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    Kunming 昆明 (Yunnan-Fu) Yunnan Province China
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USAF January 1945
Location
Lat 25° 2' 20N Long 102° 43' 6E  Kunming 昆明 means "brilliant descendants" at an elevation of 6269' / 1910m in Yunnan Province in southwestern China. Until the 1920s, known as Yunnan-Fou (云南府, Yúnnánfǔ). Today, Kunming is the provincial capital of Yunnan Province.

Prewar
In 1908, Kunming became a treaty port for foreign trade and developed into a commercial center. A rail road line connected Kunming southward into French Indochina (Vietnam). In 1937 during Second Sino-Japanese War, many Chinese refugees fleeing from the eastern coast arrived in Kunming as refugees and coastal businesses relocated to the area because it was beyond the range of Japanese bombers including the state-owned Central Machine Works was relocated from Hunan to Kunming.

During the war, the Chinese Air Force (CAF) was based in Kunming and during the middle of 1938 U. S. Army Lt. General Claire Lee Chennault took command of training activities. In 1940 after the the Japanese occupied Indochina the rail link southward was cut off endangering the city. The city was developed into a Nationalist redoubt with tunnels to shelter for the Nationalist government if it needed to relocate from Chungking.

Wartime History
At the start of the Pacific War, Kunming became the command center for Allied forces in the region. On December 20, 1941 the American Volunteer Group (AVG) "Flying Tigers" P-40 Warhawks intercepted Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) aircraft over Kunming.

To supply the city, American supplies were flown over the Himalaya Mountains aboard transport aircraft to Kunming Airfield. During November 1944 Japanese forces occupied Luchou and Yungning threatening Kunming but it was the only major city in China never occupied by the Japanese. Starting in late January 1945 until the end of the Pacific War, American supplies arrived via the Ledo Road (Stilwell Road).

On January 12, 1945 the first American convoy led by General Lewis A. Pick consisted of 113 vehicles dubbed "Pick's First Convoy" departed Ledo using the Ledo Road (Stilwell Road) and crossed the border into China on January 28, 1945 and successfully reached Kunming traveling a distance of 1,100 miles. Afterwards, a celebration commemorating the arrival was held in Kunming.

Kunming was a command center for Chinese, American, British and French forces in China. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Detachment 101 was headquartered in Kunming and whose mission was to divert and disrupt Japanese combat operations in Burma.

Kunming Airfield
Wartime airfield used by the AVG

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Last Updated
January 26, 2020

 

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