Intelligence Summary

The article below contains quotations from LRC's own account of the events on March 26th, 1945.

CRASHED PILOT SNATCHED FROM DEEP WITHIN JAP TERRITORY

 

SENTINEL to the RESCUE

 

" The Headman feared the japs would play hell with his people if he let me go "

 

In the hands of Burmese villagers, so terrified of Jap reprisals that they were on the point of handing him over to the- local police, an American pilot who had crashed a few miles north of Rangoon deep within enemy lines found himself in a tough spot, when suddenly, and very much to his surprise, he was rescued in the nick of time. The full story is told in his own words:

 

" At 06.25 hours we were approaching the target when I saw three Japanese aircraft coming towards us; they had just taken off, and were climbing to the west. We immediately pulled up to get them, one of us taking the one on the right, another the one to the left, and I attacking the middle one. We all poured it into them and they went down and hit the ground in formation, forming a ' V ' in fire. I pulled over to the left, and was then warned that I was losing coolant

 

Belly Landing

"The aircraft was getting pretty rough, so I opened the coolant shutters manually; but I couldn't get any better than 100 degrees My oil pressure had dropped to zero, and I started gliding. I had intended to make a belly landing, but after it began to smoke and the cockpit began to smell I decided to bail out, having already pulled my canopy open.

 

"Releasing my harness, I looked at the altimeter and saw that I was only 320 feetup, so I had to belly-land after all. She landed a little rough, nosed up for a moment, and then settled down. It wasn't too bad. I had previously cut my switches. I got out of the aircraft with my parachute, and after moving off about 100 yards. I stopped to remove my knife from the jungle kit in order to cut the cords off the parachute to make a pack. Pilots should carry a knife on the outside of their equipment; I had to spend time digging for mine.

 

"I took out my pistol to do something about the aircraft, but it wouldn't work. Just then another Jap came down and made three passes at my aircraft, shooting it up and starting a small fire which burned it up pretty well ; in fact it was all burned except for a few parts such as the tail, prop, and a few other things. I thought I could see natives approaching from a village down the field, so I took out my compass and started out at 300 degrees across the field, which was open with little villages on it. I was intending to head for the coast and the hills.

 

"I noticed two villages just ahead, so I intended to pass between them. Along the roads the natives had little stands with roofs over them, with jars of water and little hollowed out things to drink with. I was very thirsty and took a drink from one. The water was cool and very clear. I noticed natives trailing me, and started through the clearing between the villages.

 

No Interest in Blood Chit

" I came to a river and then 'didn't know what to do and was in a fix. But then some natives approached me and spoke in broken English. They were very friendly. I took out my blood chit, looked at it and then replaced it in my pocket; the natives, appeared not to have the slightest interest in it. They examined everything I had on and all my equipment, but made no attempt to molest me. I did not take out my pistol again, but tried to act as quietly as possible, just as if getting out of this area north of Rangoon was an everyday matter.

 

"They pointed north to a village and said that I should not go there as the people were Burmese. One native who was a Christian wanted to take me to his own village, but they used no force decided to go with the Christian native, and he conducted me to the headman's dwelling; the headman was not in at the time having gone to the scene of the crash, but my companion insisted that I should wait for the headman's return, so I sat down on a chair which they brought me. They then brought me food: boiled sweet milk, tea, candy, etc. It was the very best they had. They insisted that I have breakfast, and thereupon went out to cook it.

 

Where the Japs were

In a short while an elderly man entered.He was well-dressed, and had a light beard. He told me that the people there were Christians, and that I was in a Christian village. He spoke of British missionaries who had been in that district, mentioning several names, and asked me my religion. He asked if I was married, and I said I was. He told me that the people were Karenni--pronounced just like 'Korean'. He went on to say that they were very friendly and hospitable, always giving strangers the best they have. But he seemed to be very scared of the Japs.

 

"He appeared to understand English better than he spoke it. Two or three of-the. others also seemed to understand it, and two of them asked me some very pertinent questions: what base I came from, how ,many aircraft came over, how many men were in them -to which I replied, just one. They repeated these questions several times and seeemed surprised that I was alone. They wanted to know how many aircraft were in the area, asking this, question several times as if there was an invasion going on. Some of them asked impertinent questions which they should not have asked, and I turned cold on them.

