JANUARY 06 - TODAY IN MILITARY HISTORY
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6 JANUARY/ TODAY IN MILITARY HISTORY:
◆878 Battle of Chippenham: Danes rout King Alfred's army.
◆1156 Battle of the Isle of Islay: Lord Somerled of the Isles defeats the Danes.
◆1367 King Richard II of England was born.★
◆1412 Joan of Arc was born.★
◆1422 Battle of Nebovidy/Nemecky Brod: Hussite Jan Ziska defeats Sigsimund of Bohemia.
◆1424 Battle of Skalice: Jan Ziska defeats the Ultraquist Hussities.
◆1777 General Washington establishes winter quarters for the exhausted Continental Army in the hills surrounding Morristown, New Jersey.
◆1779 Pushing northward from Florida, British forces led by General Augustine Prevost capture Fort Sunbury, Georgia and attack August, Georgia.
◆1781 Battle of Jersey: the British defeat a French attempt to capture the Channel Islands.
◆1818 During the course of Florida's First Seminole War, General Andrew Jackson sends a letter through Tennessee congressman John Rhea to President Monroe suggesting that he can capture Spanish Florida for the United States in a 60-day military campaign. President Monroe's failure to respond to the letter will be taken by Jackson as tacit approval for his proposed plan.
◆1827 Confederate General John Calvin Brown is born in Giles City, Tennessee.★
◆1838 Samuel Morse first publicly demonstrated his telegraph, in Morristown, N.J.
◆1842 Afghanistan: Anglo-Indian forces begin a disastrous retreat from Kabul; all but one of 4,500 troops & 12,000 camp followers will be lost or captured.
◆1861 Florida troops seize the Federal arsenal at Apalachicola.
◆1895 Former Hawaiian Queen Liluokalani is arrested after a failed coup attempt against the republican government of Sanford Dole.
◆1912 New Mexico is admitted into the United States as the 47th state.
◆1919 Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, dies at Sagamore Hill, his estate overlooking New York's Long Island Sound.★
◆1921 The U.S. Navy orders the sale of 125 flying boats to encourage commercial aviation.
◆1937 The United States bans the shipment of arms to war-torn Spain. This does not prevent individuals from taking sides; in particular progressives, intellectuals and artists are sympathetic to the Loyalists and some will join in the fight against the forces of General Franco.
◆1940 Battle of Raate Road; Finns defeat Russians.★
◆1942 Battle of Slim River.★
◆1942 Arsenal of Democracy.★
◆1944 The US forces on New Britain manage to extend their bridgehead at Cape Gloucester southward to the Aogiri River.
◆1944 Merrill's Marauders established.★
◆1944 A joint RAF-USAAF statement discloses the hitherto secret development of jet aircraft in Britain and the USA. Full details of the Whittle turbojet given to General Arnold (USAAF) in July 1941 are revealed.
◆1945 Boeing B-29 bombers in the Pacific strike new blows on Tokyo and Nanking.
◆1945 Over 75 Japanese aircraft are destroyed at Kamikaze airfields on Luzon by US land and carrier based forces.
◆1945 There are various local actions all along the Ardennes front. US 1st Army, part of British 21st Army Group, makes gains of 1000-3000 yards in an attack south of Stavelot, threatening the main German east-west supply road from Laroche to St. Vith.
◆1946 Ho Chi Minh won North Vietnamese elections.
◆1951 FEAF Combat Cargo Command concluded a multi-day airlift of supplies to the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, which was fighting to prevent a break in the UN defensive line across South Korea. 21 TCS C-47s landed 115 tons of cargo at Wonju, and C-119s of the 314th TCG dropped 460 tons of supplies to the division.
◆1958 The Soviet Union announces plans to cut the size of its standing army by 300,000 troops in the coming year.★
◆1967 Over 16,000 U.S. and 14,000 Vietnamese troops start their biggest attack on the Iron Triangle, northwest of Saigon.
