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Chiang and Stillwell...


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#1 brndirt1

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 07:16 PM

Here is where my premise starts, Joe Stillwell was the military attaché at the U.S. Legation in Peking/Beijing from 1935 to 1939, the third of his four tours of duty in Asia and environs, but his contact with the “presumptive” leader Chiang Kai-shek was limited, in fact by the time he was recalled to the US in late 1939 to take over training at Fort Sam Houston, he had met Generalissimo Chiang and Madame Chiang only once or twice.

Stillwell was a gifted linguist, speaking Chinese, French, and Spanish with ease. He was also a proven training officer of infantry who graduated from West Point one year behind the politically connected Douglas MacArthur. And to top that off, he was one of the few people outside of General G.C. Marshall’s family to call the man “George” and get away with it, and was a favorite of Marshall unlike the attitude Marshall had toward MacArthur. Stillwell also served as intelligence officer for General Pershing in France during WW1, but as a “staffer” didn’t have front-line duty like the glory hound MacArthur.

Now this “what-if” is going to ask the reader to suspend reality in the person of Chiang Kai-shek, and the China lobby in the USA who distorted the love of China in America through the print media. In this scenario Chiang will not be the self-serving nihilist with nepotism driving his decisions as he is historically, i.e. one who enriches himself and his family and friends while he loots the Chinese populace.

Now he (Chiang) will be a realist/pragmatist following in the real steps of Sun yet-Sen who truly hopes to break with the “old Emperor/Empress China”, modernize it and bring it into a representative democracy, as Sun’s personal western heroes Washington/Jefferson/Lincoln espoused. And also one who recognizes the value of training, feeding, supporting, and arming his own peasant soldier population. Stillwell understood this, but could never get Chiang to see the Chinese peasant soldier in the same manner.

Of course Chiang was protecting himself and his, not working for the defeat of the Japanese who had invaded and occupied so much of coastal China. Then again, his own (Chiang’s) lack of true control of the fringes of China must be taken into account. There were not only the Communists of Mao to worry about; there were outlying provinces which had governors with their own independent armed forces much like the warlords of old. These groups only paid “lip service” to backing the Nationalists. The Generalissimo had also, with his lack of control over some portions of China proper, taken the defensive tack of “pull back” and then slowly absorb the Japanese into China as had been done since the days of the Mongol Golden Horde.

Stillwell didn’t yet know of or understand the corruption of the Chiang/Soong group at this time, but he had deduced that the Chinese conscript or volunteer peasant soldier could be as good or better than any other infantry man if properly trained, fed, armed, and led by competent officers. He proved this was true with his training of Chinese troops in Ramgarh, India later. This was the New Chinese First Army whose (eventually) three divisions performed with distinction in Burma under Stillwell’s command.

So, there is the premise. Chiang isn’t who he really is and doesn’t do what he did; instead he listens to Stillwell and allows him to reshape and train the Chinese Army, include the Mao led Communist forces into the battle plan attacking from the northwest, and puts General Claire Chennault into a support of the infantry role, rather than the dominant role he and his air group took in Chiang’s government in reality. Stillwell had little contact with Mao in reality, but he had met and admired Mao’s representative Chou en-Lai. His diary entries reveal he thought that Chou was a motivated and talented man.

Now, if this is started when Stillwell returns to China in March of 1942, and the Chinese Army with the support of the AVG had coalesced by mid-1943, they could have easily had over 90 to 100 divisions of well trained, well led, well fed, and well supported armed troops with artillery and air support to aggressively confront the occupying Japanese forces. Rather than the 3+ million men they had “on paper”, the force would have been an aggressive and positive power.

This would have at least two other influences on WW2 as it developed, and post-war geopolitics. I’ll start with the Cairo Conference in late ’43. If Chiang had been an aggressive “winner” or at least consistent offensive commander against the Japanese occupation troops when he showed up for the meeting in Cairo, both FDR and Churchill may have welcomed him with more enthusiasm. In reality the dearth of Lend-Lease aid was coupled to both the “Germany first” policy and Chiang’s own lack of productive use of the aid he had received in the years between 1941 and 1943. However, at Cairo Chiang changed positions on the war’s objectives, made more and more demands for allied aid, and either showed up or cancelled meetings at his own whim. As an aside, in reality while the Cairo Conference was going on, the Japanese removed infantry troops from the mainland for Pacific Island re-enforcement, a further indication of how little threat they felt from Chiang’s forces.

