In December 1941, nearly a decade before the start of the Korean War, the Japanese invaded Burma with a well armed, well supplied, and well equipped contingent of 35,000 troops backed up by basically unfettered air support. They advanced northward into the interior almost unimpeded, with the capitol, Rangoon, falling March 6-7, 1942. They were also successful in shutting down the Allies' life-line into China, the Burma Road. During that period, on December 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor opening the door for the U.S. entry into World War II. Two days later, December 9, 1941, China declared war on Japan.
China, had however, been in a full-scale war with Japan since at least July 1937 when the Japanese claimed they were fired upon by Chinese troops at the Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing. From that the Japanese retaliated by launching an invasion from Manchuria. By November 1937 Shanghai, China's most important sea port fell followed by Nanking, Chiang Kai-shek’s capital, in December 1937.
On February 4, 1942, close on the heels of the Japanese invasion of Burma and just before the fall of Rangoon, Chiang Kai-shek, the fully recognized military and political leader for the Chinese Nationalist Party (known as the Kuomintang, or KMT), flew over the Hump on a secret mission into India in an effort to convince British and Indian leaders, military and otherwise, that as soon as Japan solidified their positions in Burma they would be setting their sights on India and anything that could be done in the meantime to impact that solidification adversely would impede or possibly stop any of their designs on India.
True to Chiang's words, soon as 1944 rolled around, with Burma mostly under control, the Japanese began formulating invasion plans which, even in those early stages, had been given a codename, Operation U Go. Part of the U Go plan included soldiers of the Indian National Army joining the Japanese and fighting along side Imperial Army troops as they entered India, with the idea being for Japan to be viewed by the Indian populace more as a liberation force rather than an invasion force. The Indian National Army, whose only reason for existence was to remove the yoke of their British overlords, had been convinced by Japan that by combining forces they could in fact overthrow British and European rule just as the Japanese had, up to that point, all over Asia.
On April 5. 1944, Japanese troops, under the command of Major-General Shigesaburo, with a low-profile assist by the Indian National Army, launched an attack into India against Kohima. However, although initially Japanese advances met a certain amount of success in the early stages, in the end it didn't work out so hot as the following quote will attest to:
"Fifteen hundred miles east across the sub-continent edging up along the Burmese border the Japanese launched a three division invasion into India. Quickly outstretching their supply lines and hoping to replenish their local needs by overtaking British, American and Indian garrisons, etc. while their lifelines caught up, didn't happen. For the most part, three months later, met by stronger than expected Allied response and caught in the monsoons, the Japanese were forced into retreat dying of malaria and starving to death --- in the end losing over 80,000 men."
The above quote as it is written was researched by me. Because of the strength and accuracy of the sources so used in the research, as cited elsewhere down the page, it carries within itself a sizable amount of both validity and integrity, quickly summing up the results of the Japanese efforts. Even so, in the process, I do not hold myself up as being the major historian of all things into the Japanese invasion of India. Actually, the reason behind any heightened interest is primarily personal, based on the fact that at the time of the invasion, as a very, very young boy, I was traveling in India, and if the fortunes of the Japanese had fallen right, within easy striking distance of their up to then nearly invincible war machine.(see)
Nearly as strong as my research into the 1944 Japanese invasion into India, the results of which continue below, emanate almost exclusively from a nearly unabated interest in the A.V.G., the American Volunteer Group, otherwise known as the Flying Tigers that developed in my life as a young boy. The Flying Tigers played a huge role in the early days of the war in Burma --- the country the Japanese launched their invasion from.
Although I had some knowledge of the Flying Tigers in my very early childhood years, my previously mentioned unabated interest in them grew exponentially as I got older because of my Stepmother and a woman she knew by the name of Olga Greenlaw. Greenlaw wrote one of the most definitive book on the Flying Tigers ever written, Lady and the Tigers (1943), a book that I read over and over as a kid all the way up into adulthood. And last, for those who may be so interested, to provide a clearer insight into the events and how even to this day the downstream outflow of those events are still causing ripples --- ripples that are continuing relative to me and possibly you right now because of a highly Enlightened individual named William Samuel. Samuel was a U.S. Army officer during World War II who had been embedded in the Chinese army, fighting along side Chinese troops throughout most of the conflict. Five years after the end of the war Samuel was called back into the Army to serve in Korea and would, during the throes of battlefield decimation going on all around him, as written in his tome A Soldier's Story, experience a deep Spiritual Awakening not unlike those afforded the ancient classical masters.
At the same time most if not all of the above was going on I was a young boy growing up in a southern California beach community. Well before I even reached the age of entering kindergarten my mother's health began to deteriorate, eventually reaching a point that she was unable to care for herself let alone my two brothers and me. At the same time, my father began putting in more and more hours working in order to pay for mounting medical expenses. As my mother's condition continued to go downhill, almost under pure necessity, my father began placing my brothers and me more and more under the care of others. First as needed using day-by-day babysitters, then overnight with grandparents or neighbors, then for whole weekends. One day a childless husband and wife couple who were really good friends with the neighbors next door suggested to my father having one of us boys come live with them until things improved. After thinking it over my father agreed and for whatever reason the couple selected me.
No sooner had I moved in with them and started a new school than the two-week Christmas vacation, or winter recess as they call it now, rolled around and the couple took me, without my father's consent, to India, not returning until sometime around the start of summer --- in the interim missing the whole last half of the school year.
The couple went to India initially to attend a religious convention held December 26-31, 1943, in Adyar, located on the coast of the Indian Ocean near Madras, about 95 miles northeast of Tiruvannamalai. Sometime in the early part of January 1944, after the various convention activities concluded the couple traveled to Tiruvannamalai and the ashram of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, an excursion that grew, planned or unplanned, into an extended stay of several months.