◆1971 The Army drops charges of an alleged cover-up in the My Lai massacre against four officers.★
◆1973 A Mercedes-Benz 770K sedan, supposedly Adolf Hitler's parade car, was sold at auction for $153,000.00, the most money ever paid for a car at auction at that time.
◆1975 Phuoc Binh falls to NVA.★.
◆2000 The US Army replaced the Young & Rubicom ad agency after a 1999 recruit shortfall of 6,290. Rubicom held the contract for 12 years and crafted the slogan: "Be all that you can be."
◆2002 U.S. aircraft struck "approximately" four targets in Afghanistan centered around the Tora Bora and Kandahar regions. One of the strikes was against the Al Qaeda staging point of Zawar Kili. U.S. military forces entered and began searching the Zawar Kili complex.
◆2003 U.S. warplanes bombed two Iraqi anti-aircraft radars that threatened pilots patrolling the southern no-fly zone.
◆2003 Thousands of Marines, sailors and soldiers headed for the Persian Gulf region, shipping out from California, Georgia and Maryland as the buildup for a possible war with Iraq accelerated sharply.
Medal of Honor Citations for Actions Taken This Day
*DAVIS, GEORGE FLEMING
Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy. Born: 23 March 1911, Manila, Philippine Islands. Accredited to: Philippine Islands. Other Navy awards: Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Walke engaged in a detached mission in support of minesweeping operations to clear the waters for entry of our heavy surface and amphibious forces preparatory to the invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 6 January 1945. Operating without gun support of other surface ships when 4 Japanese suicide planes were detected flying low overland to attack simultaneously, Comdr. Davis boldly took his position in the exposed wings of the bridge and directed control to pick up the leading plane and open fire. Alert and fearless as the Walke's deadly fire sent the first target crashing into the water and caught the second as it passed close over the bridge to plunge into the sea of portside, he remained steadfast in the path of the third plane plunging swiftly to crash the after end of the bridge structure. Seriously wounded when the craft struck, drenched with gasoline and immediately enveloped in flames, he conned the Walke in the midst of the wreckage; he rallied his command to heroic efforts; he exhorted his officers and men to save the ship and, still on his feet, saw the barrage from his guns destroy the fourth suicide bomber. With the fires under control and the safety of the ship assured, he consented to be carried below. Succumbing several hours later, Comdr. Davis by his example of valor and his unhesitating self-sacrifice, steeled the fighting spirit of his command into unyielding purpose in completing a vital mission. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
BRADY, PATRICK HENRY
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army, Medical Service Corps, 54th Medical Detachment, 67th Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade. Place and date: Near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam, 6 January 1968. Entered service at: Seattle, Wash. Born: 1 October 1936, Philip, S. Dak. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Maj. Brady distinguished himself while serving in the Republic of Vietnam commanding a UH-1H ambulance helicopter, volunteered to rescue wounded men from a site in enemy held territory which was reported to be heavily defended and to be blanketed by fog. To reach the site he descended through heavy fog and smoke and hovered slowly along a valley trail, turning his ship sideward to blow away the fog with the backwash from his rotor blades. Despite the unchallenged, close-range enemy fire, he found the dangerously small site, where he successfully landed and evacuated 2 badly wounded South Vietnamese soldiers. He was then called to another area completely covered by dense fog where American casualties lay only 50 meters from the enemy. Two aircraft had previously been shot down and others had made unsuccessful attempts to reach this site earlier in the day. With unmatched skill and extraordinary courage, Maj. Brady made 4 flights to this embattled landing zone and successfully rescued all the wounded. On his third mission of the day Maj. Brady once again landed at a site surrounded by the enemy. The friendly ground force, pinned down by enemy fire, had been unable to reach and secure the landing zone. Although his aircraft had been badly damaged and his controls partially shot away during his initial entry into this area, he returned minutes later and rescued the remaining injured. Shortly thereafter, obtaining a replacement aircraft, Maj. Brady was requested to land in an enemy minefield where a platoon of American soldiers was trapped. A mine detonated near his helicopter, wounding 2 crewmembers and damaging his ship. In spite of this, he managed to fly 6 severely injured patients to medical aid. Throughout that day Maj. Brady utilized 3 helicopters to evacuate a total of 51 seriously wounded men, many of whom would have perished without prompt medical treatment. Maj. Brady's bravery was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.
