37. These operations by land and air on India's north-eastern frontier, though on a comparatively small scale, required a very considerable administrative effort to support them. The difficulties of the lines of communication to Bengal and Assam were stated in paragraphs 10 to 13 of my last despatch.* Work on the improvement, 'both of the railways and on Inland Water Transport routes, has been continuous, but has not always been able to keep pace with the increasing demands. In particular, the narrow -gauge railway to North-East India had during the first half of 1943 to meet the following demands, which competed with each other: —

    (a) Supply of troops of- IV Corps in Mampur to enable them to advance into Burma;

    (b) Supply of American and Chinese troops in Ledo area and for Ledo road construction,

    (c) Supplies to be transported by air route into China;

    (d) Materials and labour for construction of airfields in north-east Assam;

    (e) Supplies for civil population of Assam.

The first of the above demands involved the building up of depots and stores along 350 miles of road; materials for a very large programme of road construction (see paragraph 22); the making of additional hospitals and other administrative establishments; as well as the daily maintenance of nearly 100,000 men, at distances up to over 200 miles from railhead.

The continual increase of American and Chinese forces employed on the Ledo road in the extreme north-eastern corner of Assam threw an additional strain on the transportation system. In February, after the visit of General Arnold to Chungking (see paragraph 43), the Americans suddenly decided to double the monthly tonnage target of air-bome supplies to China, from 10,000 to 20,000 tons. Though it did not prove possible, during the period under review, to reach the higher figure, plans had to provide for the delivery of this additional quantity of supplies at air-head, and for large increase of petrol, oil and other supplies for the extra aircraft required on the Chinese route. Further, the Americans demanded as a matter of urgent necessity the construction of more air-fields in Assam, which involved the transport of large quantities of materials and the diversion of engineering resources and labour from other important projects.

Besides all these military needs, the civil population of Assam had to be kept supplied by the same tenuous line of rail. If the priorities between all these conflicting requirements had remained constant, the task would have been difficult enough; but it was continually being complicated by the introduction into the programme of some fresh project of prior urgency; which often meant the removal of the limited resources in labour, machinery, etc., from one site to another. The fact that the requirements and views of the British, Americans, Indians and Chinese were involved and did not always coincide still further complicated the problem and introduced the danger of international friction. The wonder was not that projects were seldom completed by the target date tout that so much got done.

38. I gave orders for a through road from India to Assam to be constructed, in order to assist the supply problem and to avoid the necessity of all wheeled vehicles being sent to Assam 'by rail instead of under their own power. This Assam access road ran through Bihar and north Bengal, but progress in construction was slow due to lack of resources.


* Published as a Supplement to The London Gazette on the 18th September, 1946. Operations in the Eastern Theatre based in India, Mar.- Dec. 1942


Next Part




Part Of







Honorary Life Membership





 RJT Internet Services Picture ron@britain-at-war.org.uk

Best Viewed with:

Design by Ron Taylor

Copyright © RJT Internet Services 1999