U.S. Army Truck Convoy, Burma Road Between India and China, 1945
This photo was taken by a U.S. Army Signal Corps photographer on the Ledo Road portion of the famous Burma Road, one of the most remarkable engineering achievements of all time. Built to provide logistic support from India through Myanmar (Burma) for China in their struggle against the Japanese, it penetrated impenetrable jungles and crossed uncrossable mountains. When the project started it was widely considered to be a fool's mission, but it was completed and did contribute to the war effort.
In some areas the road was hacked out of pure rock. In the "twelve curves" zone, twelve huge switchbacks snake their way up steep mountainsides. The original Burma Road section, in China and Myanmar, runs from the Myanmarese railhead of Lashio to Kunming, Yunnan, China a distance of over 700 difficult miles. War supplies were shipped to Rangoon and then by rail to Lashio where they transferred to trucks. After the Japanese took control of the Chinese coastal areas and Indochina, the Burma Road was the only link. The Ledo Road (later called the Stilwell Road) from Ledo, India, into Myanmar was begun in December 1942. In 1944 the Ledo Road reached Myitkyina and was joined to the Burma Road.
This photo shows the first U.S. Army convoy to China. The original caption is reproduced on the bottom border of the large version of the photo. It reads, "Led by motorcycles, the first convoy to China hits a rare level stretch 204 miles along the Ledo road." This convoy of 113 cargo trucks, jeeps, motorcycles and ambulances left Ledo on 12 January 1945, bound for Kunming, China.
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Peacetime conditions and modern air shipment have eliminated the need for this road, but its legacy lives on. Some of the most difficult portions of the U.S. Interstate Highway System were engineered by professionals who gained their skills working on the Burma Road.