Films tell story of WWII elephant rescue in Burma

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British tea planter Gyles Mackrell organized one of the most remarkable rescue missions during World War II — by using elephants when nothing else would do.

Now researchers have released new information that tells, for the first time, the full story of Mackrell's successful effort to use the animals to evacuate hundreds of desperate Burmese refugees stranded by a rain-swollen river. On Monday, Britain's Cambridge University put online a video shot by Mackrell, which together with his diaries and other documents brings to life a feat that with time had faded from public memory.

The material explains how Mackrell, who spent most of his life working as a planter for a tea company in British India, came to the aid of masses of people desperate to escape Burma as the Japanese army advanced. Through his work, he had access to elephants — the only safe way to cross the roiling Dapha river at the Indian border....

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