Posted by: SJS | August 22, 2022

Partisans at work — doing what they do best

Two Ukrainian partisans pose after a recent attack on armored vehicle

During World War II, the Nazi war machine faced determined, deadly resistance from French underground fighters on the Western front and Polish partisans in the East. As the war in the South Pacific grew more intense into the 1940s, the forces of Imperial Japan found themselves increasingly vulnerable to fierce guerrilla fighters in the jungles of the Philippines and Burma (now Myanmar).

Using stealth, speed, and laser-focused determination, these partisan units operated far behind enemy lines. These units destroyed infrastructure, disrupted communications, and provided targeting information for Allied bombing missions. Partisan fighters also assassinated officials they considered to be in collaboration with the enemy.

In addition to the havoc they wreaked, the partisans delivered a powerful message to their adversaries: you are never safe. The impact on enemy morale was persistent, grinding, and relentless. By all accounts, partisan fighters played no small role in turning turn the tide of WWII in favor of the Allies.

In a similar way, Ukrainian partisans are now hammering the Russians. In recent weeks, Ukrainian partisans played in a role in the huge explosion on a Russian air base in the Crimean Peninsula which Moscow annexed eight years ago. The attack destroyed eight Russian fighter jets. It was a devastating strike in territory that the Russians long considered to be safe and invulnerable to attack.

Learning about the work of the bold Ukrainian partisans reminded me of the stories I heard from my beloved uncle, Frank Morris, who served in the US Army under the command of the legendary General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stillwell in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater of WWII. In the sweltering jungles of Burma, Frank’s unit was aligned with indigenous Kitchin fighters who were always eager to go toe-to-toe with the Japanese. The American troops and their Kachin compatriots played a major role in keeping supply lines open and communication networks in place as the Allies pushed west against the entrenched forces of Imperial Japan.

Uncle Frank maintained a lifelong love and devotion to the people of Burma because he never forgot the bravery of the Kachin partisans who he fought with, shoulder to shoulder in some of the toughest days of the war. Frank credited the Kachin fighters with getting the Americans out of multiple jams during their years of working together to drive the Japanese out of Burma.

Frank and Kachin fighters take a smoke break
Frank Morris shares Camel smokes with his Kachin comrades-in-arms

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