Retired officers and military veterans called on the government and the Ministry of Education to include more material on the lessons and experiences of World War II in school history textbooks.
The veterans gathered in Taipei yesterday to commemorate the battles and the sacrifices made by Republic of China troops during fighting in the China-Burma-India region, known as the “CBI Theater,” during World War II.
Veterans of the Chinese Expeditionary Force fighting in Burma from 1942 to 1945 against the Japanese army held a seminar where documentaries on the fighting in the CBI Theater were screened.
Former air force general Hsia Ying-chou (夏瀛洲) castigated the government and the Ministry of Education for not providing material so that students could learn about the events of World War II and he urged the ministry to include more information on the wartime efforts of the nation’s military in history textbooks.
“Let us not forget the sacrifices made by men and women during World War II. We pay our respects and pay tribute to those who fell, but young people do not know much about World War II, and even less about the fighting in Burma, which was an important cause to keep the supply lines open to sustain the wartime effort,” Hsia said.
Hsia is a controversial figure, as he once sparked a furor at a conference in China in 2011 by saying that no difference should be made between the Republic of China Army and the People’s Liberation Army as both are “China’s army.”
The Ministry of National Defense has distanced itself from Hsia’s contentious remarks.
Documentaries, including the one on the famous Battle of Myitkyina, were shown at the event yesterday, which was organized by a group promoting cultural and economic ties between Taiwan and Myanmar, formerly Burma.
The organization is working to compile a database, records and films on the Burma campaign, including the 2004 BBC documentary Burma — The Forgotten War and the 1945 Hollywood movie Objective, Burma! starring Errol Flynn.
An official said fresh video material has come to light in recent years, as China’s CCTV and TV networks in Yunnan Province, China, have done extensive research and made new documentaries on the battles and the history of the Burma campaign.
War efforts in the CBI Theater were focused on keeping open the Burma Road (which was later renamed Stilwell Road after General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, the US commander in Burma), which traversed difficult mountainous terrains from Ledo in Assam, India, to Kunming, Yunnan Province.
The daring heroics of the Flying Tigers squadron, led by Lieutenant General Claire Chennault, are also an important chapter of the campaign in Burma.