5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)

Posted on September 24, 2017 in Stories

5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)

Merrill’s Marauders (named after Frank Merrill) or Unit Galahad, officially named the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), was a United States Army long range penetration special operations jungle warfare unit, which fought in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II, or China-Burma-India Theater (CBI).

Three battalion of American infantrymen (approximately 3,000) marched and fought across 750 miles of northern Burma.  In slightly more than five months of combat, the Marauders had advanced 750 miles (1,210 km) through some of the harshest jungle terrain in the world, fought in five major engagements (Walawbum, Shaduzup, Inkangahtawng, Nhpum Ga, and Myitkyina) and engaged in combat with the Japanese Army on thirty-two separate occasions, including two conventional defensive battles with enemy forces for which the force had not been intended nor equipped. Battling Japanese soldiers, hunger, fevers, and disease, they had traversed more jungle terrain on their long-range missions than any other U.S. Army formation during World War II.

The men of the Merrill’s Marauders enjoyed the rare distinction of having each soldier awarded the Bronze Star. In June 1944, the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional) was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation:

The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as to set it apart and above other units participating in the same campaign.

(source for above is Wikipedia.org)


Regiment of Volunteers

Where the Jap has placed his outposts,
Where his road-blocks guard the trail,
Where the lone patrol is moving,
As the dark begins to pale;
There’s a wisper through the jungle,
There are shadows on the tracks,
And the sentry wheels to fire
When a twig behind him cracks.

For Merrill’s men are marching;
They’ve been seen at Masakawng;
They have crossed the Tanai River,
And they’re threatening Warong.
Jungle trails are close and silent;
Merrill’s troops move swift and far;
They may pass today through Sharaw
And tomorrow through Sana.

Tokyo has maps of Burma
That will show whence they have come.
See that red line down the Hukawng,
See the cross at Walawbum?
There’s another at Shaduzup,
And below, Inkangahtawng.
The Marauders’ roll of victories
Is both barbarous and long.

From Nhpum Ga on to Ritpong,
(Add a cross at each of these)
Red lines lead to Myitkyina–
Just you ask the Japanese.
Stealthy files that strike and vanish,
No one knows where they may be.
Till the Browning automatics
Leave dead Japs for Japs to see.

But if you want to see us,
There’s a way you can’t go wrong.
Pick a trail that goes behind them
Where our enemies are strong.
Where the trail goes through a rice field
You may see the column clear;
But–we’re not so much to look at,
And we’re worse than that to hear.

Comes a line of weary scarecrows,
Bearded, pale, unclean, and hot.
Never would you think of soldiers,
(Which we wish that we were not).
“Damn the mountains” How we curse them!
“Damn the food” or what there is.
“Damn the mules, and General Stilwell.”
“God, we wish our feet were his!”

Well, it’s true, and it’s because
Everyone had reasons why he
Did not like it where he was.
We’re the misfits of the Army
That the system can’t digest;
There’s but one way to control us,
And it’s not to let us rest

Doctors, farmers, drunkards, failures,
There’s no trait we share but one;
We have to butt our heads into those
Things that aren’t or can’t be done.
“Put ’em on . . . The column’s moving!”
Come on, then, you’re not yet dead.
And there’s fighting left a-plenty
While the trail still leads ahead.

Let the fevers try to stop us;
We’ve got dysentery now;
Still we’ll keep the column rolling,
Though we could not say just how.
Half a thousand miles we’ve walked,
Over hills in rain and heat,
And the marches all have measured
That much more of Jap retreat.

For Merrill’s men are marching;
We have come both fast and far,
And we’ve opened northern Burma
From Maingkan to Myitkyina;
And there’ll be no final halting
(So we fear it’s bound to be)
Till the last mule’s legs have buckled
Or we’ve reached the China Sea.


5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)

Merrill’s Marauders
1st Battalion
White Combat Team
Burma 1944