INDIA - CHINA DIVISION
1 September 1945
This publication is not approved for mailing home, but may be taken out of the theater by the individual.
FOR USE OF MILITARY PERSONNEL ONLY.
"This is Flight Two, the Gateway Liner; Karachi to Calcutta. Take-off time - 1730."
Words like these from a flight clerk have been for thousands their introduction to the India China Division of the Air Transport Command. For them, Karachi, Bombay or Chabua are no longer strange names on a map of India. They have become cities, airports - vivid first impressions of the Orient.
At a dozen other points, travelers first learn that ICD means India China Division, the largest overseas organization of the United States Air Transport Command. Take a look at the map in this booklet - it's as far from Karachi to Chungking as it is from New York to San Francisco. It's 1,400 miles from Calcutta to Ceylon, and another 3,100 to Australia. Yet these routes, and many more, are flown by ICD.
More than 100,000 passengers have ridden ICD planes in a single month, for of all war areas, India, Burma and China are the most air-minded. And of necessity, since other modern means of travel and transport are largely undeveloped. Because the chances are you'll never see all ICD's activities, this booklet has been written to tell you what they are, where they are, and how they operate.
Like the cross-pieces of a kite, ICD's air routes tie India together. There is virtually nowhere you need to go in this broad and ancient land that ICD can't take you.
The explanation of all this activity is relatively simple. High priority cargo and important military personnel must cross India on their way to China and Burma, usually in a hurry. To perform this expeditious delivery, ICD's India Service was created.
Here in the land of the ox-cart, where the collie's head has for centuries carried the brunt of transportation, has been created an aerial transportation service that far exceeds in volume of passengers and cargo anything known in the United States before the war. Starting with a few battered C-47's in 1942, what today is known as the India China Division has progressed to a point beyond all early conceptions.
Where once were tea plantations and jungle are now the airports of ICD - complete cities in themselves, with every facility for the operation of aircraft. Transient and assigned personnel alight from passenger flight to find themselves on a modern military post.
Comfortable quarters, good messes, officers clubs, theaters, PXs, Red Cross Clubs for GIs, medical and dental service - ICD bases have them all. Though the one you reach may be remote, you'll find it a close counterpart of those you knew back home.
Keeping personnel fit for the strenuous and sustained activity required to operate a giant air transportation service efficiently, in a land where no one was ever in a hurry, has been one of the greatest problems solved. Unceasing attention to health, especially of air crew members, has been part of it. Modern sanitary procedures have helped. And jungle indoctrination camps, which combine recreation with lessons of jungle survival, have helped still more. Rest camps for ground personnel relieve the tension, build healthier men for a tough job.
The only way to wartime China is through India. And China is our ally in the war against Japan. Everything China needs and everything the Allied forces in China need must be moved across India, from her airports and harbors. And so the intricate ICD-ATC network of air service has been built - to move essential cargo to China.
In the northeastern part of India lies the Assam Valley, the closest point to China. In this far corner of India, with its monsoon heat and malarial mosquitoes, ICD has carved out a series of air bases for springboards over the "Hump" - that once-feared spur of the giant Himalayas which throughout history has stood as a towering barrier to travel from the one country to the other. Yet over the Hump each month go at least 50,000 tons of war materials. Exactly how many must remain a military secret, but it can be said that more than 550 trips have been made from India to China in a single day.
II. ICD's HISTORY
Back in March of 1942, "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell and a pitiful band of refugees struggled out of the Burmese jungle into India, and the General said, "we took a hell of a beating." Stilwell's retreat meant just one thing - the Japanese had taken Burma, and by taking it, had choked off the last land route open to China.
Somehow, China had to be supplied, kept in the war against Japan. But how? Build a new road across northern Burma? Yes, but that would take too long because of the torrents of rain, the dense jungles and the mountains which become taller the farther north you go. To make it practical, the Japs would have to be pushed back from some territory they had taken. A pipe-line for aviation gasoline? Yes, but the same answer. A railroad? Well, hardly. There remained one answer and that answer was in the air. How much could be lifted by air involved types and number of aircraft, the number of pilots and ground personnel available, facilities for unloading in China, and a hundred other variables.
