The Chindits began their first raid under Operation Longcloth on 8 February 1943 and set out from Imphal towards the Burmese border, which they crossed on 13 February. The force split into a north and south group, with the south group heading on a direct route to act as a diversion away from the main Chindit force of the north group, which would conduct railway sabotage raids. First contact with Japanese forces was made on 15 February and the north group conducted its first railway demolitions on 4 March. As both groups ventured further into Burmese territory, air support became less effective and losses to disease, injury and attacks by the Japanese caused casualties to mount. Following further attacks against railway targets, the Chindits were ordered to withdraw from enemy territory on 24 March. The various columns dispersed and made their way back to India, whilst some headed east towards China where air support could be re-established.
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