JENKINS, DON J.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 2d Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Place and date: Kien Phong Province, Republic of Vietnam, 6 January 1969. Entered service at: Nashville, Tenn. Born: 18 April 1948, Quality, Ky. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Jenkins (then Pfc.), Company A, distinguished himself while serving as a machine gunner on a reconnaissance mission. When his company came under heavy crossfire from an enemy complex, S/Sgt. Jenkins unhesitatingly maneuvered forward to a perilously exposed position and began placing suppressive fire on the enemy. When his own machine gun jammed, he immediately obtained a rifle and continued to fire into the enemy bunkers until his machine gun was made operative by his assistant. He exposed himself to extremely heavy fire when he repeatedly both ran and crawled across open terrain to obtain resupplies of ammunition until he had exhausted all that was available for his machine gun. Displaying tremendous presence of mind, he then armed himself with 2 antitank weapons and, by himself, maneuvered through the hostile fusillade to within 20 meters of an enemy bunker to destroy that position. After moving back to the friendly defensive perimeter long enough to secure yet another weapon, a grenade launcher, S/Sgt. Jenkins moved forward to a position providing no protection and resumed placing accurate fire on the enemy until his ammunition was again exhausted. During this time he was seriously wounded by shrapnel. Undaunted and displaying great courage, he moved forward 100 meters to aid a friendly element that was pinned down only a few meters from the enemy. This he did with complete disregard for his own wound and despite having been advised that several previous rescue attempts had failed at the cost of the life of 1 and the wounding of others. Ignoring the continuing intense fire and his painful wounds, and hindered by darkness, he made 3 trips to the beleaguered unit, each time pulling a wounded comrade back to safety. S/Sgt. Jenkins' extraordinary valor, dedication, and indomitable spirit inspired his fellow soldiers to repulse the determined enemy attack and ultimately to defeat the larger force. S/Sgt. Jenkins risk of his life reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
*WICKAM, JERRY WAYNE
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Troop F, 2d Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Place and date: Near Loc Ninh, Republic of Vietnam, 6 January 1968. Entered service at: Chicago, Ill. Born: 19 January 1942, Rockford, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Cpl. Wickam, distinguished himself while serving with Troop F. Troop F was conducting a reconnaissance in force mission southwest of Loc Ninh when the lead element of the friendly force was subjected to a heavy barrage of rocket, automatic weapons, and small arms fire from a well concealed enemy bunker complex. Disregarding the intense fire, Cpl. Wickam leaped from his armored vehicle and assaulted one of the enemy bunkers and threw a grenade into it, killing 2 enemy soldiers. He moved into the bunker, and with the aid of another soldier, began to remove the body of one Viet Cong when he detected the sound of an enemy grenade being charged. Cpl. Wickam warned his comrade and physically pushed him away from the grenade thus protecting him from the force of the blast. When a second Viet Cong bunker was discovered, he ran through a hail of enemy fire to deliver deadly fire into the bunker, killing one enemy soldier. He also captured 1 Viet Cong who later provided valuable information on enemy activity in the Loc Ninh area. After the patrol withdrew and an air strike was conducted, Cpl. Wickam led his men back to evaluate the success of the strike. They were immediately attacked again by enemy fire. Without hesitation, he charged the bunker from which the fire was being directed, enabling the remainder of his men to seek cover. He threw a grenade inside of the enemy's position killing 2 Viet Cong and destroying the bunker. Moments later he was mortally wounded by enemy fire. Cpl. Wickam's extraordinary heroism at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.
RICHARD II IS BORN. Richard II (d. 14 February 1400), also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed on 30 September 1399. Richard, a son of Edward, the Black Prince, was born in Bordeaux during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III.
