The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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25.29N) was the location of a training
camp for Chinese troops established
by Stilwell in northeast
India. It had been used as a prisoner of war camp for 20,000 Italian prisoners, and had actual housing for 12,000 men. The climate was mild and local malaria rates were low, and the terrain has sufficient variety to be ideal for training purposes. Central lighting and plumbing were already installed, though further improvements to sanitation were needed.
Following the retreat from Burma in 1942, the remnants of the Chinese 22 and 38 Divisions assembled at Ramgarh and became the nucleus of X Force. Stilwell persuaded Chiang Kai-shek to allow additional Chinese recruits to be flown out of China on transport aircraft returning from carrying supplies over "The Hump", on the not-unreasonable theory that it made more sense to fly the recruits out on otherwise empty aircraft than to fly in additional supplies for their training. Stilwell then persuaded the Indian government to allow large numbers of Chinese troops into India, and the British to pay for the training expenses. Equipment was drawn largely from Lend-Lease. Chiang consented on the condition that at least half the senior officers in the refurbished divisions be Chinese and that the British pledge not to use the troops for any kind of garrison or security duty in India.
The camp was formally activated on 26 August 19452. The Chinese were initially slow to provide replacements, but the first arrived by airlift on 20 October and soon reached a steady influx of 650 recruits per day. The water supply was inadequate for the desired number of troops, and the nearest promising sites for expansion were close to the Argada and Sirka coal mines and there was concern the Chinese would frighten the indigenous miners. However, these objections were overcome in 1943, and the miners got along fine with the Chinese, who were under tight discipline.
The initial command arrangement was Stilwell as commander and Lo Cho-ying as vice-commander. Lo demanded 450,000 rupees to pay his men, rather than the 270,000 rupees offered, and he wished the cash given to him as a lump sum from which to pay his men, a Chinese practice that afforded considerable opportunity for graft. Stilwell got Lo recalled in November 1942.
One of the most serious problems faced at Ramgarh was
the poor physical condition of the Chinese troops, who were suffering
from malnutrition, malaria, jungle sores, and other maladies. However, when fed ample rice and given medical care by the celebrated Dr. Gordon Seagrave, their condition improved rapidly.
The Chinese were also taught basic camp sanitation, particularly
mosquito control, which had previously been all but nonexistent in the
Chinese Army. Junior officers were taught basic medicine.
The result was some of the best-trained Chinese divisions to see combat during the
war. Slim, initially
skeptical, was impressed with the results, which he attributed to the
resilience of the Chinese soldiers and the skill of their American
Americans had to be careful to avoid causing the Chinese commanders of
the divisions to lose face. The language barrier was overcome by pairing
each American instructor with an English-speaking Chinese, usually a
former student. Some 13,000 Chinese soldiers were
eventually airlifted in to reconstitute the two nucleus divisions and
to form 30
The divisions were lean on manpower compared with American divisions,
at about 12,000 men each, but this was roughly double the size of most Kuomintang divisions.
Romanus and Sunderland (1953)
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