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ving in Burma just in time to experience the collapse of the Allied defense of that country, which cut China off from all land personally led his staff of 117 men and women out of Burma into Assam, India on foot, marching at what his men called the 'Stilwell stride' – 105 paces per minute.[1][2] Two of the men accompanying him, his aide Frank Dorn and the warresistance to panese going by providing a lifeline of logistical and air support.

Convinced that the Chinese soldier was the equal of any given proper care and leadership, Stilwell established a training center (in Ramgarh, India, 200 miles west of Calcutta) for two divisions of Chinese troops from forces that had retreated to Assam from Burma. His effort in this regard met passive, sometimes active, resistance from the British, who feared that armed, disciplined Chinese would set an example for Indian insurgents, and from Chiang Kai-shek who did not welcome a strong military unit outside of his control. From the outset, Stilwell's primary goals were the opening of a land route to China from northern Burma and India by means of a ground offensive in northern Burma, so that more supplies could be transported to China, and to organize, equip, and train a reorganized, reequipped, modernized, and competent Chinese army that would fight the Japanese in the China-Burma-India theater (CBI).[3][4] Stilwell argued that the CBI was the only area at that time where the possibility existed for the Allies of engaging large numbers of troops against their common enemy, Japan. Unfortunately, the huge airborne logistical train of support from the US to British India was still being organized, while supplies being flown over the Hump were barely sufficient to maintain Chennault's air operations and replace some Chinese war losses, let alone equip and supply an entire army.[3][4] Additionally, critical supplies intended for the CBI were being diverted due to various crises in other combat theaters.[3] Of the supplies that made it over the Hump a certain percentage were diverted by Chinese (and American) personnel into the black market for their personal enrichment.[5] As a result, most Allied commanders in India, with the exception of General Orde Wingate and his Chindit operations, were focused on defensive measures.

Command of the Chindits[edit | edit source]

During this time in India, Stilwell became increasingly disenchanted with British forces, and did not hesitate to voice criticisms of what he viewed as hesitant or cowardly behavior. Ninety percent of the Chindit casualties were incurred in the last phase of the campaign from 17 May when they were under the direct command of Stilwell.[6] The British view was quite different and they pointed out that over the period from 6 June to 27 June, Calvert's 77th Brigade, which lacked heavy weapons, took Mogaung and suffered 800 casualties (50%) among those of the brigade involved in the operation. Stilwell expected 77th Brigade to join the siege of Myitkyina but Michael Calvert, sickened by demands on his troops which he considered abusive, switched off his radios and withdrew to Stilwell's base. 111 Brigade, after resting, were ordered to capture a hill known as Point 2171. They did so, but were now utterly exhausted. Most of them were suffering from malaria, dysentery and malnutrition. On 8 July, at the insistence of the Supreme Commander, Admiral Louis Mountbatten, doctors examined the brigade. Of the 2200 men present from four and a half battalions, only 119 were declared fit. The Brigade was evacuated, although Masters sarcastically kept the fit men, "111 Company" in the field until 1 August.

The portion of 111 Brigade east of the Irrawaddy were known as Morris Force, after its commander, Lieutenant-Colonel "Jumbo" Morris. They had spent several months harassing Japanese traffic from Bhamo to Myitkyina. They had then attempted to complete the encirclement of Myitkyina. Stilwell was angered that they were unable to do so, but Slim pointed out that Stilwell's Chinese troops (numbering 5,500) had also failed in that task. By 14 July, Morris Force was down to three platoons. A week later, they had only 25 men fit for duty. Morris Force was evacuated about the same time as 77th Brigade

Captain Charlton Ogburn, Jr., a U.S. Army Marauder officer, and Chindit brigade commanders John Masters and Michael Calvert later recalled that Stilwell's appointment of a staff officer specially detailed by him to visit subordinate commands in order to chastise their officers and men as being 'yellow'.[7] In October 1943, after the Joint Planning Staff at GHQ India had rejected a plan by Stilwell to fly his Chinese troops into northern Burma, Field Marshal Wavell asked whether Stilwell was satisfied on purely military grounds that the plan could not work. Stilwell replied that he was. Wavell then asked what Stilwell would say to Chiang Kai-shek, and Stilwell replied "I shall tell him the bloody British wouldn't fight."[8]

Disagreements with Chiang and the Allies[edit | edit source]

I have waited long for vengeance,
At last I’ve had my chance.
I’ve looked the Peanut in the eye
And kicked him in the pants.

The old harpoon was ready
With aim and timing true,
I sank it to the handle,
And stung him through and through.

The little bastard shivered,
And lost the power of speech.
His face turned green and quivered
As he struggled not to screech.

For all weary battles,
For all my hours of woe,
At last I've had my innings
And laid the Peanut low.