The couple's attendance at the ashram with me in tow, although not pinpointed to a specific arrival of or departure day and date, was duly noted by the foremost chronicler of their visit to India, Ramana adherent C.R. Rajamani. Rajamani, while also speaking of a white-skinned boy he saw in the ashram with the couple, goes on to tell of his own visit to the ashram, of which can be seen, clearly overlapped the same time period the couple was there:
"(I)t may have been December or January. I remember the season was quite cool. The summit of the holy mountain Arunachala was shrouded in dense mist and clouds. The morning air was crisp and pleasant."
The most specific date I have for me being at the ashram comes from a childhood friend of mine by the name of Adam Osborne, the son of Arthur Osborne, a well known and well received author of a number of excellent books on Sri Ramana. As adults, Adam Osborne recounted the following to me, as found in the Osborne link so cited:
"(He) said he remembered me quite well because I was the only anglo boy his age he ever really met in his early years. He said he could not remember if our time together was long or short, if it lasted just days or stretched into weeks, but he did remember, even though he was not doing meditation specifically like I was, the two of us still found time to run all over the place getting in trouble --- even to the point of being admonished by the Maharshi."
The two of us crossed paths as adults one day after not having seen each other since we were both kids. In those days, when he was a kid, he was basically growing up at the ashram and it is there where the two of us met. In reminiscing about our childhood he brought up the fact that the two of us had circumabulated the holy hill of Arunachala together. He said some years before he had been contacted by a man of deep spiritual attainment, the aforementioned William Samuel, hoping that Adam could arrange a meeting with the elder Osborne. Samuel told Adam he and another young boy along with himself and Osborne's mother and a few others had performed Giri Valam, circumambulation of Arunachala. That circumambulation occurred on the night of the full moon, April 1944. In April 1944 the moon was full on Saturday April 8th, and because of Samuel, the very first hard evidence of a specific date for me being at the ashram I ever had.
While I was in India the invasion was still in its infancy, so any long term effects or results of the attack was yet to bear fruit, no matter how bitter. Sometime during that same period, most likely because of concerns over the invasion by the foster couple I was traveling with, I, along with the couple, boarded a ship to England that crossed the Indian Ocean around Africa and on into the Atlantic before eventually making berth in Liverpool.
As the much larger umbrella of war ground on, because it had become more and more difficult for Axis submarines to operate freely in the Atlantic and Pacific as they always had during the early stages of the war, both Japanese and German submarines had increased their numbers in the Indian Ocean, often prowling in the same general area, sometimes overlapping and not always with coordinated efforts. However, if one didn't get you the other would. The Indian Ocean was an extremely dangerous place in those days for ships of all kinds, but especially so for merchant and passenger vessels --- the British motor merchant MV Tulagi for example, which I have written about elsewhere because of it being in the Indian Ocean at the same time I was, being hit by two torpedoes from the German submarine U-532 and going down in 20 seconds. I have no idea how many times the ship I was on came into the periscope crosshairs of a German U-boat or Japanese submarine. However, the whole route of travel from India, around Africa and into the Atlantic on to England was crawling with submarines, every one seeking an easy, vulnerable target.
Using Rajamani's and Samuel's recollections, that put me at the ashram proper from sometime in January to at least early April 1944, but, by all indications, as figured out in MV Tulagi, on my way home onboard a ship in the Indian Ocean toward the end of May, 1944 and most likely back in the states sometime in June, 1944.
Upon my return to the U.S., in that my immediate family in California had apparently dispersed to the four winds following the death of my mother, the foster couple I was traveling with left me unexpectantly and unannounced with a relative of mine in Pennsylvania that didn't know me and who I didn't know. It is not clear how long I was there nor who I was traveling with, but it is known that that late in June of 1944 I somehow left Pennsylvania for Chicago and there boarded the Number 19 Santa Fe Chief headed westbound toward Los Angeles.
While it is true a lot of what went on in those days relative to me is unclear, the fact that I was on the Chief is well known because around midnight of July 3, 1944, between Flagstaff, Arizona and Williams, on a high speed downhill run and behind schedule, the Chief's locomotive, bearing the Santa Fe #3774, a powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern with 80 inch drive wheels and clocking out at over 90 miles per hour, hit a marked 55 mph speed limit curve, with the locomotive, derailing and sliding in the dirt on it's side off the tracks for well over 500 feet before coming to a stop. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. The fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.
(photo courtesy Arizona Republic)
Although I was unhurt, the person or people I was traveling with was among the injured and taken, with me along with them, to either Williams or Flagstaff. Because of the nature of their injuries, whoever I was traveling with was held-up under doctors care for several days, leaving me without direct adult supervision. My grandmother, who had been contacted by the railroad, called my Uncle in Santa Fe. He inturn contacted a nearby tribal spiritual elder to oversee me until someone figured out how to get me to the Los Angeles Union Station and my grandmother's home in California.
In May, 1942, north Burma fell to the Japanese and by May 2, 1942 Japan's 56th Division had captured Nankan on the Chinese Burmese ¨border. Three days later Japanese main forces advancing along the Salween River were stopped in their tracks when, on May 5, 1942, the Chinese destroyed the Huitong Bridge.
"After Burma was occupied by the enemy, in order to prevent the invasion of the Japanese army to the east of the Nujiang River, the Chinese army bombed Huitong Bridge to cut off the unique international road in the southwest area, the Yunnan-Myanmar Highway, and the Tea-Horse Trade Route took on new importance. The materials for the battle supported by overseas Chinese and allied forces including arms and ammunition were brought from India continuously to China by horse caravans."(source)
The Yunnan-Myanmar Highway cited in the above quote was the infamous Burma Road, the Nujiang River is the Salween River. With the loss of Burma and the Burma Road, word went out sometime just before the end of the year 1942 to U.S. Army Lieutenant General Vinegar Joe Stilwell, that cutting a road through Japanese occupied north Burma from the Indian railhead town of Ledo, with plans to link through to the original Burma Road along the Chinese border was an imperative.
"In December the only machinery available for road building was the organizational equipment of the engineer units assigned to the Base. Plans carried to General Stilwell at Chungking contained a list of additional equipment with which the project must be implemented. This list had been taken to the United States by Lt. Col. H. Case Willcox, CE, who was to expedite shipment to the Theater.
