Feeding the Troops

Searching for a Way Forward in China 1944–1945


Maj. John D. Walker, U.S. Army


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Chinese soldiers eat rice

In documenting the U.S. Army’s role in the China theater during World War II, U.S. Army historians recorded that to the “U.S. theater commander, food seemed to be the most important Chinese military problem.”1 They then continued to describe in detail the lengths Americans went to alter the Chinese military ration. This odd priority raises a question: Why did Americans stress the importance for the Chinese army to radically alter the rations given to Chinese soldiers in World War II? Examining this question in depth sheds new light on relations between Americans and Nationalist leaders in China during the war and in its immediate aftermath. It also demonstrates the potential long-term demands and requirements on an industrially superior nation to support a less-developed and culturally different nation in multinational military operations.

Analyzing and thinking about the successes and failures that the U.S. Army experienced feeding the troops in China during World War II may prove fruitful to strategists thinking through the requirements and challenges of a potential future military conflict in the Pacific region. Today, the U.S. government is focused on deterring Chinese aggression.2 One of the ways the United States hopes to deter China is by working closely with regional allies and partners to “contribute to regional security” through joint military exercises.3 If deterrence fails, the United States will of necessity rely heavily on the assistance of partners and allies in the region, some of whom are far less industrially developed than the United States. In that case, just like World War II, the United States will face a near-peer rival while relying on the logistical networks of nations without the industrial capabilities of the United States to thwart that antagonist.

During World War II, the U.S. mission in the China theater was one of support. The United States did not have any ground combat units as it was primarily responsible for training, supplying, and advising the Chinese military. However, American planners at the beginning of the war anticipated that after Germany was defeated, the United States would need to deploy ground combat units to China to fight the Japanese military there.4 The dropping of the atomic bombs and the drive through the Pacific nullified this idea.

My research in Chinese archives, U.S. and British archives, published Chinese diaries and journals, and many published secondary sources revealed that during World War II, Americans believed that by changing the type of food eaten in the Chinese military ration and ensuring its delivery, Chinese soldiers would be healthier, stronger, and more capable of defeating Japanese forces, and that all efforts to ensure the success of this ration were justified. It also became clear that this view was linked to a larger American notion that they had a paternalistic responsibility to help shepherd the Nationalist Chinese toward democracy.

This research topic is complicated for a multitude of reasons. First, up until recently, historical research into World War II in China was dominated by Cold War realities. Shortly after the end of World War II, China was embroiled in a massive civil war that led to the Chinese Communist Party defeating President Chiang Kai-shek, who fled with his remnant government to Taiwan. For the next fifty years, understanding the history of China’s role in World War II was limited. Access to historical records were restricted in China, and only those kept in the United States and Taiwan were readily available. Additionally, historians may have overlooked researching the China Theater during this period in part because it ultimately did not play a critical role in the defeat of Japan other than ensuring Japan kept over a million troops stationed there.

This map shows how the Services of Supply organized themselves geographically. Each base section was in charge of supplying the Chinese armies that entered their area

Another reason researching the food rations in China is so complicated is that during this period, there were two separate Services of Supply (SOS) in operation. SOS was the type of unit sustaining soldiers with all necessary supplies. One SOS unit fell under the Chinese military command, tasked with supporting Chinese troops, and a second SOS unit fell under the U.S. military command, tasked with supporting American troops. However, up until 1 July 1945, the commander of the Chinese SOS was a U.S. Army officer who also served as the commander of the American SOS. Also, the Americans embedded multiple U.S. Army officers within the Chinese SOS. Consequently, when trying to understand the story of the Chinese ration, differentiating between the two entities is critical but also confusing.

The U.S. push for an altered ration set up a clash of cultures. To a Western audience, meat was understood as necessary to a healthy nutritionally strong diet. In fact, Amy Bently makes the argument in Eating for Victory that not only was meat considered imperative to Americans, but that in World War II, the U.S. government also went a step further in making meat a symbol of masculine power to mobilize Americans at home.5 To Americans then, ensuring China ate a sufficient amount of meat would ensure that they were strong enough to defeat Japan, as the Chinese were the main fighting force against Japan for many years. Ultimately, this effort to change China’s food and political culture failed in China, partially because the United States was unwilling to stay beyond the end of hostilities with Japan.