No one actually knew how much could be moved. Officially, somebody said 10,000 tons a month. Later, the ultimate goal was set at 15,000. Today, there is still no answer to the question, for ICD has far upset all previous calculations.
But to get back to 1942. President Roosevelt promised China that aid would come. It was early in April that the first army flight was made from the lone airport then in Assam. It was a super hush-hush mission, for the cargo was gasoline for Jimmy Doolittle's bombers which were supposed to land in Western China after dumping their bombs on Tokyo.
Routes were unknown, navigational facilities were non-existent, the weather was unpredictable. Yet the flight - the first of innumerable others to follow - was made. Pilots were so scarce at the time that some of Doolittle's men who eventually came out through western China, were pressed into service. Anyone who could fly a plane did, to the point of exhaustion, over the miles-high mountains, through monsoon mists, in aging, inefficient aircraft. Sometimes the planes stopped in Burma on the way back (until the Japs moved in) and brought out refugees.
Slowly, the amount of freight reaching China began to mount. The Assam-Burma-China Ferrying Command, an "orphan" outfit, was taken over by the U.S. 10th Air Force, and became the India-China Ferrying Command. More airfields were planned, construction started, more planes acquired. But still there weren't enough aircraft, enough replacement parts. Navigational facilities were lacking. Weather was a great unknown factor.
Obviously, a separate command, whose sole mission would be the professional operation of China's aerial life line, was needed - Thus was born the India-China Wing of the Air Transport Command, under Brigadier General (then Colonel) E. H. Alexander. To boost Hump lift, a different type of aircraft was brought out - the C-46 Curtiss Commando. It would carry far more load, reach greater altitudes, but it was relatively new and untried, and brought with it new headaches for maintenance men. But this plane helped turn the tide, engineering personnel alleviated the headaches, and the battle went on apace for more airports, more parts, more personnel, more and better communications facilities, more everything.
Finally General Alexander and many of his pioneer staff were given new assignments and Brigadier General S. Hoag took over, bringing with him some of the nation's top men in aircraft operations and maintenance. Under Hoag, the command grew and the tonnage mounted. In December 1943, President Roosevelt cited the India China Wing for its extraordinary performance in delivering 12,000 tons to China in one month.
But more and still more military cargo was needed in China, and within China itself more air transport was required. At this moment in ICD history, a new Commanding General, Brigadier General William H. Tunner, who had developed ATC's great Ferrying Division, was sent out.
Refinements in operating procedures, use of new types of aircraft and new airports, additional personnel and modern American management have made themselves felt today. Tonnage totals climbed high, so high the Japanese can't be told.
III. ICD TODAY
Today, aircraft based in three countries - India, Burma and China - fulfill ICD's missions. Two additional wings have been created under General Tunner's regime, the Bengal Wing and the China Wing, bringing to four the total in the Division.
The primary mission of ATC is the same as ever - moving maximum tonnage of military cargo and personnel to China for the Chinese and American forces. In fact, out here, the initials A T C have come to stand for "Aid To China." Largely, this is the work of the Assam Wing, whose planes fly from ICD's oldest fields in Assam; the newer Bengal Wing, whose C-54 Skymasters operate directly on long range from Bengal areas; and the China Wing which is responsible for quick unloading, servicing, turn-around and intra-China operations.
But other missions have been added: Air Evacuation for sick and wounded from forward areas to the United States; operations within China; moving troops (even entire armies), munitions and all essential materials directly to the battlefronts, and providing regular transport schedules; a Search and Rescue squadron which brings out airmen whose planes go down over the Hump; movement of pipe to build the pipeline to China.
Every time-saving improvement that modern management and strong organization can create is used. Every facility which makes flying safer has been pressed into play. Today's tonnage depends on such an approach to ICD's problems.
IV. HOW THE HUMP WAS LICKED
There was a time, not too long ago, when the very word "Hump" struck terror into the hearts of airmen, and well it might. Gallant youngsters, and oldsters, too, had given their lives in getting precious freight to China, in pioneering this largest of all aerial transport ventures. Known as the most hazardous of all aerial routes, its jagged peaks reached 20,000 feet into the sky; its 100-mile-an-hour gales forced pilots far off course, to crash on snowy peaks or into jungles so dense they hid all trace of plane and crew.
