CONSIDERING the size and importance of the Burma campaign, it has had very little public attention. Events in Burma have been overshadowed by the climax of the war against Germany and the great advances in the Pacific; and because of this the Allied forces in Burma, more than a quarter of a million strong, have not received their fair share of credit. These men have been engaged in the largest and most important ground fighting yet undertaken against the Japanese. They have been operating on a front 700 miles long, second in length only to that in eastern Europe, among the most inhospitable surroundings -- malarial, disease-ridden swamps, impenetrable jungle and immense mountain ranges.
These operations are of great strategic importance. Burma is the back door to China, which Japan has tried to shut. Thanks to the courage of American and British pilots, flying from Assam over the most dangerous air route in the world, supplies have continued to reach China; and now, thanks to the Allied forces of the South East Asia Command, who have done their duty so well in Assam and Burma, a land route to China has been opened up.
The official announcement of the opening of the new road to China was made by Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Commander in South East Asia, on January 24, 1945, in the following Order of the Day:
The advance southwards of the American, British and Chinese forces formerly under the leadership of General Stilwell and now commanded by Lieutenant-General Sultan with Lieutenant-General Slim's Fourteenth Army, fresh from its victories at Imphal and Kohima on the right flank, has inflicted a crushing defeat on the enemy and driven him from north Burma.
Lieutenant-General Sultan's forces and a Chinese expeditionary force have now joined hands west of Wanting. From Ledo through Myitkyina and Bhamo the new road now sweeps south to join the old Burma Road and land communication to China is open.
The first part of our mission therefore has been completed
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