"By the first of January, 1943 the 823rd Engineers, picking up where the British left off on the route toward Fort Hertz, had cut five miles of point on the Road. Point operations moved ahead more rapidly when a substantial amount of the battalion's heavy equipment arrived during the month of January. In addition to working the Road head, operators were also engaged in widening and grading. The 45th Engineers built the main Road from Mile 0 to Mile 4, and were busy operating gravel pits and crushers, logging, transporting gasoline and supplying rations to labor camps."(source)
Well before Stilwell could push the building of the road very far into the jungles and mountains of Burma he had to retake and secure the nearly 500 mile length of occupied territory the road was going to run through. To do so Stilwell used soldiers of the Chinese Expeditionary Army that had been trained at the U.S. Army Chinese Training and Combat Command in Ramgarh, India and made up primarily of members of remnant Chinese army units cut off by the Japanese attack on the Burma Road as well as Chinese soldiers flown in on empty flights returning to India over the Hump. To wit:
"The first trainload of Chinese troops arrived on 17 July 1942. It was composed of troops from the 38th Division, of the 66th Army which had returned from Burma by way of Imphal. It was commanded by Lt. Gen. Sun Lih Hen. It was followed by remnants of the 22nd Division and 5th Corps commanded by Maj. Gen. Liao Yai Shiang. This group had come out of Burma by way of Ledo."(source)
Under the cover of darkness, on the night of May 11, 1944, after more than a two-year ordeal of fully armed Japanese and lesser-so Chinese troops facing each other over the Salween River, the Chinese Expeditionary Army mounted a full-scale river crossing counter-offensive. On the first day 40,000 troops crossed the river using nearly 400 American supplied rubber boats and countless handmade bamboo rafts. In the next few days 60,000 more troops and thousands of pack animals carrying supplies crossed the river. The counter-offensive was successful and the Japanese troops retreated, most to their Songshan base. One month before the Japanese had thrown a major thrust of combatants westward into India, now behind them a major contingency of well trained and well armed Chinese troops were positioning themselves to come in on their less defendable and more open rear as well as cutting off their supply lines.
Which brings us back again to the previously mentioned William Samuel, the man, who in conversation with Adam Osborne was able to pinpoint the most specific date ever for me being at the Ramana ashram, April 8, 1944. In A Soldier's Story Samuel, speaking of himself while in the military during World War II and well before his Enlightenment experience unfolded during the Korean War, writes:
"I was, after all, a captain of infantry in two long wars. I lived with Chinese infantry troops in the field for nearly three years---subsisting with them, nearly starving with them. The few American soldiers in China had very little support from the United States during World War II. We were at the end of the world's longest supply line, and anything that reached us from home had been flown over Japanese occupied countries, over the great Himalayan Mountains into Kunming, thence to be trucked and packed in by animals to us, wherever we might be."
Thus said, the question is, what was Samuel doing at the Ramana ashram in the first place, especially so on the 8th of April 1944? If you remember from the above, it was only three short days before, on April 5, 1944, that Japanese troops under the command of Major-General Shigesaburo launched their major cross-border offensive into India against Kohima. Seems odd, with such high profile goings-on that Samuel, a fully commissioned officer in the U.S. Army who, up to that point had spent his whole military career embedded with Chinese troops in China, would be able to be at the ashram during such a crucial time.
And it's not like the Allied military commanders in the field didn't know. On February 5, 1944, two months prior to the major offensive, the Japanese put into motion what was actually a diversionary attack against India codenamed Ha-Go. The plan was to have a division from the Japanese 28th Army cross into the Arakan and attract Allied reserves from Assam while creating the impression that the Japanese planned to attack Bengal through Chittagong.
During the two month period between the diversionary attack and the actual attack against India, if not sooner, it is my belief that William Samuel came over the Hump on one of the empty return flights either on his own or on the bequest of those in command. Most likely initially, regarding the return to China of the Chinese Expeditionary Forces trained at the U.S. Army Chinese Training and Combat Command in Ramgarh, India, offering insight into what to expect in a combined effort garnered from his years of experience and expertise as an American fighting the Japanese alongside Chinese troops.
General Stilwell and his British/India command counterparts, fearing an onslaught of a potentially major Japanese offensive into India, began to scrape together as much military countermeasures as they possibly engender. One was the XXXIII Indian Corps, formed in Bangalore south India on August, 15 1942, originally assembled and trained to stop Japanese amphibious operations along the Indian coastline. Suddenly they had to shift gears from water tactics to jungle tactics. Enter William Samuel. In that Samuel had all kinds of actual hands on experience fighting along side the Chinese against the Japanese in virtually the same kind of environment the XXXIII Corps would encounter once deployed, most likely powers that be dispatched Samuel to provide the Corp command with all the relevant information he could in the short time he had available to him. Interestingly enough, the XXXIII Corps headquarters in Bangalore, south India, was not more than 120 miles northwest of Tiruvannamalai and the Ramana ashram. For Samuel, who had been slogging through China for two or three years, over 2000 miles from Bangalore or more, just thinking about it was most likely to much to bear.
The executor of all of William Samuel's papers and published works, Sandy Jones, has pretty much taken what I have presented from Adam Osborne regarding the April 1944 full moon phase and Samuel being at the Ramana ashram at the same time and run with it --- in many cases, for reasons unknown, not so much Sandy, but others picking up on her comments, conveniently leaving mention of me out of the picture as the originating source for the information. As well, others have not fully embraced my thesis, questioning my reasoning regarding China, India, Ramana et al. However, Sandy Jones, who is familiar with most if not all of the ins-and-outs of William Samuel probably better than anyone, has a vast fund of knowledge regarding him to draw from. An example is her written transcript from a video of Samuel. He had had a stroke 10 days before the filming of the seminar and for some who were unfamiliar with Samuel and all his subtle innuendos he was found to be difficult to understand --- so Sandy transcribed it into the written word so people could follow along reading the transcript as Samuel spoke. In that seminar-come-transcription Samuel himself mentions the following:
"So I went to the back woods of China, flew the Hump. And there, I had as an interpreter, a most wonderful man, he was a Taoist Master."
