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Elephants Help Allies Fly The Hump In W.W.II

May 21, 2015


I recognize that is a strange headline for something that happened over 70 years ago. Nonetheless, the important role of elephants in this very vital military operation just recently came to light for those of us deeply involved in elephant minutiae. However, first we need some background for the younger folk as to what "flying the hump" was all about.

Flying the hump was the name chosen by allied pilots flying supplies over the Himalaya Mountains from India to China during the Second World War. The Air Transport Command of the US Air Force and China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) flew over 700,000 tons of supplies to Kunming, China from 1942 to the end of the war. In fact, the first mission was to resupply Doolittle's Raiders in April, 1942 following the first US air raid on the Japanese home islands. CNAC Captain Moon Chin who flew Doolittle from China to Burma is still with us and lives in Hillsborough, California. Doolittle's Co-pilot lives near Comfort, Texas, the home of The Elephant Story. 
 

An important component of the materials and supplies flown was fuel in 55 Gallon drums. As such drums can weigh over 300 pounds, a convenient forklift was needed though no such device existed in India at that time. On the other hand, there were elephants accustomed to carrying massive teak logs. 
 

Apart from carrying the drum, it had to be lifted into the aircraft. 
 
In another instance, an elephant was able to provide transportation to the crew of a CNAC plane that crashed in a rice paddy on take off. Indian paddy may grow the best Basmati rice around but they are filled with loads of fungus that are hazardous to one's feet. 
 

Flying the hump was a dangerous business given the high altitude and difficult weather conditions. One of the peaks they flew over translated into English as "Elephant Head Gouge Mountain" as when elephants used a game trail on one side of the mountain, they had to turn a corner that was so steep that their tusks scrapped groves in the mountain.

We all owe a special thanks to the brave flight crews with us today and a place in our memory for the over thirteen hundred air crewman who perished. Also, a word for the elephants giving them a helping trunk along the way would be appropriate.

 

Vietnam Era Jungle Fatigue Jackets with Vintage Hmong Fabric

From 1961 until April 1975, 125,000 Hmong Hill tribe people served in the CIA's secret war in Laos. Approximately 39,000 of them were killed in action. Following the end of the war, the Pathet Lao and Vietnamese advisers killed another 230,000 Hmong people.

The Elephant Story purchases vintage Hmong fabric in The Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar join and applies the vintage Hmong fabric to Vietnam era fatigue jackets in memory of these courageous fighters.


$450.00 - $495.00