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The author has produced a well-researched and comprehensive account of the longest and perhaps the least-known land campaign of WW2. It tied-down and defeated larger Japanese forces than the better-known Pacific islands campaign. He describes the complications caused by the conflicting objectives of the American, British and Nationalist Chinese governments, not to mention very challenging terrain and climate and a lack of roads. Despite opposition from the Mackenzie-King government, which for domestic political reasons did not want to be perceived as restoring a colonial regime, some 8,000 Canadians made crucial contributions. These included the engineers who developed a covering for impassably-muddy roads and airfields to allow them to continue functioning during monsoon. (Bitumen-impregnated rolls of jute/hessian, known as "bithess" proved better than corduroy road, pierced steel plate or other materials). Nominally RAF fighter and bomber squadrons included significant numbers of Canadian pilots and aircrew, as of course did the RCAF transport squadrons involved. (While most recently a university history professor, the author served in one of these). A number of Canadian doctors served with the Indian regiments which bore the brunt of the fighting. Chinese- and French-Canadian SOE operatives trained and led indigenous forces. A naval lieutenant from Newfoundland who suggested using swimmers to recce river crossings found himself immersed in a new career. To resupply widely-dispersed land forces, transport pilots flew in all weather, including what they described as "ten-tenths cloud with intermittent mountain peaks". Their ground crews often worked double shifts, riding along in the back to kick out cargo.Read more ›
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