Richard was the younger brother of Edward of Angoulême, upon whose death, Richard, at three years of age, became second in line to the throne after his father. Upon the death of Richard's father prior to the death of Edward III, Richard, by primogeniture, became the heir apparent to the throne. With Edward III's death the following year, Richard succeeded to the throne at the age of ten.
During Richard's first years as king, government was in the hands of a series of councils. Most of the aristocracy preferred this to a regency led by the king's uncle, John of Gaunt, yet Gaunt remained highly influential. The first major challenge of the reign was the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.
The young king played a major part in the successful suppression of this crisis. In the following years, however, the king's dependence on a small number of courtiers caused discontent among the influential, and in 1387 control of government was taken over by a group of aristocrats known as the Lords Appellant. By 1389 Richard had regained control, and for the next eight years governed in relative harmony with his former opponents.
In 1397, Richard took his revenge on the appellants, many of whom were executed or exiled. The next two years have been described by historians as Richard's "tyranny". In 1399, after John of Gaunt died, the king disinherited Gaunt's son, Henry of Bolingbroke, who had previously been exiled. Henry invaded England in June 1399 with a small force that quickly grew in numbers.
Claiming initially that his goal was only to reclaim his patrimony, it soon became clear that he intended to claim the throne for himself. Meeting little resistance, Bolingbroke deposed Richard and had himself crowned as King Henry IV. Richard died in captivity in February 1400; he is thought to have been starved to death, although questions remain regarding his final fate.
Richard was said to have been tall, good-looking and intelligent. While probably not insane, as earlier historians believed, he may have had what modern psychologists would call a "personality disorder" towards the end of his reign. Less warlike than either his father or grandfather, he sought to bring an end to the Hundred Years' War that Edward III had started.
He was a firm believer in the royal prerogative, something which led him to restrain the power of the aristocracy, and to rely on a private retinue for military protection instead; in contrast to the fraternal, martial court of his grandfather, he cultivated a refined atmosphere at his court, in which the king was an elevated figure, with art and culture at the center.
Richard's posthumous reputation has to a large extent been shaped by Shakespeare, whose play Richard II portrayed Richard's misrule and his deposition by Bolingbroke as responsible for the fifteenth century Wars of the Roses. Modern historians do not accept this interpretation, while not exonerating Richard from responsibility for his own deposition. Most authorities agree that, even though his policies were not unprecedented or entirely unrealistic, the way in which he carried them out was unacceptable to the political establishment, and this led to his downfall.
6 JANUARY 1412
JOAN OF ARC BORN. (d. 30 May 1431), nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans", is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. Joan of Arc was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée, a peasant family, at Domrémy in north-east France.
Joan said she received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory.
On 23 May 1430, she was captured at Compiègne by the Burgundian faction, which was allied with the English. She was later handed over to the English and put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon on a variety of charges. After Cauchon declared her guilty she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at about nineteen years of age.
In 1456, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, debunked the charges against her, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. In the 16th century she became a symbol of the Catholic League, and in 1803 she was declared a national symbol of France by the decision of Napoleon Bonaparte. She was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.
Joan of Arc is one of the nine secondary patron saints of France, along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis, St. Michael, St. Rémi, St. Petronilla, St. Radegund and Ste. Thérèse of Lisieux.
Joan of Arc has remained a popular figure in literature, painting, sculpture, and other cultural works since the time of her death, and many famous writers, filmmakers and composers have created works about her. Cultural depictions of her have continued in films, theater, television, video games, music, and performances to this day.
6 JANUARY 1827
CONFEDERATE GENERAL JOHN CALVIN BROWN is born in Giles City, Tennessee. Brown served in the Army of Tennessee during the war, was wounded three times, and captured once. Brown was a prominent attorney in Pulaski, Tennessee, prior to the war.
He opposed secession and was an elector for the Constitutional Union Party during the election of 1860; the Constitutional Union Party nominated John Bell for president and tried to steer a middle road between North and South. When Tennessee seceded in April 1861, Brown enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army.
