75th anniversary of the end of WWII: Ashes to glory in the China-Burma-India Theatre

As the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao recounts the events in the Pacific theatre, noting that Chinese troops who were part of the Allied forces also played a significant role in the China-Burma-India Theatre.
26 December 1944, India-Burma border — Members of the Chinese Expeditionary Force stationed in India are boarding the American M4A4 tanks, known as M4 Sherman, to push into northern Burma to support the offensives of the US-China Joint Forces. The Allied forces prioritised the recapture of Burma as a key ground operation in the Far East.
26 December 1944, India-Burma border — Members of the Chinese Expeditionary Force stationed in India are boarding the American M4A4 tanks, known as M4 Sherman, to push into northern Burma to support the offensives of the US-China Joint Forces. The Allied forces prioritised the recapture of Burma as a key ground operation in the Far East.

 (All photos courtesy of Hsu Chung-mao.)

15 August 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. On that date, the Japanese emperor accepted unconditional surrender under the Potsdam Declaration, ending a bloody three years and eight months on the Pacific front. In what the Japanese empire called the Greater East Asia War, China and Southeast Asia were as one battlefield.

Previously, the Chinese in Singapore supported China during the two Sino-Japanese wars, but the war had spread to Singapore’s doorstep all the way from China. The people of East Asia went through wartime casualties, homelessness, and hunger; and out of the ashes of war, they welcomed the glory of victory.

pearl harbor
In December 1941, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor and the airfield in Hawaii. This photo was shot from a Japanese plane, showing billows of smoke rising from the burning airfield, with neat rows of fighter planes on the ground.

On 7 December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, bringing the US into World War II and sparking the Pacific theatre. This event turned things around for China, and changed the history of Southeast Asia, Asia, and even the whole of humanity.

China had been fighting the war alone, waiting for its turnaround moment; and the international tide was finally shifting in its favour. As the war stretched on, Japan gradually faltered — in particular, it ran out of oil, and was planning to seize the oil fields in Dutch Indonesia. Worried that Japan would expand its military strength, the US sent its volunteer air force to assist China’s war efforts, and halted oil exports to Japan, bringing Japan and the US to the brink of war.

pearl harbor
In December 1941, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto directed the combined naval attack on Pearl Harbor. This photo shot from a Japanese
fighter plane shows a view of Pearl Harbor as the Japanese dropped the first bomb.​​​​​
seattle times
On 23 December 1941, The Seattle Daily Times reported the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, 16 days after it happened on 7 December. This was mainly because the paper took in various details that came out successively to present a complete report of this historic incident.
8 December 1941, Capitol Hill — One day after Japan’s raid on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt condemned the Japanese aggression in a speech to Congress, calling it a day to “live in infamy”. He asked Congress to authorise a declaration of war against Japan. At 4.10 pm, the president signed the declaration of war against Japan while wearing a black ribbon on his left arm in memory of those killed in the Pearl Harbor attack.

China was on the side of the Allied powers

And when the US joined the war, the world was divided into two camps: the Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy, and the Allied powers of the US, Britain, China, and Soviet Union. The US drew up the China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre, where they sent a lot of weapons, supplies, and some fighting troops. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was appointed supreme commander of Allied forces in the China war zone, with General Joseph Stilwell as his military advisor and commander of all United States Forces in China, Burma (now Myanmar), and India, participating along with Allied forces in ground combat against Japanese troops.

On 7 July 1943, Joseph Warren Stilwell, commander of Allied troops in the Chinese Theatre, represented US President Franklin Roosevelt in conferring the Legion of Merit on Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. General Stilwell assisted in sending a large amount of US weapons and supplies to China and was involved in drawing up a battle plan for the China-Burma-India theatre, and made major contributions to the war in Burma.
7 July, 1943, Chungking — Madame Chiang Kai-shek, wearing a veil, is leaning over to touch the medal just pinned on Gen. Chiang Kai-shek’s uniform by Lt. Gen. Joseph Stilwell, the US Commander of the CBI Theater. The Legion of Merit medal was presented on behalf of US President Roosevelt to Chiang, who served as the supreme Allied commander in China and acting president. Madame Chiang is showing a proud smile and Chiang, caught off guard, is trying to balance the cake plate in his hand. The photographer catches a spontaneous moment between the top Chinese leader and the first lady.
July 8, 1942, White House — President Roosevelt, the US Postmaster General Frank Walker (middle), and ROC Minister of Foreign Affairs T.V. Soong are looking at the newly marketed 5-cent “China Resistance” commemorative stamp. In the background of the stamp is a map of China, with the ROC insignia in the middle, to the left is a portrait of Lincoln, and to the right is a portrait of (ROC founding father) Sun Yat-sen. The Chinese characters read “Confront the Invasion, Build the Nation”.

