Ca. April 1944 – August 1945.
Two oblong Folio albums, each ca. 22,5x32 cm (9 x 12 ½ in). Each album with 55 and 53 linen-backed original gelatin silver photos respectively. All but one photos are ca. 20x25 cm (8 x 9 ¾ in); one smaller photo is ca. 20x19,5 cm (8 x 7 ¾ in). All but about fourteen photos with the stamps of “U.S. Army. Signal Corps” in negative. All but six photos with paper labels, mounted on verso, with detailed typewritten information about images (number, caption, date when the image was taken, the name of the photographer), many with pencil corrections by military censors. Six paper labels are missing. All photos with multiple period ink stamps on verso: copyright of the U.S. Army Signal Corps (“When authorized for publication – credit must be given, photo by U.S. Army Signal Corps” and/or “Processed by the 164th Signal Photo Co. Laboratory Section”), and/or stamps “Negative shipped to Washington,” and/or permission for publication by a military censor (“Passed for publication, U.S. Army Press Censor, China Burma and India”). About ten photos with period ink stamps or pencil notes: “Not for publication” on verso (a couple crossed over with pencil). Two period custom-made bindings with brown wooden boards fastened with metal bolts, (one bolt missing). Bindings slightly rubbed, a couple of images with minor scratches, several title labels on verso slightly faded or with minor tears, but otherwise very good albums of strong interesting photos.
Historically significant extensively annotated collection of large photos, taken by the servicemen of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Burma (Myanmar) and India during the Burma Campaign of WW2. The photos cover the period from April 1944 to August 1945 and focus on the American involvement in the recapturing of northern Burma and building the Ledo Road. This route from British Assam to Kunming (China) was constructed in 1942-1945 by U.S. troops under the command of General Joseph Stilwell (1883-1946) and enabled the delivery weapons and supplies aiding China in its war effort against Japan. The photos are supplemented with detailed captions, dates and names of the photographers. Most of the images passed military censorship and were allowed for publication by special ink stamps on verso, but many captions have pencil corrections by censors, crossing out sensitive information (mostly still visible). The names of most censors are visible on the stamps. About ten photos, mostly related to the U.S. military actions in northern Burma, bear ink stamps “not for publication” on verso.
The albums include over thirty photos of Northern Burma and the construction of the Ledo Road, showing the U.S. troops, trucks, and building machinery near Myitkyina, Mogaung, Kazu, Htiyi, Mong Wi, Lashio, &c., and marking the recapture of Myitkyina (August 1944) and the first convoy to pass through the entire Ledo Road (January 1945). Several photos portray Kachin people, including members of the American Kachin Rangers.
An abridged list of captions: “ cars, loaded with road building equipment <…> earmarked for the Ledo Road” (13 Jun. 44); U.S. soldiers receive “firing instruction from aerial observer in L-5 plane. These instructions will be passed to gunners operating 75 mm pack Howitzer, Myitkyina” (27 Jul. 44); U.S. troops on a train, powered by a new Jeep, on the railway between Mogaung and Myitkyina (14 Aug. 44); American military men clearing the Burma road by bulldozer (7 Sept. 44); Burma road overflown by streams after heavy rains (19 Sept. 44); [2nd Bn., 475th Inf. Regt.] “on the march leaving Myitkyina for the forthcoming campaign” (16 Nov. 44); “Ledo Road Engineers watching [2nd Bn., 475th Inf. Regt.] ford a small stream below Kazu, Burma”; [2nd Bn., 475th Inf. Regt.] prepare to cross the Irrawaddy River south of Myitkuina (both 17 Nov. 44); “The new jeep road from Burma into China which will connect Myitkyina and Teuching in China” (21 Dec. 44); “Tractors and graders working on the road between Sailaw and Htiyi (New Jeep Road)” (21 Dec. 44); “Curious Chinese and Kachin natives inspect the whote mens’ monsters. This is the first time the natives were able to see a caterpillar tractor when in was still” (21 Dec. 44); American officers instruct newly recruited American Kachin Rangers in Burma, “security prevents showing faces of Americans working with the Rangers” (2 Jan. 45); a “supply train” with “food and ammunition to an American Kachin Ranger outpost located near the mountain village of […], Burma, who are guarding escape routes for the Japs still in [Namkin?]” (4 Jan. 45); “Chinese horse driver working with the American Kachin Rangers, who operate behing te enemy lines” (4 Jan. 45); “Mong Wi, Burma. Home-guard Kachins without uniforms and American Kachin Rangers in a column” (8 Jan. 45); “first convoy to China crosses a temporary pontoon bridge on a detour off a section of the Ledo Road under construction just west of Myitkyina” (14 Jan. 45); “Lashio lay completely in ruins after the Japanese were forced to retreat into he hills to the south” (8 Mar. 45); “log-scribbing at 86 mile mark on Stilwell Road, construction is being done by Co. C. [1358th] Pioneers (Indian)” (5 May 45); “parking area at the M.T.S. stop at km. 812 on the Burma Road in China” (12 May 45); “Between Yunnayi and Tzu Yung, China, road continues to wind through hills” (7 Jun. 45).