The average Chinese person of the time did not eat much, if any, meat. If the U.S. government was using meat as a symbol of masculine power at home, then symbolically, the Chinese soldiers and Chinese people became the antithesis of strength. During this time, the average Chinese person ate mostly rice, soybeans, and vegetables. To Western observers, this seemed inconceivable. We know this because throughout the early 1900s, the China Medical Journal, based in Shanghai, published multiple nutritional tests conducted throughout China at various universities. These articles were published in English, implying that these were intended for a Western audience. It was discovered in these tests that traditional Chinese foods could provide adequate nutrition in a person’s diet, even though it was not based on meat. Specifically, it was pointed out that the soybean, which China has in abundance, has almost as much protein as meat.6 Because soybeans were prevalent in China, they were also cheap and easily accessible, especially for the poor masses who far outnumbered the population in the urban centers.

The Chinese military, however, did not supply soybeans to the soldiers. Instead, the Chinese military supplied only rice. On average, a Chinese soldier was issued 2.5 cups of uncooked rice per day.7 Other than grain, the Nationalist military expected the Chinese soldier to forage for wild onions, garlic, mushrooms, and leeks to eat with their rice or to purchase extra food on the local economy from their monthly allowance.8

To Americans during World War II, especially those who came over in a military capacity, however, this diet was considered insufficient and responsible for their failure to defeat Japanese soldiers in combat. Americans considered Chinese soldiers as less than capable because they were understood to be malnourished due to a lack of meat in their diet. We know this in part because the Pocket Guide to China given to U.S. soldiers specifically warned the soldiers to not “feel superior because you are better fed” than the Chinese soldier.9

We can also see this view in the records of Gen. Joseph Stilwell, who was America’s senior military representative to China for much of the war. In November 1943, he sent an official memo to Chiang telling him that the supply arm of the Chinese military needed to provide “meat and oil, by local purchase, and by shipment. There are plenty of sheep, goats, and cattle, in Yunnan.”10 The reason for Stilwell’s demand was his perception that “the majority of the [Chinese soldiers] are physically incapable of sustaining prolonged hardship.”11 Stilwell continued, “Malnutrition is common, due to poor diet. Meat and fats are entirely lacking, and salt and fresh vegetables are insufficient.”12 Even though the Chinese had withstood Japanese onslaughts for many years and adhered to Chiang’s strategy to trade space for time, many Americans still felt the Chinese diet was a leading cause of China’s supposed combat ineffectiveness.

For example, as part of the war effort in China, the U.S. military set up multiple military training centers to help China’s army learn Western military tactics and techniques. Americans at the training center in Yunan sent a report to Stilwell after a year and a half of operations in 1944, in which they detailed some challenges they faced in training the Chinese soldiers. They blamed Chinese diet deficiencies as causing malnutrition and as the base cause of almost all the diseases found among the troops there.13

This frustration about nutrition also showed up in military discussions about food for horses. According to the Americans, Chinese soldiers in the field requested the same amount of fodder per horse. The Americans insisted that this was “incorrect for it should be based on the weight of the animal.”14 To Americans, the Chinese way of feeding horses, like feeding soldiers, was simply wrong. In a conference between the Chinese SOS and the American SOS held in June 1945, the Americans proved their point by bringing in veterinarian reports to show that horse rations needed to be based off the size and weight of the animal and “balanced properly” between quantities of fodder and beans.15 The Chinese officers at the conference “expressed approval and pleasure” with these corrections.16

In the fall of 1944, when Gen. Albert Wedemeyer became America’s senior military representative in China, he decided to make food reform among Chinese soldiers his number one priority. He became “convinced that the simple failure to feed the Chinese soldier underlay most of China’s military problems and that the Chinese armies needed food even more than they needed guns.”17 Consequently, food became, in America’s eyes, the primary means to judge the qualitative effectiveness of a Chinese soldier.