This may not have been the outcome if he (Chiang) had supported a strong, aggressive force attacking the Japanese in China. When he was such a “wishy-washy” commander in aggressive operations, and such a “me” first power in Asia, FDR later went to his first conference with Stalin in Tehran while Chiang left the meeting in Egypt. FDR now knew that all the money, time and effort in Chiang’s China was basically going no-where, so he (FDR) was thinking he needed to ask Stalin to come into the far-east to support the allied effort against Japan in the Pacific Theater when the Nazis were defeated. On the other side of the coin, if the Chinese were throwing out or defeating the Japanese at war’s end, the Red Army wouldn’t have been required, nor asked to be there.

What would that mean? Perhaps no Soviet occupation of Manchuria; no North Korea? No trade off of the Kuriles and Sakhalin Island to the USSR by FDR to entice Stalin into the far-east battle? Perhaps a bit less communist influence in all of Asia?

Ah, the “lack of a nail” concept comes to the fore. Just a thought, how does a change of Chiang’s attitude like this strike the forum?

Edited by brndirt1, 25 February 2012 - 08:13 PM.

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#2 belasar

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 07:43 PM

Now that is a What-if!
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#3 urqh

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 08:25 PM

How would this affect the Burma Road...If we in west know Chiang is the new Chiang early enough...would the Brits close it on request?

British Army 1939-1945 - World War II Tribute Video

 

 

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#4 brndirt1

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 08:36 PM

How would this affect the Burma Road...If we in west know Chiang is the new Chiang early enough...would the Brits close it on request?


This is a major query, both Chiang and we Americans had a true reluctance to "trust" the British in south east Asia, or China proper due to their past and present colonial exploits at the time. There is one weird thing concerning both arms shipments and later L-L deliveries, at first the Hong Kong ports wouldn't allow arms to be docked, or delivered and later the Rangoon docks had a "hold' on delivery of goods so that stocks piled up and sat there for months. I don't know the answer to all of the "what-ifs", just positing this one without really looking into the logistics (a basic), or international laws in depth.

Edited by brndirt1, 25 February 2012 - 08:44 PM.

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#5 belasar

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 12:07 AM

It would seem that an effective Chinese resistance would of course have a greater effect upon Japan forcing a much greater attrition of manpower. Would not this effectively prevent Japanese reinforcements at Guadelcanal and 1944 Burma invasion?
Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

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#6 Markus Becker

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:05 AM

Err, Chiang letting the US train and equip the Commies? I can't see that happening. Chiang was smart enough to understand they were his mortal enemies. About the NRA. When you refer to division, do you mean Chinese divisions, that were the size of a western regiment or western style division with three infantry regiments plus supporting forces?No matter what you mean, where do the weapons and equipment come from and how do they get into China in 1942/43? It wasn't just the closed Burma Road but the infrastructure in eastern India was very poor even compred to that of Burma.

#7 syscom3

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 06:30 PM

How was the US going to equip these divisions when there was a lack of shipping to this part of the world, well into 1944.

#8 belasar

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:27 PM

Does anone have any data on how much material actually reach China and how many formations was rearmed by len-lease?
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#9 efestos

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 02:23 PM

I made a hasty web search and within my limited scope I found this: HYPERWAR , of course:

United States Army in World War II
China-Burma-India Theater
Stillwell's Mission to China


Japanese Advance in Burma
20 January-19 March 1942

Attached File  USA-CBI-Mission-3.jpg   108.76KB   4 downloads

When after the Battle of the Sittang Bridge the menace to Rangoon became obvious and imminent, the AMMISCA personnel in Rangoon on Magruder's orders destroyed all movable lend-lease stores. Much equipment had been sent north, the rate hitting 1,000 tons a day as disaster neared, but it was necessary to burn 972 trucks in various stages of assembly, 5,000 tires, 1,000 blankets and sheeting, and a ton of odds and ends. A great deal of lend-lease was transferred to the imperial forces in Burma: 300 Bren guns with 3,200,000 rounds, 1,000 submachine guns with 180,000 rounds of ammunition, 260 jeeps, 683 trucks, and 100 field telephones.6

"There were, however, 19,052 tons of lend-lease materials in dead storage which were left behind: "miscellaneous light loads for dead storage, 903 tons; industrial machinery, 3,030½ tons; electrical equipment, 686 tons; and construction materials, 14,432½ tons." Rpt, St. John to Stilwell, 10 Mar 42, sub: Rpt on Rangoon Opn from 1 Jan 42 to Evacuation Date. Item 47, Port of Rangoon Folder, CT 42, Dr 4, KCRC. "
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#10 Carronade

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 07:17 PM

Here's a link for tonnage delivered over the Hump 1943-45, which was close to all the tonnage delivered from the closing of the Burma Road in 1942 to the opening of the Ledo Road in 1945:

Army Air Forces in World War II

A couple of interesting points - almost 60% of air tonnage was delivered in 1945. This was also when the Ledo Road came into operation; it delivered approximately 147,000 tons by end of the war. Total tonnage for both modes was 832,000 of which 549,000 - 66% - was in 1945.

