Modeled after British Brigadier General Orde Wingate’s Long Range Penetration Force, the ‘Chindits,’ volunteers of the U.S. 5307th Composite Unit arrived in Bombay, India on October 31st, 1943, to begin training alongside their counterpart.

Appointed to command them was Brigadier General Frank Merrill, who once served as a military attaché’ to Burma, and answered directly to the American boss of the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater, General Joe Stillwell.

Merrill with General Joe StillwellHe watched as the compliment of 2,880 men, some jungle trained and others seasoned veterans of island campaigns, began tackling the unique courses created for them. ‘Chindit’ designed guerilla style training was meant to prepare them for their destination of Burma, where in addition to Japanese, some of the most inhospitable and rugged terrain on earth awaited them.

Before they departed, though, war’s unpredictable nature struck.