|Winding Ledo Road.|
We were on the Ledo road at about 20 miles south-west of Myitkyina to collect two truck loads of firewood for our Company’s kitchen. The normal household fuel kerosene was too expensive for the big kitchen of our mess and it had become one of our regular jobs almost every other week since the very week we brand new recruits were taught how to handle the German-designed locally-made G3 rifles.
|Ledo Road and Burma Road (1942).|
On some stretches of the road Sarge took the precautionary measures and we were forced to dismount. Then we had to walk in single line behind the slowly moving trucks if Sarge thought here was a good ambush spot typically an uphill bend with dense forest covered hill on one side and steep cliff dropping off on the other side. But nothing happened on the way in and we reached the target site.
The team of four men who had prior experience with long two-handled saws started sawing the good-sized tree-trunks on the ground into about 8 to 10 foot long logs. And the rest of us started carrying the logs back to the nearby trucks. We had our G3s slung across our back as the security situation didn’t allow us to leave our guns in the trucks.
|Natives on Ledo Road.|
We continued working the whole afternoon and by the late afternoon we had both open trucks filled with firewood logs to the roof-frames. At about 4 or 4:30 we headed back to the battalion compound in Myitkyina.
“Your stepfathers are waiting to slaughter us! Get down, get down,” he just kept on yelling angrily at us until we reluctantly obeyed. “Line up behind the trucks, single column, keep a distance, don’t fucking bunch up together,” he barked out orders and we ran and formed single column lines behind each truck.
|Another shot of Ledo Road.|
Now in the middle of evergreen jungle the enemy had unknowingly exposed themselves and given our overly-cautious Sarge a strong reason to seriously prepare for the imminent ambush. He’d been alert and alarmed the whole day since the men from the army outpost warned him in the morning.
|Burmese Army Trucks.|
|.303 Lee-Enfield Rifle|
|BA63 or G3 Rifle|
|A Burmese soldier armed with G3.|
|Our arm-patch for Burma Army|
The Baptism of Fire section from my book "Song for Irrawaddy" was based on this deadly encounter. Please check the book out and read the first chapter as the Preview at this link.)