Photograph of troops on the Burma Road

U.S. Army

Railroads are the most economical land-bound form of transportation. However, rail transport lacks the flexibility of wheeled vehicles, and railroads are more expensive and time-consuming to construct than highways. As a result, the Allies, who had ample resources of wheeled vehicles, tended to build new highways rather than new railroads during the war. These included the Ledo Road and the Alaska-Canadas Highway.The Japanese, who had only limited numbers of wheeled vehicles, chose to attempt the construction of railroads, such as the imfamous Burma-Siam Railroad, instead.

The Allies were aided in their road construction efforts by such innovations as Marston mat and Hessian matting. Marston matting could be used to rapidly construct a roadway on even very unstable surfaces. However, it was expensive and reserved for airstrips and roads in the immediate vicinity of bases. Hessian matting was somewhat more economical and was used extensively by the British to build quite lengthy highways supporting the counteroffensive in Burma.

Because of their great logistical importance, this Encyclopedia lists the road connections between points of interest discussed in the Encyclopedia.

1943 training film on road construction


Allen (1984)

"Building the Navy's Bases in World War II" (accessed 2013-5-6)

Huie (1944)

Robinson (accessed 2007-11-14)

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