...my grandfather had been to China three times. His first stay was between 1920 and 1923, and he was the US Army's first Chinese-language student.''
“The skills taught at the rehabilitation camps included tinsmithing, sewing, carpentry and such,” said John Easterbrook, pointing to a photograph in which Stilwell, hat in hand, is seen talking with a group of Chinese soldiers, most of whom are on crutches after losing limbs.
According to Ge Shuya, a historian who specializes in the CBI Theater, the criticism Stilwell received both in life and death — among other things, he was condemned for being too harsh on US soldiers and refusing to evacuate some deemed unfit to fight — can partly be explained by his determination to win the hearts and minds of the Chinese soldiers.
“Stilwell understood the Chinese mentality well enough to know that to become the true leader of those soldiers, he would have to fight alongside them and demonstrate a high level of fairness toward everyone, Americans and Chinese, which he did,” Ge said. “In the battle for Myitkyina, the Burmese city-cum-airfield, Stilwell insisted that the US soldiers stick with their Chinese counterparts to the end. That meant four protracted months of hard, bloody fighting during the monsoon season.”
It was at Stilwell’s insistence that the “Ledo Road” was built between 1943 and 1944 to link the southwestern city of Kunming, Yunnan Province, with Assam in India and reopen China’s overland supply route, which had been cut by the Japanese in early 1942.
The project was controversial, and contributed to a widely publicized dispute between Stilwell and his CBI subordinate, Claire Chennault — commander of the “Flying Tigers” squadrons of US pilots that operated in China. Chennault was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general just days before he died. He was convinced that aerial assaults would be enough to overpower the Japanese.
“Keeping in mind that the Ledo Road was officially opened in January 1945, just seven months before