Courtesy of Mr. Nick Sanchez, 4th CCG, 15th CCS
History of the 4th Combat Cargo Group
4th Combat Cargo Group
APO 218 % Postmaster, New York City, N.Y.
CHAPTER 2By the first of April 1945, almost all sorties were being made to the 4th Corps and 33d, Corps fields across the Irrawaddy River in the rich agricultural plain of Burma. Myingyan was opened for day and night flying. Meiktila, having successfully emerged from its siege, again was re-opened, this time for 24 hour operation. Fields south of Mandalay of the war machine which sent a series of concentric lines around the Japanese forces. The 4th CC Group again was stocking the fields with ammunition, rations (including beer and cigarettes) Bailey Bridges, small arms, bombs and all of the miscellaneous necessities of modern warfare. The victorious British-Indian Army did not delay long at Meiktila and a few weeks after the Japanese pressure had ceased in that area, 17 Indian Division struck south. During April, armored columns spurted down the Rangoon-Mandalay macadam road. The first resistance came at Pabwe, a small town 26 miles south of Meiktila, where in a three-day battle, the Japanese were completely routed. The first 12 days of the advance from Meiktila had cost them 3500 men and many guns. Following this battle, 5 Indian Divisions took the lead, and in 16 days had covered 180 miles: Yatmethin, Pyinmana, Lewe, Thawatti, Thagaya, Yodashe, Kyungen, Toungoo, Oktwin, and Pyu were all left behind. As the month of April neared an end, the armor and infantry pushed on to the Japanese stronghold of Pegu, an important rain and communication center. Pegu was not only a natural defensive position, but also a cover for the enemy's escape to the east over the first bridges over the Sittang River. The Japanese blasted those bridges and fought hard for the town. As soon as the main rail bridge had been repaired, armored spearheads and infantry sped on toward Rangoon. In the meantime other British-Indian units had overrun all of the territory west of Meiktila to the Irrawady River and were mopping up the remainder of the enemy forces between that line and Mandalay. With that finished, they turned again to the sough to follow the Burma Railroad from Kyaukpadaung, half-way between Meiktila and the Chauk oil fields to Natmauk and thence down to Taungdwingyi. From there they proceeded south along both the highway and railroad to Satthwa. At this last town the forces separated, one following the railroad as it curved abruptly toward the southeast and then east to join the Rangoon-Mandalay railroad at Pyinmana: the other continuing south of the highway to reach Allanmyo, and forge on toward Prome. It was along these three lines of advance that the 4th Combat Cargo Group was to unload its vital cargoes throughout the month. The first field to open for these supplies during April was Taugtha, south of Mingyan. This was ready on 5 April, and into it was poured nearly 200 tons within three days. Kume opened for a limited life on 8 April, and in rapid succession, Thedaw, on 13 April, Bonzukan, on 15 April, and Kwetnge on 18 April were visited for the first time by the 4th CC Group aircraft. These three latter fields were all clustered around Meiktila. Along this all important highway-railroad route, other fields began to mushroom: Iewe, Tennant, Lalewa and finally Pyuntazis were opened by the Allied engineers. To reach this latter field, planes of the 4th CC Group were flying 439 miles, and round-trips nearly 900 miles a mission. Along the second route, that from Satthwa to Pyinmana, two fields were opened as supply depositories midway between the principal route on the east and the Irrawaddy River on the west. One of these, Natmauk, was opened on 21 April, and the other, Taungdwingyi, received the first cargo on 30 April. The third route, that running parallel to the Irrawady Rover, was static during most of the month. However, one field Maida Vale, was opened on 30 April. The run of only 260 miles south east of Chittagong was one of the shortest the Group was making at that time. Thus, at the end of our third month of operating out of Chittagong, the line of flight, which in February stretched in northeast direction, had gradually moved clockwise to the east, and now was on a southeast course. The flights that had taken but an hour and fifteen minutes before, now were about the three hour mark. The accelerated schedule needed to reach these more distant fields, zoomed the hours flown for the month of April to 164,123.35 whereas the previous month only 16,717.35 hours were credited to the Group. Despite the greater flying distances, the total tonnage hauled during the month was 26,055 tons or only 467 tons less than the 26, 522 ton peak deliveries of the preceding month. In mileage flown the Group showed a tremendous jump. Assuming the average ground speed of the C-46 to be 160 mph, the Group had flown roughly 2,956,013 miles during its April operations into Burma fields. The rout of the Japanese had become complete. They held few strategic points in Burma as May came in, and these were being threatened by the victorious forces of XIV Army. The last battered remains of the