GEN. STILWELL'S HQ. IN INDIA, AUG. 5 (AP)
"An almost complete breakdown of morale" of Merrill's Marauders, one of the most famous American combat organizations was disclosed today by Army authorities, who blamed "ill-advised promises" to the men and faulty hospital procedure which sent convalescents back to the firing line.
The difficulty arose at the end of May, when the American position at Myitkyina was precarious, but for security reasons it was disclosed only today following the capture of the Japanese base in Burma.
As a result of an official inquiry ordered by Lieut. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, it was recommended that they be placed in favored position for rotation transfers to the United States.
ALL A MISUNDERSTANDING.
The Marauders' leader, Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill, although occupied with directing one phase of the Burma operations, visited the units where disaffection was evident and gathered all available information. Gen. Stilwell wept when he heard that recall of several hundred of the men to active service when physically unfit had resulted from a misunderstanding of his orders that all possible able-bodied personnel be thrown into action.
(A dispatch Saturday from Southeast Asia Command Headquarters at Kandy, Ceylon, describing the fall of Myitkyina to Chinese and American combat engineers on Thursday, said the assault forces was directed by Brig. Gen. T. F. Wessels, succeeding Gen. Merrill who had been given a more restful assignment. The Kandy dispatch made no mention of the Marauders.)
The official report attaches no blame either to medical officers or combat leaders, but says return of unfit men to combat was due to a misunderstanding at a time when the bottom of the barrel was being scraped for manpower to hold the Myitkyina air base against Japanese counterattacks.
The Marauders are all volunteers. Some had seen service in the Solomon Islands and elsewhere in the Pacific. They were recruited as a special unit and partly as a result of "ill-advised promises," believed that they would be sent home and disbanded after one spectacular mission in Burma.
The Marauders surprised the Japanese and seized the Myitkyina airfield and apparently were convinced that this was the operation for which they had been formed.
They remained in action, however, and the report stated that "the resultant feeling on the part of individuals was that they were being double-crossed."
By June 1, the Marauders had been in action about three months and were suffering from malaria, exhaustion, and malnutrition, the report noted and their feeling resulted "in almost complete breakdown of moral."
Southeast Asia Command HQ., Kandy, Ceylon, Aug. 5 (AP). - Thrusting quickly across the Irrawaddy River from captured Myitkyina, Lieut. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell's Chinese troops have taken two-thirds of Waingmaw, it was announced tonight. Stilwell himself said no Japanese were known to remain between his Burma forces and the Chinese fighting westwards in Yunnan Province.
Stilwell, in his first press conference since his nomination for full general, affirmed his determination to drive the Japanese entirely out of Burma, where he said he once took "a helluva beating."