I know I've still to suffer,
And run a weary race,
But oh! the blessed pleasure!
I've wrecked the Peanut's face.

— Poem written by Joseph Stilwell in 1944[9]

After Stilwell left the defeated Chinese troops that he had been given nominal command by Chiang Kai-shek (Chinese generals admitted later that they had considered Stilwell as an 'adviser' and sometimes took orders directly from Chiang), he escaped Burma in 1942,[10] Chiang was outraged by what he saw as Stilwell's blatant abandonment of his best army without orders and began to question Stilwell's capability and judgment as a military commander.[11] Chiang was also infuriated at Stilwell's strict control of U.S. lend lease supplies to China. But instead of confronting Stilwell or communicating his concerns to Marshall and Roosevelt when they asked Chiang to assess Stilwell's leadership after the Allied disaster in Burma, Chiang reiterated his "full confidence and trust" in the general[12] while countermanding some orders to Chinese units issued by Stilwell in his capacity as Chief of Staff. An outraged Stilwell began to call Chiang "the little dummy" or "Peanut" in his reports to Washington,[13] ("Peanut" originally being intended as a code name for Chiang in official radio messages[14]) while Chiang repeatedly expressed his pent-up grievances against Stilwell for his "recklessness, insubordination, contempt and arrogance" to U.S. envoys to China.[15] Stilwell would press Chiang and the British to take immediate actions to retake Burma, but Chiang demanded impossibly large amounts of supplies before he would agree to take offensive action, and the British refused to meet their previous pledges to provide naval and ground troops due to Churchill's "Europe first" strategy.[16] Eventually Stilwell began to complain openly to Roosevelt that Chiang was hoarding U.S. lend lease supplies because he wanted to keep Chinese Nationalist forces ready to fight the under Mao Zedong after the end of the war with the Japanese,[17] even though from 1942 to 1944 98 percent of U.S. military aid over the Hump had gone directly to the 14th Air Force and U.S. military personnel in China.[18]

Stilwell also continually clashed with Field Marshal Archibald Wavell, and apparently came to believe that the British in India were more concerned with protecting their colonial possessions than helping the Chinese fight the Japanese. In August 1943, as a result of constant feuding and conflicting objectives of British, American, and Chinese commands, along with the lack of a coherent strategic vision for the China Burma India (CBI) theater, the Combined Chiefs of Staff split the CBI command into separate Chinese and Southeast Asia theaters.

Stilwell with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang Kai-shek

Stilwell was infuriated also by the rampant corruption of the Chiang regime. In his diary, which he faithfully kept, Stilwell began to note the corruption and the amount of money ($380,584,000 in 1944 dollars) being wasted upon the procrastinating Chiang and his government. The Cambridge History of China, for instance, also estimates that some 60%–70% of Chiang's Kuomintang conscripts did not make it through their basic training, with some 40% deserting and the remaining 20% dying of starvation before full induction into the military. Eventually, Stilwell's belief that the Generalissimo and his generals were incompetent and corrupt reached such proportions that Stilwell sought to cut off Lend-Lease aid to China.[19] Stilwell even ordered Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officers to draw up contingency plans to assassinate Chiang Kai-shek after he heard Roosevelt's casual remarks regarding the possible defeat of Chiang by either internal or external enemies, and if this happened to replace Chiang with someone else to continue the Chinese resistance against Japan.[20]

Myitkyina Offensive and aftermath[edit | edit source]

With the establishment of the new South East Asia Command in August 1943, Stilwell was appointed Deputy Supreme Allied Commander under Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. Taking command of various Chinese and Allied forces, including a new U.S. Army special operations formation, the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional) later known as Merrill's Marauders, Stilwell built up his Chinese forces for an eventual offensive in northern Burma. On December 21, 1943, Stilwell assumed direct control of planning for the invasion of Northern Burma, culminating with capture of the Japanese-held town of Myitkyina. In the meantime, Stilwell ordered General Merrill and the Marauders to commence long-range jungle penetration missions behind Japanese lines after the pattern of the British Chindits. In February 1944, three Marauder battalions marched into Burma. Though Stilwell was at the Ledo Road front when the Marauders arrived at their jump-off point, the general did not walk out to the road to bid them farewell.[21]

In April 1944, Stilwell launched his final offensive to capture the Burmese city of Myitkyina. In support of this objective, the Marauders were ordered to undertake a long flanking maneuver towards the town, involving a grueling 65-mile jungle march. Having been deployed since February in combat operations in the jungles of Burma, the Marauders were seriously depleted and suffering from both combat losses and disease, and lost additional men while en route to the objective. A particularly devastating scourge was a severe outbreak of amoebic dysentery, which erupted shortly after the Marauders linked up with the Chinese Army in India, called X Force.[22] By this time, the men of the Marauders had openly begun to suspect Stilwell's commitment to their welfare. Despite their sacrifices, Stilwell appeared unconcerned about their losses, and had rejected repeated requests for medals for individual acts of heroism.[23] Initial promises of a rest and rotation were ignored; the Marauders were not even air-dropped replacement uniforms or mail until late April.[24][25]

