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American Forces in Burma

The first American force in Burma was the 5307th Regiment (Provisional), a three battalion force, made up of about 3,000 volunteers from the US, the 33rd Infantry regiment in Trinidad, and US forces in the SW Pacific. This force was given the name "Merrill's Marauders" by the press. Its commander was Brigadier General Frank Merrill, but during most of its combat, it was led by Col. Charles N. Hunter. 

The initial Battalion Commanders were: 1st - Lt. Col. William L. Osborne; 2nd - Lt. Col. George A. McGee, Jr., and 3rd - Lt. Col. Charles E. Beach. Each battalion composed of two combat teams of 16 officers and 456 enlisted men. Pack transport was provided by an initial mule strength of 700 animals. Galahad operations took place in 1944, resulting in the fall of Myitkyina on August 3. The 5307th was disbanded shortly thereafter. 

The few fit survivors were assigned to its successor, the 5332nd Brigade. During the latter phase of the operation, a new force, named "New Galahad" was organized. It was designated the 5332nd Brigade (Provisional) and consisted of the 124th Cavalry Regiment and the 475th Infantry Regiment. The US Army designated the 475th as a Long Range Penetration Regiment, Special. The Brigade was known as the "Mars Task Force." Its first commander was Brigadier General Thomas S. Arms, succeeded by Brigadier General John P. Willey. The 475th was commanded by Col. William L. Osborne, former commander of the 1st Battalion of the 5307th Regiment. The first commander of the 124th Cavalry was Col. Milo H. Matteson.

There were also the invaluable air force units, such as the 10th and 14th Air Forces, which provided some direct fighter support, and medium/heavy bomber operations. The First and Second Troop Carrier Squadrons also provided vital air resupply support, not only to the 5307th and 5332nd, but also to Major General Orde Wingate's Chindit forces in 1943 and 1944.

In addition were supply support organizations such as the Army Signal Corps construction and service battalions which built and operated the telephone and teletype open wire circuits along the Ledo and Burma Roads. There were petroleum pipeline construction and operations companies which supplied gasoline all the way to Myitkyina by the end of the war.  Quartermaster road construction and operations battalions built the Ledo Road from Ledo to Bhamo in Burma, improved the Burma Road all the way to Kunming, China, and operated truck convoys from India to China, beginning in January 1945.  Railway operations battalions improved the rail supply system in Assam.

 

Please e-mail Steve Rothwell with comments, additional information and requests for help

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