"This is the backwoods of China, this is the Yu Nan Province, barely over the Hump from India"(see)
Of course the "Hump" he speaks of is the formidable border of the mighty Himalayas that separates India from China. He also mentions he may have at the time, only held the military rank of second lieutenant.
For those on the fence, the doubters and others, I am however, like Sandy Jones, not simply a rube. Twenty years almost to the day after Samuel's visit to the ashram, found me in much the same circumstances and not far from much the same areas as Samuel operated in during World War II, re the following from the source so cited:
"(A) number of cross-border forays from surrounding areas were put into place requiring the use of a number of covert ground teams inserted into rather remote and primitive conditions. Each team member and their equipment wasSheep Dipped and all teams embedded with specially trained communication personnel, each heavily blanketed with security clearances, versed in Morse code and the non-conventional expertise to build from scratch and use, if necessary, easily disposable spark-gap transmitters and QRP transmitters, along with foxhole radios and crystal set receivers. Several select members of those ground teams, all who were taught to travel light, eat indigenous foods, and leave no tracks, were soon appropriated for other duties."(source)
Although I never met or talked to Samuel personally beyond my childhood years at the ashram, that is, both of us as adults that I am willing to admit to, it is from my own similar experiences in the military as well as what I have come to know about him generally and the circumstances he found himself in specifically, that I figure Samuel was most likely much closer philosophically --- and in his actions --- to General Joseph Stilwell when it came to executing and following military rules and regulations. It is known Samuel arrived at the Ramana ashram for at least one possibly two week stay in April 1944, but how he actually arranged to do so, at least officially, during such a critical time is not known. Military-wise, nobody on the India side of the Himalayas really knew him, nor was anybody he was coming in contact with remotely in his direct chain of command. If he simply improvised a circuitous route back to his old haunts in China on his own who would have been the wiser?
While it is true, after leaving China and arriving on Indian soil it is questionable if Samuel came into contact with anybody that was specifically in his direct chain of military command, he did however, in the broader spectrum of things, fall under General Stilwell and the umbrella of the China Burma India Theater of Operations (CBI). If he officially secured a leave authorization of some type from the American command structure in India before going to Bangalore, or if while in Bangalore he created one out of whole cloth using paperwork somehow granted through the gratuitous nature of some pencil pushing behind a desk XXXIII Corps British military bureaucrat in khaki shorts and a pith helmet or not is not known either. Personally, since it was Samuel, I fall into the improvised a circuitous route back to his old haunts in China camp. Like I say, who would know? The thing is, leave, even under the circumstances, although seeming unlikely, was not totally unheard of. On the same day the Japanese launched their invasion into India, Captain Jimmy Evans, a British officer assigned to a battalion of Gurkha soldiers serving right in the heart of the Japanese major offensive, was on leave, away from his regiment:
"I heard ‘Japs invade India’ or however they put it, and then they’d come right round and cut us off at Kohima. So my whole division up in the Chinn Hills had to withdraw to Imphal, a masterly operation. They knew all about being cut off by Japanese roadblocks and they fought the whole way back, and the Japs had thought we’d behave the same way as in the Burma retreat, but it was a battle the whole way. And by the time we got to Imphal, or they got to Imphal, 17 Division was all intact, all its vehicles – got the whole lot. The Japanese then were at the end of a very long line of communication with this muddy road to bring stuff up."(source)
More than likely, considering the timing and unfolding of events, the greatest need for Samuel and his personal strengths on the battlefield would be targeted for one full month AFTER being at the ashram --- not so much so the earlier British and Indian vs. Japanese battle at Imphal and Kohima --- but the May 11, 1944 Chinese Expeditionary Army crossing with 60,000 men over the Salween River in rubber rafts. There is no reason to believe that U.S. Army Captain William Samuel (actually most likely a lieutenant at the time), whose usual stomping grounds had, before moving west, been on the east side of the Himalayas, would not be able to finagle a little much needed R & R prior to early May.
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR
JAPANESE SECRET WAR
GENERAL JOSEPH STILWELL
SRI RAMANA'S WESTERN DISCIPLES
WILLIAM SAMUEL & FRIENDS: A SECRET REVEALED
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
The quote, written by me and briefly outlining the Japanese invasion into India, shows up in a couple of versions in a couple of places around the net in my works. The paragraph has no specific single source, being a sort of condensed version of general research by me on the subject. However, for those who care to know more, the following, the final paragraph from a well researched article written by Jonas L. Goldstein, that originally appeared in the November 2001 issue of "World War II Magazine" under the title Burma Campaign: Seizing Imphal and Kohima In World War II, cuts to the quick in backing up what I have written:
"When the smoke had cleared in the Imphal-Kohima area, the Japanese had no delusions, declaring that 'the disaster at Imphal was perhaps the worst of its kind yet chronicled in the annals of war.' When the offensive began, the Japanese Fifteenth Army had approximately 100,000 front-line soldiers, of whom 53,000 became casualties. The official figures show that 30,000 were killed in battle, while hundreds more died after the defeat became a rout, victims of sickness, malnutrition and exposure. Every tank and gun of Mutaguchi's invading force was lost. A staggering 17,000 mules and pack ponies perished during the operation. As the Japanese feared, the Imphal Plain became the fountainhead of the successful British effort to retake Burma."(source)
Samuel, now deceased (1996), was a teacher's teacher of deep spiritual renown, and not unlike my own spiritual teacher and Mentor, known to have had a major Enlightening experience because of a wartime situation. Samuel, recounting that moment on the battlefield as found in A Soldier's Story so sourced, provides for us the following as much as he was willing or able to describe using the written word:
"During the Korean War, an artillery round burst among my men on the left flank. Several bodies were hurled about and I ran to see the extent of the damage and whether the platoon leader was still effective. Sick to my stomach at the sight, I sat down among three of the bodies sprawled along the slope. I became aware of a visual 'Presence' hovering beside them. A misty, blue-white light of sorts. A different kind of light, primal, persuasive and powerful. I could not explain what I saw then, nor can I now, but with the sight, and because of the sight, I was absolutely certain within myself I was being shown evidence of the deathlessness of Life--the survival of the Child, the Soul of men. I felt a marvelous sense of relief, almost gratitude, concerning those men and everything happening that day."
