The Rice Paddy Navy, US Sailors Undercover in China, Linda Kush

The Rice Paddy Navy, US Sailors Undercover in China, Linda Kush

The Sino-American Cooperative Organization was an unusual group that was originally formed in an attempt to get US Naval weather forecasters into China, but that eventually expanded into a major training and intelligence organisation. Soon after their entry into the Second World War the Americans realised that they would need weather reports from China if they were to be able to accurately forecast the weather out in the Pacific theatre. There was also a wide-spread belief that the US would have to carry out a landing on the Chinese coast if they were to defeat the Japanese, so an intelligence organisation would be needed on the Japanese occupied coastline. In order to gain Chinese approval the US Navy agreed to train Chinese troops in guerrilla warfare and to provide military equipment for them. The resulting organisation was thus much larger than originally expected, and carried out a wide range of activities.

This is an intriguing story. The main characters are Milton Miles, the American leader of SACO and Dai Li, the chief of Chiang Kai-shek's military intelligence service and a much feared spy. The relationship between those two men, and between Miles and his fellow (or rival) American leaders make up the heart of the book, although there is plenty of material on SACO's actual operations as well. These included some direct involvement in the fighting against the Japanese, the creation of a major training network and a rare example of successful cooperation with the Chinese military. This owed much to Miles's attitude to his hosts, which differed greatly from the patronising approach of the old 'China hands', and provides a useful lesson in how to work in a unfamiliar culture.

Part 1:  Setting the Stage for the Rice Paddy Navy
1 - The US Navy Mission in China
2 - A Handshake Creates the Sino-American Cooperation Organisation

Part 2: A Strange Cast in a Strange Drama
3 - China in Turmoil
4 - Dai Li and Milton Miles

Part 3: SACO from the Ground Up
5 - Building the Rice Paddy Navy
6 - Happy Valley, SACO Headquarters
7 - Backstage SACO: India and Over the Hump

Part 4: SACO's Battle Within the US Military
8 - SACO and the OSS: A Shaky Alliance
9 - A Landlocked Navy in Stormy Seas

Part 5: Operations and the SACO Experience
10 - Teaching: A Learning Experience
11 - Doing Something About the Weather
12 - Intelligence: Radios, Spies and Coast Watchers
13 - Life as a SACO
14 - Secret Adventures Revealed

Part 6: Amazing Groups Among Remarkable Men
15 - The Yangtze River Raiders
16 - The Crown Jewel on the Gobi Desert
17 - The Sailors and the Flyboys
18 - Adventures with Pirates, a Princess and a Priest

Part 7: The Adventure's End
19 - It's All Over
20 - Wrapping Up and Looking Back

Author: Linda Kush
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 293
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2012

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