317th TROOP CARRIER SQUADRON



Ex-CBI Roundup
November 1970 & July 1989 Issues

Every Type of Tactical Transport . . .

Operations of the 317th Troop Carrier Squadron during the eight-month period from 1 November 1944 to 30 June 1945 were covered in a mimeographed booklet issued at the end of that period by Capt. John R. Ferraro, intelligence officer of the squadron. The following information about the unit has been taken from that report, and therefore does not include activities of the squadron after June 1945.



In eight months of operations overseas, from November through June 1945, the 317th Troop Carrier Squadron accomplished every type of tactical transport operation possible.

Horses, mules and Chinese troops were flown over the Hump. Supply drops were made over difficult terrain, and wounded evacuated. Two Indian infantry brigades were air-landed at Thabut-kon and Meiktila airstrips in Burma. Gliders of the squadron were in action at Lewe, Burma, and paratroopers were dropped on Rangoon.

The squadron thus materially aided in driving the Japs from Burma, and in preserving China from further Jap contact.

I. Battle of the Chindwin Valley - November 1944.

The 317th entered the Burma theater at a time when the British were just beginning to push the Japs down the Chindwin Valley. British infantry units were attacking over rough and dangerous terrain with poor lines of communication. With only a few forward airfields available in the North Chindwin Valley, a great amount of the supplies had to be dropped to these troops. These drops together with air landings at forward airfields, and the evacuation of many wounded greatly aided the ground troops in turning the tide of the campaign.

The squadron was awarded a battle star in its campaign ribbon for this mission.

II. Battle of China - December 1944 and January 1945.

During December the 317th was concerned with the supply of troops, animals and equipment to China. At this time the Japanese had captured Kweilin and were advancing rapidly toward Kweyang, the capture of which would have put them in an excellent position for simultaneous drives on Kunming and Chungking. The lifeline to China was being seriously threatened. Kunming and Chungking were terminal points for the Burma Road and Hump flights, so capture of these cities would have materially cut down supplies for China. It was decided to meet this threat, and it was proposed to move to China, as soon as possible, a complete Chinese division and all of its equipment. Several transport squadrons operating in Burma were diverted for this mission. The 317th was one of them, and all of December was spent in transporting Chinese troops, horses, mules and equipment to China over the Hump. The threat to China's lifeline was met and the Japanese were pushed back.

The squadron during December also flew supplies to forward strips south of Myitkyina in support of ground troops.

Commendations were received from Major General George E. Stratemeyer, Commanding Army Air Forces, India Burma Theater, and Major General Howard C. Davidson, Commanding 10th Air Force.

On January 6, 1945, the 317th completed its China mission. During the remainder of the month the squadron transported supplies to Myitkyina, Burma, and together with the glider section trained British glider pilots at Bikram, India.

III. Battle of Central Burma - February 1945.

The battle for Central Burma was in full progress, and the enemy intended to hold the Irrawaddy River at all costs. If this natural defense barrier was crossed the Japanese knew they could not stem the advance of the British, as the terrain is flat and dry and suitable for armored thrusts. They fought bitterly in the Mandalay area to the north and west of Mandalay to hold the Irrawaddy line. British and Indian troops advanced steadily toward Mandalay and threatened to push across the river. Other allied units in strength advanced on the west bank of the Irrawaddy toward Myitche. The 317th flew supplies daily to these troops at such forward airfields as Sinthe, Allagappa, Onbauk, Myitche, Sadaung and Mandalay North.

The squadron also participated in the mission "Multivite." In this mission the Meiktila airfields were the objective. Squadron gliders, loaded with engineering equipment, were ready at Sinthe for the mission. The British made a surprise and spectacular dash across the Irrawaddy and seized Thabutkon airstrip. The field appeared serviceable, so the glider mission was cancelled. One 317th glider piloted by Capt. Watson Smith did land at Thabutkon to check on the strip. A 317th transport landed shortly thereafter, and it was the first powered aircraft to land. In the next few days the unit airlanded an Indian infantry brigade at Thabutkon. These men were flown from Palel, India, in record time. The Japanese offered some resistance while planes were landing and taking off. However, the mission was successfully accomplished.

IV. Battle of Central Burma - March 1945.

During March the squadron continued to aid front line troops pushing their way toward Mandalay and Meiktila. Ammunition, guns, rations, clothing and gasoline were flown in daily to such forward airfields as Singu, Ondaw, Ywabo, Nyangu, Mandalay North, Tada-u, Chaunggwa and Meiktila.

