A Grave Injustice: Wingate and the Establishment
David Rooney argues that Chindit commander Orde Wingate has had his Burma campaign unfairly judged by military establishments.
Major General Orde Wingate was killed on March 24th, 1944, when his plane crashed into a hillside near Imphal – just nineteen days after the launch of Operation Thursday, the great Chindit campaign against the Japanese at the height of the battles for Burma. News of his death reverberated around the world. Tributes flowed in to his young pregnant widow, from high and low. The most moving tribute came a few months later from General Slim, who commanded the 14th Army. He wrote that Wingate was a man of genius, 'a truly dynamic leader who combined vision and action, one of the few men in this war who was irreplaceable, who designed, raised, trained, and inspired his force, and placed it in the enemy's vitals'. Yet Wingate had also made many enemies. He was abrasive, impatient, intolerant – Mountbatten said he was a pain in the neck to the commanders above him – and one general with whom he clashed in 1943 eventually took his revenge.