After Pearl Harbor, Japan pulled some of its forces away from China, while attacking Hong Kong and Western colonies in Southeast Asia. The Japanese 1st Division landed in the north of Luzon island in the Philippines. The US troops retreated in defeat and ended up cornered in the Bataan Peninsula. In mid-March 1942, General Douglas MacArthur, commander of United States Army Forces in the Far East, along with his family and staff, left in PT (patrol torpedo) boats amid an atmosphere of gloom. Subsequently, 70,000 American and Filipino troops surrendered, and were forced on a long march. Along the way, over half of them were either executed or died of torture, illness and starvation — this was the Bataan Death March.

Furthermore, as France had fallen to Nazi Germany, Japan easily captured French Indochina. Japanese troops landed in the north of the Malayan peninsula; in just over a month, they advanced to Johor, while British and Australian troops retreated to Singapore. Meanwhile, Japanese planes took just one hour to sink British warships the Repulse and Prince of Wales.

In the initial stages of the Pacific War, the US army was mostly on the defensive and had no plans to add more troops. With insufficient reinforcements, the US troops stuck on Bataan were left with little ammunition or backup. General Douglas MacArthur was ordered to leave for Australia, leaving US troops crammed in tunnels among the rocky hills. On 3 April 1942, having received reinforcements, the Japanese launched a general offensive on Bataan. Six days later, Edward King Jr, Commanding General of the Philippine-American forces on the Bataan Peninsula, surrendered to the Japanese, the biggest surrender in US army history.
prince of wales
The British battleship Prince of Wales sinking in flames after being bombed on 10 December 1941. After the two battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse were bombed by Japanese planes, the British empire lost its naval dominance in the Far East in a few short hours.

On 1 February 1942, Japanese troops launched a general offensive on Singapore. Two weeks later, over 100,000 British, Australian, and Indian troops surrendered to about 30,000 Japanese troops. Singapore had fallen, and was renamed Syonan-to. As for Dutch Indonesia that lay further south, the Nazis had taken Holland, and the few Dutch troops in Indonesia were unable to resist the Japanese attack. In mid-March, the Japanese captured the Indonesian islands.

