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\yiTH the completion of an oil pipeline 1800 miles long from Calcutta to China's biggest air bases the tempo of war goods delivery has been materially speeded up. Latest reports indicate that about 50,000 tons of supplies are being carried from India to China by air each month, and the regularity of delivery is most satisfactory. Four-engined transports are now able to fly direct from Calcutta to Kunming with sufficient fuel to take them back to Jyikyina, in Burma, where they can refuel. This means that their payload for the outward journey is substantially increased, as compared with that when fuel needed for the round trip greatly reduced the cargo capacity of the machine. Then, too, the defeat of the Japanese in northern Burma has allowed transport planes to fly at less than 10,000 ft in good weather, whereas on the old notorious "Hump" route they had to clear mountain obstacles towering above 20,000 ft. The saving in wear and tear on machines and the men who fly thefai is obvious. Another factor that has contributed to the improvement is the increased efficiency of aircraft maintenance. The proportion of planes grounded awaiting the arrival of instruments or other vital parts has now been brought below 4 per cent. This is a remarkable achievement.

In addition to this substantial aerial delivery service the ground the Ledo and old Burma roads is now in operation, and Marshal Chiang Kai-shek's armies are feeling the first benefits of the 14th Army's recent successful campaign. It is recognised, however, that the route from Calcutta docks over the Eengal-Assam railway to Ledo, in far north-east India, is too long to be really satisfactory, and the supply branches of the South-east Asia Command are no doubt waiting impatiently for the day when the monsoon is over and the 14th Army can continue its work of liquidating the enemy pockets west of the Sittang River. Some 5000 Japs, at latest estimates, are now astride the Rangoon-Mandalay road on a 70-mile stretch, and while they remain the shorter route from Rangoon through to China, in use before we entered the war against Japan, remains closed to our convoys. Determined efforts to escape from the British encirclement are being made by the enemy, but General Slim's men are hitting back hard, acting on the sound assumption that Japs who escape now will have to be met another day. It would probably be impossible to undertake reconstruction work on the route until after the monsoon, but no doubt Allied engineers are already at work putting the Rangoon docks into shape to deal with the flood of supplies inevitable once the direct route is again established.

When the need to give China the maximum amount of war supplies is remembered new meaning is given to the forthcoming mopping-up campaign in Burma. Amazing results have been achieved by AnglolAmerican co-operation in developing the docks at Calcutta, and improving the vital Bengal-Assam line of communications, and it is not too much to expect that the same energy and enthusiasm will ensure the development of the direct route through Burma. For the moment hastily requisitioned warehouses at Calcutta are bulging with stores, and additional supplies are pouring in from the United States and other countries. The most important thing about military equipment, however, is to put it in the hands of the men who can use it, and while paying tribute to the remarkable achievements of the quartermaster services of the Allies in South-east Asia it is reasonable to look forward to much greater deliveries in the very near future. If the Chinese armies are going to play the decisive part in beating the Japs on the mainland of Asia, predicted for them by leaders such as General Chennault, they must have equipment, and it is good to know that already, before the way has been finally cleared through Burma, such a substantial measure of success has been achieved.

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Bibliographic details

SUPPLYING CHINA'S ARMIES, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 174, 25 July 1945

Word Count

SUPPLYING CHINA'S ARMIES Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 174, 25 July 1945

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