China-Burma-India Edition - December 8, 1945  China-Burma-India Edition - December 8, 1945 CHINA-BURMA-INDIA PIPELINE

   Born in the minds of Allied leaders at Quebec in August of 1943, the fuel pipeline from India to China was made a reality by American soldiers.

   Longest of its type in the world and running through the globe's most rugged terrain, the line is a potential monument to the strength and sweat of the GIs who opened the jungle and put down the pipe. Through the pipeline, fuel flowed rapidly toward fighting fronts in Burma and China during the closing months of the war.

   In the summer of 1945, a short time before VJ Day, the pipeline was reaching its peak capacity. At that time Sgt. John Blay, YANK Staff Correspondent, visited pipeline installations to make these photographs of Army engineers at work.


 Pipeline Fuel for China is off-loaded from tankers at either Budge-Budge, near Calcutta, or Chttagong; both in India's Bengal Province. At Budge-Budge, pump operator Pfc. Michael Beyer of Ashland, Wis., and Pfc. Edward Rich of New York City, the gauge man in the background, work on powerful pumps which will start 100 octane gasoline on its long journey.
 Pipeline Much of the fuel for China is stored along the way in huge tank farms, areas studded with steel reservoirs built to handle petroleum products. Here, a T/4 opens a valve at one of the three pumping stations located in Tinsukia Tank Farm, one of the largest installations of its type along the pipeline.

 Pipeline Floods, landslides and the humid climate damage sections of the pipeline every week and construction crews must be on the alert at all times.  When coolies aren't available, a side-boom attachment to a bulldozer enables M/Sgt. Norman C. Maino of Williamstown, Mass., to handle long sections of heavy pipe with ease.
 Pipeline GI advertising in Assam.  "GAS AINT RATIONED - TIRES ARE FREE - MAKE THEM LAST - IF YOU WANT TO SEE - THAT GAL BACK HOME"  Supplied by pipeline, POLs along the Stilwell Road fill the tanks of jeeps and trucks and price is never mentioned although drivers are cautioned against waste.

 Pipeline Chief Dispatcher on the B & A pipeline is T/Sgt. Harold E. Welch of New York City, whose communications enable him to keep in touch with his pumping stations.

 Pipeline T/5 James DiBenedetto of New Rochelle, N.Y., carries out his portion of the planned program of malaria control which has safeguarded the health of pipeline men.

To build the pipeline, engineers crossed lowland rice paddies in flood, worked over the backs of rolling hills and hacked through green jungle covering the steep sides of mountains.  This line curls across the beds of wide rivers and hangs high in the air over deep mountain gorges.  Touching three countries, it runs from sea level to heights of 9,000 feet.

 Pipeline Courier Pfc. Norman M. Veland of Ellendale, N.D., rides his own freight car along the B & A Ry., dropping off supplies to isolated pipeline detachments.  Many units cannot be reached by rail but must depend on trucks.

 Pipeline This is "13 Up" which leaves Calcutta in the morning's early hours each day for its run north.  The train hauls a baggage car upon which pipeline personnel depend for food, mail and PX supplies.

 Pipeline Assam and Burma are dotted with pumping stations which maintain pressure to drive fuel through the pipeline.  Men at these desolate outposts deep in the mountains have little contact with the outside world for months at a time.

 Pipeline Running roughly parallel to the twisting Stilwell Road, the pipeline makes its way across the hills and valleys of Assam and Burma.  Here, at Pangsau Pass, the line has been pushed over heights more than 4,000 feet above sea level.

The war's end saw the release of information on the pipeline construction plan.  In India, six-inch lines run from Calcutta and Chittagong to Tinsukia, Assam.  From Tinsukia, one six-inch line reaches to Myitkyina, Burma, while two four-inch lines run to Bhamo, Burma.  From Bhamo, a four-inch line extends to air bases beyond Kunming, China.

 Pipeline These GIs of the 789th E.P.D., plus a maintenance man and cook, are the entire pipeline personnel at isolated Pumping Station #4 in Bengal, a few miles below the Ganges River.

 Pipeline Signal Corps men handle pipeline communications.  These soldiers stand before their weasel, used to reach crippled wires down in flooded rice paddies.

 Pipeline GIs and Indian laborers launch a pontoon in India's Hooghly River.  Two pontoons lashed together will float pipe to the opposite bank.  The main portion of the pipeline will then lie along the river's bottom.

 Pipeline GI engineers splice cable in preparation for a pipeline river crossing.  The cable hauls pontoons across the watercourse and the pipe is floated by the metal boats.  Lying on bottom, the line is subjected to heavy stress from river.

 Pipeline In the shadow of a Navy tanker stand 1/Sgt. Harry S. Berman of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and M/Sgt. Gerino Terenzi of Lynn, Mass., a section foreman.  Terenzi is on the move constantly, checking his pumping stations and storage tanks.

 Pipeline In Burma the line follows rugged country, often paralleling mountain streams like the Naunyang River, more than 3,000 feet above sea level.  To cross rivers, pipe is usually suspended on bridges or its own independent suspensions.

As construction of various sections of the pipeline was completed, the hard lonesome work of maintaining operations began.  Men of the Engineer Petroleum Distribution Companies staffed many a tiny pumping station in the depths of the jungle.  From these stations, the constant pressure of huge pumps kept the fuel flowing and crews checked every inch of the line on foot to spot leakages from broken pipes.  With these GIs lived Signal Corps personnel who kept communications in repair so the far-flung stations could be joined by telephone, teletype and radio.

 Pipeline The pipeline camp at Hellgate, along the Stilwell Road, nestles in a valley between peaks of the Patkai Hills.  When monsoons wash out highways, such camps may be completely isolated for days from all surface communication.

 Pipeline 1/Sgt. Arnold J. Hansen of Omaha, Neb., and S/Sgt. Joseph P. Medved of Kansas City, Kan., work out of Ledo.  Pipeline jeeps are among the few vehicles always waved through by MPs stationed along the Stilwell Road.

 Pipeline Prime movers of fuel through the pipeline are great pumps driven by sturdy engines.  The fuel starts under high pressure.  Pipe friction lowers pressure but pumping stations along the line increase it to keep gasoline moving.

 Pipeline Duties of pipeline workers vary.  Here, a GI unloads pumps.

From December 1944 to VJ Day, Allied troops in Assam, North and Central Burma, and China received more than 150,000,000 gallons of fuel through the pipeline.  In addition, other deliveries were made to points between Tinsukia and the southern pipeline stations at Calcutta and Chittagong.

 Pipeline The pumps and engines receive constant care and are checked often to be sure steady pressure is delivered.  The amount of pressure produced at the pumps determines the quantity of fuel which pours through the line.

 Pipeline Because of the pipeline, this convoy at a rest area along the Stilwell Road was able to stop carrying aircraft fuel and divert its cargo space to other needed materials.

 Pipeline Heavy bulldozers aid Indian laborers to haul pipe.

 Pipeline Engineer operates valve along the world's longest pipeline.
(Cover Photo)


Dedicated to the men of the Engineer Petroleum Distribution Companies

U.S. Army - China-Burma-India Theater - World War II

Special thanks to Thomas R. Foltz, CBI Veteran of the 789th EPD, for providing the
December 8, 1945 China-Burma-India Edition of YANK on which this page is based.

Copyright © 2006 Carl Warren Weidenburner