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Battle of Kohima
Part of the Burma Campaign of the Second World War
File:IND 003698 Garrison Hill Kohima.jpg
View of the Garrison Hill battlefield, the key to the British defences at Kohima.
Date 4 April – 22 June 1944
Location KohimaNagalandBritish India
Coordinates25.668°N 94.103°E
Result Decisive British victory
United Kingdom United Kingdom 

Empire of Japan Japan
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Montagu Stopford Empire of Japan Kotoku Sato
at start:
approx. 1 Infantry Brigade 1500 men fit for duty
at end:
2 Infantry Divisions
1 “Chindit” Brigade
1 Motor Brigade
1 Infantry Division 12,000–15,000 
Casualties and losses

The Battle of Kohima was the turning point of the Japanese U Go offensiveinto 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. It is often referred to as the “Stalingrad of the East“.

The battle took place in three stages. From 3 April 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 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.

IV Corps
Active 1914 – c1918
1940 – 1945
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Engagements 1st Battle of Ypres
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
2nd Battle of Ypres
Battle of Aubers Ridge
Battle of Festubert
Battle of Loos
Operations on the Ancre
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
Battle of Cambrai
1st & 2nd Battles of the Somme 1918
Battles of the Hindenburg Line
The Final Advance in Picardy
Norwegian campaign
Burma Campaign
Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson
Lieutenant-General Claude Auchinleck
Lieutenant-General Noel Irwin
Lieutenant-General Geoffrey Scoones
Lieutenant-General Frank Messervy


The Japanese plan to invade India, codenamed U-Go, was originally intended as a spoiling attack against the British IV Corps at Imphal in Manipur, to disrupt the Allied offensive plans for that year. The commander of the Japanese Fifteenth ArmyLieutenant General Renya Mutaguchi,

Renya Mutaguchi

Lieutenant General Renya Mutaguchi
Born October 7, 1888
Saga prefectureJapan
Died August 2, 1966 (aged 77)
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service 1910 -1945
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held IJA 18th Division, IJA 15th Army
Battles/wars Siberian Intervention
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II

enlarged the plan to invade India itself and perhaps even overthrow the British Raj.

The British Raj (rāj, lit. “reign” in Hindi)was British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947. The term can also refer to the period of dominion.The region under British control, commonly called India in contemporary usage, included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom (contemporaneously British India), as well as the princely states ruled by individual rulers under the paramountcy of the British Crown. The region was less commonly also called the Indian Empire by the British.As “India”, it was afounding member of the League of Nations, and a participating nation in theSummer Olympics in 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932, and 1936.

Indian Empire
Colony of the United Kingdom



Flag Star of India
God Save the King/Queen
The British Indian Empire in 1936
Capital Calcutta (1858–1912)
New Delhi (1912–1947)
Simla (Summer)
Languages English, Hindustani andmany local languages
Government Constitutional Monarchy
Emperor (1876–1947)
 – 1858–1901 Victoria 1
 – 1901–1910 Edward VII
 – 1910–1936 George V
 – 1936 Edward VIII
 – 1936–1947 George VI
Viceroy 2
 – 1858–1862 Charles Canning (first)
 – 1947 Louis Mountbatten (last)
Legislature Imperial Legislative Council
 – Indian Rebellion of 1857 10 May 1857
 – Government of India Act 1858 2 August 1858
 – Indian Independence Act 1947 15 August 1947
 – Partition of India 15 August 1947
Currency British Indian rupee

Preceded by

Succeeded by
Company rule in India
Mughal Empire
Ahom Kingdom
Union of India
Dominion of Pakistan
British Burma
Today part of  India

The objections of the staffs of various headquarters were eventually overcome, and Mutaguchi’s plan was approved by War Minister Hideki Tojo.


This article contains Japanesetext. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbolsinstead of kanji and kana.

Hideki Tōjō
東條 英機
Prime Minister of Japan
Leader of the Taisei Yokusankai
In office
17 October 1941 – 22 July 1944
Monarch Shōwa
Preceded by Fumimaro Konoe
Succeeded by Kuniaki Koiso
Personal details
Born 30 December 1884
Hamachi district of Tokyo,Empire of Japan
Died 23 December 1948 (aged 63) executed by hanging
Tokyooccupied Japan
Political party Imperial Rule Assistance Association (1940–1945)
Other political
Independent (before 1940)
Spouse(s) Katsuko Ito
  • 3 sons
  • 4 daughters
Alma mater
Religion Shinto

Part of the plan involved sending the Japanese 31st Division (which was composed of 58th Regiment, 124th Regiment, 138th Regiment and 31st Mountain Artillery Regiment) to capture Kohima and thus cut off Imphal. Mutaguchi wished to exploit the capture of Kohima by pushing the 31st Division on to Dimapur, the vital railhead and logistic base in the Brahmaputra River valley.

