[Iron Grip: Marauders] Modern Marauders: Back in Burma!

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Marauders! As you know, World War II is a huge inspiration for many parts of the Iron Grip universe. So is marauding! With those two key points in mind, we would like to present the second installment to the Historic Marauders blog post series. This week, we take a look at the Wingate’s Chindits – one of the most famous units in the British Special Forces during World War II.

Chinthe – the mythical leo-gryph of Burma, guardian of the temples and revered as a symbol of wrath, strength and endurance. It is the only creature in Buddhism allowed to use violence. The statues of these enormous beasts can be found at the entrances of temples and are said to ward off evil.

The Chindits (a form of Chinthe, adopted by British soldiers) were a part of the British Special Forces that operated in Burma during the Second World War. They are formed after the ideals of their commander, Orde Wingate – one of the most unconventional and dynamic commanders in World War II. He envisioned a unit that would be trained in guerilla fighting deep behind the enemy lines, capable of delivering deadly blows to enemy moral and destroys infrastructure .The Chindits delivered on their commander’s vision.

They fought deep in the jungles of Japanese occupied Burma, disrupted supply lines, destroyed railroads and ambushed Japanese patrols. For the first time, the British army showed the world that it was a match for the Japanese in jungle warfare. They would move in eight columns, each responsible for its own transport and timing. Their motto was “March divided and fight united!”

One example of the Chindits’s tactics of sabotage was the attack on the Myitkyina –Lashio rail-line. This railroad was the main supply line to the Japanese forces in northern Burma (ring any boss related bells?). Over the course of a few weeks the Chindits destroyed the rail line at 75 separate places. The Japanese were completely surprised and immediately allocated men and material to deal with the raiders. They successfully attacked two of the eight Chindit columns and forced them to retreat, but Wingate was undeterred. Wingate was uncompromising and during the retreat even ordered for the wounded to be left behind.

The mission was considered a success against all odds as the Japanese were so far undefeated in jungle terrain. Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself summoned Orde Wingate to discuss enlarging the current contingent of Chindits. From this discussion and a consequent conference of Quebec, the idea for Merrill’s Marauders was born.

The true triumph of the Chindits was operation “Thursday”. This ambitious plan was based on establishing fortified bases behind enemy lines that would be resupplied by air drops. Despite the dense jungle, engine failures and crashes that caused casualties, the Chindits managed to establish three fortified bases “in the guts of the enemy” as Orde Wingate described it. The Japanese launched a relentless counterattack but were ultimately pushed back. The gliders of the Chindits would land in the bases even under enemy fire and Orde Wingate would personally visit each base to encourage his men and develop the defense lines. After three weeks of fighting, the Japanese withdrew in disarray leaving 3000 thousand dead.

The Chindits proved just as fearsome as their namesake and inspired many other countries to develop similar units. Do you think you can prove yourself as dynamic and unorthodox as Orde Wingate ?