Captions to the photos (mostly of northern Burma), marked “not for publication”: “Gun crews of Battery C, 464th C A Bn A.A., activated about 20 months and in foreign service one year. Pictures are made of the crews about the Bofors A.A. guns, 40 mm” (24 Apr. 44); “pipe line walkers working on 380 ft over-head suspension, at mile 82, crossing the Namyung River in Northern Burma” (10 May 44); “Indian laborers “take ten” atop pile of 81 mm shells on Myitkyina field” (19 May 44); two photos of “British troops of the 36th Indian Division unloading from C-47 plane” at “Myitkyina air strip” (11 Jul. 1944); U.S. military crews building a bridge “on Ledo Road at Mogaung River” (15 Aug. 44); “Ferry, operated by the [775th] Engr. Petroleum Distribution Co. approaches the bank of the [Mogaung] River to pick up pipe sections which will be carried to [Mogaung] across the river. This is one section of the India-Burma-China pipeline being built by the U.S. Army in C.B.I.” (3 Sept. 44); “manifold valve installation on pipe line from India, installed by the [775th] P.D. Co. at Myitkyina, Burma” (27 Sept. 44); “Men of the 709 E.P.D. Co. working on a 4-inch suspended pipe at Pangau Pass, Assam” (14 Apr. 45); “A man stands dwarfed at the entrance to a camouflaged tank along the petroleum lifeline in China. The military pipeline is the longest such pipeline ever constructed. Location Yunnan Yi, China” (2 May 45).
Eight photos document surgeries and medical procedures performed by the Allies’ military personnel in the “46th Portable Hospital Unit, setup 6 miles back of front lines, 2 miles south of Laban” (near Myitkyina, 27 Apr. 44); “73rd Evacuation Hospital in Shingbwiyang, mile 110 along the Ledo Road” (25 May 44); a Kolkata hospital (1 Sept. 44); a “General Hospital” in Assam (20 Sept. 44); and on board a plane of the 821 Air Evacuation Squadron in Burma (Jan. 45).
About a dozen photos show the U.S. troops, military and auxiliary installations across the Assam province of British India, neighbouring Burma: “newly built butcher shop in Margherita, Assam” (22 Apr. 44); “oil fields with the refining plant and oil derricks” of the Assam Oil Co. Ltd. in Digboi (20 May 44); loading lumber “at G.I. operated sawmill in Assam” (18 Oct. 44); American troops embarking a train at Pandu enroute to Myitkyina (26 Oct. 44); “a barge-ferry moving American-made boxcars from the North to South bank of the Brahmaputra River at Pandu” (25 Oct. 44); loading plane wings on trucks for delivery to China at an “Assam A.T.C. freight depot” (Nov. 44); loading “75 mm Howitzer and 60 mm mortar shells at air freight to go over the hump, <…> Assam” (Nov. 44); loading gazoline drums “aboard a C-46” to be flown to China, Assam (Nov. 44); a military train unloading at Ledo station (14 Dec. 44); “fundamental radio class instruction” at the Fox Hole University in Ledo, Assam (8 Jun. 45); “U.S. Army malaria control measures, Assam“ (11 Jun. 45).
