The 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), better known by the nickname Merrill’s Marauders, was a US unit that was formed and trained especially for long-range penetration missions behind Japanese lines in Burma. Modelled on the British Chindits unit, which also conducted long-range covert missions into Burmese territory, Merrill’s Marauders were highly trained in jungle warfare, physical endurance and accurate marksmanship. In February 1944, 2,750 Marauders entered Burma on a mission to disrupt Japanese operations near Myitkina. They frequently encountered Japanese patrols on the 60-mile (95-km) trek south over mountainous terrain towards Myitkina and suffered high numbers of casualties from tropical diseases such as dysentery and scrub typhus. With assistance from Chinese troops, the Marauders launched an attack on the airfield at Myitkina where around 4,600 Japanese troops were stationed. The Marauders were outnumbered but eventually took their primary target. Success came at a huge cost, with just 200 troops remaining at the end of the mission and the rest of the force killed or injured.
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