On May 17, 1,310 remaining Marauders attacked Myitkyina airfield in concert with elements of two Chinese infantry regiments and a small artillery contingent.[26][27] The airfield was quickly taken, but the town, which Stilwell's intelligence staff had believed to be lightly defended,[28] was garrisoned by significant numbers of well-equipped Japanese troops, who were steadily being reinforced.[24] A preliminary attack on the town by two Chinese regiments was thrown back with heavy losses.[24][29] The Marauders did not have the manpower to immediately overwhelm Myitkyina and its defenses; by the time additional Chinese forces arrived and were in a position to attack, Japanese forces totaled some 4,600[29] fanatical Japanese defenders.[26][27]

During the Myitkyina siege, which took place during the height of the monsoon season, Marauders' second-in-command, Col. Hunter, as well as the unit's regimental and battalion level surgeons, had urgently recommended that the entire 5307th be relieved of duty and returned to rear areas for rest and recovery. By this time, most of the men had fevers and continual dysentery, forcing the men to cut the seats out of their uniform trousers in order to fire their weapons and relieve themselves simultaneously.[30][31] Stilwell rejected the evacuation recommendation, though he did make a frontline inspection of the Myitkyina lines. Afterwards, he ordered all medical staff to stop returning combat troops suffering from disease or illness, and instead return them to combat status, using medications to keep down fevers.[32] The feelings of many Marauders towards General Stilwell at that time were summed up by one soldier, who stated, "I had him [Stilwell] in my sights. I coulda' squeezed one off and no one woulda' known it wasn't a Jap who got that son of a bitch."[30]

Stilwell also ordered that all Marauders evacuated from combat due to wounds or fever first submit to a special medical 'examination' by doctors appointed by his headquarters staff. These examinations passed many ailing soldiers as fit for duty; Stilwell's staff roamed hospital hallways in search of any Marauder with a temperature lower than 103 degrees Fahrenheit.[30] Some of the men who were passed and sent back into combat were immediately re-evacuated as unfit at the insistence of forward medical personnel. Later, Stilwell's staff placed blame on Army medical personnel for overzealously interpreting Stilwell's return-to-duty order.[33] During the Myitkyina siege, Japanese soldiers resisted fiercely, generally fighting to the last man. As a result, Myitkyina did not fall until August 4, 1944, after Stilwell was forced to send in thousands of Chinese reinforcements, though Stilwell was pleased that the objective had at last been taken (his notes from his personal diary contain the notation, "Boy, will this burn up the Limeys!"[34]). Later, Stilwell blamed the length of the siege, among other things, on British and Gurkha Chindit forces for not promptly responding to his demands to move north in an attempt to pressure Japanese troops. This was in spite of the fact that the Chindits themselves had suffered grievous casualties in several fierce pitched battles with Japanese troops in the Burmese jungles, along with losses from illness and combat exhaustion.[32] Stilwell also had not kept his British allies clearly informed of his force movements, nor coordinated his offensive plans with those of General Slim.

Bereft of further combat replacements for his hard-pressed Marauder battalions, Stilwell felt he had no choice but to continue offensive operations with his existing forces, using the Marauders as 'the point of the spear' until they had either achieved all their objectives, or were wiped out.[25] He was also concerned that pulling out the Marauders, the only U.S. ground unit in the campaign, resulted in charges of favoritism, forcing him to evacuate the exhausted Chinese and British Chindit forces as well.[25] When General William Slim, commander of British and Commonwealth forces in Burma, informed Stilwell that his men were exhausted and should be withdrawn, Stilwell rejected the idea, insisting that his subordinate commanders simply did not understand enlisted men and their tendency to magnify physical challenges.[35] Having made his own 'long march' out of Burma under his own power using jungle trails, Stilwell found it difficult to sympathize with those who had been in combat in the jungle for months on end without relief. In retrospect, his statements at the time revealed a lack of understanding of the limitations of lightly equipped unconventional forces when used in conventional roles.[25][36] Myitkyina and the dispute over evacuation policy precipitated a hurried Army Inspector General investigation, followed by U.S. congressional committee hearings, though no disciplinary measures were taken against General Stilwell for his decisions as overall commander.[37]

Only a week after the fall of Myitkyina in Burma, the 5307th Marauder force, down to only 130 combat-effective men (out of the original 2,997), was disbanded.

