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 LIFE

   In January a convoy of trucks formed at Ledo in India's tea-growing province of Assam and started down a fresh-cut road to the south. It is now the dry season in Burma and the trucks growled along in a column of dust. At the beginning they crossed a range of 5,000-ft. mountains but they were soon in the green valleys of northern Burma. At Myitkyina, captured by Allied soldiers late last summer, the trucks stopped for a while. When they heard the road had been cleared of Japanese to the south, the drive started off again, rolling past bodies of newly killed Japanese into the barren mountains and valleys of southwestern China. After a journey of 1,000 miles from Ledo, the trucks arrived at Kunming. It was the first convoy to China since the Japanese cut the old Burma Road in May of 1942.

   When the trucks rolled into China, Chiang Kai-shek gave the new road a new name: The Stilwell Road. The Burma Road had begun at Lashio, which is still held by the Japanese to the south. The new road cuts across the top of Burma to join the old one north of Lashio. While it was being built it was called the Ledo Road, or sometimes "Pick's Pike" after its builder, Brig. General Lewis A. Pick. Now the Generalissimo had named the road after the American commander who was too plain-spoken with him to stay in Asia but who made the road possible.




 A SMILING BUDDHA A smiling Buddha, damaged by fighting along the road in Burma, is inspected by men of the convoy. This is a conventional Buddha, seated on a lotus leaf in formal attitude of contemplation. In peacetime Burmese Buddhist monks come out of their gilt temples in yellow robes at sunrise to make their rounds. Some hillbilly Burmese worship animals instead of Buddha.  IN CHINESE TOWN In Chinese town of Paoshan, which is about halfway from Ledo to Kunming, part of the convoy pulls down a narrow street. On the smooth old stones of the sidewalks stand the citizens of the town. These Chinese are used to the sight of trucks because the original Burma Road passed this way. Before the war, however, this part of China was almost never visited by white men.
 A PONTOON BRIDGE A pontoon bridge is moored in the broad Irrawaddy River, which runs past Myitkyina and Mandalay south to Rangoon. In the first jeep at right is General Pick, commander of the road builders. Between Ledo and China, Pick's men built 600 bridges.  CROSSING THE SALWEEN Crossing the Salween the trucks roll over a suspension bridge built by engineers. The upper Salween flows through mountains and gorges. The engineers also built a road from Myitkyina through the mountains in case Japanese held the drive south.


 JUST INSIDE CHINA Just inside China a truck in the convoy tows a howitzer past caves dug in hillside by Chinese troops. At this point the Chinese stopped the Japanese penetration of Yunnan, the Chinese province which adjoins Burma. Later they crossed the Salween River to push the Japanese back. In January they joined other Chinese troops and Americans driving east through Burma. In the stretch where two drives met, U.S. tanks ran up and down the road to clean out the Japanese, and the way to China was open.







 LIFE Magazine - March 12, 1945
LIFE'S COVER: Lieut. General William Hood Simpson, commander of the Ninth Army at the Rhine, is an old soldier: tough-minded, dependable and confident. He is a tall man, lean and immaculately dressed. The most arresting thing about his appearance is his remarkable head. It is a head that reminds people of Biblical prophets, medieval aesthetics and ancient Egyptian kings. Wrote a LIFE correspondent, "At first glance it seems so bony, so cadaverously lean that you think of it as a friendly skull.

 LIFE Magazine
Adapted from the March 12, 1945 issue.
Portions copyright 1945 Time, Inc.

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