Date Founded: August 1943
Mission When Founded: Long range penetration behind Japanese lines in Burma to harass enemy forces and to destroy supply lines and communications
Mission During the War: Same
Jurisdiction: China-Burma-India Theater of Operations
Headquarters: Ledo, India
# of Personnel: Approximately 3,000 (2400 combat personnel)
Annual Budget: N/A
History/Profile: President Roosevelt and Allied leaders decided at the Quebec conference (August 1943) that a force was needed to harass Japanese forces in Burma while the attempt to reopen the Burma Road was made. 3,000 volunteers from Stateside units, Panama, the Caribbean and the Pacific theater were chosen and formed into six combat teams: Red, White, Blue, Green, Orange and Khaki. The remaining volunteers formed HQ and Air Transport Commands. The unit, officially known as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), was soon known as "Merrill's Marauders," after commanding officer Brigadier General Frank Merrill (operations chief under General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell).
The general composition of each four hundred-man combat team was: a headquarters platoon, an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon, a pioneer and demolition platoon, a medical detachment, a communications platoon, a heavy weapons platoon (3 heavy machine guns, 4 81 mm mortars), one and a half rifle companies and one-half a company headquarters. Following the example of Wingate's Chindits, the teams were resupplied via air drops.
Preliminary training in Central India was followed by a long march up the Ledo Road and over the Himalayas to Burma - over 1,000 miles through thick jungle. The crack Japanese 18th Division, which had seen action in Singapore and Malaya, was their primary opponent. After four months of duty in the Burmese jungles, having marched over eight hundred miles carrying their own equipment and supplies and suffering from dysentery, typhoid and other diseases, the Marauders were able to take the Japanese airfield at Myitkyina.
There is some controversy about whether Stilwell's orders were misinterpreted. Regardless, the result was that the men, low in morale and badly in need of relief, were pressed into further service until they could no longer fight and were evacuated suffering from disease, exhaustion, malnutrition, or "A.O.E" (Accumulation of Everything). In July 1944 the Marauders were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation, and were notable as the only unit to have every member receive the Bronze Star. On August 10, 1944 the Marauders were amalgamated with the 475th Infantry, and would ultimately be the source of the Rangers 75th Regiment.
Soldier: Dodge, First Aid, Hide, Listen, Mechanical Repair, Rifle, Sneak plus any one of the following as an occupational specialty: Light Antitank Weapon, Demolitions, Machine gun, Medicine, Mortar, Pistol, Signals, Tradecraft
Officer: As above, plus Navigate, Persuade, Pistol, Psychology
Sample CharacterBill Coughlin age 31
Written by Steven Kaye.
Original content for this page is copyright 2003 Steven Kaye and may be freely copied, posted on other websites, or used in other media in whole or in part with the following mandatory conditions imposed on usage: (1) any usage must respect and protect copyrights on all material, and specifically must obey restrictions placed on use by Pagan Publishing on its copyrighted material, and (2) regardless of alterations or additions, Steven Kaye must be credited as author of parts © Steven Kaye.
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