His time as an enlisted man was brief, however, as he was made a colonel in the 3rd Tennessee within a month. Brown’s unit was stationed at Fort Donelson on the CumberlandRiver when it was captured by General Ulysses S. Grant in February 1862. Brown was a prisoner for six months.
After he was exchanged, he was promoted to brigadier general and was wounded at the Battle of Perryville in October 1862. He recovered in time to fight at Stones River two months later, but he was wounded again at Chickamauga in September 1863. He was back at his post for the siege of Chattanooga in October and November 1863.
Brown served the next year with the army through the Atlanta campaign, and he was part of the General John Bell Hood force that invaded Tennessee that fall. Brown was wounded for a third time at the Battle of Franklin on November 30.
This battle was a disaster for the Confederates, as five other Rebel generals were wounded and six more killed during the engagement. Brown recovered in time to join General Joseph Johnston’s surviving force as it surrendered to General William T. Sherman in North Carolina at the end of the war.
After the war, Brown served two terms as governor of Tennessee and was a railroad president. He died in 1889 at Boiling Springs, Tennessee.
6 JANUARY 1919
'TEDDY' ROOSEVELT DIES. Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, dies at Sagamore Hill, his estate overlooking New York’s Long Island Sound. A dynamic and energetic politician, Theodore Roosevelt is credited with creating the modern presidency. As a young Republican, Roosevelt held a number of political posts in New York in the 1880s and ’90s and was a leader of reform Republicans in the state.
In 1898, as assistant secretary to the U.S. Navy, Roosevelt vehemently advocated war with Spain. When the Spanish-American War began, he formed the “Rough Riders,” a volunteer cavalry that became famous for its contribution to the United States victory at the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba. The publicity-minded Roosevelt rode his military fame to the New York governor’s seat in 1898 and to the vice presidency in 1900.
In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt, 43 years old, became the youngest president ever to assume the office. He stamped the presidency with a vitality that delighted most Americans and was elected to a second term in 1904.
As an American expansionist, Roosevelt asserted his executive powers to defend U.S. interests throughout the Americas as he sought to balance the interests of farmers, workers, and the business class at home. He insisted on a strong navy, encouraged the independence of Panama and the construction of the Panama Canal, promoted the regulation of trusts and monopolies, and set aside land for America’s first national parks and monuments.
In 1906, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation in the negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese War. In 1912, three years after finishing his second term, Roosevelt ran for president again as the new Progressive Party candidate. Challenging his former vice president, President William Howard Taft, he campaigned on his “Square Deal” platform of social reform. In November, the divided Republican Party was defeated by Democrat Woodrow Wilson.
In the last few years of his life, Roosevelt became a vocal advocate of the U.S. entrance into World War I and even sought to win a commission to lead a U.S. Army division in Europe. President Wilson declined, and after the war Roosevelt was a vocal opponent of his League of Nations. In 1919, Roosevelt died at his home in New York. The tropical diseases he had contracted during his travels likely caught up with him, and he died at the age of 60.
6 JANUARY 1940
BATTLE OF RAATE ROAD. Heavy Fighting Along the Raate Road as Finns Break Soviet 44th Rifle Division. The Battle of Raate Road was fought during the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in January, 1940, as a part of the Battle of Suomussalmi. This battle proved the effectiveness of Finnish motti tactics.
On December 7, 1939, the Soviet 163rd division had captured Suomussalmi, but found itself trapped deep inside Finnish territory, and the Soviet 44th (Ukrainian) Rifle Division was sent to aid the 163rd. In the following battle, Colonel Hjalmar Siilasvuo's 9th Division completely destroyed the Soviet 44th Division on the Raate-Suomussalmi road.
The 44th division was waiting on the road to Raate, entrenched in an area of a couple of kilometers. Lt. Col. Siilasvuo divided his division to four detachments, which, south of the road to Raate, attacked to Haukila, Tyynelä, Likoharju and Raate. During a couple of decisive days (4.-7.1.1940) the 44th division was divided to isolated bulks (called "motti") and destroyed on the Raate road.
