THREE NAMES - TWO ROADS - ONE PURPOSE
Burma Road - Japanese occupation of Manchuria in 1931 resulted in the Second Sino-Japanese War which continued with sporadic fighting throughout the 1930s. In 1937 full scale war broke out and Japan occupied most of coastal China. This forced the Chinese to seek another method of bringing in supplies and war materials. A route from Kunming, China to a railhead at Lashio, Burma was completed in 1938. Supplies were landed at Rangoon, Burma and brought by rail to Lashio. Built by Chinese laborers stone by stone, this route was known as The Burma Road.
Ledo Road - Japan invaded and occupied Burma in early 1942, blocking the Burma Road supply line. Allied war planners decided to build a new road from Ledo, Assam, India, to bypass the cut off Burma Road. Supplies landed at Karachi and Calcutta, India could be brought by rail to Ledo and trucked over the road to China. It proved to be an extremely difficult task but the Japanese were driven back and a new route forged through the mountains and jungles of northern Burma. The Ledo Road was completed by U.S. Army Engineers in early 1945. It ran 465 miles from Ledo to a junction with the Burma Road at Mongyu, Burma, near Wanting, China.
Stilwell Road - In addition to building the Ledo Road, Army Engineers and local workers also upgraded over 600 miles of the Burma Road. The Ledo Road and the upgraded portion of the Burma Road from Mongyu to Kunming were later named Stilwell Road in honor of American General Joseph W. Stilwell, Commander of the China-Burma-India Theater and Chief of Staff to Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The Stilwell Road covered 1,079 miles from Ledo, India to Kunming, China. The straight-line distance is 470 miles.