Contents - Hirohito's War
25 The IC HI-GO Campaign and the Battle of Myitkyina
[January 1944–August 1945]
[Maps: 25.1, 25.2, 25.3, 25.4, 25.5, 25.6, 25.7, 25.8, 25.9, 25.10]
ICHI-GO and Operation KOGO (p 703) Stilwell’s Strategic Priorities (p 706) Field Marshall Shinroku Hata (p 707) Operation TOGO-I and the Battle of Changsha and Hengyang (p 708) The Cancellation of ANAKIM and Stilwell’s New Plan (p 710) The Training of X-Force (p 714) The Building of the Ledo Road (p 716) The Road to Myitkyina (p 718) The Battle of Myitkyina (p 718) The Battle of Mogaung (p 722) Myitkyina Falls at Last (p 723) Stilwell: Victory into Defeat (p 725) The Battles of Kweilin and Liuzhou (p 727) Stilwell’s Strategic Failures (p 729) ICHI-GO Runs out of Steam and the Future of Asia Deliberated at Yalta (p 731)
The Japanese Army, largely because of the diminution of the Japanese Navy and logistical constraints, had been virtually powerless to stop the Allied advance in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in 1943. Further losses were anticipated by Army GHQ in the following year, with General MacArthur expected to sweep up the northern New Guinea coast toward the Philippines. New Guinea was viewed as a holding operation to delay the inexorable American advance. With its shorter lines of supply, the Philippines was seen as the place to block MacArthur’s advance toward Japan. A great naval victory in this area was also hoped for. On the Asian continent the Japanese Army, not so dependent on naval supply, was logistically less constrained. Hence the Japanese Army’s focus at the beginning of 1944 was the establishment of a position of strength in China, Burma and Northern India. [Map: 25.1]
ICHI-GO and Operation KOGO: [Map: 25.2] On New Year’s day 1944, Chiang Kai-shek sent a cable to President Roosevelt in Washington warning him that the strategy agreed with Stalin at the Tehran Conference at the end of November 1943 [codenamed EUREKA], with its entire emphasis on the European front, would leave China open to attack. “Before long Japan will launch an all-out offensive against China.”1 Western intelligence sources disagreed. Meanwhile Chiang’s Chief of Staff, Joseph Stilwell, was more intent on the recapture of Burma from where he had been expelled two years earlier. Chiang would not have to wait long for his fears to be proved correct.
In April 1944, the launch of Operation IC HI-GO, the largest military operation in Japanese history, was part of a belated Japanese Army strategy to vanquish all of mainland Asia and was coordinated with Operation U-GO’s invasion of India. Clearly losing the maritime war in the Pacific, the Imperial Japanese Army determined on one last throw of the dice on the Asian mainland. If successful, overland supply lines from Burma to southern Korea could be secured. In addition Japan hoped for a bargaining chip with which to negotiate with America. If the Kuomintang government could be annihilated, America would be faced with having to invade and conquer China whose freedom had ostensibly been the casus belli of the Pacific War. Japan also hoped to interdict Chennault’s Tenth Air Force bombing of the Japanese home islands from bases in southern China. As Hirohito recalled in his Dokuhaku Roku (post-war testament),