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402 Section V, E. DESTINATION MONGHSAT Reproduced from Maung Maung, “Destination Monghsat” in The Guardian I, no. 6 (April 1954): 18–20, by permission of Daw Khin Myint, wife of the late Dr Maung Maung. The war against the KMT is a grim war and a lonely war. The men engaged in the actual fighting are enjoying it. Action wakes are men up, inspires them, even intoxicates them. But waiting in the rear for messages that are relayed from the front, for reports that come by wireless at certain times of the day, for requests for food and supplies, for the sick and wounded to get them into fighting form and send forward again, is unnerving. One feels left out somehow. In fact, however, the men in the rear are doing essential jobs and they are doing them well. The author flew up to Camp NS in 1953 and visited the troops of the Union Armed Forces which were then engaged in Operation Maha against the Kuomintang aggressors. The Union Forces had then fought their way through Mong Pan to Wan Hsa La, and only the rains and the diplomatic victory that Burma gained at the United Nations General Assembly halted their march to Monghsat. Today Mong Ton is ours and Monghsat. This report was originally published in a series of despatches in The Nation and later in the widely read booklet Grim War against the KMT. Some of the men mentioned in the report have moved on to other fronts, but their valiant spirit still dominates the scene. 05E DrMaung.indd 402 1/24/08 5:10:44 PM Reproduced from Dr Maung Maung: Gentleman, Scholar, Patriot by Robert H. Taylor (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at Destination Monghsat 403 Take, for example, the case of Major Thein Maung and his small staff of officers and men at camp NS. They run the base supply depot, and it is their duty to keep the men in the fighting lines fed and supplied. The task is no easy one. From camp NS to Mongpan, which is being built into a supply point, is nearly a day’s journey by truck; the roads are bad and there is a river-crossing at Linkai. Beyond Mongpan there are no passable roads for trucks or even jeeps. The men must carry their rations with them. Local labour is engaged to carry other supplies and mules from surrounding villages are hired to supplement the army animal transport. The labour force employed between Mongpan and the Wan Hsa-Lla front numbers more than 1,500. The men are not conscripts but volunteers, and after about a week of work, they want to return home, taking their pay. They have to be fed too, and when a man carries a load of about 40 lbs to the front line, by the time he gets there he has eaten 10 lbs. weight of that load. Then there are the mules which are good for steep climbs though quite a few of them have fallen and broken their legs — because the tracks through the mountains rise so steeply. Supply involves not only the question of getting enough labour and enough mules and elephants, but that of keeping things flowing freely and quickly. Added to the routine problems there is the occasional urgent demand for some essential material. For example, a 3 inch mortar platoon moved up to the front, carrying their guns dismantled and their ammunition boxes slung across mules. When they reached their destination and assembled the guns, an essential part was found wanting. A signal was flashed to the supply point; the missing part must be sent up fast, or the guns would have to sit idle. This kind of urgent demand sends the supply people into hysterics, but they soon calm down and get the job done, sometimes even they don’t know how. x x x x x Or take the sailors who man the Bofor guns at the airstrip. Their job means watching the sky day and night for the enemy who never comes. It is boring work, but essential. The sailors want to move up to the front with the army and join in the fighting; do they not remember...


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