Merrill's Marauders: The Untold Story of Unit Galahad and the Toughest Special Forces Mission of World War II Hardcover – 15 Nov 2013
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From the Inside Flap
From late 1941 through 1942, Japan overran much of the Pacific, including Burma. In March 1943, British Gen. Orde Wingate and his famed long-range penetration unit, the "Chindits," cut through the Burmese jungle, skirmishing with Japanese troops, destroying bridges, and cutting rail lines. Their advance and success shocked the Japanese, who had been conquering East Asia at an unstoppable pace. The Chindits' success, however, came at a price: they lost one-third of their three thousand men during the two-month-long mission. But though the Chindits were ultimately pushed back to India, their mission set the foundation for long-range penetration troops into Japanese-controlled territory. Months later, in August 1943, a call went out for three thousand American troops to volunteer for a hazardous secret mission in the Burmese jungle. Casualties were expected to be 85 percent. Despite these unfavorable odds, the required number of troops was raised, comprising men with varied military and personal backgrounds, such as Sioux and Japanese-Americans who later formed the core of the unit's elite intelligence and reconnaissance platoons. Code-named "Unit Galahad" but lacking an official designation, they were christened the "Dead End Kids" by an embedded newspaper correspondent. After Col. Charles Hunter, the unit's commander during training, was reassigned to second-in-command and replaced by Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill, other members of the press coined the more popular nickname for the unit that eventually stuck: Merrill's Marauders. After training for months in India, the Marauders made their way into Burma in February 1944 and cut their way over mountain passes and through thick jungle growth, fighting off malaria and dysentery. The Marauders continued their trek through the Burmese jungle and engaged in several skirmishes with Japanese troops on their way to their ultimate goal: capturing the vital Japanese-controlled airstrip at Myitkyina, which linked northern Burma to the rest of the country. Once the airfield was captured through a series of brilliant outflanking movements assisted by Chinese units and Kachin hill tribes, the Marauders dug in to defend it until troops from the First Chinese Army arrived. Only two hundred of the original three thousand Marauders remained in fighting condition when the support came. General Joseph Stilwell reorganized the group with reinforcements and then focused on taking the town of Myitkyina, which the Allies finally wrestled from the Japanese in August 1943. For their bravery in the harshest fighting conditions, the group received a Presidential Unit Citation, six Distinguished Service Crosses, four Legions of Merit, and forty-four Silver Stars. "Merrill's Marauders" is the story of this highly decorated unit, one of the toughest special forces units of World War II.
Author bio: Award-winning historian Gavin Mortimer is one of the world's foremost experts on World War II special forces. His history of the wartime Special Air Service was praised by the BBC as "a highly authoritative but also absorbing account," and it is currently under option from GK-TV in Hollywood. He has also written "The Daring Dozen: Special Forces Legends of World War II," a study of twelve of the most influential wartime special forces soldiers from the United States, Britain, and Germany. He contributes regularly to "World War II" magazine, "MHQ" ("Military History Quarterly)," and other historical publications on both sides of the Atlantic.
From the Back Cover
In September 1943, three thousand U.S. Army soldiers answered the call for volunteers to embark on a hazardous secret mission in spite of estimated casualties of 85 percent. The mission: advance into enemy-held territory in Burma to disrupt Japanese supply lines and ultimately recapture an important Allied airstrip at Myitkyina. The men of the 5307th Compositional Unit (Provisional), eventually nicknamed "Merrill's Marauders" after their commander, Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill, trained in India for months before crossing into enemy territory in February 1944. After traveling some seven hundred miles through grueling jungle conditions and encountering Japanese troops every step of the way, the Marauders, ravaged by disease and malnutrition, arrived at the Myitkyina airstrip in May 1944. There, they bravely held their position until reinforcements arrived, even as their numbers were whittled down to only two hundred able-bodied troops from the original three thousand. Written by award-winning historian Gavin Mortimer, "Merrill's Marauders" profiles one of the most important and toughest special operations forces of World War II through new archival research and personal interviews with the surviving members of the Marauders.See all Product description
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there is no lack of interest in the book. A great read for the present, and to tuck away for military history,
The amount of information presented is terrific as nearly the entire book is spent on the details of battles and the conditions the men suffered, from dysentery to pythons. The author also does significant analysis of the commanders of the unit to give the reader what I think is a fair view of the leadership troubles that eventually led to congressional hearings. The writing is solid, if not spectacular and there are a good number of maps included, which I always appreciate. Highly recommended for WWII history fans.
It is a great read about a very tough and bloody campaign. that said, there were some surprises along the way (I would tell you but then they wouldn't be surprises...)
Overall an excellent read.
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