Y-Force, Salween Campaign, Yunnan, China (May 1944 – January 1945)


Operations of the Y-Force Operations Staff, US Army
Salween Campaign, Yunnan, China, May 10 1944 – January 20 1945
(Personal Experience of a Long Range Infiltration Patrol Leader)
Capt Wah G. Chin

US_CBI_Cmd_Large-250x362The Y Force was the South East Asia Command designation given to Chinese National Army forces that re-entered Burma from Yunnan in 1944 as one of the Allies fighting in Burma Campaign of World War II. The initial supreme commander of the theater was Gen Sir Archibald Wavell while head of the short-lived American – British – Dutch – Australian Command which was dissolved after the fall of Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. In August 1943, the Allies created the combined South East Asian Command (SEAC), to assume overall strategic command of all air, sea and land operations of all national contingents in the theater. In August 1943, with the agreement of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Winston Churchill appointed Adm Lord Louis Mountbatten as Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, a post he held until 1946. The American General Joseph Stilwell was the first deputy supreme Allied commander, as well as heading the US China Burma India Theater (CBI) command. Mountbatten arrived in India on October 7 1943 and SEAC came formally into being in Delhi at midnight November 15–16 . The headquarters moved in April 1944 to Kandy in Ceylon. On December 2 1943 the Combined Chiefs of Staff approved in principle a staff plan designating the main effort against Japan to be the Pacific as the most rapid means of coming in range of the home islands for aerial bombardment. The secondary advance was “along the New Guinea N.E.I. Philippine axis” under the South West Pacific Area Command. The South East Asia theater, along with the North Pacific, the South Pacific and China efforts were designated to be supportive. At that time available forces were seen to be limited due to British commitment against Germany with major advances not anticipated until autumn of 1944 and after the defeat of Germany. The focus on the Central Pacific and South West Pacific were a compromise reached at the Casablanca Conference in which British views focused on the war against Germany with the entire war against Japan being limited “to the defense of a fixed line in front of those positions that must be held” an approach unacceptable to the United States. Offensive actions in Burma, support of China and other theater activity beyond holding a defensive line in South East Asia, the position of the British Chiefs, were the result of US demands that the Japanese be kept off balance throughout areas of Allied – Japanese contact.

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