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Twenty-two urns containing the ashes of soldiers from the Chinese Expeditionary Forces who fought against the Japanese during World War II were transported from Burma and reburied in China’s Yunnan Province last week.
In 1942, two brigades of Chinese soldiers from the Chinese Expeditionary Forces were part of the Allied Forces led by US commander Gen Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell.
Held in 22 urns, the ashes of the Chinese soldiers who died in Burma were buried at Guoshang Cemetery in Teng Chong County on 12 June. Local government representatives joined the public to commemorate the fallen soldiers.
In mid-May, two urns containing earth from Bhamo in Kachin State, and Namkham in northern Shan State – sites of intense fighting against the Japanese army — were also transported and buried in the border town of Ruili in Yunnan.
Chinese fighters were recruited by US and British forces in WWII after both China and Burma were occupied by Japanese forces. The first Chinese Expeditionary Force was led by Gen. Lo Cho-ying from Yunnan in the spring of 1942 into Burma to participate in the defense of that country.
The first Burma campaign failed because of inadequacy of Allied preparedness and the lateness in the arrival of the Chinese forces. However, counter-offensives were launched, culminating in the Siege of Bhamo in November 1944, when the Japanese resorted to a desperate defense strategy and a torrid campaign of jungle warfare was prolonged in the malaria-infested jungles of Kachin State.
By 15 December, Japanese lines were finally penetrated, and the Chinese force pushed from Bhamo towards Namhkam — which was captured on 15 January 1945 — followed by Mongyu in southwestern China on 27 January, thus securing a route from India to China which would become known as the “Ledo Road” or “Stilwell Road”, enabling Allied Forces to supply Chinese battalions in Yunnan.