Conflict with General Chennault[edit | edit source]

One of the most significant conflicts to emerge during the war was between General Stilwell and General Claire Lee Chennault, the commander of the famed "Flying Tigers" and later air force commander. As adviser to the Chinese air forces, Chennault proposed a limited air offensive against the Japanese in China in 1943 using a series of forward air bases. Stilwell insisted that the idea was untenable, and that any air campaign should not begin until fully fortified air bases supported by large infantry reserves had first been established. Stilwell then argued that all air resources be diverted to his forces in India for an early conquest of North Burma.[4]

Following Chennault's advice, Generalissimo Chiang rejected the proposal; British commanders sided with Chennault, aware they could not launch a coordinated Allied offensive into Burma in 1943 with the resources then available.[4] During the summer of 1943, Stilwell's headquarters concentrated on plans to rebuild the Chinese Army for an offensive in northern Burma, despite Chiang's insistence on support to Chennault's air operations. Stilwell believed that after forcing a supply route through northern Burma by means of a major ground offensive against the Japanese, he could train and equip thirty Chinese divisions with modern combat equipment. A smaller number of Chinese forces would transfer to India, where two or three new Chinese divisions would also be raised. This plan remained only theoretical at the time, since available airlift capacity for deliveries of supplies to China over the Hump barely sustained Chennault's air operations, and were wholly insufficient to equip a new Chinese Army.[3]

In 1944, the Japanese launched the counter-offensive, Operation Ichi-Go, quickly overrunning Chennault's forward air bases and proving Stilwell partially correct. However, by this time, Allied supply efforts via the Hump airlift were steadily improving in tonnage supplied per month; with the replacement of Chinese war losses, Chennault now saw little need for a ground offensive in northern Burma in order to re-open a ground supply route to China. This time, augmented with increased military equipment and additional troops, and concerned about defense of the approaches to India, British authorities sided with Stilwell.[38]

In coordination with a southern offensive by Nationalist Chinese forces under General Wei Li-huang, Allied troops under Stilwell's command launched the long-awaited invasion of northern Burma; after heavy fighting and casualties, the two forces linked up in January 1945. Stilwell's strategy remained unchanged: opening a new ground supply route from India to China would allow the Allies to equip and train new Chinese army divisions for use against the Japanese. The new road network, later called the Ledo Road, would link the northern end of the Burma Road as the primary supply route to China; Stilwell's staff planners had estimated the route would supply 65,000 tons of supplies per month.[3] Using these figures, Stilwell argued that the Ledo Road network would greatly surpass the tonnage being airlifted over the Hump.[4] General Chennault doubted that such an extended network of trails through difficult jungle could ever match the tonnage that could be delivered with modern cargo transport aircraft then deploying in-theater.[39] Progress on the Ledo Road was slow, and could not be completed until the linkup of forces in January 1945.

In the end, Stilwell's plan to train and modernize thirty Chinese divisions in China (as well as two or three divisions from forces already in India) was never fully realized. As Chennault predicted, supplies carried over the Ledo Road at no time approached tonnage levels of supplies airlifted monthly into China via the Hump.[40] In July 1945, 71,000 tons of supplies were flown over the Hump, compared to only 6,000 tons using the Ledo Road, and the airlift operation continued in operation until the end of the war.[39][41] By the time supplies were flowing over the Ledo Road in large quantities, operations in other theaters had shaped the course of the war against Japan.[3] Stilwell's drive into North Burma, however, allowed Air Transport Command to fly supplies into China more quickly and safely by allowing American planes to fly a more southerly route without fear of Japanese fighters. American airplanes no longer had to make the dangerous venture over the Hump, increasing the delivery of supplies from 18,000 tons in June 1944, to 39,000 tons in November 1944.[42] On August 1, 1945 a plane crossed the hump every one minute and 12 seconds.[43]

In acknowledgment of Stilwell's efforts, the Ledo Road was later renamed the Stilwell Road by Chiang Kai-shek.

Recall from China[edit | edit source]

With the rapid deterioration of the China front after Japanese launched Operation Ichi-Go in 1944, Stilwell saw this as an opportunity to gain full command of all Chinese armed forces. In a separate effort based on the same appreciation of the situation, Roosevelt sent an ultimatum to Chiang threatening to end all American aid unless Chiang "at once" place Stilwell "in unrestricted command of all your forces."[44][45] An exultant Stilwell immediately delivered this letter to Chiang despite pleas from Patrick Hurley, Roosevelt's special envoy in China, to delay delivering the message and work on a deal that would achieve Stilwell's aim in a manner more acceptable to Chiang.[46] Seeing this act as a move toward the complete subjugation of China, Chiang gave a formal reply in which he said that Stilwell must be replaced immediately and he would welcome any other qualified U.S. general to fill Stilwell's position.[47][48]

On October 19, 1944, Stilwell was recalled from his command by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Partly as a result of controversy concerning the casualties suffered by U.S. forces in Burma and partly due to continuing difficulties with the British and Chinese commanders, Stilwell's return to the United States was not accompanied by the usual ceremony. Upon arrival, he was met by two Army generals at the airport, who told him that he was not to answer any media questions about China whatsoever.

Stilwell was replaced by General Albert C. Wedemeyer, who received a telegram from General Marshall on October 27, 1944 directing him to proceed to China to assume command of the China theatre and replace General Stilwell. Wedemeyer later recalled his initial dread over the assignment, as service in the China theater was considered a graveyard for American officials, both military and diplomatic.[49] When Wedemeyer actually arrived at Stilwell's headquarters after Stilwell's dismissal, Wedemeyer was dismayed to discover that Stilwell had intentionally departed without seeing him, and did not leave a single briefing paper for his guidance, though departing U.S. military commanders habitually greeted their replacement in order to thoroughly brief them on the strengths and weaknesses of headquarters staff, the issues confronting the command, and planned operations.[50] Searching the offices, Wedemeyer could find no documentary record of Stilwell's plans or records of his former or future operations.[50] General Wedemeyer then spoke with Stilwell's staff officers but learned little from them because Stilwell, according to the staff, kept everything in his “hip pocket”.[51]

Reassignment[edit | edit source]

Despite prompting by the news media, Stilwell never complained about his treatment by Washington or by Chiang. He later served as Commander of Army Ground Forces, U.S. Tenth Army Commander in the last few days of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, and as U.S. Sixth Army Commander.

In November, he was appointed to lead a "War Department Equipment Board" in an investigation of the Army's modernization in light of its recent experience. Among his recommendations was the establishment of a combined arms force to conduct extended service tests of new weapons and equipment and then formulate doctrine for its use, and the abolition of specialized anti-tank units. His most notable recommendation was for a vast improvement of the Army's defenses against all airborne threats, including ballistic missiles. In particular, he called for "guided interceptor missiles, dispatched in accordance with electronically computed data obtained from radar detection stations."[52]

Death[edit | edit source]

Stilwell died of stomach cancer on October 12, 1946 at the Presidio of San Francisco, while still on active duty. His ashes were scattered on the Pacific Ocean, and a cenotaph was placed at the West Point Cemetery. Among his military decorations are the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit degree of Commander, the Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantryman Badge (this last award was given to him as he was dying from stomach cancer).

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

Stilwell's home, built in 1933–1934 on Carmel Point, Carmel, California, remains a private home. A number of streets, buildings, and areas across the country have been named for Stilwell over the years, including Joseph Stilwell Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida. The Soldiers’ Club he envisioned in 1940 (a time when there was no such thing as a soldiers’ club in the Army) was completed in 1943 at Fort Ord on the bluffs overlooking Monterey Bay. Many years later the building was renamed “Stilwell Hall” in his honor, but because of the erosion of the bluffs over the decades, the building was taken down in 2003. Stilwell's former residence in Chongqing – a city along the Yangtze River to which Chiang's government retreated after being forced from Nanjing by Japanese troops – has now been converted to the General Joseph W. Stilwell Museum in his honor.

Historical viewpoints[edit | edit source]

A bust of Stilwell at the "Former Residence of General Stilwell" museum in Chongqing

In her book Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45, Barbara Tuchman wrote that Stilwell was sacrificed as a political expedient because of his inability to get along with his allies in the theater. Some historians, such as David Halberstam in his final book, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, have theorized that Roosevelt was concerned that Chiang would sign a separate peace with Japan, which would free many Japanese divisions to fight elsewhere, and that Roosevelt wanted to placate Chiang. The power struggle over the China Theater that emerged between Stilwell, Chennault, and Chiang reflected the American political divisions of the time.

A very different interpretation of events suggests that Stilwell, pressing for his full command of all Chinese forces, had made diplomatic inroads with the Chinese Communist Red Army commanded by Mao Zedong. He bypassed his theater commander Chiang Kai-Shek and had gotten Mao to agree to follow an American commander. His confrontational approach in the power struggle with Chiang ultimately led to Chiang's determination to have Stilwell recalled to the United States.[53] According to Guan Zhong, President of the Examination Yuan, Stiwell had once expressed his regret of never having the opportunity to fight alongside the Chinese Communist army, especially with General Zhu De, before his death.[54]

Stilwell, a "soldier's soldier", was nonetheless an old-school American infantry officer unable to appreciate the creative developments in warfare brought about by World War II—including strategic air power and the use of highly trained infantrymen as jungle guerrilla fighters.[55] His disagreements with the equally acerbic Gen. Claire L. Chennault came about not only because Chennault over-valued the effectiveness of air power against massed ground troops—a fact proven by the fall of the 14th Air Force bases in eastern China (Hengyang, Kweilin, etc.) in the Japanese eastern China offensive of 1944—but because Stilwell mistakenly believed air power's sole use lay in support for ground troops.[citation needed] Stilwell, in fact, clashed with almost every other officer in the theatre with novel ideas, including Orde Wingate, who led the Chindits, and Col. Charles Hunter, officer in charge of Merrill's Marauders. Stilwell could neither appreciate the toll constant jungle warfare took on even the most highly trained troops, nor the incapacity of lightly armed, fast-moving jungle guerrilla forces to dislodge heavily armed regular infantry supported by artillery. Accordingly, Stilwell abused both Chindits and Marauders, and earned the contempt of both units and their commanders.[56]

In other respects, however, Stilwell was a skilled tactician in U.S. Army's land warfare tradition, with a deep appreciation of the logistics required of campaigning in rough terrain (hence his dedication to the Ledo Road project, for which he received several awards, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the US Army Distinguished Service Medal).[57] Stilwell was also a pretty good judge of men[citation needed]. The trust Stilwell placed in men of real insight and character in understanding China, particularly the China Hands, John Stewart Service and John Paton Davies, Jr., confirms this assessment.[58]

Arguably, had Stilwell been given the number of American regular infantry divisions he had continually requested, the American experience in China and Burma would have been very different.[59] Certainly, his Army peers, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Gen. George Marshall had the highest respect for his abilities, and both saw he replaced Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. as commander of Tenth U.S. Army at Okinawa after the latter's death. During the last year of the war, however, the U.S. was strained to meet all its military obligations, and cargo aircraft diverted to supply Stilwell, the 14th Air Force, and the Chinese in the East left air-drop-dependent campaigns in the West, such as Operation Market Garden, woefully short of aircraft. The destruction of 1st Airborne at Arnhem was one result of these competing demands.[60]

Although Chiang succeeded in removing Stilwell, the public relations damage suffered by his Kuomintang regime was irreparable. Right before Stilwell's departure, New York Times drama critic-turned-war correspondent Brooks Atkinson interviewed him in Chungking and wrote, "The decision to relieve General Stilwell represents the political triumph of a moribund, anti-democratic regime that is more concerned with maintaining its political supremacy than in driving the Japanese out of China. The Chinese Communists... have good armies that they are claiming to be fighting guerrilla warfare against the Japanese in North China—actually they are covertly or even overtly building themselves up to fight Generalissimo's government forces... The Generalissimo naturally regards these armies as the chief threat to the country and his supremacy... has seen no need to make sincere attempt to arrange at least a truce with them for the duration of the war... No diplomatic genius could have overcome the Generalissimo's basic unwillingness to risk his armies in battle with the Japanese."[53] Atkinson, who had visited Mao in Yenan, saw the Communist Chinese forces as a democratic movement (after Atkinson visited Mao, his article on his visit was titled Yenan: A Chinese Wonderland City), and the Nationalists in turn as hopelessly reactionary and corrupt; this view was shared by many of the U.S. press corps in China at the time.[61] The negative image of the Kuomintang in America played a significant factor in Harry Truman's decision to end all U.S. aid to Chiang at the height of the Chinese civil war, a war that resulted in the communist revolution in China and Chiang's retreat to Taiwan.[citation needed]

Film and media[edit | edit source]

Stilwell was portrayed on film by Erville Alderson in Objective, Burma! (1945), by John Hoyt in Samuel Fuller's Merrill's Marauders (1962), by Robert Stack in Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979), and by Yachun Dong in Chinese Expeditionary Force (2011).

On August 24, 2000, the United States Postal Service issued the first 10¢ Distinguished Americans series postage stamp honoring Stilwell.[62]

The award for the Outstanding Overall Cadet, Senior Division, in the California Cadet Corps is named the General Joseph W. Stilwell Award.[63]

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

Panamanian La Solidaridad Medal 1919

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. Seagrave, Gordon S., Burma Surgeon, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1943
  2. Glimpse of an Epic, Time Magazine, Monday, August 10, 1942
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Sherry, Mark D., China Defensive 1942–1945, United States Army Center of Military History, CBI Background http://www.cbi-history.com/part_xii_china_def.html
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Samson, Jack, The Flying Tiger: The True Story of General Claire Chennault and the U.S. 14th Air Force in China, Globe Pequot Press (2005) ISBN 1-59228-711-5, ISBN 978-1-59228-711-6, p. 190
  5. Tuchman, p. 377.
  6. Farquharson, For Your Tomorrow: Canadians and the Burma Campaign, 1941–1945, Trafford Publishing, (2004), ISBN 1-4120-1536-7, ISBN 978-1-4120-1536-3, p. 59
  7. Masters, John, The Road Past Mandalay, Bantam Press (1979), p. 309–310
  8. Fort, Adrian (2009). Archibald Wavell: the Life and Times of an Imperial Servant. London: Jonathan Cope. pp. 308–309. ISBN 978-0-224-07678-4. 
  9. Taylor, Jay, "The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China", Harvard University Press, 2009, pp.290. (ISBN 0-674-03338-8)
  10. Tuchman, p. 372
  11. Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo, p.208
  12. Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo, p.204
  13. Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo, p.216
  14. Romanus, Charles F.; Sunderland, Riley (1987). China-Burma-India Theater: Stilwell's Mission to China. Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. p. 318. 
  15. Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo, p.214
  16. Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo, pp. 224–225
  17. Roosevelt, As He Saw It, p.207
  18. Jay Taylor, Stilwell's The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China, pp. 271
  19. Wesley Marvin Bagby, The Eagle-Dragon Alliance: America's Relations with China in World War II, p.96
  20. Frank Dorn, Walkout with Stilwell, p. 75–79
  21. Masters, John, The Road Past Mandalay, Bantam Press (1979), p. 159
  22. Bjorge, Gary J., Merrill's Marauders: Combined Operations In Northern Burma In 1944 United States Army Center of Military History http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/Bjorge/BJORGE.asp
  23. Hunter, Charles N. (Col.), Galahad, TX Naylor Company (1963)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Mehney, Paul, The Road to Burma, Michigan History Online http://www.michiganhistorymagazine.com/extra/india/burma.html
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II: India-Burma http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-C-India/index.html
  26. 26.0 26.1 United States Army Center of Military History, Merrill's Marauders February–May 1944, Third Mission: Myitkyina (1990) http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/marauders/marauders-third.html
  27. 27.0 27.1 Merrill's Marauders: February to May, 1944 Diane Publishing (1990), ISBN 0-7881-3275-X, 9780788132759, pp. 109–110
  28. Tuchman, Barbara, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45, Grove Press (2001), ISBN 0-8021-3852-7, ISBN 978-0-8021-3852-1, p. 450
  29. 29.0 29.1 Busch, Briton C., Bunker Hill To Bastogne: Elite Forces and American Society, Brassey's Publishing (2006), ISBN 1-57488-775-0, ISBN 978-1-57488-775-4, p. 182
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Taylor, Thomas H. and Martin, Robert J., Rangers: Lead the Way, Turner Publishing Company (1997) ISBN 1-56311-182-9, ISBN 978-1-56311-182-2, p. 94
  31. India-Burma, The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/indiaburma/indiaburma.htm
  32. 32.0 32.1 Bjorge, Gary J., Merrill's Marauders: Combined Operations In Northern Burma In 1944, United States Army Center of Military History http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/Bjorge/BJORGE.asp
  33. "The Bitter Tea of General Joe". Time Magazine. 14 August 1944. http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,775164,00.html. 
  34. Masters, John, The Road Past Mandalay, Bantam Books (1979), p. 265
  35. Slim, William, Defeat Into Victory, London: Cassell (1956), ISBN 0-304-29114-5, 0-330-39066-X
  36. Bjorge, Gary J., Merrill's Marauders: Combined Operations In Northern Burma In 1944, sub. "Leadership and Morale", United States Army Center of Military History, p.4 http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/Bjorge/BJORGE.asp
  37. Taylor, Thomas H. and Martin, Robert J., Rangers: Lead the Way, Turner Publishing Company (1997) ISBN 1-56311-182-9, ISBN 978-1-56311-182-2, pp. 94–96
  38. Masters, John, The Road Past Mandalay, Bantam Press (1979), pp. 155–157
  39. 39.0 39.1 Guangqiu Xu, War Wings: The United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929–1949, Greenwood Publishing Group (2001), ISBN 0-313-32004-7, ISBN 978-0-313-32004-0, p. 191
  40. CBI Hump Pilots Association, http://www.cbi-history.com/part_xii_hump5.html
  41. The Burma Front http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/WW2Timeline/Pacific06b.html
  42. Tuchman, Barbara, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–1945, Grove Press (1985), p. 484
  43. Air Force Magazine, http://www.airforce-magazine.com/MagazineArchive/Pages/1991/March%201991/0391hump.aspx
  44. Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell's Command Problem, p.446-447
  45. [Stilwell Museum http://www.umich.edu/~ssgchem/BPCtravel/2010China/06.2WStilwell/index.html] retrieved 7 Aug 2012
  46. Lohbeck, Hurley, p.292
  47. Lohbeck, Hurley, p.298
  48. Romanus and Sunderland, Stilwell's Command Problem, p.452
  49. Wedemeyer, Albert C. (Gen), Wedemeyer Reports!, Henry Holt Co. (1958) ISBN 0-89275-011-1, ISBN 0-8159-7216-4, p. 269
  50. 50.0 50.1 Wedemeyer, Albert C. (Gen), Wedemeyer Reports!, Henry Holt Co. (1958) ISBN 0-89275-011-1, ISBN 0-8159-7216-4, pp. 303–304
  51. Wedemeyer, Albert C. (Gen), Wedemeyer Reports!, Henry Holt Co. (1958) ISBN 0-89275-011-1, ISBN 0-8159-7216-4, p. 294
  52. Missile Defense: The First Sixty Years
  53. 53.0 53.1 "China: Crisis". Time Magazine. 13 November 1944. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,801570,00.html. 
  54. Guan Zhong (關中) (2010). 中國命運關鍵十年: 美國與國共談判真相, 1937-1947 [China's Fate Sealed 1937-1947]. 天下遠見出版. p. 40. ISBN 978-986-216-568-3. http://books.google.com/books?id=T09PewAACAAJ.  A different perspective on this same "regret" is given in the final chapter of Tuchman's book: it "represented for Stilwell, as for so many others, an inclination toward the Chinese Communists that was simply the obverse of disgust with the Kuomintang."
  55. Masters, pp. 287ff.
  56. Masters, pp. 287–289.
  57. Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience
  58. Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience.
  59. Tuchman, Stillwell and the American Experience.
  60. cf. Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience, p. 489, on the strain the beefed up air transport in support of Chennault's 14th Air Force placed on operations in Europe.
  61. Knightley, Phillip, The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Iraq, JHU Press (2004), ISBN 0-8018-8030-0, ISBN 978-0-8018-8030-8, p. 303
  62. "General Joseph W. Stilwell Stamp Issued". Fort Ord Alumni Association. October 27, 2010. http://foaa.csumb.edu/news/2010/oct/22/general-joseph-w-stilwell-stamp-issued. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  63. Cadet Regulation 1-1, Cadet Decorations and Awards, February 20, 2006. Available from http://cacc.cadet.org

