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Thread: The Stilwell/Ledo Road........WW2.

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    The Stilwell/Ledo Road........WW2.

    Reopening of the Stilwell Road 6 September 2011

    Jayasree Nath
    Research Intern,IPCS

    The Stilwell Road was a historical supply route to transport requisites to Chinese soldiers during the Second World War. Passing through Myanmar, the road once connected China and North-eastern part of India. The reopening of the road is in the news due to “India’s Look East Policy” to cut the transportation costs between India, China and Myanmar. However, India recently condemned the project, leading to fresh controversies, especially in the country’s North-East. This article elucidates on the controversy and concerns of the Indian central and regional governments.

    The Government of India (GoI) believes that Myanmar is reluctant to reopen the Stilwell Road given security concerns. Despite the fact the Indian central government has shown keen interest to reopen the road. DoNER officials observed that “Myanmar is not interested in opening the road as it passes through the country’s Kachin region which is infested by insurgent elements, including those belonging to India like ULFA and NSCN factions” (Myanmar opposed to Stilwell Road re-opening, The Assam Tribune, 3 July 2011). Pointing out another reason as problems related to funding, in an report published in The Sentinel, titled Reopen Stilwell Road: Northeast CM’s, an Indian foreign ministry official indicated that since most of the road lies in Myanmar, major reconstruction would be pending with Myanmar, as the road was significantly damaged since the War.

    GoI’s recent decision to open it up has led to a fresh controversy in the North East region. NE states which are connected through this road are very much in support of reopening the road considering the opportunities it gives for commercial growth and development of the Region. Mentioning unanimous decision of the regional heads on the road, Assam’s Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi stated that “there is no second opinion among the regional heads of the North East”. He also urged that for economic prosperity of the region and effective implementation of the ‘Centre’s Look East Policy’, reopening of the road is necessary.

    Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh added “Free trade with Southeast Asian countries would be possible only with the reopening of the Stilwell Road which is the gateway to Southeast Asia.” Advocating road links to Southeast Asia, leaders from the North East region pointed out that Yangon, Bangkok and even some Chinese cities are much closer to most North Eastern states than Delhi or Mumbai. For instance, Kunming in China is only 1,726 km from Ledo in Assam where the Stilwell Road begins (Reopen Stilwell Road: Northeast CMs, The Sentinel, 19 July 2011).

    Highlighting the commercial Growth and development of the insurgency-affected region, Arunachal Pradesh Governor Gen (Ret.d) J J Singh opined that reopening the road would reduce transportation cost between China and India by more than 30 per cent, and make it a production hub for Myanmarese and Western Chinese markets (Arunachal Guv seeks opening of Stilwell Road, The Assam Tribune, 20 June 2011). Makbul Pertin, Commissioner of Trade & Commerce, Arunachal Pradesh provided a glimpse of trade prospects, including “agricultural products, valuable timber, precious stones and ayurvedic medicines” which can be traded with Myanmar, while coal, fertilizer, tea, finished wood products, electronic goods, clothes, cement, steel and iron products, medicines and processed foods can be exported by India” (Border trade set for boom on historic Stilwell Road, The Sentinel, 24 Feb 2011).

    On the security issue, the neighbouring Indian states, particularly Assam is against the view of a security threat posed by reopening of the road. (‘Tarun Gogoi stresses need for connectivity with South East Asia,’ The Assam Tribune, 5 July 2011). Talking to The Assam Tribune, Pradyut Bordoloi, Assam’s Minister for Industries and Commerce stressed the need for reopening trade routes via neighboring countries, urging the central government to adopt a pragmatic policy in developing the economic standing of the North East (Call to reopen NE trade routes, 31 January 2010).

    On the other hand, highlighting transport connectivity with countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, the opposition party of Assam (AGP) criticized the decision of the GoI as self-contradictory and added that opening of this trade route could strengthen the bilateral relation between neighbouring nations (The Assam Tribune, 27 June 2010). However, amid this contradiction, what has been overlooked is that the Chinese government has already initiated endeavours for repairing the road to its own advantage. According to information published in The Assam Tribune dated 28th March 2011, a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence pointed out China’s activities on Myanmar border and the reconstruction of the road till India’s doorstep. This stands in sharp contrast to India’s concern to defer opening the road on Myanmar’s concerns.

    Overall impression of this survey is that, although Stilwell road has a potential for trade development between India, Myanmar and China, security threats are hindering cooperation. Regional cooperation among the South Asian nations will benefit all and hence there is an immediate need to redress the issue than deferring it. Therefore, the opening of the road holds greater promise than perceived misfortune.

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    The Stilwell Road (1945)
    Documentary about the construction of the Stilwell Road--originally called The Ledo Road--a 478-mile passage from Assam, India, to Ledo, Burma, during World War II.

    This movie is part of the collection: Feature Films

    Production Company: Office of War Information
    Audio/Visual: sound, black & white
    Keywords: WWII; Documentary;
    Contact Information:

    Creative Commons license: Public Domain

    This runs for 49 minutes and is well worth watching as a historical WW2 event.

