Imphal War Cemetery
Imphal is the capital of the State of Manipur in north-east India and borders on Upper Burma. The easiest route from Burma to India is through Imphal into Assam. After the invasion of Burma in the 1939-1945 War, Imphal became a focal point in the defence of India against the Japanese and the 900-mile retreat to India of the British Fourteenth Army ended there. In the spring of 1944 the Japanese, having taken Burma, tried to invade India but their advance was held round Imphal by the Indian IV Corps. Although completely surrounded by the Japanese and totally dependent on supply by air, the corps stood firm from the end of March until they were relieved late in June. During this period, the Japanese made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to break into the plain beyond but eventually were forced to withdraw through lack of supplies and loss of men, whereupon the initiative passed decisively to the Commonwealth forces.
There were originally over 900 burials in the war cemetery but, after hostilities had ceased, burials from isolated sites and two smaller cemeteries at Imphal were brought in. The cemetery contains 1,300 British burials, 10 Canadian, five Australian, 220 Indian, 40 East African, and 10 each from Burma and West Africa. The graves are marked by bronze plaques.
Kohima War Cemetery
Kohima is a town 4,500 feet above sea level in the Naga Hills of East Assam. It marks the farthest point reached by the Japanese in their attempted invasion of India in the spring of 1944 and was the scene of protracted, bitter and close fighting. On Garrison Hill a small force resisted repeated attacks by the Japanese, eventually drove them off, and re-opened the road to Imphal. It was during this fighting that the heaviest casualties were sustained. Hand-to-hand fighting took place in the Deputy Commissioner's bungalow where, for a time, the tennis court was part of No-Man's-Land. Kohima War Cemetery is on Garrison Hill. The graves are marked by bronze plaques, as they are at Imphal. The Cross of Sacrifice stands on a visitors' shelter to the side of the tennis court, which has been preserved, though the original white lines have been replaced by ones of concrete. The cemetery contains nearly 1,100 British burials, five Canadian and 330 Indian. There is also an Indian Cremation Memorial which commemorates by name over 900 other Indians (Gurkhas) who were cremated. An eye-catching feature is a private memorial to the British 2nd Division. It is a large stone, such as the Nagas use to commemorate their dead, and stands in front of a semi-circle of bronze panels bearing the names of units of the division. When all mechanical means to move the memorial along the mountainous roads and tracks had failed, the stone was pulled and put into position by a hundred or more Naga tribesmen using nothing but human muscle-power and a sledge.
|The text on this page has been taken from Courage Remembered, by Kingsley Ward and Major Edwin Gibson.|