|U.S. Marines from Task Force "Mars" are firing at the Japanese in Burma. August 1944.|
|The evacuation of a American pilot, who suffered during a forced landing. Burma. 1944|
|Squadron "Hell's Angels" of the air group "Flying Tigers" in flight. May 28, 1942. 3rd Squadron Hell's Angels, Flying Tigers over China, photographed by AVG pilot Robert T. Smith.|
|General Stilwell leaves Burma. May 1942.|
Arriving in Burma just in time to experience the collapse of the Allied defense of that country, which cut China off from all land and sea supply routes, Stilwell personally led his staff of 117 men and women out of Burma into Assam, India on foot, marching at what his men called the 'Stilwell stride' - 105 paces per minute. Two of the men accompanying him, his aide Frank Dorn and the war correspondent, Jack Belden, wrote books about the walkout: Walkout with Stilwell in Burma (1971) and Retreat with Stilwell (1943), respectively. The Assam route was also used by other retreating Allied and Chinese forces.
In India, Stilwell soon became well known for his no-nonsense demeanor and disregard for military pomp and ceremony. His trademarks were a battered Army campaign hat, GI shoes, and a plain service uniform with no insignia of rank; he frequently carried a .30 Springfield rifle in preference to a sidearm. His hazardous march out of Burma and his bluntly honest assessment of the disaster captured the imagination of the American public: "I claim we got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back and retake it.". However, Stilwell's derogatory remarks castigating the ineffectiveness of what he termed Limey forces, a viewpoint often repeated by Stilwell's staff, did not sit well with British and Commonwealth commanders. However, it was well known among the troops that Stilwell's disdain for the British was aimed toward those high command officers that he saw as overly stuffy and pompous.
|A Chinese soldier guards American P 40 Fighter planes (Flying Tigers) in 1942.American volunteer units, AVG (American Volunteer groups) that fought on the side of China against the Japanese.|
Of the pilots, 60 came from the Navy and Marine Corps and 40 from the Army Air Corps. (One army pilot was refused a passport because he had earlier flown as a mercenary in Spain, so only 99 actually sailed for Asia. Ten more army flight instructors were hired as check pilots for Chinese cadets, and several of these would ultimately join the AVG’s combat squadrons.) The volunteers were discharged from the armed services, to be employed for "training and instruction" by a private military contractor, the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO), which paid them $600 a month for pilot officer, $675 a month for flight leader, $750 for squadron leader (no pilot was recruited at this level), and about $250 for a skilled ground crewman, far more than they had been earning. ($675 translates to $10,666 in 2012 dollars, and at the time sufficed to buy a new Ford automobile.) The pilots were also orally promised a bounty of $500 for each enemy aircraft shot down.
Although sometimes considered a mercenary unit, the AVG was closely associated with the U.S. military. Most histories of the Flying Tigers say that on 15 April 1941, President Roosevelt signed a "secret executive order" authorizing servicemen on active duty to resign in order to join the AVG. However, Flying Tigers historian Daniel Ford could find no evidence that such an order ever existed, and he argued that "a wink and a nod" was more the president's style. In any event, the AVG was organized and in part directed out of the White House, and by the spring of 1942 had effectively been brought into the U.S. Army chain of command.
During the summer and fall 1941, some 300 men carrying civilian passports boarded ships destined for Burma. They were initially based at a British airfield in Toungoo for training while their aircraft were assembled and test flown by CAMCO personnel at Mingaladon airport outside Rangoon. Chennault set up a schoolhouse that was made necessary because many pilots had "lied about their flying experience, claiming pursuit experience when they had flown only bombers and sometimes much less powerful airplanes." They called Chennault "the Old Man" due to his much older age and leathery exterior obtained from years flying open cockpit pursuit aircraft in the Army Air Corps. Most believed that he had flown as a fighter pilot in China, although stories that he was a combat ace are probably apocryphal.
|American trucks in India. Convoy of U.S. military vehicles (GMC CCKW-353 and one second-generation Dodge T214, known here as "Dodge three quarters") in India on the way to Burma.|
|African-American soldiers in Burma read about the German surrender. May 9, 1945|
|American soldiers watch a Hindu funeral in Agra, India in 1942|
|American actor Joe Brown talks to children in a Chinese city. 1942.|
|American generals Joseph Stilwell and Curtiss LeMay at a B 29 Bomber air base in China in 1944|
|American technician 3rd Class Joe Rogers at the head of a column of Chinese soldiers at the gates of the Ramgarh training camp in Bihar India, June 1944.|
|An American aircraft technician waving to sky borne B-24 "Liberator at a airport in China. In the foreground - the P-40 with external fuel tanks of the squadron "Flying Tigers» (Flying tigers). 1943.|