26 MARCH 1954, Page 7

G ene ral s ,, ral Claire Chennault, whose fleet of transport planes

vvi„"PPlementing the air lift to Dien Bien. Phu, is a stocky man use', a brown, lined, weather-beaten face; his appearance tk" to call to my mind Fenimore Cooper's stock phrase, 0, ye sagacious Redskin." It was, however, pugnacity rather t'raint. sagacity which first brought him into contact with the oa foish in the last war. Before Pearl Harbour he had raised r force of fighters, known as the American Volunteer Group China0m their unit sign) as the Flying Tigers, for service in the and these gallant soldiers of fortune intervened against of ,;;Ipanese Air Force oV,eraRangoon in the disastrous winter and thus under the command of General Stilwell, who was himself—on paper—subordinate both to Wavell, and later Mountbatten, in India and to Chiang Kai-shek in China. Stilwell, a remarkably disagreeable man, was jealous of Chennault and always tried to do him down; but in spite of this, and of having to be supplied over the Hump, the 14th Air Force had a distinguished record. After the war Chennault retired from the service, married a Chinese lady and started up a commercial air line in China. When fighting began between the Communists and the Nationalists, he was often involved in- the sort of jobs he is now doing in Indo-China; and when the Communist victory was complete his planes, with- drawn to Hongkong, became the bone of contention in a protracted law suit, the outcome of which I cannot recall. Both the nature and the scale of Chennault's operations make him, I should imagine, a unique figure among privateers in twentieth-century Asia.