Only a minimal part of the motored infantry division succeeded in fleeing from the blockade to the other side of the border. The war booty was remarkably big. The defense victories of Suomussalmi were the result of the skilled use of terrain, the will to fight and a skillful leadership of a unit, in spite of material deficiency.
[pictured is a destroyed Soviet column]
6 JANUARY 1942
BATTLE OF SLIM RIVER. The Battle of Slim River occurred during the Malayan campaign in January 1942 between the Imperial Japanese Army and the British Indian Army on the west coast of Malaya.
Japanese forces had invaded north-west Malaya from southern Thailand on December 11, 1941 and eastern Malaya on December 7 at Kota Bharu. From Thailand they had driven relentlessly down the western coast of Malaya defeating all British attempts at stopping them. By Christmas Day the Japanese held all of north-west Malaya.
One of the few moments where British troops managed to inflict any form of effective defense against Japanese tactics occurred near Kampar on the Dipang River. At the Battle of Kampar, in a four day battle notable for the effectiveness of the British artillery, the Japanese suffered heavy casualties.
By January 2, though, the Indian 11th Infantry Division was out flanked by seaborne landings south of the Kampar position, out numbered and with Japanese forces attempting to cut the division off from the road to Singapore, they withdrew to prepared positions at Trolak five miles north of the Slim River.
6 JANUARY 1942
THE ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY. President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces to Congress that he is authorizing the largest armaments production in the history of the United States. Committed to war in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. had to reassess its military preparedness, especially in light of the fact that its Pacific fleet was decimated by the Japanese air raid.
Among those pressing President Roosevelt to double U.S. armaments and industrial production were Lord William Beaverbrook, the British minister of aircraft production, and members of the British Ministry of Supplies, who were meeting with their American counterparts at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.
Beaverbrook, a newspaper publisher in civilian life, employed production techniques he learned in publishing to cut through red tape, improve efficiency, and boost British aircraft production to manufacturing 500 fighters a month, and he felt the U.S. could similarly beef up armament production.
Spurred on by Lord Beaverbrook and Prime Minister Churchill, Roosevelt agreed to the arms buildup. He announced to Congress that the first year of the supercharged production schedule would result in 45,000 aircraft, 45,000 tanks, 20,000 antiaircraft guns, and 8 million tons in new ships. Congressmen were stunned at the proposal, but Roosevelt was undeterred: “These figures and similar figures for a multitude of other implements of war will give the Japanese and Nazis a little idea of just what they accomplished.”
6 JANUARY 1944
MERRILL'S MARAUDERS ESTABLISHED. In Burma, Brigadier General Merrill is designated to command a volunteer unit that becomes known as "Merrill's Marauders". Admiral Lord Mountbatten, the supreme Allied commander of the South East Asia Command (SEAC), was persuaded by Stilwell, deputy supreme Allied commander, that they should serve under the Northern Combat Area Command (NCAC). Stilwell appointed brigadier general Frank Merrill to command them, leading American war correspondents to dub the unit "Merrill’s Marauders".
In early 1944, the Marauders were organized as light infantry assault unit, with mule transport for their 60 mm mortars, bazookas, ammunition, communications gear, and supplies. Although the 5307th's three battalions were equivalent to a regimental-size unit, its lack of organic heavy weapons support meant the force had a combat power less than that of a single regular American infantry battalion, a fact that General Stilwell and his NCAC staff did not always appreciate. Without heavy weapons support, the unit would have to rely on flexibility and surprise to outfight considerably larger Japanese forces.
Weight was critical to the Marauders, and the need for a compact, lightweight field ration was essential; unfortunately, the best solution, the dry Jungle ration, at 4,000 calories per day, had been discontinued for cost reasons in 1943. On the advice of Army supply officers in Washington, General Stilwell and his G-4 staff determined that a one-per-day issuance of the U.S. Army's 2,830 calorie K ration (one K ration = three meals) would be sufficient to maintain the Marauders in the field. While compact, the K ration not only had fewer calories but less bulk, and included some components so unappetizing as to be thrown away by many users.
