On this day, part of the 717-mile “Burma Road” from Lashio, Burma to Kunming in southwest China is reopened by the Allies, permitting supplies to flow back into China.
At the outbreak of war between Japan and China in 1937, when Japan began its occupation of China’s seacoast, China began building a supply route that would enable vital resources to evade the Japanese blockade and flow into China’s interior from outside. It was completed in 1939, and allowed goods to reach China via a supply route that led from the sea to Rangoon, and then by train to Lashio. When, in April 1942, the Japanese occupied most of Burma, the road from Lashio to China was closed, and the supply line was cut off.
The Allies were not able to respond until 1944, when Allied forces in eastern India made their way into northern Burma and were able to begin construction of another supply road that linked Ledo, India, with the part of the original Burma Road still controlled by the Chinese. The Stillwell Road (named for Gen. Joseph Stillwell, American adviser to Chiang Kai-shek, China’s leader) was finally opened on this day in 1945, once again allowing the free transport of supplies into China.