The China-Burma-India Theater took a back seat to Europe and the Pacific in terms of manpower, resources and press coverage. But its stories of daring pilots who “flew the hump” of the mighty Himalayas, freewheeling guerrilla fighters known as Merrill’s Marauders, dedicated nurses fending off amorous advances, and crafty intelligence agents cutting deals with natives in three diverse countries were as colorful as those from the more heavily documented areas of World War II.
China-Burma-India: WWII's Forgotten Theater
Flying the Hump Pilots and their crews who served in the CBI, flying bombing and transport missions from India to Burma or China, faced enormous obstacles, starting with the Himalayas, the world’s tallest mountain chain. Once the planes reached Burma, the jungle offered its own challenges for navigating and landing. And there was always the threat of enemy ground fire and pesky Japanese Zeros.
Merrill's Marauders Infantry soldiers in the CBI served with scant resources and a sense of physical isolation. The volunteer force first known as Galahad and later dubbed Merrill’s Marauders skillfully adapted to fighting in the jungles of Burma. Their guerrilla tactics were brilliantly executed to defeat an enemy force with superior numbers and firepower.
Ground Support Nurses, cryptographers, intelligence agents, Red Cross workers, and information officers existed in all theaters of World War II. But in the CBI, they had to adapt to unfamiliar cultures and keep reminding themselves that they were making a difference in winning the war against the Japanese.