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    THE LEDO ROAD China-Burma-India Theater of World War II

    Toughest Job Ever Given To U.S. Army Engineers In Wartime

    The Ledo Road and the upgraded portion of the Burma Road from Mongyu to Kunming were later named Stilwell Road in honor of American General Joseph W. Stilwell, Commander of the China-Burma-India Theater and Chief of Staff to Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The Stilwell Road covered 1,079 miles from Ledo, India to Kunming, China.

    Go to the link........all progam segments are on the left hand panel.

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    The Stilwell Road This the "Youtube" copy.......although the link mentioned above gives me a clearer view.

    Documentary about the construction of the Stilwell Road--originally called The Ledo Road--a 478-mile passage from Assam, India, to Ledo, Burma, during World War II. The road, which was built by 63,000 workers and cost $150 million, was used by the British, Chinese and Indian armies to transport supplies, troops and other essentials from India to Burma in order to keep the Japanese from overrunning the entire theater. Included is footage of the construction of the road itself and of Gen. Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell, the American general in charge of forces in the China-Burma-India area of operations and for whom the road was named.

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    Re: The Stilwell/Ledo Road........WW2.

    Here is a great story about two British [Malay Police Officers] travelled the Ledo Road back in 1958 in a WW2 Willys Jeep, they went overland from Singapore to England.

    Roy Follows C.P.M. F.R.G.S

    Here is a short snippet [or 2] about the journey.

    A little about the journey:

    To overcome the long and unknown distances between fuel availability, we had long range petrol tanks fitted in the rear of the Jeep. These two tanks, of which the scrap yard obtained and fitted came off a couple of ex British Army trucks. When the Jeep was loaded with petrol, there was over 45 gallons sloshing about - an inferno waiting. From the map below, you will see that Lashio is/was the last place for petrol (no pumps - it was sold in 5 gallon tins) until well into India. In Lashio we took on board as much petrol as we could carry, hoping that it would be enough to get us through; we even made sure the cooking stove was full to the brim, but even with all this amount of fuel, we still ran out. The Jeep spluttered to a halt miles from anywhere along the Ledo/Stillwell Road.

    'This adventure took place in an old war-time Willys MB Jeep back in 1958. In comparison, today's style of off-roading is tame and uneventful.' MARK ASKEW JEEP BOOKS LIMITED

    'Roy Follows and Noel Dudgeon have achieved an extraordinary thing. The least we lesser mortals can do is read the fascinating story.' MATTHEW PARRIS THE TIMES ROOM HOUSE OF COMMONS

    ' As the organiser of the RAINFOREST CHALLENGE, one of the most demanding 4x4, off-road events in the world, I wish to salute Roy Follows and Noel Dudgeon for truly living out their passion for adventure and taking on a challenge of a lifetime.' LUIS J A WEE FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL RAINFOREST CHALLENGE OF MALAYSIA

    "What about overland?'' I quipped, chewing on a wad of salted fish,running the spoon around my mess tin, chasing the last few grains of rice. The minute Noel looked up, I knew he was hooked on the idea of driving home."

    This chance remark made in a jungle den, deep in the heart of Malaya, was the catalyst to a unique overland adventure. At the time, Roy Follows and his firm friend Noel Dudgeon were Colonial police officers, engaged in a lethal war fighting Chinese Communists in the Malay Emergency. One year later, in February 1958, they'd purchased anex-army Willys Jeep from a scrap yard and were meandering through the Communist infested Thai jungle, heading for England.

    Underterred by the disclaimer, 'Enter Burma at own risk' endorsed in their passports, the fearless duo take on the challenge of the infamous Ledo Road, while over in Baluchistan, they resolve a life-threatening ambush with the outward calm of nipping to the corner shop for a pint of milk.

    In the spirit of true adventure, this expedition wasn't attached to the umbilical cord of a mobile phone or G.P.S. Furthermore, every potential sponsor believed the journey would be impossible, so when the going got tough there was no comfort blanket.

    To date, Roy Follows has featured in several radio and television documentaries including Empire Warriors [BBC 2]. His previous book THE JUNGLE BEAT, details how Follows survived in the Malay jungle and is believed to be staple reading for aspiring recruits in the S.A.S.

    Fluent in Cantonese, Noel Dudgeon, was the distinct other half of this venture. During his service in the Malay police, Dudgeon commanded a unit of surrendered Chinese terrorists known as the Special Operation Volunteer Force, and undertook covert operations against the Communist guerrillas. Dudgeon later served in Vietnam with the Australian Army, and American Special Forces. He completed his career as a Major in the Australian S.A.S. More recently, Dudgeon's quest for adventure has included white water rafting and planning The Great Camel Race traversing the breadth of Australia.More at the link

    I have just finished reading this book for the second time, Roy Follow's other book, "The Jungle Beat", detailing his service in Malaya is also available on Amazon...... both books are worthy of reading.
    Last edited by 1938 Observer; 10th August 2012 at 22:36. Reason: forgot book title

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