On 6 December 1941, the Boston Evening Globe reported on the battle for Singapore. This was the day before the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. During its offensive in China, Japanese troops had already faced several armed skirmishes with Western powers, and the clouds of war hung heavy over the Far East. The report described the preparations in Singapore, but in fact, in mid-February the following year, the Japanese came through the Malay Peninsula and captured Singapore. The seemingly mighty British army turned out to be fragile.
Bicycles were a key tool that the Japanese used to invade the Malay Peninsula. They were used to transport food and equipment, and enabled the soldiers to move swiftly across jungle terrain and strike quickly.
In February 1942, Japanese troops reached Johor in the south of the Malay Peninsula, and began bombarding Singapore across the strait. This image shot from Johor by a journalist shows Singapore under fire.
Japanese propaganda materials documented that at dawn on 8 December 1941, the Japanese army landed on Kota Bharu in northern Malaya’s Kelantan state. On 9 February 1942, the army attacked Singapore.
Singapore’s cityscape and rural areas bore the scars of the war’s fierce fights. After the British defeat, the roads were lined with abandoned and destroyed military vehicles.
On 15 February 1942, Lt.Gen. Arthur Ernest Percival, general officer commanding Malaya for the British army, left the British army base with Japanese soldiers as he prepared to surrender to Lt.Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Imperial Japanese Army.
On 15 February 1942, Lt.Gen. Arthur Ernest Percival, general officer commanding Malaya for the British army, went to the Ford Motor Factory off Bukit Timah Road to surrender to the Japanese army. For the British empire, this was a moment of shame. Facing a despondent Percival, Lt.Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Imperial Japanese Army demanded the unconditional surrender of the British army.
On 15 February, 1942, after Lt.Gen. Arthur Ernest Percival surrendered to Lt.Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Japanese army took about 120,000 British soldiers captive.
The Japanese army attacked the frontline in Jurong and the coastal defensive line in Pasir Panjang. Despite vigorous resistance from the Singapore Overseas Chinese Anti-Japanese Volunteer Army, the Japanese soldiers eventually won. The Japanese soldiers threw their arms in the air and shouted “Banzai!”, a customary cheer meaning 10,000 years and a long life.
Before the war, the Japanese army had gathered intelligence and drawn up a map for the invasion of Singapore. Late at night on February 8, 1942, they began their attack. This photograph was taken after the invasion, and used to publicise the Japanese army’s victory.
Singapore’s streetscape during the Japanese occupation. Large Japanese flags were displayed prominently. The local economy deteriorated rapidly during the war and the people’s lives were hard.
In 1942, Field Marshal Hisaichi Terauchi gave an appearance of victory outside his headquarters in Singapore. Terauchi was previously the commander of Japan’s North China Area Army. After Japan initiated the Pacific War, Terauchi was made commander of the Southern Expeditionary Army Group. When World War II ended, Terauchi was arrested as a war criminal and imprisoned in Johor, where he died of illness in 1946. Today, there is a memorial to him in the Japanese Cemetery Park in Singapore.
The Japanese celebrated the first anniversary of their occupation of Malaya. Capitol Theatre is pictured on the left. The original building was built in 1930, and this was Singapore’s biggest cinema at the time. During the occupation, it was re-named Kyo-Ei Gekijo.

Chinese troops answered Britain’s call for assistance

In Japan’s offensive on Southeast Asia, the only strong resistance it met was in Burma, due to the intervention of Chinese troops. Britain had stationed sizeable forces in Burma, with sufficient weapons and troops. The Japanese started the offensive against Burma in January. After seizing the Malayan peninsula and Singapore, their main forces were deployed as reinforcements for the battle in Burma.

With British troops surrounded by strong Japanese forces, London requested assistance from Chongqing. China sent elite troops to Burma to fight alongside the British, the first time since the start of the war that Chinese troops had gone out of the country. While they were unable to prevent Burma from falling to the Japanese, they did relieve the British troops so that they were able to pull out of India and avoid total annihilation as in Singapore. After the battle of Burma, some Chinese troops returned to China, while others moved into India, where they were refitted, retrained, and reinforced, to become strong opponents in the subsequent counterattack on Burma.

In February 1942, Japanese troops attacked Burma through Thailand. The photo shows the Japanese fighting in the jungles of Burma. The British were unable to withstand the Japanese offensive, and requested the Chinese government to send troops to Burma to rescue the British. On 8 March, the Japanese captured the Burmese capital of Yangon, sending shock waves through India.
In 1942, the Los Angeles Examiner published a map of the China-Burma-India theatre, titled “Burma Drive May be First Step in Opening Road to China”. The image shows the relative geographical location of China, Burma, Thailand, French Indochina, and India, and marks the movements of Allied troops and the Japanese.
In 1943, the Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express published a map of the Far East theatre, titled “China — Springboard To Tokyo”. The red arrows show the Allied troops fighting in northern Burma and southwest China, and about to advance on Japanese islands. At the time, the China-Burma-India theatre was the main war zone in the Pacific theatre, and the Allies had high hopes in the region.

When the Pacific war broke out, the Japanese only pulled about a tenth of their elite forces from China to fight in Nanyang, or Southeast Asia. These troops had fought for over four years in China but were unable to enter Sichuan, the centre of China’s war resistance. But within six months, they defeated all the Western armies in Southeast Asia and captured all the Western colonies.

