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THE FIRST OVERLAND
FOUR WHEELS & FRONTIERS
by

Roy Follows C.P.M. F.R.G.S

"An adventure story of human ingenuity...unlikely ever to be repeated."
 

HIGHWAY THROUGH HELL

THE LEDO/STILLWELL ROAD

 

Ledo a small village in the far corner of N E India, 15 miles from the Burmese frontier, is not shown on all maps it certainly wasn’t on ours. However, it was here, in 1942 that US Army engineers began hacking a military supply route through the Burmese jungle, and which, when completed, would link to an existing road some 55 miles west of Myitkyina. From this point the road went on to Bhamo, and eventually the Burma Road in to China. 

Under the command of General (Vinegar Joe) Stillwell, 28,000 US military personnel, and 35,000 native workers, laboured for more than two years on the Ledo project. During, its construction, tropical diseases, and accidents claimed hundreds of lives, additionally, many more were killed by Japanese snipers. 

Wriggling its way for approximately 250 miles through the jungle, the Ledo Road was in use for just seven months, up until September 1945 when the Japanese surrendered and hostilities ceased. No longer required, the $150 million jungle track was abandoned, and subsequently reclaimed by the jungle. 

‘Winston Churchill tersely predicted that the Ledo Project would be ‘An immense, laborious task, unlikely to be finished until the need for it had passed.’ 

‘The road’ constructed along the edges of mountainous defiles, through deep gorges, raging rapids and some of the worlds most impenetrable jungle, must stand as one of the greatest, but sadly unrecognised, engineering feats of World War II.

 


Foreword
Rt.Hon.Lord Steel of Aikwood
President of The Historic Endurance Rally Organisation (HERO Club)
"An adventure story of human ingenuity...unlikely ever to be repeated."

ISBN 0 9537577 8 1

Price: £19.95

AVAILABILITY FROM OCTOBER 2005
 

'This adventure took place in an old war-time Willys MB Jeep back in 1958. In comparison, today's style of off-roading is tame and uneventful.' MARK ASKEW JEEP BOOKS LIMITED

'Roy Follows and Noel Dudgeon have achieved an extraordinary thing. The least we lesser mortals can do is read the fascinating story.' MATTHEW PARRIS THE TIMES ROOM HOUSE OF COMMONS

' As the organiser of the RAINFOREST CHALLENGE, one of the most demanding 4x4, off-road events in the world, I wish to salute Roy Follows and Noel Dudgeon for truly living out their passion for adventure and taking on a challenge of a lifetime.' LUIS J A WEE FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL RAINFOREST CHALLENGE OF MALAYSIA

"What about overland?'' I quipped, chewing on a wad of salted fish,running the spoon around my mess tin, chasing the last few grains of rice. The minute Noel looked up, I knew he was hooked on the idea of driving home."

This chance remark made in a jungle den, deep in the heart of Malaya, was the catalyst to a unique overland adventure. At the time, Roy Follows and his firm friend Noel Dudgeon were Colonial police officers, engaged in a lethal war fighting Chinese Communists in the Malay Emergency. One year later, in February 1958, they'd purchased anex-army Willys Jeep from a scrap yard and were meandering through the Communist infested Thai jungle, heading for England.

Underterred by the disclaimer, 'Enter Burma at own risk' endorsed in their passports, the fearless duo take on the challenge of the infamous Ledo Road, while over in Baluchistan, they resolve a life-threatening ambush with the outward calm of nipping to the corner shop for a pint of milk.

In the spirit of true adventure, this expedition wasn't attached to the umbilical cord of a mobile phone or G.P.S. Furthermore, every potential sponsor believed the journey would be impossible, so when the going got tough there was no comfort blanket.

To date, Roy Follows has featured in several radio and television documentaries including Empire Warriors [BBC 2]. His previous book THE JUNGLE BEAT, details how Follows survived in the Malay jungle and is believed to be staple reading for aspiring recruits in the S.A.S.

Fluent in Cantonese, Noel Dudgeon, was the distinct other half of this venture. During his service in the Malay police, Dudgeon commanded a unit of surrendered Chinese terrorists known as the Special Operation Volunteer Force, and undertook covert operations against the Communist guerrillas. Dudgeon later served in Vietnam with the Australian Army, and American Special Forces. He completed his career as a Major in the Australian S.A.S. More recently, Dudgeon's quest for adventure has included white water rafting and planning The Great Camel Race traversing the breadth of Australia.

Delux casebound, 210 pages 70 + Photographs / Documents

 

A little about the journey:

To overcome the long and unknown distances between fuel availability, we had long range petrol tanks fitted in the rear of the Jeep.  These two tanks, of which the scrap yard obtained and fitted came off a couple of ex British Army trucks.  When the Jeep was loaded with petrol, there was over 45 gallons sloshing about - an inferno waiting.  From the map below, you will see that Lashio is/was the last place for petrol (no pumps - it was sold in 5 gallon tins) until well into India.  In Lashio we took on board as much petrol as we could carry, hoping that it would be enough to get us through;  we even made sure the cooking stove was full to the brim, but even with all this amount of fuel, we still ran out.  The Jeep spluttered to a halt miles from anywhere along the Ledo/Stillwell Road.

MAPS OF BURMA
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