Slowly at first, than at an accelerated pace, this mountain range has been conquered. Its peaks are still there, the winds still blow, up and down drafts still tug like a monster force at man's flying craft, but the torrent of freight increases, and the safety of crewmen is more certain than ever before.
One by one, the big problems have been solved. Today, the air is saturated with planes, a round trip starting over the Hump every two and one-half minutes of the day's twenty four hours. Nowhere are air routes so congested. Yet elaborate traffic control systems, designed on the spot, involving hundreds of men and the most modern communications, tell where every aircraft is at all times. Pilots must fly with utmost precision, at their assigned altitudes and assigned speeds. Particularly must they do so in "letting down" over China's congested airfields.
Today, newly arrived pilots are no longer thrown directly into the maelstrom of Hump flying. Whether rated as first pilot or co-pilot, the newcomer is given the benefit of all that has been learned by the men who have gone before him. He gets preliminary briefing at Karachi, three days at a jungle indoctrination camp, ten co-pilot trips with an experienced, skilled flier, and then is sent for fifteen days to ICD's own special check school. Here, hours of training are given him in heavy load landings, heavy load take-offs, and in the instrument procedures he'll need over the Hump, plus other specialized training to fit him for his job. Then back to his station he goes. After five trips with an experienced check pilot he then becomes first pilot - commander of his Himalaya-hopping ship. The training of an ICD pilot never stops.
In maintaining aircraft, Stateside methods have been adapted, often surpassed. Aircraft today are inspected and repaired on the Production Line basis, moving through a hangar at a set pace, with every part of the plane minutely checked in the various phases through which it passes.
Quick turn-around of aircraft in both India and China is absolutely essential to high utilization, for every minute on the ground for a plane means a minute that plane isn't flying. And when the number of airplanes is so great, minutes multiply into hours. So a co-ordinated effort has been evolved with every section of every airfield trained specifically to do its job.
Aircraft returning to India from China are frequently reloaded with a total of four tons or more, depending on type, serviced, and put back in the air - all in the space of an hour or less. In China, co-ordinated effort turns them around in as little as 30 minutes, the exact unloading and servicing time dependent upon the nature of the load.
The fact that the Japs have been driven far south in Burma has helped appreciably, for ICD planes can now fly more southerly routes without fear of enemy interception. And on these routes lower altitudes can be maintained safely.
Actually, the Hump is not one, but many air routes. In each circumstance the exact route to be flown depends on the geographical location of the airfield from which the flight originates, upon weather at certain points en route, and other factors.
In boosting tonnage totals, the four-engined aircraft operated by bases of the Bengal Wing have been a considerable factor. They take their loads at what might be called "dockside" airports, where transportation of the freight load from the seaport to the airfield is kept at a minimum. Thus, they speed their cargo to China, eliminating the long rail haul to the Assam area.
Yet Assam fields must be used, too, for China's needs are greater and greater. So the many routes over the Hump continue to be used every hour in every day. Pilots continue to fly around the clock, messes run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yes, the Hump has been licked, but only by co-ordinated effort, and while the job of flying it may seem routine, it never can be, for conditions change by the minute, and careless flying brings sudden disaster.
In Kunming, China's new Shanghai, there's a sign that says, "China Is Not For The Timid." And that goes for the ICD's task.
From this aerial port of debarkation in Yunnan province, and others in China, supplies must be fanned out to every fighting front. Guns, ammunition, asphalt for runways - every sort of cargo is redistributed by ICD planes.
Troops from north China have been moved down to Yunnan province, to meet a Jap threat toward Kunming and Chungking. This flight, more than five hours long, has been labeled by old timers "tougher than the Hump." Medical supplies have been flown to the blockaded Chinese communists by ICD, the first they had received in eight years. many lives and much valuable equipment have been saved by ICD planes in the evacuation of Liuchow, Kweilin, Suichuan and other points.
ICD's passenger planes offer the only regularly-scheduled transportation service in China, too. Other means of transport throughout that beleaguered land are now slow, uncertain, and mainly non-existent. A plane trip that takes two hours would take days by road, if there were a road, weeks by horseback.
Thus ICD provides flexibility to the armies of China and the United States, in addition to its function of supplying them. Many pilots have flown over Jap lines in their unarmed transports in performance of their job; a few have been shot down; more have become lost and have had to jump when radio facilities went haywire in the inky blackness of a solid overcast. Hence the slogan - "China Is Not For The Timid."