The world was deeply impressed by the staunch long-term resistance of the Chinese army and civilians, while being surprised at the fragility of the British army, which had been considered the strongest in the world. This contrast of military and national strength signalled that China, which had been bullied by the West since the Opium Wars, was beginning to truly rise again. The historical balance of power between China and the West was restored, and the Western colonial governments that were so easily defeated by Japan lost all credibility in the eyes of the locals.

November 1944, Lungling, Yunnan — After the Chinese Expeditionary Y-Force drove the Japanese out of the occupied Lungling, American and Chinese soldiers, guided by their flags, moved into the ancient city in Yunnan Province. The joint forces achieved victory in the campaign along the Salween River, which is named Nu River in China, thus reopening the Yunnan-Burma Highway.
12 February 1944, unidentified training centre — Completing the training, Capt. Lin Yu-kun, commander of demonstration company, 53rd Army, on behalf of all the Chinese trainees, presents a banner to American Instructor, Capt. Herman Friedburg.
air force
14 August 1944, Kunming, Yunnan — All of the USAAF’s 14th Air Force are posing for a group photograph in full uniform at their training base in Kunming, Yunnan.
8 September 1944, Chungking — Top-ranking American and Chinese military officers are having lunch after a meeting at the Headquarters of the National Military Council in Chungking. From left, Gen. Chou Chih-jou (Zhou Zirou), commander of the Chinese Air Force; Admiral Yang Hsuan-cheng (Yang Xuancheng, smoking a cigarette), who was in charge of intelligence; Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, chief of staff, US Army Forces, CBI Theatre; Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Hurley, military adviser on the War Production Board; Gen. Ho Ying-chin (He Yinqing), chief of staff; an interpreter; and Donald Nelson, chairman of the War Production Board.
front line
22 December 1944, Mangshih, Yunnan — The 8th Army soldiers of the Chinese Expeditionary Force wait to board the US C-47 transport carrier at Mangshih Airport, which will take them to the eastern frontline. Meanwhile, the Chinese Expeditionary Force had captured Tengchung (Tengchong) and Lungling, killing all the Japanese in Tengchung city. With these critical victories, and from this time on, Japanese troops were all defeated. Less than one month after this picture was taken, the Chinese Expeditionary Force from India and the Expeditionary Force from Yunnan met in Mangyou city in a final victory.

As for Japan, which expanded the war for oil resources in Indonesia, it ended up in worse trouble. The US quickly found Japan’s weakness: not only was it lacking in resources, but its industrial skills and technological capabilities were also far behind the US. Most crucially, while Japan’s land forces were vast, with strong fighting capabilities, Japan itself ultimately consisted of three islands — if Japan’s navy and air force were destroyed, Japan would be left defenceless, because without these two forces to transport equipment and supplies, Japan’s land forces would be left spread out and isolated over huge terrains. Without ammunition and supplies, the fighting capabilities of its land troops would be diminished and would only be able to watch helplessly as US troops advanced.

Japan’s defeat

In June 1942, the US and Japan engaged in a large-scale naval battle in the waters of the Midway Atoll. The Japanese navy was routed, and the Battle of Midway became a turning point in the Pacific theatre. Subsequently, the US and Japanese armies engaged in an intense six-month battle at Guadalcanal, where the Japanese pulled out in shambles after experiencing serious casualties. Over the next two years, the US army advanced with its “island-hopping” strategy that allowed it to recapture strategic Japanese-occupied islands.

In December 1944, General MacArthur finally made a glorious return to the Philippines, just as he promised. From 1945, the US army initiated the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Okinawa, and launched large-scale strategic bombing on Japanese islands, resulting in heavy Japanese casualties.

In February 1945, American B-29 Superfortress bombers set off from Guam, flew over Mount Fuji and dropped incendiary bombs on Tokyo. As the city burned, over 200,000 houses were razed and 80,000 people lost their lives, while 100,000 people were left injured and homeless.
Okinawan civilians rescued by US troops receiving treatment and assistance, April 1945. An estimated 100,000 Okinawans lost their lives in this battle, with nearly every household losing at least one member, leaving a deep scar on Okinawa. After the war, civilians who recognised the facts mostly attributed the tragedy to the Japanese government. Considering that the Japanese government wanted to give up arms immediately following the battle of Okinawa, the people of Okinawa generally felt that the Japanese government put the lives of those on Japan’s three main islands far above the lives of Okinawans, which was clear discrimination.

