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Chindits--long range penetration (Ballantine's illustrated history of the violent century. Weapons book) (Anglais) Broché – 1973
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The series as a whole is slightly outdated by the disclosures from Allied codebreaking, and suffered from being whipped together in a hurry, but they remain then and now a fine introduction to conflict in the 20th century -- if you can find them.
The Chindits were the idea of the incredibly eccentric (by British standards) Orde Wingate, who believed that British troops could fight and win in the Burmese jungle. Incredibly, he gained adherents as high up as Winston Churchill, and even more incredibly, he was given British and Indian troops and American aircraft and airmen to put his theory into practice. The theory was to send in by glider British and Indian troops to the Japanese Burma backfield, who would establish bases from which to attack and disrupt Japanese communications. This the Chindits did with great skill and effectiveness in two separate operations. Wingate himself was one of the casualties, dying when his airplane flew into a Burmese mountain, killing all aboard. In an odd irony, the plane and everyone else on it was American, so Wingate wound up buried with them under a single massive marker in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, one of two British generals to receive this honor.
However, the struggles in the jungle wore these men down -- some of those who returned after the battles were utterly unfit to fight. After two major campaigns, the Chindits were broken up by the skeptical Field Marshal Sir William Slim, who said the entire British Southeast Asia force now had "the Chindit mentality."
However, while much of the entire Burma campaign would be forgotten, both at the time and for decades, the Chindits were not. They featured one of the British specialities of World War II, creative commandos, and their efforts were a major reason why the British were the only power to defeat Japan in a major land battle.
Michael Calvert is well-placed to tell the story of this remarkable force, as he was a brigadier in the Chindits, serving with them from the beginning to end. Known to his colleagues as "Mad Mike" for his almost foolhardy courage under fire, Calvert describes their achievements with colorful material, as well as his first-hand accounts.
The photographs are up to the usual Ballantine standards, with ample shots of Chindits in action, and slightly different maps from the usual Ballantine style, with considerable detail as to units, Chindit landing zones and airheads, and movements.
There are several books on the Burma campaign,a nd the Chindits have received their share of coverage, some of it laudatory, like this book and Bernard Fergusson's "The Watery Maze," others harsh, like Slim's memoir, "Defeat Into Victory." However, their achievements were impressive, and this book is an excellent place to start when learning about this unique force's contribution to Allied victory in Burma.
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