For Wedemeyer, however, it appears that he had more than just a simple desire for nutritional improvement in the Chinese soldiers. He linked his efforts to his aspirations to help China become a mature Western democracy. In a letter after the end of World War II to one Chinese general, he said that “throughout my service in China it has been my hope and desire that I could make a small contribution to improve the living conditions of the common people … [so that] your people could better determine how and by whom they will be governed. They could take an intelligent interest in the political and economic affairs of their government … [and] China would again take her rightful place in the family of nations.”18

The idea that food could become a measure of political correctness is explored in detail by Charlotte Biltekoff in her book Eating Right in America. She makes the connection that “despite seemingly scientific origins, dietary ideals are cultural, subjective, and political. While its primary aim may be to improve health, the process of teaching people to ‘eat right’ inevitably involves shaping certain kinds of subjects, and citizens. … Nutrition is not only an empirical set of rules, but also a system of moral measures, and its presumably neutral quantitative strategies are themselves political and ideological.”19 By pushing a strongly held belief of the necessity of a different ration on Chinese soldiers while at the same time wanting political changes mirroring Western democracies for China, Wedemeyer essentially demonstrates Biltekoff’s point, played out in this case in American policy toward China.

This map shows where the U.S. Services of Supply Command boundary ended in the China Theater circa 1945

While there have been scholars who have written about food in World War II, none have focused exclusively on Wedemeyer and his attempts to change the Chinese military diet in 1945. Again, this is most likely because the Chinese theater ultimately did not play a large role in America’s ultimate offensive against Japan. However, it is clear from the sources that Wedemeyer used every tool available to him to pressure, cajole, and encourage the Chinese to change their soldiers’ diet. As an example, beginning on 6 December 1944 and through the end of January 1945, Wedemeyer’s office sent no less than fourteen official memorandums detailing necessary improvements to the Chinese ration.20 By 1 February 1945, the new ration was adopted in a joint Sino-American conference that mandated a Chinese soldier receive twenty-seven ounces of rice, two ounces of beans, one ounce of peanuts, eleven ounces of vegetables, one-third ounce of salt, and one ounce of meat “when local procurement [was] feasible.”21 This caveat included the understanding that “problems of procurement and distribution will frequently make it impractical to issue … and substitutions will be required.”22 The conference then listed all the substitutions that could be made. For meat, the options included beef, eggs, fish, fowl, and pork.

Just prior to the adoption of this ration, Wedemeyer told a British representative in January 1945 that he “believed he could institute proper feeding arrangements for all troops by May.”23 Wedemeyer further told the British that he had received a report from five U.S. nutrition experts who had studied [the Chinese soldiers nutrition] for four months. He claimed their conclusion was that roughly 57 percent of the Chinese army was under nourished.24

However, instituting change did not prove easy. From February to July 1945, nine memorandums were submitted to Chiang from Wedemeyer pleading for actual implementation of the ration that was agreed upon.25 The Americans consequently did not trust the Chinese to implement this ration. America not only embedded U.S. Army officers in the Chinese Services of Supply Command to ensure the logistics functioned according to America’s desires, but America also placed a U.S. Army officer as the first commander of the Chinese SOS.26 Perhaps as a result of Wedemeyer’s complaints and the insertion of U.S. Army officers into the Chinese SOS, the Chinese SOS and American SOS held all-day conferences during the first week of June 1945 to discuss the challenges and way ahead for feeding Chinese soldiers. Records of these conferences were preserved by the Americans. Interestingly, in these reports, the Chinese did not give much pushback to the ration adopted as it was understood to be “nutritionally balanced.” However, if a soldier were to exert more energy than the calories in the ration allowed, it was decided at the conference to increase the amount of rice given to the soldier rather than increasing the amount of “meat, sweets, or vegetables.”27 Rice was probably chosen as the substance to increase because of its ease of accessibility in China.

