Colonel Tsuchiya has long advocated a thrust into British India, citing as proof the near-daily supply flights to Chiang Kai-Shek in China that were lifting off from Indian airfields. His commanders, though, were far more interested in consolidating their control of Burma and insisted that no attacks could take place until the twin difficulties of supply and terrain could be successfully surmounted.

Tsuchiya, unable to wait, acted without orders and destroyed his radio set so that no recall message would be received. He sent a large force into India to probe the British positions–nearly half a division of veteran troops all told. However, he was unable to procure any topographical maps, having to rely instead on a National Geographic world map and a series of last-position measurements made with a sextant.

Three days into the attack, Tsuchiya fell ill with malaria and left for his starting point, leaving one Major Meguro in charge of the thrust. All contact was quickly lost in the thick jungle, and for some time the only news Tsuchiya heard came to him from the BBC, which reported Japanese troops in the area but no fighting. Nearth three months passed without any word, during which time Tsuchiya was able to claim his full strength on paper in the absence of an official inspection.

Finally, a group of ragged men stumbled out of the jungle near the colonel’s camp. Three of the men died of exhaustion and starvation before they could receive medical care, and another died when gorging on food proved too much for his weakened system. The only survivor to meet with Tsuchiya was Major Meguro, a shell of his former self, who was able to mutter a few words about the death of all the men under his command and pass a piece of rice paper to his commander.

The paper, the only record of the ill-starred expedition, read “nturta tiil”