They say”Never judge a book by its cover.”Well I don’t agree with that. Especially when I’ve an Osprey Book in front of me. In fact I’d go as far to say the reverse actually, I mean look at the artwork. It’s going to be rip roaring from the start.

This offering is no different and rewards the reader tenfold even upon the first few pages. As for the subject matter it’s not new or groundbreaking, however, and I have read a lot of the information before in other Osprey titles but the format is good and a versusoutlook maybe a commercial move as it were but it works nonetheless. So, what is under the cover? As the title suggests, this is a curious one.

The Chindits: A rare, hard breed indeed. Formed in India in 1943 they fought in the jungles of India and Burma with devastating effect. They were a military success born to serve their forward thinking commander Orde Wingate in the deadly art of guerrilla warfare. Experts on ambush techniques and booby-traps their hit and run techniques and tenacity in a fight made them feared, loathed and respected by their Japanese enemy.

In a War so far removed from the rolling fields and hills of Europe it was a harsh and brutal conflict with an equally harsh and unforgiving landscape. It took men like the Chindits to carve out an existence in such a hell and bring the fighting to the enemy where they least expected.  It came with a price though, diseases like dysentery and malaria riddled the men and general malnutrition turned the fittest and toughest of these warriors to mere shadows of themselves.

Debates still continue to this day about their actual achievements. One can debate all day long but one thing remains, though, these men named after a mythical beast were the bogeymen of the jungle.

As for the Japanese who faced them, they were no idle warriors themselves. Men of the Japanese 18th Division who’s first hand accounts are used here were already hardened veterans by the time they met their match in the Chindits. Savage fighters in a savage environment they fought pound for pound and inch for inch in the harshest terrain encountered in WW2. Fanatically loyal and brutal to the last these men were like ghosts to their enemies.

The stage was set, the world waited and then these two monsters of the sweat and malaria filled humid jungles burst into life with a terrifying thunderclap that was to be ferocious as it was sporadic. The book is crammed full of campaign maps, photographs and the usual wealth of knowledge. It’s a taster book so if its ‘your thing’ be prepared to be searching the Osprey catalogue for their other Chindit/Japanese titles…… Oh hang on, there’s a guide in the back of the book for further reading.These guys think of everything.  Scratch and sniff books  nextOsprey?

The War in the Far East raged on long after the last person had left Trafalgar square bleary eyed , or the last of the bunting had fluttered above the street where so many had partied on VE Day. For those left in the jungles of Burma and India it was to be a summer of further fighting and murderous campaigning before the end was in sight.For the lucky ones, they returned home; sadly not to a heroes welcome though, but that’s a story for another day.

Reviewed by Phil Hodges for War History Online.

By Jon Diamond

Phil Hodges

Phil Hodges is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE