22. My intention had been that during the winter the IV Corps (17th and 23rd Indian Divisions) should advance into Burma and establish itself on the Chindwin river between Kalewa and Sittaung. The only strategical objective of these operations was to assist the advance of the Chinese forces into Northern Burma (see paragraph 2 above) by engaging as many enemy troops as possible.

There were two possible routes leading towards the objective from the Imphal plain in Manipur over the high range into Burma. The road from Imphal by Palel to Tamu (in the Kabaw valley) had been constructed in 1942, from Palel to Tamu it was a single-way mountain road liable to frequent interruption in the rains; the distance from Imphal to Palel is 28 miles; and from Palel to Tanm 36 miles The other possible route was from Imphal by Bishenpur to Tiddim (145 miles), thence to Fort White and down into the Kabaw valley at Kalemyo; this route had certain obvious advantages in the approach to Kalemyo, since it was screened by hills to the east until close to Kalemyo, whereas an advance to Kalemyo from Tamu was exposed throughout to enemy attacks from across the Chindwin. General Irwin favoured the development of the Tiddim route and placed most of our limited road-making resources on it. A visit to the front early in February convinced me that our resources were quite insufficient to develop the lengthy Tiddim route in time, and that it was in fact unlikely that it could ever be made into a serviceable line of communication owing to the engineering difficulties. It seemed likely that the monsoon would find us with no reliable road into Burma at all. I therefore ordered the- diversion of our road-making effort to the improvement of the Tamu road, which was at least known to be practicable.

23. The lack of transport, of road-making material and of other administrative resources, which are referred to elsewhere in this despatch, made it necessary to postpone operations against Kalewa and Sittaung. When it was found that the Chinese troops in Yunnan had no intention of making a move, the strategical basis of our advance disappeared; and in the end operations in the Kabaw Valley were confined to strong offensive patrols.


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