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Jack Belden, Retreat With Stilwell, New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1943. Sympathetic eyewitness account.
  • Frank Dorn, Walkout: With Stilwell in Burma, Pyramid Books 1973. By his principal aide.
  • Fred Eldridge, 'Wrath in Burma The Uncensored Story of Gen. Stilwell Doubleday & Co., 1946.
  • Evans, M. Stanton; Romerstein, Herbert (2013). Stalin's Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government. Threshold Editions. ISBN 978-1439147702. 
  • Eric Larrabee, Commander In Chief, New York: Harper & Row, 1987. ISBN 0-06-039050-6
  • Jon Latimer, Burma: The Forgotten War, London: John Murray, 2004. ISBN 978-0-7195-6576-2
  • Barbara Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45 Grove Press 2001. British edition: Sand Against the Wind: Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2001. ISBN 978-1-84212-281-5. Sympathetic full scale biography.
  • John Masters, The Road Past Mandalay, London: Michael Joseph, 1961. First-hand account of the fighting in Burma by a Chindit officer.
  • Pfefer, Nathan Vinegar Joe's War Presidio Press, 2000, ISBN 0-89141-715-X.
  • Romanus, Charles F.; Sunderland, Riley (1987) [1953]. China-Burma-India Theater: Stilwell's Mission to China. United States Army in World War II. Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. LCCN 53-60349. 
  • Charles F. Romanus Riley Sunderland, Stilwell's Command Problems (Washington: Department of the Army, Historical Division, 1956). Official Army history with extensive documentation.
  • Rooney, D.D. Stilwell Pan Macmillan, 1973, ISBN 0-345-09789-0.
  • Stilwell, Joseph; White, Theodore, Ed. The Stilwell Papers Da Capo Press, 1991, ISBN 0-306-80428-X. Stilwell's wartime diaries.
  • Hans Van de Ven, "Stilwell in the Stocks: The Chinese Nationalists and the Allied Powers in the Second World War," Asian Affairs 34.3 (November 2003): 243–259. Revisionist study argues that Stilwell misunderstood Chiang's military strategy, which was actually flexible and well founded in Chinese realities.
  • Hans J. Van de Ven, War and Nationalism in China, 1925-1945 (London; New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003). Expands revisionist view including longer period of time.

External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
Walter Krueger
Commanding General of the Sixth United States Army
Succeeded by
George Price Hays
Preceded by
Roy Geiger
Commanding General of the Tenth United States Army
Succeeded by

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