As for the CBI theatre, Chinese and British troops split up and attacked the Japanese through various routes; by May 1945, they had managed to recapture Burma. At this point, Chinese troops had also counterattacked and recaptured Japanese-occupied cities in southwest China. On 15 August, following the dropping of two atomic bombs by the US, Japan declared unconditional surrender.

In 1945, the Chinese Army in India won a significant victory in the Burma campaign. After the successful recapture of Yangon by the British forces, overseas Chinese in Yangon hit the streets to welcome soldiers from China’s New 1st Army who had arrived to take part in a military parade celebration dedicated to the victory of the Burma Campaign.
6 August 1945, Liuchow, Kwangsi (Guangxi) — The US and China’s national flags are raised in victory over Liuchow, Kwangsi province. The city was once the base of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)’s 14th Air Force, which included members of the American Volunteer Group, commonly known as the Flying Tigers, under Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault. The city was recaptured from Japanese occupation on 26 June 1945 to allow American airplanes to fly Chinese soldiers to front lines.
Japanese soldiers surrendering to US troops in Okinawa, April 1945. The Japanese put up a stubborn resistance and told civilians that if the Americans captured Okinawa, the locals would be slaughtered, leading to an especially fierce battle that lasted 96 days, with some 140,000 Japanese casualties. The Japanese battleship Yamato — claimed to be the largest in the world — was also sunk, with hundreds of planes lost that would have been flown by young kamikaze pilots. After Iwo Jima and Okinawa were lost, the land battle approached Japan’s main islands, and despite the government’s calls of ichioku gyokusai (一亿玉碎, literally 100 million shattered jewels, meaning willingness to sacrifice the entire Japanese population of 100 million), it was aware of impending failure.
On 15 August 1945, the Japanese emperor went on the radio to make a nationwide announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender. That day, a group of radical officers attacked the prime minister’s residence asking to continue to fight, but this would have had negligible impact on the ultimate death of fascism.
On 17 August 1945, three days after Japan’s surrender, Allied troops were about to take charge of Japan. A report in The Indianapolis News warned that Japan had to abide by the surrender and not to act recklessly.
On 12 September 1945, a month after Japan announced its surrender, the Allied army began to reclaim the territories occupied by the Japanese army. When the British army returned to Singapore, children lined the streets, waving the British flag in celebration.

In the three and a half years from Japan’s offensive in Southeast Asia to its unconditional surrender, the local people went through the ruthless baptism of war. As the Chinese in Singapore had previously supported China’s war efforts, after the Japanese took Singapore, they engaged in the retaliatory massacre known as Sook Ching, or purge, killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Even in other Southeast Asian regions, the retreating Japanese tried to support the war by seizing property, printing money, forcing people into labour, and collecting all sorts of taxes, making it hard for people to survive.

As for Japanese mistreatment of Western prisoners of war, it would be impossible to recount all the examples, including forcing them into hard labour building roads, overworking, executions, beatings, and leaving them to die of starvation and illness. When the Allied troops returned after Japan’s surrender, they were shocked to find the surviving POWs in such poor shape. Out of anger at their comrades’ deaths due to such mistreatment, the Australian troops also subjected the remaining Japanese troops to harsh treatment. Australia was the only Allied member that called for the Japanese emperor to be listed as a war criminal.