On the advice of British General Orde Wingate, the force was divided into two self-contained combat teams per battalion. In February 1944, in an offensive designed to disrupt Japanese offensive operations, three battalions in six combat teams (coded Red, White, Blue, Khaki, Green, and Orange) marched into Burma. On 24 February, the force began a 1000-mile march over the Patkai region of the Himalayas and into the Burmese jungle behind Japanese lines. A total of 2,750 Marauders entered Burma; the remaining 247 men remained in India as headquarters and support personnel.
While in Burma, the Marauders were usually outnumbered by Japanese troops from the 18th division, but always inflicted many more casualties than they suffered. Led by Kachin scouts, and using mobility and surprise, the Marauders harassed supply and communication lines, shot up patrols, and assaulted Japanese rear areas, in one case cutting off the Japanese rearguard at Maingkwan. Near Walawbum, a town believed by General Stilwell's NCAC staff to be lightly held, the 3rd Battalion killed some 400–500 enemy soldiers.
The Japanese were continually surprised by the heavy, accurate volume of fire they received when attacking Marauder positions. Its combat-experienced officers had carefully integrated light mortar and machine gun fires, and virtually every man was armed with a self-loading or automatic weapon in which he had trained to a high level of marksmanship. In March they severed Japanese supply lines in the Hukawng Valley.
Informed by the British that the situation in Imphal was under control, Stilwell wanted to launch a final assault to capture the Japanese airfield at Myitkyina. Always guarded against the potential for interference by the British, General Stilwell did not coordinate his plans with Admiral Mountbatten, instead transmitting separate orders to his Chinese forces and the Marauders.
The men took a brief rest at Shikau Gau, a jungle village clearing where they bartered with the native inhabitants for fresh eggs and chickens with an issue of 10-in-one and C rations. The Marauders also took the opportunity to sunbathe in an attempt to control the onset of various fungal skin diseases. Now down to a little over 2,200 officers and men, the 5307th began a series of battles on the march to Myitkyina.
In April, the Marauders were ordered by General Stilwell to take up a blocking position at Nhpum Ga and hold it against Japanese attacks, a conventional defensive action for which the unit had not been equipped. At times surrounded, the Marauders coordinated their own battalions in mutual support to break the siege after a series of fierce assaults by Japanese forces.
At Nhpum Ga, the Marauders killed 400 Japanese soldiers, while suffering 57 killed in action, 302 wounded, and 379 incapacitated due to illness and exhaustion. Of the unit's 200 mules, 75 were killed by artillery and mortar fire. A concurrent outbreak of amoebic dysentery (contracted after linking up with Chinese forces) further reduced their effective strength.
Although the Marauders had previously avoided losses from this deadly disease (in part by use of halazone tablets and strict field sanitation procedures), their encampment with Chinese infantry, who used the rivers as latrines, proved their undoing (the Chinese troops, who always boiled their drinking water, were not seriously affected).
The disadvantages of supplying Marauders with a single K ration per day now made themselves felt, as the troops became increasingly malnourished; the onset of the rainy season combined with Japanese pressure and inhospitable terrain prevented many supply drops, exacerbating the problem. Even now, one K ration (three meals) per day was deemed adequate by General Stilwell's staff, augmented by occasional drops of dry rice, jam, bread, candy, and C rations. When encountering Chinese troops, many men began to barter their K ration cigarettes for rice and other foods.
6 JANUARY 1958
SOVIET TROOP REDUCTIONS. The Soviet Union announces plans to cut the size of its standing army by 300,000 troops in the coming year. The reduction was part of a 1956 policy announced by Khrushchev in anticipation of “peaceful coexistence” with the West, and an indication that Cold War relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were undergoing a slight thaw in the mid- to late-1950s.
The Soviet troop reduction was the latest in a series of reductions started in 1955. The new rollback of 300,000 troops brought the total troop reduction since 1955 to nearly 2 million. A Soviet official called the most recent action a “new, serious contribution to the cause of easing tensions and creating an atmosphere of confidence in the relations between states.”
