1stLt Charles "Shorty"
Liston was a USAAF 1st Air Commando Glider Pilot (1st Air Commando was commanded by Colonel Phillip
Cochran) who worked to provide supplies and personnel to operations behind enemy lines in Burma.
Operations included support of British and O.S.S. operations. On 6 March, 1944, during Operation Thursday (depicted in photographs
on the web site), 1stLt Liston's glider cable snapped and his glider, already at a low altitude behind the C-47 in a double
tow configuration, immediately crashed. He received a leg wound but he and Lt Evans
were able to escape into the jungle with some of the Chindits.
The 19 March 1944 New
York Times reported this information: It is apparently not about the crash after which Lt Liston was captured, because, in
this story, he was rescued.
"Allied Glider Men Flee
The second glider was
forced down a mile and a half from an enemy garrison and the occupants escaped by swimming a half-mile stretch of the river.
They were rescued by plane. Lt Bruce Evans of Riverside,
CA, said the party barely eluded pursuing Japanese.
Lt. Evans and Lt. Charles D. Liston of Adel, Iowa, told of their game of hide and seek with the enemy in a night chase though the jungle.
They were recuperating in a base hospital. The glider was crushed like a match box in its crash. "Most of us," said Lt. Evans," were stunned for a few minutes, but no one was seriously hurt. Liston was injured in the
leg, and while a British Sergeant gave him first aid, the rest of us got guns, medicine, and food our of the wreckage." Almost
immediately they heard men coming through the jungle, and started crawling towards the river. "After a half-mile walk we came
to the bank of the Chindwin and heard three shots behind us," said Liston. "We couldn't find
anything to make into a raft and Evans and myself were the only persons who could
It took Lt. Evans an hour to swim the Chindwin, and he landed two miles downstream,
exhausted. Most of the morning he could hear shooting around him. Once a machine gun barked only one hundred yards away in
the jungle. "I came to a village," Lt Evans said," "and the village head man came
up, and I wanted food and water. He furnished eggs, rice wine, and tea. While I ate, two Burmese suddenly stepped out in front
of me, armed to the teeth. They turned out to be Allied scouts. They took me to a scout camp, where the British Captain organized
a rescue party to go out and look for the rest. Friendly natives built a short runway in a rice field and I got a broken down
radio working and messaged for a rescue plane. The next day a plane landed and brought me in."
Major General George
E. Stratemeyer, Commanding General, USAAF India-Burma, announced the award of one of two Air Medals to Lt. Liston. An abstract
of the citation reads:
hazardous double-tow operations without benefit of guide lights due to the proximity to the enemy, they crossed the 7,000
foot range of mountains during which they encountered haze conditions which continued for the remainder of the mission –
approximately 4 to 5 hours – fully realizing the impossibility of return, regardless of conditions encountered at their
destination, in as much as the tow planes were flying their maximum distance with such an overload. Landing in territory known
to be patrolled by the enemy, they encountered innumerable obstructions making a successful landing, without crashing, very
nearly impossible. In spite of the hazards involved, they displayed great skill in accomplishment of these landings which
resulted in a minimum of casualties. After landing, they aided in clearing the field for subsequent glider landings, and later
assisted in the construction of a landing strip suitable for transport aircraft, a task requiring twelve hours for completion
– although their physical had been taxed to the utmost by the strenuous nature of the flight just completed. Their successful
accomplishment of this flight with a display of devotion to duty and to a degree of efficiency above and beyond that normally
expected reflects great credit upon themselves and upon the Army Air Forces of the United States. [quoted from the Dallas County News]
After Lt. Liston's
capture, a short-wave radio operator picked up radio traffic from Burma
and sent the Liston's this letter: Your son is one of two survivors of a glider flight. He was captured in the jungle by a
Jap patrol and is now a prisoner of the Japs in Burma.
"Humanity Calls" program over Radio Tokyo gave a dramatization of the flight. They were attacked by zeros and shot down like
clay pigeons. Your son slightly injured (leg) but not broken. Not serious. The other survivor was Sgt. Fletcher Hart of 108 Cypress Ave., Kansas
Letters from the Army
and War Department were infrequent and uninformative until it was confirmed that Lt. Liston was a prisoner and had subsequently
perished at the Rangoon Prison Camp in Burma.