57% of air delivered tonnage was gasoline and oil, which was mainly to support American air operations. From May 1943 the airlift was primarily a gas lift, excepting only a few months in the winter of 1943-44. A substantial share of other cargo would be bombs and consumables for the USAAF along with vehicles, building materials, equipment, etc. It seems likely that almost all food for Americans was flown in rather than having them subsist on the local economy. How much does this leave for equipping and supporting Chinese troops?

#11 steverodgers801

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 12:40 PM

The true test is if Chiang actually would allow democracy in his country. Marshall negotiated an agreement in 1947 that would have split the country into north and south, Chiang refused and launched an attack. His army vanished on him and he had no support among the general populace.

#12 Marmat

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 04:14 PM

... courtesy of the French and the Soviets:


While the Soviets were sending raw materials to the Germans, they were also actively supporting the Chinese, sending equipment, stores, weapons etc., via the Trans-Siberian railway. Besides the territorial issues, the Soviets fought the Japanese on the Halha at Nomonhan, or Khalkhin-Gol (take your pick) in 1939, largely because Japanese incursions into Mongolia threatened the Trans-Siberian RR. There was a spur line to Manchuria i.e. the Trans-Manchurian Line, and a spur line into Mongolia that was expanded post war into the Trans-Mongolian Line. These RR’s largely superseded a road network that had been in existence for centuries, running down through Mongolia into Lanchow in China and points east and west, known to history as the “Silk Road”.


That changed with the Japanese–Soviet Non-aggression Pact, signed in Moscow not long before Barbarossa, which included recognition of Manchukuo and the Mongolian People's Republic; supplying China through the USSR, which had been off and on, was stopped as well.


The Japanese attempted to prevent Chinese re-supply by controlling the Chinese coast. In the same vein seizing French Indochina eliminated the Haiphong-Yunnan RR supply route to China. After this route was closed, the US Gov’t urged the British to reopen the Burma Road, which also ran from Yunnan, but to Rangoon & Mandalay.

Interesting discussion ...

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#13 Carronade

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 05:05 PM

If Chiang had been competent, his troops would have been better trained and provided for all along. It's often noted that famine rarely results from actual lack of food so much as failure of the distribution and political systems, and the same principle probably applies to poorly equipped armies - though the supply of munitions may have more direct impact in this case! Well-led Chinese armies inflicted several major defeats on the Japanese in 1939-42 and would likely have done more had their overall war effort been better managed.

CBI was literally the opposite side of the world from the United States; when ships had to steam around Africa or Australia, the sea voyage was about the longest it is possible to make. Inevitably CBI would be the least rewarding place to devote shipping resources to, even before we consider the difficulty of the final leg into China.

On the good side, the Chinese armies were basically light infantry, on a par with the Japanese. Supporting a Chinese division did not require anything like the tonnage for an American (and would have required even less had Chiang's regime used its own resources effectively). One could make a bang-for-the-buck argument that a relatively small investment could tie down a lot of Japanese troops - assuming Chiang & Co. were willing actually to use the weapons we gave them against the common foe.

As noted most of the cargo delivered to China went to support the American air forces, including heavy bombers, perhaps the most "expensive" units to sustain logistically. At least we knew they would be active against the enemy! - otherwise I would have to agree with Stilwell that more of our effort should have devoted to developing and supporting the Chinese armies. The brief attempt to use B-29s from Chinese bases - Operation Matterhorn - was IMO one of our most questionable investments.

I ran across this in the wikipedia article on the battle of West Hunan, a Chinese victory in 1945:

By April 1945, enough materiel had become available to the Chinese army to equip 35 divisions with American equipment.[5] And a major counter offensive was planned.

Unfortunately note [5] says "needtofindsource" but it's something of an indication.

#14 syscom3

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:24 PM

"By April 1945".

That corresponds with the end of the war in Europe, when a large amount of shipping and material was being made available.




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