VI. "DOWN UNDER"
As if flying in three countries were not enough, ICD has performed an additional mission - linking up the war fronts of the Pacific and continent of Asia. On both regular and special mission basis, a C-54 Skymaster with reclining seats, comfortable berths and a galley for hot meals en route, has made the Air Transport Command's longest over-water hop, from Ceylon to Australia.
Back and forth over this 3,000-mile route have traveled important persons, co-ordinating the complex activities of this global war, making possible prompt decisions of international importance.
VII. THE HOME STRETCH
Old-timers who were on the scene when everybody rode bucket seats, schedules didn't exist, planes were few and pilots fewer, have trouble now remembering it's the same operation. The other day an old China hand, a colonel, got on the "Trojan," the daily flight direct from the Calcutta area to Kunming. The flight clerk, as take off time neared, announced the schedule, offered blankets, assured the passengers he would provide oxygen masks as soon as the altitude required them, and said, "we have plenty of hot coffee, water and K rations aboard, so if you get hungry, call me." The colonel muttered, "Hell, two years ago when I crossed the Hump the first time, they threw me in a bucket seat in a beat-up old airplane, with no blanket, parachute or oxygen, and said I was lucky to be there. What a change."
The colonel was right . . . What a change! From a "wild west" operation - because that was the only way things could be accomplished in more troubled times - has grown an organized aerial giant. Today ICD makes far more flights, handles far more tonnage and passengers than all of America's airlines together before the war. Yet China needs more and more war supplies. For although a rising tide of tonnage has gone far to keep China in the war against Japan, our ally needs now even greater support for the final drive to victory. This support, and these supplies, must come to her largely through the air. That is why today, in the home stretch, our fighting forces in China look back across the Hump and say "Keep it coming, ICD!"
The question - How high is the Hump? - can best be answered by comparing it with America's highest mountain ranges. The Alleghenies in the East average between 7,000 and 8,000 feet, while the Rocky Mountains in the West average about 10,000 feet. The Hump runs all the way up to the 29,000 feet height of Mount Everest, though the average height over which ICD airmen fly is about 15,000 feet. Some flights have been made at 22,000 feet.
There are really two Indias - British India and the Indian States. Both are subject to the authority of the Governor-General, known as the Viceroy, appointed by the British Government. In all but foreign affairs, however, the native princes rule supreme in the Indian States, of which there are 562. The states range in size from one as big as Kansas to another covering an area of only one and three-quarters square miles, and having a population of 27. Titles of these princes are often interesting, like the Jam Sahib of Nawanagar and the Wali of Swat.
In all, nearly 400,000,000 people live in India, which means that one man in every five on the earth calls India home. Despite great natural resources, nine out of ten Indians live off the land, farming very small patches of earth for an average income of about $70 a year, and living in one of the 700,000 small villages dotting the countryside.
Some of the best hunting ground in the world is to be found in the Assam Valley, and American soldiers have brought in many fine kills. Frank Buck also made some of his greatest kills and captures in this country. Elephants, tigers, cheetahs, buffalo and rhinoceri abound here, along with kraits, cobras, and other snakes.
In India's more than 100 dialects, there is one word that remains the same - "Baksheesh" (gift or reward). It is probably the first Indian word you heard, and you'll hear it from everyone from beggars to taxi drivers. There are two answers - a small coin, or "Jao!" (rhymes with cow), which is the local equivalent of "Scram!"
Indians chew betel nut, much as we smoke cigarettes. The nut is wrapped in a leaf buttered with lime and then chewed like tobacco, only they spit red instead of brown, and it makes their mouths a bright red color.
Some of the finest tea in the world is produced in the Assam Valley, nerve center of the India China Division. The Bengal & Assam Railway is used for hauling the tea to the sea, and then to the markets of the world. Small boxes of tea suitable for mailing home are available.
When you send out your laundry, it's done by a "dhobi," usually a member of the male sex. Clothes are washed by the ancient method of pounding them on rocks, though in "modern" laundries they use cement slabs. When you see this system work, you'll think of Mark Twain's remark, "India is the only place I've ever seen a man trying to break a rock with a shirt."
