By Scott R McMichael; Combat Studies Institute (U.S.)
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Extra resources for A historical perspective on light infantry
2 3 The line of march crossed the forbidding 6,000- to 8,000-foot-high Kumon Range. So formidable was this obstacle that the Japanese had not bothered to outpost it. Nonetheless, in an incredible feat of endurance and sheer perseverance, Galahad appeared undetected on the outskirts of Myitkyina after eighteen days. The nature of the march is described vividly by Charlton Ogburn: We set off with that what-the-hell-did-you-expect-anyway spirit that served the 5307th in place of morale, and I dare say served it better.
For example, he assigned them conventional tactical missions far beyond their capabilities, the best example of which (and there are many to choose from) was the order to Calvert's 77th Brigade to take the fortified town of Mogaung in a frontal attack. Calvert succeeded, but he virtually had to sacrifice his command to do so. 36 Galahad had no one to protect it from Stilwell. By a twist of fate, the same was true of the Special Force. Not long after Wingate's death, Slim assigned the Special Force directly to Stilwell.
When several columns moved together, the entire formation could stretch a long distance. While the accompanying mules slowed the columns, they were absolutely essential. Depending on the terrain, a day's march might vary anywhere from a couple of miles to fifteen miles. During most of the marches, soldiers suffered mind-numbing exhaustion, which forced them to concentrate all their energies on the need to keep moving. Often, the mountainous trails were negotiated on all fours. When the mules were unable to climb, their 25 burdens were unloaded and man packed to the top of grades.