A SOLDIER'S STORY
In the opening paragraphs I mentioned it just so happened that I was in India at the exact same time the Japanese launched their invasion, implying within its context a certain sense of concern, or at least, if not specifically there, in context further on.
Implication notwithstanding, a variety of comments have been received by me from a number of readers, some of them borderline if not outright snarky, alluding to the fact, in so many words similar to "so what, you dumbass, the invasion was like 1500 miles from the ashram. Why the concern --- it wasn't like the Japanese would be bayoneting Ramana anytime soon."
Actually there was a lot for concern. Even though the U.S. was in the process of constructing operating bases in eastern India to bomb Japan using B-29 Superfortresses under Operation Matterhorn, at the time of the invasion nobody knew the strength or drive of the Japanese.(see)
They had been pretty successful in majority of their endeavors across Asia throughout most of the war, why would India be any different? As for concern, I look at it like an invasion of Los Angeles. Why wouldn't people in say, Kansas City, over 1500 miles away, still not have some concern? The couple I was with were said by some to be Australian, or at least so the man of the couple, and with Australia long in Japanese sights, they, perhaps unlike the majority of the common Indian, were more than familiar with Japanese aspirations and their resolve to fulfill them. It is my opinion they figured 1500 miles away or not, it was best to get out of India while they still had a chance. After all, when the Flying Tigers were disbanded and sent packing from China and Burma into India they didn't sit around twiddling their thumbs. They all got the hell out the second they were able to make arrangements. The following, as found in The Last American Darshan, is how I have gone about putting it:
"Even though the Australian couple followed Ramana's advice and took me back to America, they were doing so initially at their own leisure relative to his request. It was only when word filtered through to the ashram that the Japanese had launched a three division invasion into India out of Burma in April of 1944 that they began looking over their shoulder with any amount of apprehension. Even though the spearhead was some 1500 miles away, they shuddered at the outcome of such events in India as well as the possibility of similar events against their own homeland. By the time I arrived home my mother had passed away with the funeral completed and over, my brothers scattered to the four winds, and my father gone."
Not that I expect or am saying that the couple was familiar with or knew about British author and playwright W. Somerset Maugham's similar dilemma in the opening stages of World War II in Europe, but think of the catastrophe that would engulf British subjects if they were forced to flee India under similar circumstances as faced by Maugham:
"W. Somerset Maugham, at age sixty-six, was absconded in his villa in the south of France. When the Nazis crossed into France and raced toward Paris, he too was forced to flee. Waiting too long, Maugham sought refuge aboard his then only means of escape, one of two coal barges slowly plying their way off the coast of the Mediterranean. His escape turned out to be a horrific twenty-day voyage to England. Onboard the barge, a vessel that was not designed for even one passenger, he was crammed together with 500 other fellow escapees. It has been reported a number of the children as well as older and weaker refugees, because of the severe and crowded conditions and lack of food and water and other amenities, died of malnutrition and thirst."(source)
The Best of The Maugham Biographies:
- WILLIAM SOMERSET MAUGHAM
Good biography. Lots of Maugham graphics, from early childhood to late adult. Link to Maugham's private art collection.
- W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM: A BIOGRAPHY
- LITERARY AMBULANCE DRIVERS
Everybody knows Hemingway drove an ambulance during WWI, nobody knows Maugham did.
- MAUGHAM IN INDIA
BESTSELLING NOVELS OF THE 20th CENTURY: The Razor's Edge
Several days after the accident, according to a story my Uncle told me years later, I was sitting in the passenger area of a train station in Arizona with the aforementioned tribal spiritual elder late at night waiting for my uncle to arrive and take me to California. The spiritual elder was quite obviously Native American and I was quite obviously not. A lot of people seemed concerned with me traveling with an Indian, that is, except for an older man who seemed concerned that I might be bored.
He came over and sat next to me and asked if my dad was in the war. I told him no that he worked in the shipyards. Opening his suitcase he asked if I liked comic books and as I nodded yes he pulled out a comic called Blue Bolt. Before he handed it to me he began thumbing through the pages as though he was looking for something all the while telling me he had a son in the war and that his son was a highly decorated fighter pilot. He folded open the comic book to one of the pages and pointed to a story about a group of American pilots, all flying P-40s, that shot down 77 German planes in one outing.
Then, going over the story page by page and reading certain things and pointing to others, he told me that his son was one of the pilots. With that I took the book from the man's hands completely fascinated, so much so I read the story over and over without stopping or setting it down. The man, seeing how much I appreciated the comic and the story, said I could have it. After that my uncle said I continued to read it again and again all the way back to California and months afterwards.
The story that so fascinated me, the so-called Goose Shoot, was in BLUE BOLT No. 6, January, 1944, of which the following is found in the source so cited:
"On Sunday, April 18, 1943 the U.S. Army Air Force's 57th Fighter Group stationed at El Djem, Tunisia in North Africa, on a routine mission over Cape Bon had 46 P-40 Warhawks in the air along with 18 British Spitfires flying top cover. Low on fuel and basically returning to base they came across a 100 plane flotilla of German JU-52 troop transport planes flying just above sea level over the Mediterranean, escorted by 50 Messerschmitt fighters. Catching the Germans completely off guard, while the Spitfires drew off the Messerschmitts and kept them busy, the P-40s split into pairs diving on the enemy planes tearing the transports to shreds, with an overall kill count of 77 enemy aircraft destroyed."(source)
Except for what I have presented regarding the P-40 Goose Shoot, the events found in this footnote has been presented by me in virtually the same manner and same form in any number of my other works. What I have not included in the above account or have not revealed previously is a part of the crash event that circulates around the somewhat mysterious tribal spiritual elder my uncle arranged for me to be watched by until he, my uncle, could catch up with me. As you may recall, after the wreck, because the adult or adults I was traveling with had been hospitalized, I was left without adult supervision. I write about sitting in the waiting room late at night in some train station out in the middle of Arizona with the tribal spiritual elder waiting for my uncle to come get me.