 

"The old man said that he was the minister of the village. He did not recognise my nationality and asked me what it was. I told him I was an American. I didn't notice any change in his attitude. He told me how much better things had been when, the British were there. He also told me where the Japs were, but didn't say how many. He said that if I had crossed the river I would have been captured by them, as the Japs were about 10 miles away to the east.

 

"I saw two documents which the natives brought in, issued by the Burmese Government. These had pictures of aircraft on them. The natives held them but did not offer to let me look at them, though they held them near enough for me to see them. Apparently the Burmese Government had specifically - ordered that all parachutists and airmen were to be turned over to the Government. The old man felt that the Japs would play hell with the people if he let me go, as the Japs were treating them badly. They came to loot the village every now and then, and the people on such occasions had to pay the Japs, eight oxen for taxes: a great deal for such a small village. They said it was very different from the time when the British were there.

 

Message to the Police

"He brought in two women to show me kind of dress they wear, and to show that they, were different from the Burmese. These worn, had blouses and skirts as compared with the dress the women wear here. I asked him if he would help me to cross the river, but he said would not be wise to do so. He thought it would be better if he turned me over to the local police.

 

"They didn't get my name and didn't know my rank, and I didn't give it to them. Then the headman came in. He was a boy about twenty two or twenty-three years old, and looked like, a Sikh. They talked together, and the headman decided that the only way to protect the people would be to go to the Burmese police and let them know of my presence. He had sent someone out to the police station.

 

"They then served breakfast of rice, chicken livers, sweet breads, fried eggs, boiled sweet milk and tea. I didn't eat much, but just took little bits. The food was good. We sat around for quite awhile, but I didn't have much to say. The people just stood and sat around looking at me. I was going to try to sweat out a little before I left, and was then going to walk out and see what they would do.

 

"The country was very open and I wasn't sure which way I would go. Then I heard aircraft in the distance, a P-51--I could tell by the sound of its engine. I went out and saw it go over. I went back and told the old man that my friends were coming for me. He didn't say much, but gave a broad smile and wished me good luck. I think that when he sent the messenger to the police station he - told them take it easy, as nothing had happened for three or four hours. I then left the village.

 

Timely Rescue

"I started towards the crash area, and then along came an L.5! I was really surprised. I got out my mirror and flashed at everything. I had my jungle kit. I thought that I saw an L.5 land some distance away, and finally found it on the ground about 3 miles from the village. I threw my jungle kit away as I was too tired carry it, and a captain from my outfit came out and got hold of me. We cut back to the L.5 which had just been loaded with gas. The ground was very bad and all three wheels were stuck. The field was hard mud and dirt, with lot of holes into which the wheels had run. We tried, but couldn't get the aircraft out.

 

"Then a lieutenant landed in another L.5. He got out and started to load gas into it. I saw two or three natives coming towards us, and also thirty or forty more of them coming from the village. I then got into the aircraft, and by all sorts of saluting and, salaaming and a fair distribution of rupees the captain got them to help him to move the L.5 out to a better place.

 

"We started down the field, and it was a hell of a ride; I thought we might not make it but at least we were going to try. We bumped along for a good distance; the captain was moving the stick around a lot and finally pulled it back, and we left the ground. The only thing I left behind was my parachute. I had given the natives nothing.

 

"We climbed up and circled above the other L.5 until he got off, and then headed for Ramree island. We landed at Ramree- and found that the tail wheel was driven up through the metal tubing and into the tail assembly. The elevators were dragging on the ground and we really bumped along. We had only one gallon of gas left when we reached Ramree. Lacerations of the left wrist and a sprained left knee were the only injuries I sustained. I flew from Ramree in a P-51.

 

"The headman of the village seemed very interested in protecting his people and I think that was why he sent out the man to the local police station. I think that if they were sure that we could protect them, they would help us. I would like to do something for this village, as they seemed to want to help, but their real fear of Jap reprisals made them loath to give active assistance." [1]

 



[1] "CRASHED PILOT SNATCHED FROM DEEP WITHIN JAP TERRITORY." Air Command Southeast Asia, Weekly Intelligence Summary. No. 80. (1945): 29 - 31.

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