Death of Major-General Orde Wingate

Major-General Orde Wingate inside a C-47 transport plane
General Wingate inside a C-47 transport plane.

© Crown Copyright Imperial War Museum (Ref MH7868)

On 24th March 1944 Wingate flew into Broadway in a B-25 Mitchell bomber from 1st Air Commandos. From there he visited the White City and Aberdeen Strongholds. After returning to Broadway he flew on to Imphal to meet Air Marshall Baldwin and from there he set off back to Lalaghat. Wingate's plane crashed on the return journey in the hills around Bishenpur. All on board were killed including a number of war correspondents. The exact cause of the accident is not known. There were reports of isolated storms in the area and also that the one of the B-25's engine was not developing full power.

Wingate's death was a serious blow to the Chindits and changed the course of the rest of the Chindit campaign.

When news of Wingate's death reached 77th Brigade, Brigadier Calvert commented 'Who will look after us now?'

Admiral Lord Mountbatten, Commander in Chief South East Asia Command, issued the following Order of the Day to Special Force,

General Wingate has been killed in the hour of his triumph. The Allies have lost one of the most forceful and dynamic personalities that this war has produced. You have lost the finest and most inspiring leader a force could have wished for, and I have lost a personal friend and faithful supporter. He has lit the torch. Together we must grasp it and carry it forward. Out of your gallant and hazardous expedition into the heart of Japanese held territory will grow the final re-conquest of Burma and the ultimate defeat of the Japanese. He was so proud of you. I know you will live up to his expectations.