Chindits

The Chindits were a British Special Force which was led by Major General Orde Charles Wingate. The Chindits operated in the jungle in North Burma, deep behind enemy lines, in the War against Japan. They served in Burma and India between 1943 and 1944 during the Burma Campaign in World War II. They were formed by Orde Charles Wingate when he was serving under Archibald Wavell, the Supreme Commander of the Far Eastern Theatre in India. Chindits members were from units of the British Army and Gurkha units of the British Indian Army. Personnel recruited in Burma served as reconnaissance troops.

The Chindits’ official name was the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, which was organized in the area around Jhansi during the summer months of 1942. Wingate took charge of the training in the jungles of central India during the rainy season. Half of the Chindits were British infantry soldiers from the 13th Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment, a second-line battalion which contained a large number of older men, and men from the former Bush Warfare School in Burma. The other half was made up of the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles. Wingate organized his force as Long-Range Penetration units which would be supplied by stores parachuted from transport aircraft, and use close air support as a substitute for heavy artillery. They would penetrate the jungle on foot, essentially relying on surprise through mobility to target enemy lines of communication.

Chindits carried out two expeditions into Burma. The first was Operation Longcloth, which was launched in February 1943, and consisted of a force of 3,000 men. They marched over 1,000 miles during the campaign. The second expedition was Operation Thursday, which began in March 1944. It was the second largest airborne invasion of the war and consisted of a force of 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers with air support provided by the 1st Air Commando USAAF. Tragically their leader, General Wingate, was killed a few weeks after the launch of Operation Thursday.

From June 6 to June 27, 1944, the Chindits iniciated their last military operation and took Mogaung, suffering about 700 casualties. Fearing that they would then be ordered to join the siege of Myitkyina, Calvert handed over Mogaung to Chinese troops, shut down his radios and retreated to Kamaing, where the new commander, Stilwell, had his headquarters. A court-martial was likely until Stilwell and Calvert met in person, and Stilwell finally appreciated the conditions under which the Chindits had been operating.
After resting, the Chindits were ordered to capture a hill known as Point 2171. They did so, but were now completely exhausted. Most of them were suffering from malaria, dysentery and malnutrition. On July 8, at the insistence of the Supreme Commander, Admiral Louis Mountbatten, doctors examined the brigade. Of the 2200 men present from four and a half battalions, only 119 were declared fit. The Brigade was evacuated, although Masters sarcastically kept the fit men, "111 Company" in the field until August 1. The last Chindit left Burma on August 27, 1944.

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  1. [...] code name for the aerial invasion phase of the Burma campaign, during World War II. The Chindits were given the task of helping the American Marauders to push the Ledo Road through northern Burma [...]