Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 47COMMUNICATION FROM PVT. MICHAEL ZULEVICH CONCERNING SERVICE IN THE CHINA-BURMA-INDIA THEATER
October 1, 1945
American propeller-driven C-47 and C-54 transport planes had been flying supplies over the "hump" from northeastern India to the south of China since 1942. The distance between these points was approximately 500 miles. The "hump" referred to the Himalayan Mountain Range which had to be traversed en route. Icing at high altitudes, monsoon rain storms from mid-May to October, and harassment from ground batteries and enemy fighter planes made missions especially dangerous. The United States operated this supply line for the Chinese Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek who were resisting the Japanese invaders in the south of China. Chinese Communist fighters led by Mao Tse-tung were waging guerrilla warfare against the Japanese in the north at the same time.
When the war with Japan ended suddenly on August 14, the Nationalists were unprepared to take over and administer the vast areas of China which the Japanese had occupied. The country's transportation system had never achieved Western standards and what railroads there were had been seriously damaged. For a year after Japan's capitulation American ships and planes ferried nearly a half million of Chiang's troops to key cities in the north. American marines numbering some 50,000 landed and secured vital port cities, coal mines, and railroad centers. American lend-lease arms and ammunition and other war materiel valued at $600,000,000 were rushed to supply the Nationalist army. General George C. Marshall, then envoy to Chiang's government, cut off arms supplies in July of 1946 in an effort to force the Generalissimo to share China's government with Mao and his Communist followers. Both sides doggedly refused to negotiate meaningfully. Widespread civil war resulted in 1947 and by the end of 1949 Chiang and his people had evacuated themselves to Formosa.
With servicemen abroad and civilians at home clamoring for a speedy demobilization America's leaders had to decide where they would concentrate remaining military strength in order to check the spread of the new threat of communism. In the end Europe was considered more vital to U.S. interests than was Asia.
ATC referred to the Air Transport Command of the United States Army Air Corps. The CBI was the China-Burma-India war theater.
Points to Consider
What was "lend-lease"?
What was "V-J Day"?
What was the "hump"?
Why was the army slow in releasing flight radio operators from the China-Burma-India theater?