What I don't write about is that I recognized the spiritual elder the moment he walked into the hospital waiting area looking for me as found in the following quote:
"Mid-evening on the night of the-unknown-to-anybody at the time up-coming crash I had gone to bed in the bunk in my compartment and as far as I knew had fallen fast asleep. Sometime during that period between the time I fell asleep and the crash occurred I found myself neither asleep nor in my bunk but outside of the train standing barefoot on the desert floor in the middle of the night in my PJs some distance off from a set of railroad tracks, my hand being held by an elderly Native American man.
"No sooner had I been standing there than in the distance to the east I could see the headlight of a locomotive heading in our same direction. Within seconds the train was parallel to where I was standing and then, almost as though in slow motion the train began coming off the tracks with the engine barely moving on it's side pushing huge mounds of dirt in front of itself with cars slowly going everywhere and the headlight low to the ground glowing through the dust and piles of dirt, sand and rocks. The light dimmed in the minor maelstrom, then went completely out, leaving everything around engulfed in an incredible silence and darkness. The passage of time that seemed to be only creeping or limping along, slowly, then more so quickly, returned to normal."
THE SPIRITUAL ELDER AND THE SANTA FE CHIEF
RIDING THE CAB FORWARDS
SANTA FE LOCOMOTIVE #3774
In the opening paragraphs at the top of the page I mention a friend of my stepmother's by the name of Olga Greenlaw who wrote a book titled The Lady and the Tigers. During the time she was writing the book and it was published, 1942-43, the war was still raging and Greenlaw had only just returned to the U.S. after having been an integral part of the A.V.G. operations from the very beginning until they were disbanded. After the group was disbanded and on her way home to the states, albeit while still in India she writes:
"The Calcutta newspapers annoyed me. I noticed how they were building up the R.A.F. and the new American Tenth Air Force and giving the A.V.G. slight credit --- if at all. I found one story --- about the Jap Advance toward Yunnan Province --- particularly irksome:
THE DRIVE TOWARD PAOSHAN
In north-east Burma another border battle is taking place, and the Japanese vanguards thrusting up the Burma Road are 60 miles to the west of Paoshan, 200 miles inside the Yunnan border. The Chinese have destroyed the bridges across the Salween River and are holding the east bank. Small parties of Chinese appear to be operating in many directions up the Burma Road, and guerilla warfare stages appears to have been reached.
"On and on it went. The whole thing is so familiar to me. No mention of the A.V.G., who were the one who had destroyed the large bridge across the Salween by dropping bombs."
THE GORGE, THE BURMA ROAD, THE SALWEEN RIVER, AND THE HUITONG BRIDGE
An equally tantalizing synopsis that quickly and accurately sums up the whole Huitong Bridge thing in one paragraph, albeit a tad more dramatic and exciting than Olga's account of the same event --- but written historically sometime afterwards --- can be found in a descriptive analysis accompanying Tigers in the Gorge by by John D. Shaw --- the Gorge being of course as shown in the above graphic along the Salween River and Tigers being the Flying Tigers:
"Thousands of refugees fled down the tortuous Burma Road toward Kunming, China to escape the advancing armored forces of Imperial Japan. With the armies of china devastated, it was evident that nothing but the winding Salween River at the bottom of the treacherous gorge could slow the enemy's surge toward the capitol city. After destroying the bridge behind them, those fleeing watched helplessly as the Japanese hastily started to construct a makeshift pontoon bridge. It appeared that China would face certain surrender if the enemy made it across. Hopes of an easy victory quickly began to fade through, when suddenly through the gorge rang the echoes of snarling Allison engines, powering shark mouthed P-40s of the legendary American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers! With 'Tex' Hill leading the charge, and with only a handful of men and planes, the AVG stopped the Japanese cold in the Salween River Gorge, and China would not fall."
THE FLYING TIGERS
THE BOY IN THE MAN REMEMBERS THE LEGEND
THE LADY AND THE TIGERS
Most people don't realize it, but William Samuel's full name, that is his birth name, was William Samuel Levey. He was born September 2, 1924, died May 22, 1996. His father was Bert H. Levey and mother Lena May (nee Hosier) Levey. He was Married twice, first to Ruby Palmer (now Scheinert) in 1946 and then Rachel Knight in 1977.(see). To substantiate the accuracy of Samuel's full name as it relates to himself and things spiritual, please see:
CATALOG OF COPYRIGHT ENTRIES: Third Series. 1968 January - June
Library of Congress Copyright Office, where the following is found on page 663:
LEVEY, WILLIAM SAMUEL
A Guide To Awareness and Tranquility, by William Samuel, pesud. 1st ed. Mountain Brook, Ala., Mountain Brook Pub. Co. 290 P. Copyright William Samuel Levey (in notice; William Samuel); 21 Dec. 67; A961767 (source)
In reference to William Samuel Levey, AKA William Samuel, there is a photo on the internet found in many, many places under a number of URLs, most notably at CHINA DEFENSIVE: The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II and the World War II Data Base that depicts a group of Chinese soldiers being trained by an American officer. The photos, actually the same photo of the same training group, can be found at the following URLs:
On the page the first photo appears it is stated that it was originally a brochure prepared in the U.S. Army Center of Military History by Mark D. Sherry. The second of the two URLs above, the photo appears with the following disclaimer:
According to the United States copyright law (United States Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105), in part, "[c]opyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government".