Two weeks later, Wedemeyer again complained to Chiang and used such language as “we must as early as possible adopt [a] uniform ration for all members of the Chinese Military Forces including officers and enlisted men” that would include “a certain number of pounds of meat.”28 Perhaps as a result of this complaint or as a result of the conferences held earlier in June, by the first week of July, Maj. Gen. Robert McClure, Wedemeyer’s chief of staff, wrote to Wedemeyer that Chiang “has settled the ration problem and I believe he can solve most of our other problems.”29

In analyzing the conference reports from June 1945, it is apparent that regardless of when the Chinese army adopted the new ration on paper, implementing this ration proved challenging. In China, units were traditionally responsible for their own sustenance. Commanders oversaw acquiring and distributing allotted rice by the government based on the number of soldiers on an official strength report. Soldiers were expected to forage for supplemental food or purchase it on the economy. Communities were expected to support army units as they marched through.

This Chinese system of delivery worked under certain circumstances. Specifically, if the economy was good and people were willing to sell to Chinese troops, and there were no famines devastating the land, Chinese soldiers could be fed well. This, after all, was the system that was used during the 1930s campaigns against the Communists.30 However, as Hans van de Ven has shown in his research, there were multiple famines in the early 1940s that ravaged the land, and China’s economy was subsequently devastated by massive hyperinflation. By 1941, the purchasing power of a soldier had decreased 80 percent, and by 1942, the price of grain had increased by over 3,000 percent.31 By June 1944, “the monthly cost of living for ordinary soldiers in Chengdu, one of Sichuan’s major cities, was over eleven times their pay.”32 Consequently, the ability for soldiers to purchase food on the local economy was severely hampered, regardless of how much food was in the local community.

This index shows the dramatic inflation by month in China during the Second World War and helps us understand the necessity for feeding Chinese soldiers from a set ration rather than expecting them to purchase their food on the economy

Another challenge with the Chinese system of feeding its soldiers was when large units stayed in a specific area for an extended period of time. The local area may have had enough to provide adequate amount of food for itself, but with the demands of also supporting a large body of soldiers, local food quickly became scarce.33 Consequently, America looked at methods to increase production of vegetables, transport food over long distances, and even distribute processing foods. However, increasing vegetable production takes time, the lack of suitable roads and refrigeration make distance a significant limitation, and the lack of machinery make processing impractical. So, the Americans concluded that it was up to them to do everything for the Chinese soldier as the United States “cannot look to Chinese Governmental agencies for much help in improving the conditions of the Chinese Soldier.”34

Nevertheless, the Americans were impressed by the food available in some of these locations. Dr. Frank Dickinson, who was the U.S. Army’s civilian expert on nutrition in China, along with two others, conducted a site survey of Nanning, China, in 1945 in preparation for the upcoming summer campaign through Southern China.35 Dickinson reported that there was “a plentiful supply of rice … good supply of vegetables … [and] fat hogs carrying lots of fat are available in large enough numbers to meet Chinese armies demands at regular market prices.”36 The Americans were positive about this area’s supplies and its potential to feed a large body of soldiers.

However, despite these promising site surveys of differing local communities, America recognized that the Nationalist Chinese army could not effectively distribute food on its own. By 1945, America was used to a distribution system that delivered all the food a soldier needed directly to the front lines anywhere in the world from the industrial center of Chicago. America had practiced this system in World War I and refined it in the intervening years leading up to World War II. So, the American military decided to provide all the necessary resources to make the military food distribution successful to include food purchasers, trucks, fuel, and drivers.37 Unfortunately, this meant that when America decided to wholesale leave China at the cessation of hostilities in August 1945, China was left to continue this system on its own, which it simply could not do. It lacked the requisite industrial capability to produce or maintain transportation equipment after years of warfare. This was evident during the Chinese Civil War that commenced soon after the end of World War II, when Nationalist Chinese troops returned to relying on units to locally procure food, which sometimes included forced requisitions on local communities.38

Ultimately, Chiang’s forces lost the Chinese Civil War to the Chinese Communists and fled to the island of Taiwan, where they established an authoritarian government. Some historians place at least partial blame for this on the actions of Nationalist soldiers in some of the reclaimed areas of China after World War II.39 Politically, China remains a Communist country, and the island of Taiwan only gained a democratic form of government within the last thirty years.40

Americans’ assumptions that to be strong and capable of fighting, Chinese soldiers needed a diet that included meat coupled with a food delivery system patterned after America did not accord with the conditions in China. However, in the pressure of the moment, temporarily solving the problem America’s way seemed to be the right decision to Americans. After all, in the fall of 1944, it was not certain how the Allies would defeat Japan. American planners were working on the assumption that the war would last into 1947 and that it might require deploying U.S. Army ground forces to China to fight through the Chinese mainland to Korea and then Japan. However, the successes in the Pacific and the decisions surrounding the use of the atomic bomb invalidated this assumption.

In analyzing the facts related to America’s attempt to change the Chinese diet, it is debatable whether this attempt actually helped the nutrition of the Chinese soldier in any meaningful way. During the height of the summer 1945 campaign, the Americans reported that the changed ration and delivery system was able to provide food for only 185,000 soldiers, which was only a fraction of the five million total Chinese soldiers, most of whom served under regional governors.41 Consequently, it is debatable how much immediate impact this event had on the ration of the common Chinese soldier. This goes to show that changing long-standing cultural food habits cannot be done swiftly, even when all the resources are provided.

Wedemeyer, for himself, continued to believe that he had been successful at helping the Chinese adopt an improved ration and distribution system for the Chinese soldier. In his memoirs, written almost a decade after the fact, he wrote that “the ration plan … had a salutary effect throughout [China].”42 Wedemeyer, however, had at least two incentives for claiming success with the ration. First, it would serve to highlight his success in his role as the senior U.S. military leader charged with assisting China’s military situation. Secondly, it would also show that the United States could work with the Chinese Nationalist Party’s unique political reality without Chinese Communist Party involvement, something that Stilwell and his staff often questioned.43 The disagreement over which U.S. general was more correct about China continues to this day.44

Col. Charles F. Kearney, who was a U.S. liaison officer in the Quartermaster Department of the Chinese SOS, somewhat agreed with Wedemeyer’s conclusions. Kearney believed “the Chinese were shown that armies on the march could be given an adequate, balanced diet,” which was based on “what the Americans thought to be effective procedures.”45 Kearney, however, concluded in his report that he did not believe permanent or lasting changes had occurred in the Chinese military before the end of World War II.46

The impact of these events in 1945, however, are not limited to whether the Chinese soldiers had a new ration or not. Food became a tool of America to influence and pressure others to conform over the next half century. An immediate example of this was described by Christopher Aldous in Food and War in Mid-Twentieth-Century East Asia. After the end of World War II, the United States found itself attempting to once again change the diet of an Asian culture, this time in Japan. During Japanese occupation under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the United States decided to invest itself in changing the diets of the civilians in accordance with American understandings of nutritional optimal health—which necessitated an increase in meat. Aldous explained that America believed that “Japan’s reliance on grain crops, particularly rice, rather than ‘a combination of grain and domestic livestock’—as in the U.S.—‘contributed to the exceptionally high beriberi and tuberculosis incidence in prewar Japan, but also contributed to the steady decrease in height and stamina of the people.’”47 The American military once again felt that the diet of an Asian culture was improper and used food as a force of power politics to implement change. It was only in 1952 that the United States allowed Japan to have autonomy again. To this day, Japan remains a close ally of America. Japan’s food culture adjusted accordingly. The case of Japan was more fruitful than the experience in China, in part because the United States was willing to implement change for a much longer period of time. Any future conflict in the Pacific region will of necessity involve feeding troops from less industrial and culturally different nations. Consequently, studying the successes and failures of the U.S. Army in both China and Japan during and after World War II will educate planners on the way forward.


