Survival History: The Construction Of The Burmese Railway (II)

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Pablo Edronkin

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The whole thing ended being a shameful crime against humanity that took the lives of an undetermined number of people, but certainly exceeding 100,000 souls. The few who survived said afterwards that they had not been simply lucky: they insisted - and we may well believe them - that their survival was attained thorough obstinacy and hatred against the Japanese; none of them felt that they were prisoners and thus the war had ended for them.

The war in Burma was indeed important for the allies, but it wasn't the most important front; commanders knew that the Japanese were overextended and in fact, having lines so stretched, even reaching the border with India, was good to some extent because it diverted resources from the Pacific theatre, where troops landing on small islands were having a really hard time fighting the Japanese defenders. So, no help was coming and the efforts of General Stillwell, the Chindits of Wingate and the Flying Tigers of Claire Chennault could only help a little, from time to time, by raiding and bombing Japanese positions, but little else.

There were other attempts like those performed by the OSS - the U.S. Secret Service at the time, from which the CIA and the Army Special Forces (the original Green Berets) evolved - in Mytkina in order to develop guerrilla warfare by training the Kachin tribes that resented the Japanese presence.

These were successful attempts but limited in scope, for guerrilla warfare could only mean the liberation of a few prisoners from time to time as a collateral result of raids and ambushes, but never the occupation of enemy territory for long or in vast areas.

Prisoners in Burma used every little opportunity to make themselves feel a little better. Every nail lost by the Japanese while wooden bridges were being constructed over rivers and ravines, every mosquito biting a guard, and every time they could say in a low voice anything about their captors were event seen by those who finally made it and survived as small victories.

So, never think that some things are impossible, for they will become impossible for you; survival often depends on taking advantages of any and all opportunities, no matter how small they may appear to you.

... where vegetation doens't evel let you see three metres away.
... where vegetation doens't evel let you see three metres away.

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