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Thread: U.S. Navy UW in China sabotaged by the OSS and the U.S. Army

  1. #1
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    Oct 2005

    Default U.S. Navy UW in China sabotaged by the OSS and the U.S. Army

    This is another amazing tale of UW in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Apparently the Japanese weren't enough of a challenge to force us to work together, so despite interservice rivalry they managed to accomplish much.

    How naked World War II sailors ended up riding Mongolian ponies in the Gobi Desert to shoot bazookas at the Japanese

    As a SACO man, he was part of a top secret network of Navy men, along with a handful of Marine and Army personnel, who worked hand in hand with the Nationalist Chinese to fight the Japanese occupation of China.

    SACO is Sino-American Cooperative Organization

    They were sent to China, beginning in 1943, to spy on the Japanese and collect weather data for the U.S. Pacific Fleet

    The Japanese weren’t the only threat: the operation was undermined from the very beginning by factions within the U.S. Army, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and the State Department — which demanded to know what the hell the Navy was doing on the ground in China.

    But by the end of the war, some 2,500 SACO men had served in China, not only cracking intercepted Japanese code and gathering crucial meteorological information but blowing up enemy supply depots, laying mines in rivers and harbors, rescuing downed American pilots, and training thousands of Chinese peasants in guerrilla warfare.
    Much like Russia can legitimately claim to have won the decisive battles against Nazi Germany, the Chinese with a lot of U.S. assistance tied down tens of thousands of Japanese troops in China enabling U.S. success in its island hopping campaign to get within reach of Japan. The story of SACO, or the Rice Paddy Navy is not well known. It would make an excellent movie.

    In the Pacific, the Japanese had a meteorological advantage over the Allies, thanks to Japanese weather stations ranging from Manchuria to Indochina, which allowed them to accurately predict conditions at sea.

    The U.S. Navy needed to level the playing field. If they could get weather data from as far west as Mongolia, their forecasts would trump those of Japan.
    I knew weather was critical, but never appreciated the value of weather reports in Mongolia providing an intelligence edge for 7th Fleet until I read this article.

    The 12 men stationed there created their own universe. In summer they rode naked on bareback Mongolian ponies, and in winter they wore sheepskin parkas over suits made from woolen blankets to endure indoor temperatures below freezing.

    Making do with what they had, on one occasion they fired bazookas mounted on the ponies’ backs at a line of Japanese armored trucks

    Although landlocked, when I read they were riding butt ass naked on missions, it confirmed to me they had to be sailors.

    The internal conflict left more than 1,000 specially trained Scouts and Raiders (the Navy’s special warfare commandos) stranded in Calcutta for the last five months of the war; one SACO officer led his patrol of Chinese fighters on a raid of U.S. Army supplies to keep from starving.

    Despite this American-induced sabotage, Miles soldiered on, and SACO grew to 18 camps that served as bases for military operations and training.
    The internal conflict was between SACO the OSS and Stilwell. The author of this article wrote a book on Rice Paddy Navy, and there is a website for those who seek more information.

    The Rice Paddy Navy: U.S. Sailors Undercover in China (General Military) Hardcover – November 20, 2012
    by Linda Kush

  2. #2
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Redwood City, CA


    20th Century Fox was ahead on this topic. In 1953 they released the movie, Destination Gobi starring Richard Widmark. The studio's press release mentions a Navy publication titled "Saddles for Gobi". I was only 14 but don't remember anyone riding horses or anything else naked in the show.

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