  1. Charles F. Romanus and Riley Sunderland, China, Burma, India Theater: Time Runs Out in CBI (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1999), 65.
  2. The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States of America (Washington, DC: The White House, October 2022), 23–26, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Biden-Harris-Administrations-National-Security-Strategy-10.2022.pdf.
  3. “Campaigning,” U.S. Army Pacific, accessed 20 December 2023, https://www.usarpac.army.mil/Our-Approach/Campaigning/.
  4. Paul Kennedy, Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War (New York: Random House, 2013), 290.
  5. Amy Bently, Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).
  6. H. C. Hou, “Prevention and Treatment of Common Nutritional Deficiency Diseases,” The Chinese Medical Journal 61, no. 2 (1942): 42–43, https://mednexus.org/doi/10.5555/cmj.0366-6999.61.02.p101.01.
  7. “The Chairman of the Military Commission Jiang Zhongzheng Sent a Telegram to the Commanders of the Various Theaters,” 2 November 1944, National Government Collection no. 001-087210-00001-008, vol. Military Food Quota and Appropriation, Academia Historica Archives, Taipei, ROC. The 2.5 cup average was calculated by taking the amount of total grain allotted for the year for an area with a known number of soldiers.
  8. Wu Hsiang-hsiang, The Second Sino-Japanese War: 1931-1945 (Taipei, ROC: Tsung Ho Book Co., 1973), 1110–12. Note 380 quotes Yang Shutian reminiscing about the situation as a soldier in the Chinese army during World War II. Yang was stationed for three years at the Xiling Gorge of the Yangtze River. He talks about Chinese soldiers given a ration of rice each day, which was then cooked with foraged wild onions, garlic, mushrooms, leeks, etc. To supplement the daily rice ration, the soldiers were paid a set rate of money so they could purchase from the local economy. The amount of money given was based on rank, with the lowest enlistee receiving fifty yuan per month and a sergeant paid one hundred yuan. According to Yang’s reminiscence, it cost 350 yuan per month for nonstaple food in 1945. Consequently, “soldiers often have no food … and officers with family members cannot survive.”
  9. Special Service Division, Army Service Forces, Pocket Guide to China (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943), 40, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:A_Pocket_Guide_to_China_(1943).pdf&page=2.
  10. “Report for the Generalissimo,” 5 November 1943, box 24, folder 17, Stilwell Papers, Hoover Institution Library & Archives, Palo Alto, California (hereinafter cited as Stilwell Papers).
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. “History of Field Artillery Training Center Yunan China 15 MAR 1943–16 OCT 1944,” box 35, folder 24, p. 79, Stilwell Papers.
  14. “Conference Report,” 3 June 1945, box 25, folder Chinese SOS—General Chen’s Conferences, p. 2, Henry S. Aurand Papers, Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kansas (hereinafter cited as Aurand Papers).
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Romanus and Sunderland, China, Burma, India Theater, 65.
  18. “Dear Lu Han,” 22 May 1946, box 82, folder 13, Wedemeyer Papers, Hoover Institution Library & Archives, Palo Alto, California (hereinafter cited as Wedemeyer Papers).
  19. Charlotte Biltekoff, Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food and Health (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013), 3, 7.
  20. “Memorandum to His Excellency, The Generalissimo,” December 1944–January 1945, box 84, folders 5–7, numbers 398, 385, 378, 355, 351, 321, 303, 301-a, 298, 289, 282, 278, 277, 264, Wedemeyer Papers.
  21. “Memorandum to His Excellency, The Generalissimo,” 31 January 1945, box 84, folder 7, number 398, Wedemeyer Papers; see also Romanus and Sunderland, China, Burma, India Theater, 243.
  22. “S.O.P. of Ration Purchasing Commissions,” box 25, folder Chinese Services of Supply File, p. 8, Aurand Papers.
  23. Cipher telegram from M. A. Chungking to the War Office, “Chinese Intelligence: November 17, 1944–March 31, 1945,” 31 January 1945. WO 106/3584. National Archives UK.
  24. “Chinese Intelligence: November 17, 1944 – March 31, 1945.” Cipher Telegram. From M.A. Chungking to The War Office. 31 January 1945. WO 106/3584, National Archives, Richmond, UK.
  25. “Memorandum to His Excellency, The Generalissimo,” box 85, folders 1–4, numbers 416, 432, 462-a, 463, 520, 560, 565, 617, 632-1, Wedemeyer Papers.