There are 200,000,000 cows in India, which is about one cow for every two people. Although these cows would feed a good many people, the Hindus do not eat meat, and would not dream of killing a cow as they regard them as sacred. Hence, they walk the streets and towns unmolested, and in some parts of India the penalty for killing a cow, even by accident, may be as much as seven years in jail.
To complete your Indian vocabulary (they learn English faster than you do their tongue-twisting dialects), "okay" becomes "teek hai" or "ah chah"; "no" is "nay"; "pani" (rhymes with Johnni) is water, "burruff" is ice, whiskey is still called whiskey, even though it doesn't taste the same, and soda is still soda. Bread is "rotee" and eating in general is "khana." "Bearer" is the same as valet and waiter.
Most storekeepers in India will ask more for their goods than they expect to get. Bargain with them. It is one of the indoor sports of India, and they expect to be beaten down anywhere from two-thirds to one-third of their asking price. Everyone bargains; it is part of the social life of the people, done politely and in good humor.
Whereas India's coinage is stable and exchanged at a fixed rate for American dollars, Chinese currency fluctuates constantly. Buy only as much Chinese exchange as you need for the evening and you won't be hooked. Chinese are more like Americans than any other Orientals. Their sense of humor is sharp, they work hard, and they display great affection for their families. Don't worry about China's complicated rules of etiquette. Just be a gentleman and you will be all right.
"Ting hao" (pronounced ding how), always said with one thumb up, is the Chinese equivalent of a friendly okay. "Boo hao" is the reverse. When a Chinese wants to know what you think or how you are, he says "Hao boo hao?" meaning literally, "Good, not good?" or "well, not well?." The answer is almost invariably "hao."
The history of the Chinese national flag dates back to 1905, when the "white sun in blue sky over red ground" was chosen as the Chinese national standard by Dr. Sun Yat-sen at the Tung Meng Hui Assembly in Tokyo. The flag of the Kuomintang, which is the white-sun-in-blue-sky, originated in Canton, birthplace of the Chinese Revolution in 1895, now occupies the upper-left quarter of the Chinese national flag. The blue, white and red colors represent collectively the Three People's Principles, blue for equality, white for fraternity, and red for liberty. The 12 points of the white sun represent the 12 two-hour periods of the day, and symbolize the forever-progressive and enterprising spirit.
Every precaution is taken at ICD bases in China to insure the purity of food and water. Those restaurants proclaimed "In Bounds" by American authorities have been inspected and are comparatively safe. Uncooked vegetables should not be eaten; the Chinese fertilize their fields with human feces and you can get dysentery or worse by ignoring the above warning. Likewise, all fruit should be peeled before eating. Cleanliness in China, as in India, means protection of health.
GRAPHIC INFORMATION SECTION. ICD - ATC
As ICD began its final mission - movement of American personnel to ports of embarkation for home - and its Hump tonnage slowed down, men of the command looked backward at a mission is mass air transportation the like of which the world had never seen.
These highlights stood out for them . . . July's performance, when 71,000 tons of war freight were flown over the Hump to China . . . Air Force Day on August 1, when 5,327 tons went over the rockpile in 24 hours, in an unprecedented test day to check ICD's actual capacity . . . the scheduled flights from Calcutta to the Philippines over enemy territory, inaugurated when the war was at its height . . . movement of whole armies in and about China . . . and a dozen other air transport "firsts."
Praises rang out for the men of ICD at war's end, with Lt. Gen. A. C. Wedemeyer, China Theater Commander, saying: "Through enemy fire and through all sorts of weather over oceans and mountains . . . the planes came, never-failing. Upon their cargoes entire battles were fought and victories won. Upon their cargoes China as a nation survived for three years when there was no other contact with the outside world. Your fliers made the Hump the most famous mountain range in the universe."
And Brig. Gen. William H. Tunner, ICD's commander, told his men in a war-end statement: "Your performance was so fine that it brought the highest recognition and praise from . . . Allied quarters throughout the world. As each of you returns to his home you may do so with the certain knowledge that you have shared with great distinction in one of the most difficult and important assignments of the war."
Adapted from the original booklet shared by Jyotirmay Bareria
Copyright © 2009 Carl W. Weidenburner
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