Over a dozen photos were taken in Kolkata and include numerous views of the city port with American Liberty ships unloading military cargo (the names of two identified ships are “Carole Lombard” and “Henry T. Scott”), scenes with native workers loading cargo at “Q.M. Subsistance Warehouses” and “U.S. Signal Corps warehouse, Cossipore,” troop barges crossing the Hooghly River, U.S. assembly line of military trucks at Victoria Park (with the cupola of the Victoria Memorial in the background), “interior view of Gen. Motors Assembly Line,” “valves being ground by Indians at the automotive reconditioning plant, Calcutta,” &c.
A group of over twenty images portrays the U.S. servicemen spending their leisure time in various clubs and rest stations around British India, including “American Red Cross Enlisted Men’s Club” and “Cosmos club” in Kolkata, American Red Cross “Valley Club” at Khanspur rest station (modern-day Pakistan), and “Red Cross’ sponsored dance for 5307th Composite Replacements at Ramgarh Training Center.” Two photos show the American Red Cross hostesses welcoming arriving U.S. troops at the Howrah Station, Kolkata (25 Aug. 44), and five photos document a leisure visit of the U.S. military men to the Nawab of Rampur (12 Apr. 45). There are also photos of an American boxer Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Armstrong teaching Indian kids in Kolkata (15 Apr. 45) and “Andre Kostelanets conducts two all G.I. orchestras for capacity crowd of U.S. troops at his last concert in Burma India Theater” (17 Feb. 45).
A small group of views of western China shows “Pei-P’ei (hot springs resort) located about 75 km north of Chungking [Chongquing], China, on Chia Ling [Jialing] River” (4 Jun. 44) and “C.B.I. Radio Transcription Team fording river in Westernmost China to reach [now secret] airbases from which U/S/ AF B-29s raid Japan and Manchuria” (two different photos, both dated 15 Jul. 44). The other images show the U.S. troops disembarking a train in Bombay (Mumbai) to go to the States according to the rotation plan agreements (1 Jul. 44) and boarding a ship in Bombay (8 Jul. 44); a military plane loading mail to flow it to China (4 Aug. 44); U.S. soldiers operating a field radio station; U.S. military trucks driving across a stream, &c.
The albums also have portraits of U.S. military commanders, including Maj. Gen Gilbert X. Cheves and Maj. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer at Headquarters, USAF, China Theatre (Oct. 44); Lt. Gen Dan I. Sultan, Commanding General of the India-Burma Theater (Oct. 44); Col. R.R. Neyland “at an airport near Calcutta” (13 Nov. 44); “high-ranking allied officers” at the award ceremony in Kolkata “at which Lt. Gen. D.I. Sultan <…> was awarded with second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Medal for his role in opening the land supply route to China” (16 Apr. 45); three U.S. Generals at S.O.S. Section Commanders Conference in New Delhi (21 Apr. 45); Lt. Gen. Raymond A. Wheeler, C.G., India Burma Theater (20 Aug. 45); and Lt. Gen. Sultan pinning Second Star on Maj. Gen Vernon Evans at Theater Hq. in New Delhi (n.d.).
Overall an important content-rich original source on the history of the American involvement in the recapture of northern Burma in 1944-1945 and the construction of the Ledo supply road from Assam to Yunnan in China.
A list of the identified names of the photographers: S/Sgt. Quaid, T/5 Kirsten, T/Sgt. Shaffer, Lt. W. Houpt, T/5 T.D. Amer, T/4 Peace, C. Leipnitz, Lt. A. Rothstein, T/4 Raczkowski, T/5 Salomon, T/4 Sam. B. Hammat, T/4 Roger C. Pease, Lt. R. Reis, Capt. Buerkle, Sgt. Grant, T/4 F.W. Shearer, Pfc Daniel Novak, T/5 McCance, Lt. Miles, Pvt Kaner, T/4 Zimmerman, Pfc Seid, T/4 Derry, T/4 Wilson, T/5 Colgate, Pvt Fanning, 1st Sgt. Nadelberg, Capt. D. Burman, Capt. Dilliard, Cpl. James Guillot, T/5 Milton Koff, Pvt. Adams, V. Dick, Raymond Lewless, Sgt. Neubacher, T/3 John Gutmann, T/Sgt. Greenberg, Sgt. Say, Lt. Mathews, Yarnell.
A list of the identified names of the censors: Harold Scheininger, James R. McIver, Capt. Julian M. Sobin, John A. Armstrong, Lt. Mark M. Barkan, Eugene Johnson, James R. O’Leary.