Summary of the locations of Camp Five
Five was established late in August, 1944, in Nanning [lat.
22-48, long. 108-18], Kwangsi (now Guangxi) Province
In November, 1944, Camp Five was moved 130 miles northwest
to Poseh (now Bose) [lat. 23-55, long. 106-34], in western
Near the end of June, 1945, Camp Five moved back to
In May, 1944, LT Joseph
D. Bennett, the new commander of Unit Two, and 1st
Lt. M. S. MacGruer went to the Nanning area at the request of
Gen. Shu, the head of the newly-formed Column 3, to teach
guerrilla tactics. Despite the fact that the local language was
Cantonese the classes were very effective. Approximately 1,000
troops, in two class groups, had been trained by the time that
the decision was made to place a SACO camp in Nanning.
Camp Five was established
late in August 1944 at Nanning [lat. 22-48, long. 108-18],
Kwangsi (now Guangxi) Province. Unit Five was made up with some
Unit Two personnel; they occupied an old three-story French
Mission. Lieutenant Commander J. S. Shaver was in command and
Lt. V. B. Farr, Jr., the exec.
Their mission was to
train and support Columns 1 and 3, Cantonese-speaking guerrillas
operating around Canton (now Guangzhou) and Wuchow (now Wuzhou)
along the West (now Xi) River. In the first week in September
classes were started in aircraft identification, demolitions,
ambushes, street fighting, tactical indoctrination, and weapons
– Thompson sub-machine gun, carbine, .45 pistol, and .38
revolver. There were three ranges already available for practice
outside the city of Nanning.
The food in Nanning was
different than at most of the camps. Pop's "Lucky Cafe" served
stateside-style hamburgers. Fresh seafood and fruit, as well as
French Indo-China beer; local wines were plentiful.
By early October Kweilin
(now Guilin), 200 miles to the northeast had fallen to the
Japanese and probably Nanning would follow close behind. Unit
Five ran a class of special assassination troops for work in
enemy-occupied towns and helped with demolitions at the airport.
In November 22, 1944,
just before the fall of Nanning, Camp Five was moved 130 miles
northwest to Poseh (now Bose) [lat. 23-55, long. 106-34], in
western Kwangsi Province. The new site was close to the Hsiang
River, which flows through Nanning.
Food was scarce; the
region produced only one rice crop a year. Building materials
were depleted, the drinking water very unhealthy and all of the
“oriental diseases” were endemic. The normal fare was rice, bean
sprouts, pork, and eggs; except in February when lack of funds
forced the men to rely on “K” and “C” rations from the airfield.
At Poseh the American
contingent was reduced by dysentery and malaria at times to only
three healthy men. Lieutenant Farr was evacuated and command
went to Lt. James C. Witt. There was a shortage of radiomen and
only one was allotted to Unit Five; Chief Radio Mate Clinton L. Landreth was relieved in December by Radioman R. T. Cunningham.
Every day from 0700 to
2400 the lone radioman kept seven radio schedules, made reports
on intelligence about Indo-China and South Kwangsi Province to
both Chungking and Column 3, and maintained the aging equipment. At the request of the 14th Army Air Force, Unit
Five, with no weather instruments, broadcasted “weather by
inspection” reports for southern China every three hours. The
coding and decoding duties also fell to the solitary radioman.
Camp Five supported
Columns 1 and 3 of the Chinese Commando Army. Despite
difficulties in communications the columns were effective; their
January accomplishments were recounted by VADM Miles (1967, p
363-364) and are quoted below.
Column One succeeded in keeping at least one Japanese division
in place. In seventeen actions during January 1945, they
attacked the railroad seventeen times, destroying three
locomotives, thirteen cars, and about five hundred meters of
track. They burned two warehouse buildings as well as some
aircraft repair shops. They even captured a whole Japanese radio
station, complete with a military radio school, and in doing so
they broke up a class that was made up of soldiers who were
specializing in radio, but in the process killed all the pupils.
Meanwhile General Shu and his guerrillas were active, but we in
Chungking knew very little about it. The reason was that Column
Three’s units were operating so far from their headquarters that
their reports didn’t come in for months. But in April 1945,
General Shu himself brought the January reports in to Chungking.
During three days—January 10, 11, and 12—they had had six
battles, and had killed 210 Japanese. A week later a scrappy
Chinese major whose name was Yip, was out with only two soldiers
when, coming upon a Japanese party of two officers and seven
men, they had killed six but reported that the others got away. On January 26 a battalion of Column Three guerrillas found two
hundred Japanese and in a five-hour battle killed ninety.
On April 23, 1945, Unit
Five grew from 6 to 21 men; enough “extras” for some to join to
with the guerrilla outfits. On May 11 two Americans, the first
of this unit to be deployed with the Chinese, were attached to
130 “Special Operations” troops operating in and around Nanning. On May 27th these troops were among the first to enter the
recaptured city of Nanning.
Near the end of June,
1945, the camp was moved back to Nanning. The Japanese had
departed in a hurry and both the power plant and water works
shortly were at full operating capacities.
In July, Kweilin and its
airfield were recaptured; Column 3 was part of the attacking
By August, 1945, Unit
Five had grown to a total of 33 men, of which 19 were operating
with Chinese troops. Among the important and timely intelligence
gained from the field was the fact that the Japanese had a
severe supply problem. Only three or four rounds of ammunition
were found on the dead and many of them wore clothing taken from
When the Japanese sued
for peace in mid August, Column 1 and Unit Five were tasked to
assume the military and civilian control of the Canton-Hong Kong
area. Column 1, with LTJG Robinson arrived in Canton on August
19. Unit Five took possession of Wuchow on August 26 and then
continued 135 miles east-southeast to join Column 1 in Canton on
COMBAT RESULTS FOR COLUMNS TRAINED BY UNIT FIVE
Miles, M. E., 1967,
A Different Kind of War,
Doubleday & Co, Garden City, NY. 629 p.
Provided courtesy of
Charles H. Miles on November 20, 2010