By Dennis R. Okerstrom
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Extra info for Project 9: The Birth of the Air Commandos in World War II
8 The Arabs rejected out of hand a political settlement of partition, which the Peel Commission advocated. Appointed by the king and headed by Lord William Robert Wellesley Peel, the commission was charged with determining the cause of the Arab revolt and recommending a solution. The tiny area proposed for the Jewish state, about one-fifth the size of Wales, was too much land to give up; soon Arabs were rearming and attempting to assassinate British officials throughout Palestine. The Arab Revolt was in full swing.
The timing of his recce could not have been worse. Within days the seemingly invincible Japanese overran most of Burma, setting the stage for rolling westward into India and north into China. Rangoon itself fell on 8 March 1942. A long retreat by British troops and civilians through hellish terrain left the roads and trails littered with 14,000 of their dead, and the survivors who trekked into India looked like walking skeletons, hollow-eyed and gaunt, ill with dysentery and malaria. However much the Brits might like to call it a strategic withdrawal, it was an old-fashioned rout.
However much the Brits might like to call it a strategic withdrawal, it was an old-fashioned rout. The American general “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, who had walked out himself, was blunt in his assessment: “I claim we got a hell of a beating. We got Chapter 3 Chapter 3 Project 9 • 28 run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. ”2 His acid comments did little to endear him to the British, but he had little good to say about them in any regard. Wingate flew out of Rangoon and arrived in India soon thereafter, with an assignment to train guerrilla troops such as the Gideon Force in Ethiopia or the Special Night Squads in Palestine.