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS also has the same photo. They offer the following disclaimer on their page:
This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
All of the above so said, there is a photo found through Getty Images that reeks all the same as being nothing else but the exact same photo --- of which they claim they have the publishing rights to --- so I am unwilling to show it in any of it's manifestations --- but have offered easily accessible links for those who may be so interested. Why is the photo important and what does any of it have to do with William Samuel --- especially so as it relates to him being along the India-Burma border at a time that would be convenient for him to visit the Ramana ashram, circa April 8, 1944 as I have claimed? If you remember from previously William Samuel's birth name was William Samuel Levey, or as it could be written William S. Levey. The photo on the Getty page, which is similar to the ones, if not exactly like the ones I have cited above, offers with it a caption not found at any of the other sources on the net and why I am skirting around putting the Getty Images photo up --- because of the importance of the contents of that caption. The caption reads:
"Chinese troops are trained in modern warfare by the Y-Force Operations Staff of the American military mission to China (Dixie Mission), 1944. Here, Lieutenant William S. Levey and interpreter Captain Shien Pai explain a tactical situation usuing a large-scale model of the Great Wall of China."(source)
Please note the name of his interpreter Shien in the quote. In almost every case on the net wherein it describes Samuel and his background, especially so his service in China in World War II, it is mentioned that he had an interpreter named, not Shien, but Shieh, typically as taken from works provided by his own hand or spoken words, re the following:
"During this time in China, William met another teacher, Mr. Shieh. This wise old man was William's Chinese translator. Mr. Shieh was a venerated Taoist Monk and as by divine providence he was there for William during those years, the field, at the very ends of the supply line. Mr. Shieh became William’s friend, guide, and spiritual teacher through those years fighting with the Chinese troops."(source)
If it is not a transliteration, pronunciation, or phonetic thing, those lower case "N's," typed or written, then copied by others, can look an awful lot like H's and vice versa (i.e., Shien rather than Shieh).
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
The following quotes are in regards to General Stilwell and how he presented himself as a soldier as well as his intimate knowledge of China and the Chinese people during the Second World War era we are talking about here, as found in STILWELL: THE GIs' FAVORITE linked below:
"In the field, where he prefers to be, Stilwell is no collar-ad for what the well-dressed West Point man will wear this season. His usual uniform is a mud-stained field jacket with no rank insignia, ordinary GI pants and leggings, topped off with either a battered felt Infantry campaign hat or a Chinese army cap."
"Gen. Stilwell understands the Chinese soldier as completely as he understands the American GIs. In 1920 he went to China as one of the first two U.S. Army officers ever assigned to that country. He studied at the North China Language School in Peiping for three years, making frequent trips into the interior to learn the varied dialects and customs of the Chinese people. One summer he worked as an ordinary day laborer with a coolie gang building roads in Shansi Province."
For some reason I have always liked to think that Samuel had a similar intimate working knowledge.
STILWELL: THE GIs' FAVORITE
Anil Sharma is an author and the website coordinator of the Sydney, Australia based internet site dedicated to all things Ramana he calls a Center of Learning titled Sage Sri Ramana Maharshi, a site that has been online since at least 2007. On his website Sharma has a Devotees of Ramana section offering biographies of devotees, of which one is of Samuel. At onetime, in an earlier version of that biography, the following quote, which I used on another page as a reference and referred back to Sharma, appeared:
"William visited Sri. Ramana Maharshi and was with him for about a week. When he was about 21 years of age in 1944 when he visited India while serving as an infantry captain in the US army during the second world war in China. When William left he realized that he had gained tremendous insight of Awareness."(source)
Sometime back, checking links like I do on occasion, on an apparently updated biography page wherein most of the page has remained the same, the paragraph above in question changed, making the quote presented on my page obsolete, having morphed into the following:
"In 1944, William Samuel went to India, we calculate that William must have been about 21 years old at the time. It is believed by many that William visited Sri. Ramana Maharshi those years ago. However, this is not certain as William never mentions the name of the Guru directly, but only hints to such."(source)
Please note that the more concrete 'William visited Sri Ramana Maharshi and was with him for about a week' version as found in the first example has been transformed into the somewhat more watered down version found in the second example above: 'It is believed by many that William visited Sri Ramana Maharshi those years ago.' Most recently there has been a third metamorphosis or reincarnation of the Samuel biography page, one that more closely reflects what I have presented here, albeit taken in part almost word-for-word from the section I wrote on William Samuel as found on my page titled Enlightened Individuals I've Met. I am however, further down Sharma's page, selectively left out as one of the people who participated in Giri Valam on April 8th --- although you would think, as a person who brought forth the information in the first place and who actually sat in Darshan before Ramana in the flesh at the ashram, and at that, as an American, the last westerner left alive known to have sat before Ramana, there would be some worth for inclusion:
"At some point during those war years, William, the young American infantry captain, was fighting alongside the British and Indian garrisons. In 1944, William’s troops were near the Burmese border holding off the Japanese invasion.
"During that time along the Burmese border, William Samuel, then a 21 year old captain in the U.S. Army and a veteran of three years fighting with the Chinese Nationalist army against the Japanese in China was apparently called over to the India side of things and somehow must have found some much needed rest and reprieve, ending up at Sage Ramana ashram in Tiruvannamalai. Here he stayed for two weeks in April of 1944."(source)
The following are the words written by me on the same subject as found in Enlightened Individuals I've Met:
"In the early stages of that invasion the aforementioned William Samuel, then a 21 year old officer in the U.S. Army and a veteran of three years fighting with the Chinese Nationalist army against the Japanese in China under the umbrella of General Joseph W. Stilwell, was apparently called over to the India side of things and somehow must have finagled some much needed R & R, ending up at the Ramana ashram for a week or so in April."
Sharma, perhaps playing a little loose with the originating source of the material above, is the author of the very well received book on Ramana titled The Practice of Self Enquiry. Why the deemed necessity of change between the three versions is not known.