Japanese at Pegu, gave way under the preponderant weight of the British-Indian combination. The road to Rangoon was clear for the victorious Allies who raced toward Zayetkwin and momentarily stalled on the banks of a chaung at Heigu. Meanwhile the 33d Corps, led by Lt. Gen. Stopford, accelerated its advance toward Prome. With that stronghold in its hands, it continued down the Rangoon-Prome road along the Irrawady River axis, toward the capital of Lower Burma. In the wedge created between these two forces, thousands of Japanese were cut off from all means of escape. As the Allied advance rolled southward, another surprise was in store for the Nipponese. On 2 May 1945, transport planes of the Combat Cargo Task Force suddenly appeared over Rangoon, and hundreds of paratroopers of the 15th Corps spewed down to earth at Elephant Point, just south of the Metropolis. The fields serviced by the 4th Combat Cargo Group during May formed a rough diamond shape. At the northern head of the diamond, were Myingyan and Kinmagan. These bases supplying the march on Prome. They received 5296 tons of combat cargo at the hands of the 4th CC Group. On the western point of the diamond was Magwe, which received 4283 tons. Lying along the southeast facet of this diamond were Meiktila and Payagyi, where 2,783 tons were dumped by the Combat Cargo Group. On 9 May Zayatkwin, 26 miles NNE of Rangoon was opened to supply the troops in the south. This completed the diamond. The 3 strips opened to this Group during the month of May were Ywataung, Magwe and Toungoo. With the opening of the last named field, on 20 May, probably the greatest era of combat airstrip building the world ever had known came to an end. Once more the 4th Combat Cargo Group had outstripped all others in the amount of supplies flown to the front lines. During May, it hauled 20,002 of the total 53,687 tons request by Combat Cargo Task Force by the British-Indian Forces. The highest priority items flown in during the Burma campaigns were Bailey bridging, medical supplies, gasoline, ammunition, rations, concrete and other miscellaneous materials for the construction and maintenance of the forward airstrips. Of such supplies, large lots of rations, clothing, gasoline, and etc. were set aside and stockpiled in Central Burma areas for use during the approaching Monsoon season, when deliveries could be much more difficult.
CHAPTER 3Although the accomplishments of the 4th Combat Cargo Group during May had fallen off from the March and April "high", they still are quite impressive. During those 31 working days, the Group had flown 17,991 hours. This was only 423 hours less than the flying time of April, yet total tonnage hauled was 6,053. This decline was directly attributable to the greater distance that the Group was flying to "deliver the goods". To reach this 17,991 total flying hours figure, the 4th CC Group ships were in the air on an average of 520.20 hours daily. They flew 5,445 trips or an average of 175.6 loaded trips completed each day. Actually the Group flew 8,547 stories during the month of May. Of these, the above-mentioned 5,445 trips were completed with laden aircraft. 2,993 more were completed empty. The Burma war, the first of its kind, was ready to take its place on the pages of history when the first days of June rolled in. Brilliantly planned and executed it marked a new phase in the annals of warfare. It's success had depended solely on air power, and more particularly on the arm thereof known as Combat Cargo, whose great worth no longer was a matter of conjecture. The 4th Group's stay in the Combat Cargo Task Force and the British Forces was drawing to a close in early June, and sorties out of Patenga had been reduced to about 95 per day. The great port of Rangoon was already in operations, and the essentials of war were flowing into it in a never ending stream within three weeks after it had been taken. Chittagong had quickly become "back country". One final burst of operations during the first 8 days of June resulted in the Group's putting 5,194.4 tons of material and personnel into Burma. This was accomplished in 3,822.40 flying hours. The activities of the 4th Combat Cargo Group may be epitomized in two sets of figures: (1) The total number of hours flown --- 465,302.55, and (2) the total number of tons of cargo and passengers hauled to the fighting front - 133,832.6. These figures prove the Group to be the greatest air-cargo carrier for its size that the world had ever known. During this six-month period the Group had flown the equivalent of nearly 550 "round-the-world" trips. The 4th Combat Cargo Group's operations in support of the British XIV Army ceased on 8 June 1945, when the Group was moved from Chittagong to Myitkyina on the Irrawady River, where it started to fly supplies over the "Hump" to China. The accomplishments of our Group and Squadrons is best measured by the participation in the campaign outlined above. The Hump portion of the mission was a measure of the versatility of the organization. The low loss of planes and crews in spite of the heavy flying schedule attests to the skill and dedication of the crew chiefs and their crews.