World War II American observation post found in Arunachal Pradesh

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS,

Jairampur (Arunachal Pradesh) : Villagers in Arunachal Pradesh have stumbled upon a World War II camp-cum-observation post used by American forces, close to a graveyard where over 1,000 soldiers of the Allied Forces are buried, officials said Tuesday.

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A government spokesman said villagers discovered the post, spread over about 500 square metres, near Wintong village in Changlang district, about 600 km east of state capital Itanagar.

“The area was probably used as a monitoring and observation camp by American soldiers who were part of the Allied Forces to monitor air strikes during World War II,” said Arunachal Pradesh assembly speaker Setong Sena.

After locals reported sighting remnants of the war, Sena, accompanied by government officials and paramilitary troopers, visited the site and discovered empty containers and vessels, tins and bottles of medicines and other items of daily use.

“Some locals in the area who worked with the Allied Forces showed us a tree in the area where the Americans installed gadgets for radio networking,” Sena told IANS.

The Arunachal Pradesh government has now ordered the site to be preserved, besides measures for beautification of the area by constructing pavements and a parking zone for tourists.

“We shall also set up a security post near the site so that the area is properly guarded,” the assembly speaker said.

Wintong is adjacent to the historic Stilwell Road. The 1,726-km road was a vital lifeline for movement of troops of the Allied Forces during World War II to free China from Japanese occupation.

It starts at Assam, in the heart of India’s northeast, and cuts through the Pangsau pass in Myanmar to Kunming in southwest China.

Close to Wintong is Jairampur, a village along the Stilwell Road, where a mass burial ground was discovered in 1997 by villagers where soldiers who died in the war were buried.

The burial ground, with about 1,000 graves of allied soldiers believed to be mostly Chinese, Kachin, Indian, British and American, is now a tourist destination with friends and relatives of those who died in World War II making annual pilgrimages.

Hundreds of Allied soldiers died while constructing the Stilwell road – many are also buried along Lekhapani in eastern Assam, about 600 km east of the state’s main city of Guwahati. Lekhapani is close to Jairampur.

The Stilwell Road runs for 61 km in India, 1,033 km in Myanmar and 632 km in China.

The road was built by Chinese labourers, Indian soldiers and American engineers, and named after American General Joseph Stilwell who led the task, which was completed after three years of hard work in 1945.