Nearly 60,000 of the 300,000 troops to be cut came from Soviet forces in Hungary and East Germany. Total Soviet forces still numbered close to 3 million, but the reduction was still seen as evidence of Khrushchev’s interest in “peaceful coexistence” with the West.
There was also an economic motivation to the troop cuts, though, since the funds used to keep 300,000 men in uniform could be redirected to the Soviet industrial infrastructure. In addition, the Soviet Union was facing a labor shortage, and 300,000 extra workers would help alleviate that problem. The Soviet action had little effect on U.S. policy.
Despite Khrushchev’s talk of peaceful coexistence, the preceding two years of the Cold War gave U.S. officials little confidence in his sincerity. The brutal Soviet repression of the Hungarian revolt in 1956, the Suez Crisis of that same year, and the launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 convinced many U.S. statesmen that a tough, competitive stance toward the Russians was the best policy.
6 JANUARY 1971
CHARGES DROPPED IN MY LAI MASSACRE. The Army drops charges of an alleged cover-up in the My Lai massacre against four officers. After the charges were dropped, a total of 11 people had been cleared of responsibility during the My Lai trials. The trials were a result of action that occurred in March 1968.
During the incident, 1st Lt. William Calley, a platoon leader in the 23rd (Americal) Division, allegedly led his men to massacre innocent Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, in a cluster of hamlets in Son Tinh District in the coastal south of Chu Lai. By 1971, charges were pending only against Lt. Calley, Capt. Ernest Medina, and Capt. Eugene Kotouc.
On March 29, 1971, a Fort Benning court-martial jury found Calley guilty of the premeditated murder of at least 22 South Vietnamese civilians and sentenced him to life in prison. Kotouc was cleared by a court-martial on April 29, and Medina was acquitted on September 22. On May 19, the Army disciplined two generals for failing to conduct an adequate investigation of My Lai, demoting Maj. Gen. Samuel W. Koster from two-star to one-star rank.
At the same time, both Koster and Brig. Gen. George W. Young Jr., his assistant divisional commander at the time of the massacre, were stripped of their Distinguished Service Medals, and letters of censure were placed in their personnel files. The trials ended on December 17, when Col. Oren K. Henderson was acquitted of cover-up charges.
He was the highest-ranking officer to be tried. Of those originally charged, only Calley was convicted. Many believed that Calley was a scapegoat, and the widespread public outcry against his life sentence moved President Nixon to intervene on April 3, 1971. He had Calley removed from the Fort Benning stockade and ordered him confined to quarters pending review of his case.
On August 20, Calley’s life term was reduced to 20 years. In November 1974, a Federal Court judge ruled that Calley was convicted unjustly, citing “prejudicial publicity.” Although the Army disputed this ruling, Calley was paroled for good behavior after serving 40 months, 35 of which were spent in his own home.
6 JANUARY 1975
PHOUC BINH FALLS TO N.V.A. Phuoc Binh, the capital of Phuoc Long Province, about 60 miles north of Saigon, falls to the North Vietnamese. Phuoc Binh was the first provincial capital taken by the communists since the fall of Quang Tri on May 1, 1972. Two days later, the North Vietnamese took the last of the South Vietnamese positions in the region, gaining control of the entire province.
The South Vietnamese Air Force lost 20 planes defending the province. Presidents Nixon and Ford had promised South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu that the United States would come to the aid of South Vietnam if the North Vietnamese launched a major offensive in violation of the Paris Peace Accords.
However, the United States did nothing when Phuoc Binh fell to the communists. In fact, the passive response of the United States convinced North Vietnam that the Americans would not soon return to Vietnam, and encouraged the Politburo in Hanoi to launch a new attack in the hopes of creating ripe conditions for a general uprising in South Vietnam by 1976.
When the North Vietnamese launched the new offensive in early 1975, the South Vietnamese forces, demoralized by the failure of the United States to come to their aid, were defeated in just 55 days. North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the presidential palace on April 30 and South Vietnam surrendered fully to the communists.
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