A harrowing scene of Japanese troops beheading Australian prisoners of war. Western armies previously had few exchanges with the Japanese army, and while they expressed sympathy for the suffering of the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese War, they could not really identify until they had firsthand exchanges, when they were shocked by the cruelty of Japanese troops. British, US, Australian, and Dutch POWs were all mistreated by the Japanese, with Australian soldiers and nurses massacred and raped by Japanese troops.
Western prisoners of war and local civilians mistreated by the Japanese.
In March 1942, the Dutch Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) Jonkheer A.W.L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer (in suit) was imprisoned in a POW camp along with the commander of the Dutch troops. As Holland had been occupied by Germany, the Dutch troops in Indonesia could not withstand the Japanese and quickly surrendered. Dutch soldiers and civilians were subjected to humiliation and abuse after being captured by the Japanese.
The Westerners in the Japanese POW camps were forced into long hours of hard labour without sufficient nourishment or rest. They were beaten and humiliated by the Japanese, and many died. The Japanese were unconcerned and left the POWs to die. When the surviving POWs were released at the end of World War II, they were starving and malnourished. These inhumane experiences live on in many memoirs and films.
Western POWs remained where they were for a while after their release, for treatment and recuperation. In this photo, they chat easily while reading the newspapers. Having survived this crisis, they would have felt the cruelty of war. They were key witnesses to the violence of the Japanese during the war trials.

The CBI theatre brought casualties and pain, as well as the glory of victory from the ashes. The end of the war saw a changed world. Even as the Japanese were defeated, the might of the Western colonialists crumbled. There was a political awakening — people no longer accepted colonial rule in any form, but yearned to determine their own fate, sparking a wave of independence efforts.

Japanese wartime propaganda in China, showing a group of Japanese children waving samurai swords and trampling on Chinese territory, reflecting the cruelty of Japanese troops in war.
In the early stages of the Pacific War, the Japanese army won major victories with sudden attacks, leading to confidence at the headquarters and the rapid expansion of the front. The photo shows a political poster by the Japanese government, a samurai representing the might of the Axis powers centred around Japan. However, as the front expanded, Japan — with its limited population — found it increasingly difficult to call for backup and reinforcements. Besides, with no allies in Asia, Japan’s offensive turned into defence after a point.
On 27 September 1940, Japan, Germany, and Italy signed an alliance to become the Axis powers, taking aim at the Western powers in the Far East. This poster shows Hitler, Mussolini, and a traditional warrior with Mount Fuji, representing the Japanese emperor whose face could not be shown. These figures became a shared symbol in the eyes of the Japanese empire. On 8 December 1941 — from 7am to 9am on 7 December, Hawaii time — the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, destroying the main bulk of the US navy in the Pacific, and opening the Pacific theatre.
A map showing the Japanese advance towards Singapore during the Pacific War.
These reports from the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbunsha shows front-page headlines of the British army surrendering to the Japanese, and the change of Singapore’s name to Syonan-to.
These reports from the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbunsha shows front-page headlines of the British army surrendering to the Japanese, and the change of Singapore’s name to Syonan-to.
These reports from the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbunsha shows front-page headlines of the British army surrendering to the Japanese, and the change of Singapore’s name to Syonan-to.
On 30 March 1941, the Sunday News ran a graphic titled “The Rising Sun Spreads Its Rays”, showing Japan’s colonies, mandates, and dependencies, including naval and air bases, and possible attacks.
This map published on 8 July 1945 shows Allied victories in the Pacific War Area three years after Pearl Harbor.
This insert from the Toronto Star Weekly in 1943 shows a map of the main battles in the Pacific theatre, with a quote from a US commander claiming that the Japanese would be completely defeated within the year.
A report in The Indianapolis News that the Japanese emperor had to obey the orders of the Allied troops, 11 August 1945. This was the headline after the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, showing the tough stance of the Allies in getting Japan to abide by the surrender.
A report in The Indianapolis News on Japan’s surrender, 14 August 1945. The large headline “Japanese Surrender” meant the end of over three years of fighting for US and Chinese troops.
A report in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph on the end of fighting in the Pacific, 15 August 1945, the day of Japan’s surrender. The main headline reads “PEACE”, while the sub-headline says “Shooting Ends In Pacific”.

Related: Tan Kah Kee, Aw Boon Haw and the Second Sino-Japanese War [Photo story] | War, love, and passion: The life of a WWII Flying Tiger (Video and text) | Soong Mei-ling and the flying tigers: When China and the US fought shoulder to shoulder