George Rodger traveled 75,000 miles photographing World War II for LIFE magazine.
Here are some of his photos from 1942 Burma, captioned in his own words.

Halfway across the world, I walk into evacuated Rangoon in Burma and find the houses blazing along deserted streets. The Japanese are 30 miles away. The one undismayed force in Burma were unforgettable heroes of the Flying Tigers on airfield north of Rangoon. They were a new type of fighting man.
The last American trucks to get up the Burma Road to China with military supplies. I get a complete picture story on the Burma Road just as it becomes useless. The saddest flight I saw was the exodus of Burma's Indian artisians from Burma, suffering robbery and murder by Burmese who had always despised them.
Oilfields of Yenangyaung have not yet been blown up when I ride through ahead of Japs. My best friend now is my jeep, obtained under lend-lease to China. A famous meeting at Maymyo shown (from left) Generalissimo Chiang, Madame Chiang, Author Clare Boothe, General Stilwell, publicist Hollington Tong.
We decided to clear out of Burma by going through the unexplored Naga Hills. Here we get a 50-gal. drum of gasoline and inaccurate maps of the Naga country. Our two jeeps cross the Irrawaddy at Bhamo. Currents spin rafts around, nearly dumping jeeps in river. The trick is to balance the jeeps in center of raft.
We get a lift on the railway from Myitkyina to Mogaung. Chinese characters were written by officials at Rangoon who lent us jeeps to drive to Burma Road. Kachin tribesmen, many of whom had never seen a wheel, let alone a jeep, admire it. They told one another how it flew, swam, roared like a tiger when angry.
The rains had come and made clay ox tracks all but impassable. One jeep pulls other out of bog. Behind is the green jungle of tigers, leopards, huge snakes. We have to widen this foot bridge to get the jeeps across, for river is too deep to ford. The only tool used by Kachins is the dah, a big, broad-bladed sword.
It takes 50 Kachin tribesmen all morning to haul my jeep up the slipping 20-ft. bank of this stream. We travel from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the driving rain. The track almost disappears in one of the steaming, malarial tropical valleys where vast herds of wild elephants roam between 12,000-ft. mountain ranges.
The final disaster comes when both jeeps skid down 200-ft. ravine. It is impossible to get up the muddy hill so we have to abandon our jeeps, proceed on foot. The Naga head-hunters cheerfully help us out on a promise of getting paid in Assam. Communication is hopeless until they recognize name of destination - Ledo.
I cross an amazing Naga bridge of bamboo. The curse of this trip is the plague of big purple leeches crawling up legs and down collar, leaving running wounds. Trailed by head-hunter carriers, I come down the homestretch. Here my film gives out so my photographic story ends just before I reach civilization in Assam.
George Rodger behind bullet-shattered window of jeep he was riding in while photographing action in Burma.

 George Rodger biography George Rodger
LIFE Photographer

Adapted from the August 10, 1942 issue of LIFE. Portions copyright 1942 Time, Inc.


Site statistics