Monday, October 21, 2013

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KOHIMA: No quarter was asked, and none was given - S.L.

The Battle of Kohima was the turning point of the Japanese U Go offensive into India in 1944 in the Second World War. The battle was fought from 4 April to 22 June 1944 around the town of Kohima in northeast India.

The battle took place in three stages. From 3 to 16 April, the Japanese attempted to capture Kohima ridge, a feature which dominated the road by which the besieged British and Indian troops of IV Corps at Imphal were supplied. By mid-April, the small British force at Kohima was relieved, and from 18 April to 13 May, British and Indian reinforcements counter-attacked to drive the Japanese from the positions they had captured.

The siege began on 6 April. The garrison was continually shelled and mortared, in many instances by Japanese using weapons and ammunition captured at Sangshak and from other depots, and was slowly driven into a small perimeter on Garrison Hill. They had artillery support from the main body of 161st Brigade, who were themselves cut off 2 miles away at Jotsoma, but, as at Sangshak, they were very short of drinking water. The water supply point was on GPT Ridge, which was captured by the Japanese on the first day of the siege. Some of its defenders were unable to retreat to other positions on the ridge and instead withdrew towards Dimapur. Canvas water tanks on FSD and at the Indian General Hospital had neither been filled nor dug in to protect them from fire. However, a small spring was discovered on the north side of Garrison Hill, but it could be reached only at night.

Some of the heaviest fighting took place at the north end of Kohima Ridge, around the Deputy Commissioner's bungalow and tennis court, in what became known as the Battle of the Tennis Court. The tennis court became a no man's land, with the Japanese and the defenders of Kohima dug in on opposite sides, so close to each other that grenades were thrown between the trenches. On the night of 17/18 April, the Japanese finally captured the DC's bungalow area. Other Japanese captured Kuki Picquet, cutting the garrison in two. The defenders' situation was desperate, but the Japanese did not follow up by attacking Garrison Hill, and when daylight broke, troops of 161st Indian Brigade arrived to relieve the garrison.

The medical dressing stations were exposed to Japanese fire, and wounded men were often hit again as they waited for treatment.

The Japanese abandoned the ridge at this point but continued to block the Kohima–Imphal road. From 16 May to 22 June, the British and Indian troops pursued the retreating Japanese and reopened the road. The battle ended on 22 June when British and Indian troops from Kohima and Imphal met at Milestone 109, ending the siege of Imphal.

Gurkhas advance up the Imphal Road.

The Tennis Court today.

When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow,
We gave Our Today.
- John Maxwell Edmonds [1875 - 1958]

Lots of VCs earned . . . we have to live for those who didn't, and make up for their loss.

That is one huge bill.



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