capture Myitkyina.

The transport that carried us landed after the infantry when Myitkyina airfield was under heavy fire. Japanese garrison hurried out from their air raid shelter to engage. Some of the plane-towed gliders landed in the first wave having their pilots killed in the air; some gliders lay on the treetops, and all combatants on board were machine-gunned down by the Japanese. Their dripping blood dyed the whole tree red. Some gliders went wrong when landing and swirled out of the runway killing all on board. There was no way to tell the foes from friends. When our plane stopped near a slanted transport, jumping out of the aircraft, I felt that we were trapped and yelling killing sound was all around. However, the panic soon subsided, and I felt I almost could not hear anything. Until a dozen of us dug some foxholes underneath the trees up front and hid us in them, I heard “Mule” warn me in a trembling voice, “Stay down, stay down.”

The moment I shrank my head, a shell fell some thirty yards near us. When I woke up, I found my face was covered with sand dust.

From that instant, my hearing recovered. I feared nothing but felt something burning inside me.

After dark, I felt hungry. It seemed too dangerous to stay here for the night, so we moved to the left flank and linked up with guys of the 30th Division. Nevertheless, the situation at that time was at the most disadvantage. The 150th Regiment that took the Myitkyina train station was about to break through and pull back, and reinforcement and supplies were cut off.

The next day, the reinforcement of the 42nd Regiment of 14th Division arrived by air, but the situation was yet to be stable. The perimeters of the airfield we were holding were still under enemy attacks. The situation was only settled when we eliminated the hostile elements of the two flanks and the back of the airfield.

Then we changed positions two times before stationing behind 30th Division Headquarters.

Although “Mule” and I took part in this campaign*, in fact, we did nothing all day but ate, slept, and got shelled.

*The Myitkyina campaign started on May 17, 1944, and ended on August 3, 1944.

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