NOTE: If you click the right side of the screen on the The Practice of Self Enquiry page that comes up showing the cover by using the link above, readable PDF-like pages of the full book appear.
AND NOW THIS:
Continuing in a similar vein, although now so regarding Sandy Jones, the executor of William Samuel's works. In the main text above, most graciously and without inhibition or malice, I write:
"The executor of all of William Samuel's papers and published works, Sandy Jones, has pretty much taken what I have presented from Adam Osborne regarding the April 1944 full moon phase and Samuel being at the Ramana ashram at the same time and run with it --- in many cases, for reasons unknown, not so much Sandy, but others picking up on her comments, conveniently leaving mention of me out of the picture as the originating source for the information."
In Footnote , writing of Samuel, at the end of a quote I cite as a source a page by Sandy linked from her main or official William Samuel site titled WILLIAM SAMUEL: About. In the text of About, in an almost abbreviated stoic fashion, she writes:
"We also know that while William stayed at the ashram, during the full moon of April 8th William and a little group of others walked around the holy hill Arunachala. This sacred ritual is called Girivalam."
At the end of my main page above I link to a blog page of Sandy's that more-or-less carries the title WILLIAM SAMUEL & FRIENDS: A SECRET REVEALED in of which she discusses a meeting between Adam Osborne and myself, a childhood friend of mine who I met at the ashram and the son of Arthur Osborne, the preeminent author of many Sri Ramana books. Sandy tells how she became privy to the information initially, citing from her original source, she presents the following quote regarding the meeting between Adam and I:
"(O)ut of the blue, he (Adam Osborne) brought up Giri Valam, circumambulation of the holy hill Arunachala and how it related to the two of us. Osborne's father had died in 1970 and Osborne told me that sometime prior to his father's death a man by the name of William Samuel had contacted him in the U.S. and expressed an interest in meeting his father. In their conversation Samuel told him that he and Osborne (the younger) had met at Ramana's ashram in India in 1944 and that during his stay, on the full moon of which he thought was April of that year, he, Osborne and another young boy and a few other people including his mother, circumambulated Arunachala. Osborne emphasized the younger boy aspect with me specifically because Samuel thought, Osborne guessed, that the other boy (me) was his brother --- a twin brother --- because of our age, size, body build and look-alike curly haired mop tops."
A huge difference in explanation between what appears on the "official" William Samuel page and the Secret Revealed blog as to where the information originally came from and who was involved.
THE DIXIE MISSION
For just about anything and everything anybody would ever want to know or learn regarding the "Dixie Mission" please see the chapter titled MISSION TO YENAN: The OSS and the Dixie Mission by Carolle J. Carter, page 302, as found in:
THE SECRET WAR: The Office of Strategic Services in World War II. Edited by George C. Chalou. National Archives and Records Administration. Washington DC (1994).(see)
The above "see" link takes you to a complete PDF version of the whole book. For the specific chapter only, titled MISSION TO YENAN: The OSS and the Dixie Mission, click HERE.
"After the January 1943 Casablanca Conference, President Roosevelt decided to inform Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek that all possible aid would be sent to prevent Japan from taking over all of China. In order to do this, Roosevelt wanted to send hundreds of heavy bombers to China so that they could bring the Japanese homeland under attack. Neither the B-17 nor the B-24 had the ranges to carry out such missions, and only the B-29 could do the job.
"According to (the) original plan, the B-29s would be stationed permanently in China, at bases around Chengtu in the south-center of the country. Supplies of fuel, ammunition, bombs, and spares would be flown in from India over the Hump. Although both the Joint Plans Committee and the Joint Logistics Committee had rejected Arnold's plan as being strategically infeasible, President Roosevelt was highly enthusiastic about the idea and passed it along to LtGen Stilwell, who was Chiang Kai-Shek's Chief of Staff. General Stilwell pointed out that it would be impractical to carry out ALL of the B-29 operations from China because of the length of the supply lines, and suggested instead that the B-29s be maintained at bases in eastern India, and only staged through Chengtu in the process or aftermath of the raids on Japan. This plan had the advantage in that a complex base facility would not be needed in China, and the supply problem would be simplified if the B-29s themselves could be used to carry some of the bombs and fuel needed to build up the dumps at Chengtu. Although the Joint Chiefs of Staff were still skeptical about the idea, President Roosevelt was still insistent, and since FDR was the Commander-in-Chief, they had to go along."(source)
B-29 IN INDIA SUPPORTING OPERATION MATTERHORN. PAINTING BY PETER HURD
(Hurd, a war-correspondent artist in World War II, received a European Theater Medal for his service)
(please click image)
ENTER THE HAUNTED B-29
Several years after being discharged from the Army my Morse code background and my military use thereof, combined with of all things, a B-29 Superfortess, came into play. I was visiting the Castle Air Museum in California's central valley when I came across a story that one of the airplanes on display, a B-29 Superfortress named Raz'n Hell, was said to be haunted --- and not only was it said to be haunted, the ghost was said to send Morse code.
There is a myriad of credible haunting incidents related back to the Raz'n Hell that have been seen, heard, or experienced by any number of regular folk and witnesses, including museum employees, guests and visitors, and even people driving by. Incidents ranging from a worker on the plane being handed a tool he requested only to find he was totally alone on the plane. Others have reported locked or secured hatches opening and closing and from the outside, seeing a ghost-like figure in the cockpit. Also, people in cars have reported the landing lights being on at night when they aren't even hooked up or operable. It was only when I was told some people have even heard what they thought was Morse code that my ears perked up. I was at one time in the military a notorious code sender of some repute, thought by some of my superiors to have been on par with the infamous Confederate guerilla telegrapher George A. Ellsworth or thought by the Army Security Agency as ready for the stockade. So said, on par or ready for the stockade, after hearing about the Morse code being heard I wanted to spend a night on the ghost plane, an idea that was easier said than done. See:
THE GHOST AND THE HAUNTED B-29