  26. The first commander was Maj. Gen. Gilbert X. Cheves. On 1 July 1945, Cheves was recalled to the United States and the Chinese army replaced him with their own officer. By this time, Gen. Wedemeyer did not want an American serving as the commander of the Chinese Services of Supply although their continued to be American officers embedded within the Chinese Services of Supply command.
  27. “Conference Report,” 6 June 1945, box 25, folder Chinese SOS—General Chen’s Conferences, p. 1, Aurand Papers.
  28. “Memorandum to His Excellency, The Generalissimo,” 18 June 1945, box 85, folder 4, number 617, Wedemeyer Papers.
  29. “Letter to Lieutenant General A.C. Wedemeyer from Major General R. B. McClure,” 4 July 1945, box 82, folder 18, p. 3, Wedemeyer Papers.
  30. William Whitson, Interviews of Kuomintang Army Officers Conducted by Colonel William Whitson, 1965-1966, vol. 1, oral interview 33, United States Military Academy Archives, conducted 24 August 1965, 33–36. More than one interviewee mentioned the same details. See, for example, interviews 36, 38, 44, 86, 87, 91, 95, 100.
  31. Hans Van de Ven, War and Nationalism in China: 1925–1945 (New York: Routledge, 2003), 270.
  32. Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), 275.
  33. “Economic Developments in Free China and Their Effect on Army Procurement,” January-May 1945, box 26, folder Economic Conditions in Free China & Their Effect on Procurement, prepared by the Resources Section of the Central Purchasing and Procurement Authority, Headquarters, Services of Supply, p. 14, Aurand Papers.
  34. Ibid.
  35. “Conference Report,” 3 June 1945, box 25, folder Chinese SOS—General Chen’s Conferences, p. 3, Aurand Papers. Dr. Dickinson worked with the Foreign Economic Administration and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry distributing agricultural resources from America to Chinese farmers.
  36. “Dear General Aurand,” 30 July 1945, box 23, folder General Correspondence: August 1–31, 1945(3), p. 1, Aurand Papers.
  37. “Memorandum to His Excellency, The Generalissimo,” 25 January 1945, box 84, folder 7, number 385, Wedemeyer Papers.
  38. Wang Dingjun, Guan Shan DuoLu: Huiyilu sibuqu zhisan (Beijing, 2013), 235. According to a diary account by Wang Dingjun, during the Chinese Civil War in Manchuria, rather than having a separate agency purchase food from the local populace to then distribute to the soldiers, it was the foot soldiers themselves who interacted directly with the locals for food. “The cooking team would go from house to house to catch chickens,” offending the local populace in the process of acquiring needed meat.
  39. See, for example, Suzanne Pepper, Civil War in China: The Political Struggle 1945–1949 (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999); United States Relations with China (Washington, DC: Department of State, August 1949); Barbara Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China: 1911–45 (New York: Macmillan, 1970).
  40. The first island-wide election for the head of state was held in 1996.
  41. Romanus and Sunderland, China, Burma, India Theater, 246.
  42. Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports! (New York: Henry Holt, 1958), 336.
  43. See Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China.
  44. See Alfred E. Cornebise, Soldier Extraordinaire: The Life and Career of Brig. Gen. Frank “Pinkie” Dorn (1901–81) (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2019), 169n92. Wedemeyer tried to demote Dorn, who had served as Stilwell’s right-hand man, in China.
  45. Quoted in Romanus and Sunderland, China, Burma, India Theater, 243.
  46. Ibid., 246.
  47. Christopher Aldous, “A Dearth of Animal Protein: Reforming Nutrition in Occupied Japan (1945-1952),” in Food and War in Mid-Twentieth-Century East Asia, ed. Katarzyna J. Cwiertka (Leiden, NL: Leiden University, 2013), 53.


Maj. John Walker, U.S. Army, is an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy in the History Department. He teaches primarily Chinese and East Asian history. He holds BAs in Chinese and international area studies from the University of Oklahoma and an MA in history from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. Walker commissioned as a transportation officer and then transitioned to a logistician upon graduation of Captains Career Course. He served with the 16th Sustainment Brigade in Germany, the 1st Sustainment Brigade in Fort Riley, and the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in South Korea.


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