June 24th, 1944 - My orders have been changed. My assignment was changed by General Cannon who is G-2 on Stilwell’s staff. I am to be his chief Liaison officer with the 1st Chinese Regiment which is organized like a brigade or small division. One half of my troops are working on the combat trail, one company fighting with Merrill’s Marauders and two companies fighting at Kaimaing and Mogaung. Regimental headquarters is about half way between Shadazup and Warazup, Colonel Lia commanding.
I have replaced a light colonel who was killed in action. General Cannon said that although liaison officers have to be in the combat area and will come under fire at times, they should try and avoid close contact with the enemy as much as possible as too many liaison officers were becoming casualties. He said that the casualty that I was replacing had been too daring, liked to take part in close fire fights and may have been a medal hunter. And he paid the price. I told Cannon not to worry about me as I was raised a coward. He laughed and said, ”Join the Club.”
Formally met the Chinese regimental officers today. They seem to be a cut above most of the Chinese officers I have met up to now. They were all very friendly and respectful, probably due to the Chinese Major General insignia that I was wearing. Face is so important to the Chinese that no Chinese officer could take orders from anyone of lower rank without loosing face. Consequently, there are a lot of American officers wearing Chinese officer rank insignia four or five grades higher than their true rank. I will be able to talk to any Chinese officer, give advice and he will have to comply. There are no Chinese officers in Burma higher than a Major General. Only Chiang Kai Chek has a higher rank. I will have to inspect the regiment shortly.
I have been given an L-5 Liaison plane with a sergeant pilot for when I have to cover a lot of ground in a hurry. It is small but sturdy and has all of the radio and navigational equipment and can land or take off on a country road or sand bar in 1000 ft.
I flew into the strip yesterday afternoon. It was taken several days ago and we took the air strip in Moguang today. My Chinese companies had about 100 casualties but very few killed. We will move regimental headquarters forward pretty soon. We took 6 Jap prisoners, apparently stragglers from the main Jap body, which is on the run. Lots of discarded equipment but they still have a good many trucks and tanks so they will be able to move rapidly towards Moguang. There is a two macadam road between Kaimaing and Moguan in pretty good shape. They will run into our road blocks North of Moguang as we have cut their lines of communication between Moguan and Myitkyina.
The jungle is filled with small parties of Jap stragglers and firing breaks out frequently in the vicinity. Their main body is about 20 miles ahead but it is estimated that there are from 1 to 200 stragglers in small groups that are trying to catch up with their main body. Not much chance though, as they are on foot and the main body is mechanized and moving fast.
I have been under small arms fire so I now qualify for the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and $10 per month additional pay. Counting the 10% overseas duty pay, I am getting richer by the minute. I had just as soon not have it. How about that! I am already a combat soldier and have not fired a shot at the enemy.
We are heavily armed and have scouts out constantly. The jungle is great for setting up an ambush. I carry three grenades, a pistol and an M-1 carbine. My bodyguards carry grenades and Tommy guns. They are combat veterans and are responsible for my safety. I am glad someone is concerned with my safety. We are loaded for bear and I do wish it was a real bear hunt!
I thought Kaimaing was secure several days ago. We control the town and the road to Magoung on this side of the river but the Japs are on the other side only 100 yards away. We have cut a bypass around an exposed part of the road in order to keep traffic moving towards Mogaung. We do mortar and machine gun them at intervals but do not hear too much from them. We can smell their cooking fires but I think they are interesting in joining their main body than provoking a fight with us and they have a long way to go.
Last night a guard caught a Jap entering Capt. Baker’s tent and shot him. He had a grenade but no rifle. He was probably trying to steal food, which is an indication of the desperate situation they find themselves in. Japs in Chinese uniforms are frequently caught in the chow line. They could fool us but the Chinese spot them immediately. This is pretty much just about as I had imagined it would be, bad but not too bad. I had a whole lot rather take my chances here than in the ETO. There are small groups of Japs all around us in the jungle but they are not trying to harass us, just trying to rejoin their forces.
Most of them will never make it. We estimate there are about 500 lost in the jungle. We have combat patrols out and every now an then there is a lot of firing but we are unable to get an accurate body count. If you believe our Chinese officers, they have already killed about 2000 of the original estimate of 500.
The Chinese are suppose to turn over prisoners to us for interrogation. I get a signal that “A” company has taken some prisoners, I rush as fast as possible. Sometimes taking an hour to get there, only to have the Chinese greet me with “No prisoners, all dead.” Of course, the prisoners are not dead but soon will be. They have been taken back into the jungle, where tonight the Chinese will build a fire and dispose of them at their leisure. I cannot stomach this torture but both sides do it! The Chinese do it a little more artistically than the Japs.
We have uncovered the evidence several times of both the Chinese and Japanese torture orgies. It is a sickening site. I blew up this time and told the company commanders that if I did not start getting prisoners, when I know that some had been taken, I would see that they lost their commands! This pretty much ended these torture parties in my Chinese divisions. Now, most of the Japs prisoner we take, might make it home when this thing is over!
Went to Mogaung by Jeep today. We were fired on several times but from a great distance, with no results. Later, we were fired on from close range. Capt. Graham and I crawled on our bellies for a while and I finally go off some shots at movement with no return fire but did not check for results. About 40 yards to my left, Capt. Graham cut loose with rapid fire and I started moving slowly to help him out but met him coming back. He said that he had killed three Japs at a range of 30 yards and he had souvenirs to prove it, their weapons and papers. Chinese and Japanese look so much alike to us that you almost have to shoot first and check up later. I took a few fooling chances today.
The Chinese admire and have more confidence in an officer who will take part in a fire fight occasionally. I felt that I owed it to my grandchildren, if I am fortunate enough to have some sometime, to be able to tell them how their grand pappy helped win the war in the CBI theater.