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The Chindits were a British jungle Special Forces unit that served in Burma during the World War Two in 1943-1945. They served especially behind the Japanese lines.

The Chindits were a brainchild of a British brigadier general Orde Charles Wingate when he was serving under the Alexander Wavell in Burma. He borrowed the name from a Burmese mythical beast Chinthé or Chinthay. Wingate took personal charge of the training of the troops.

The first Chindit troops were found in 1942 in Jhansi. The majority of the Chindits were British infantry soldiers (Queen's Own, Leicesters) but they also included number of Gurkha and West African soldiers. They were trained as long-range penetration units. Usual armament was rifles, Thompson submachine guns, pistols, mortars, grenades and knives.

The first operation that the Chindits took part in begun in February 1942 and it was made against Japanese troops holding railway connections in Burma. 3000 men marched 225 km through the jungle through the Japanese lines to destroy railway bridges. They lost 818 men fighting their way back to Myitkyna.

In February 1943 in Operation Longcloth the Chindits crossed the Chindwin River into Burma. They concentrated on hit-and-run raids against enemy strongholds in Burma. Many times they could not take their wounded home. Since there were no established paths in the jungle, they had to clear their own with machetes and kukris. Although they were supplied by air not all supply drops found their way to the troops.

When the Chindits crossed Irrawaddy river in March the Japanese already knew about them. Counterattack forced Wingate to order retreat back to India. The Chindits lost 1/3 of their men and lots of equipment.

In March 1944 six Chindit brigades took part of the Operation Thursday where 10,000 men with pack animals and equipment were flown behind enemy lines in less than a week. They harassed Japanese communication and supply lines. Troops were supplied and relieved through air.

Ferocious jungle fighting ensued. At times, British and Japanese troops were in close combat, bayonets and kukris against katanas. In addition to the enemy, the Chindits faced bouts of malaria and dysentery. Their wounded were evacuated by air. They kept their positions for five months.

Military historians disagree on Chindits' military significance. Many think that the casualties they caused were relatively light.


Chindit by Richard Rhodes James:
Hardcover 256 pages (August 1980) Publisher: J Murray; ISBN 0719537460
Paperback 224 pages (10 September, 1981) Publisher: Sphere; ISBN 0722151020
Hardcover (November 1980) Publisher: Academic Pr Canada Ltd; ASIN 0719537460

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