The 17th Division succeeded at the outset of March to capture Meiktila Main airfield and the Thabutkon airstrip was abandoned. This sealed the doom of the escaping Japs from the Mandalay area, for their only escape route was cut. However, the retreating Japs regrouped north of Meiktila and attacked the town and airfield from the north. Simultaneously, Jap reinforcements were rushed from Rangoon, and these units attacked Meiktila from the south. Meiktila was surrounded by Japs. At night they infiltrated British lines and captured the main Meiktila airfield. This was the ground situation when it was decided to fly into Meiktila immediately another Indian infantry brigade and ammunition to hold the airfield and town. Loss of Meiktila might possibly have stopped the British drive to reach Rangoon before the monsoons.

The air landings were severely contested by the Japanese. Despite the enemy resistance, the brigade was landed intact and the airfield was held. It served as an excellent base for the subsequent drive to Rangoon.

The squadron received commendations for the February and March operations from Major General Cowan of the 17th Indian Division, Brigadier General F. W. Evans, Commanding Combat Cargo Task Force, General Messervy, General Slim, Commanding General of the 14th Army and General Strate-meyer. The squadron received a battle star for the operation.

V. Battle of Central Burma - April 1945.

The 317th Troop Carrier Squadron continued to supply the 33d, 4th and 15th Corps at forward airfields such as Myotha, Myitche, Dwehla, Ondaw, Taungtha and Ramree. Large quantities of gasoline were ferried to Meiktila from Palel. Squadron gliders were towed from Palel to Meiktila, where they were committed for action at one of the Pyinmana airfields.

In the first few weeks of April, the British broke out of Meiktila and began a sensational drive south, quickly taking the Pyinmana airfields. On April 21, eight 317th gliders were towed to Lewe airfield loaded with engineering equipment. This equipment was unloaded and put to work immediately in leveling the field. On April 22, eight Jap "Oscars" attacked Lewe airfield and destroyed five of the squadron gliders.

From April 15 until the end of the month the transport section of the squadron was brought back to Kalai-kunda for formation flying day and night. Then for two weeks the squadron flew numerous hours of formation and made a practice paratroop drop in preparation for the Rangoon paratroop mission.

VI. Battle of Southern Burma - May 1945.

In the opening days of May the British column, which had broken out of Meik-tila in April, was closing in on Pegu, about 50 miles north of Rangoon. In less than a month they had covered 300 miles. With Rangoon being threatened from the north it was decided to seal the doom of the Rangoon defenders by attacking Rangoon from the south in an air and seaborne invasion. To insure the success of this invasion it was necessary to clean out Jap gun positions in the mouth of the Rangoon River at the entrance to Rangoon harbor. Gurkha and Indian paratroopers were selected for this and on May 1 the 317th dropped numerous Gurkha paratroopers and hundreds of thousands of pounds of equipment at Elephant Point. The Gurkhas immediately destroyed Japanese gun positions there. The next day the giant invasion armada steamed into Rangoon, and Rangoon was occupied shortly thereafter.

This was the first paratroop drop in Asia and it was described as an excellent drop. Only five out of a thousand Gurkha and Indian paratroopers were injured, and these only slightly.

The remainder of the month was spent supplying the 14th Army troops driving south toward Rangoon with rations, petrol and ordnance at Payagyi and Myingyan airfields.

For the Rangoon mission the squadron was commended by the following: Major General E. E. Down, C.B.E., of the 44th Indian Airborne Division, Lt. General Sir Oliver Leese, Commander in Chief of the Allied Land Forces in Southeast Asia, General Stratemeyer, Lt. General Messervy, 4th Corps, and General Evans.

VII. Supplying the North Burma and the Battle of the Shan States-June 1945.

In June, the squadron was concerned with flying fresh meats, pipeline, gasoline and ordnance to Myitkyina, Lashio and Bhamo airfields. During the month a great amount of supplies were dropped in the North Burma area to isolated Burmese villages and outposts. South of Lashio the squadron dropped a great deal of supplies to troops pushing the Japs out of the Shan States. All operations in June were made despite inclement weather; the monsoon rains were always a threat to the safe return of a plane. Despite the weather, more hours were flown in June than in any other previous month overseas.

VIII. Interested Facts About the Squadron.

During the eight-month period ending 30 June 1945, the 317th Troop Carrier Squadron flew mileage sufficient to go around the world 80 times.

During the same period the squadron airlanded enough men and equipment to form 2l/2 airborne divisions.

In the same period, the squadron carried the equivalent in weight of 7,800 Jeeps. If placed bumper to bumper, 7,800 Jeeps would cover a distance of 16 miles.


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