An exhibition of photographs from World War II reveals the important collaboration between and camaraderie among American, British and Chinese troops fighting in Asia.
Through the black-and-white images, the soldiers, airmen, generals and civilians caught up in World War II in the China-Burma-India region (also known as the “CBI Theater”) came alive to Taipei audiences earlier this month.
“This is a very important exhibition with historic significance for many veterans and their families,” said Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) at the event’s opening on March 31.
For history buffs, it is a show not to be missed. It features over 300 rarely seen wartime photographs, taken on location, to document the history of this largely unknown aspect of the war.
Most of the photographs were locked away in the US National Archives, while others came from the University of Maryland.
The pictures record the lives of foot soldiers and commanders, troop movements and the battles they fought. Some show the bravery of the soldiers in the face of death, while others reveal the friendship that developed between soldiers from different countries.
Many of the images show American units and their operation under the command of General Joseph Stilwell, the Deputy Allied Commander in China. On China’s side, it was the Chinese Expeditionary Force, with its most renowned fighting unit being the 38th Division led by General Sun Li-jen (孫立人). The Chinese Expeditionary Force was formed in 1942 by the Allies to stem the Japanese advance in Southeast Asia.
Besides the valuable photos, the exhibition also includes uniforms, CBI medals and military logos, diaries of soldiers and battle operation documents.
Two documentary films associated with the exhibition are being shown — The Search for Major McMurray, and My Chinese Acquaintances. These films, shown three times daily, give the audience a close-up look at the men who fought in these battles about 70 years ago.
The first film follows the search for the family of Major William McMurray, who was killed in action in Burma. The second revolves around American CBI Theater veteran John Gardner, with his son looking for the Chinese soldiers who fought together with him, as Gardner had recorded in his wartime diary and notebooks.