Brahmaputra River
A view across the Brahmaputra near Sukleswar Ghat,GuwahatiAssamIndia.
Countries BangladeshIndiaChina
States AssamArunachal Pradesh
Autonomous Region Tibet
 – left Dibang River, Lohit River,Dhansiri River
 – right Kameng RiverRaidak River,Jaldhaka RiverTeesta River
City Guwahati
Source Chemayungdung Glacier 
 – location Himalayas, China
 – elevation 5,210 m (17,093 ft)
 – coordinates 30°23′N 82°0′E
Mouth Bay of Bengal
 – location Ganges DeltaBangladesh
 – elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 – coordinates 25°13′24″N 89°41′41″E
Length 2,900 km (1,800 mi) 
Basin 651,334 km2 (251,500 sq mi)
 – average 19,300 m3/s (681,600 cu ft/s)
 – max 100,000 m3/s (3,531,500 cu ft/s)
Map of the combined drainage basins of the Brahmaputra (violet), Ganges (orange), and Meghna (green).


The 31st Division’s commander, Lieutenant General Kotoku Sato, was unhappy with his role. He had not been involved in the planning of the offensive, and had grave misgivings about its chances. He had already told his staff that they might all starve to death. In common with many senior Japanese officers, Sato considered Mutaguchi a “blockhead”. He and Mutaguchi had also been on opposite sides during the split between the Toseiha and Kodoha factions within the Japanese Army during the early 1930s, and Sato believed he had reason to distrust Mutaguchi’s motives.



Imphal and Kohima Campaign

Starting on 15 March 1944, the Japanese 31st Division crossed the Chindwin River nearHomalin and moved northwest along jungle trails on a front almost 60 miles (97 km) wide.


The Chindwin at Homalin. The smaller, meandering Uyu Rivercan be seen joining the Chindwin.
Origin Burma
Basin countries Burma
Length 1,207 km (750 mi)
Source elevation 1,134 m (3,721 ft)

Although the march was arduous, good progress was made. The left wing of the division, consisting of the bulk of the 58th Regiment and commanded by the division’s Infantry Group commander, Major General Shigesaburo Miyazaki, was ahead of the neighbouring formation (the Japanese 15th Infantry Division) when they clashed with Indian troops covering the northern approaches to Imphal on 20 March.

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The Indian troops were the 50th Indian Parachute Brigade under Brigadier Maxwell Hope-Thompson, at Sangshak. Although they were not Miyazaki’s objective, he decided to clear them from his line of advance. The Battle of Sangshak continued for six days. The parachute brigade’s troops were desperately short of drinking water, but Miyazaki was handicapped by lack of artillery until near the end of the battle. Eventually, as some of the Japanese 15th Division’s troops joined the battle, Hope-Thompson withdrew. The 50th Parachute Brigade lost 600 men, while the Japanese had suffered over 400 casualties. Miyazaki had also captured some of the food and munitions that had been dropped by the Royal Air Force(RAF) to the defenders of Sangshak. However, his troops, who had the shortest and easiest route to Kohima, were delayed by a week.

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Meanwhile, the commander of the British Fourteenth Army, Lieutenant General William Slim, belatedly realised (partly from Japanese documents that had been captured at Sangshak) that a whole Japanese division was moving towards Kohima. He and his staff had originally believed that, because of the forbidding terrain in the area, the Japanese would only be able to send a regiment to take Kohima.

Field Marshal The Right Honourable
The Viscount Slim
William Slim in 1950
13th Governor-General of Australia
In office
8 May 1953 – 2 February 1960
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Sir William McKell
Succeeded by The Viscount Dunrossil
Personal details
Born 6 August 1891
United Kingdom
Died 14 December 1970 (aged 79)
LondonUnited Kingdom
Relations John Slim, 2nd Viscount Slim
Military service
Nickname(s) Uncle Bill
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg British Empire
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
British Raj Red Ensign.svg British Indian Army
Years of service 1914–1948
Rank Field Marshal
Commands Fourteenth Army
Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Battles/wars First World War 

Second World War

Awards Knight of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Knight of the Order of St John
Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)

The Allies were already hastily reinforcing the Imphal Front. As part of this move, the infantry and artillery of 5th Indian Infantry Divisionwere flown from the Arakan, where they had just participated in the defeat of a subsidiary Japanese offensive at the Battle of the Admin Box. While the main body of the division went to Imphal (where some units had been isolated and almost all of IV Corps’ reserves had already been committed), the 161st Indian Infantry Brigade, with 24th Mountain Artillery Regiment Indian Artillery attached, were flown to Dimapur.

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Slim knew that there were few fighting troops, as opposed to soldiers in line-of-communication units and supporting services, in Kohima and none at all at the vital base of Dimapur 30 miles (48 km) to the north, until 161st Brigade arrived. Dimapur contained an area of supply dumps 11 miles (18 km) miles long and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide. As the fall of Dimapur would have been disastrous for the Allies, Slim asked his superior, General George Giffard (commanding Eleventh Army Group), for more troops to protect Dimapur and to prepare to relieve Imphal.

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Early in March, the 23rd Long Range Penetration Brigade was removed from Major General Orde Wingate‘s Chindit force, and was dispatched by rail from around Lalaghat to Jorhat, 50 miles (80 km) north of Dimapur, where they could threaten the flank of any Japanese attack on the base. Giffard and General Claude Auchinleck, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Indian Army, also prepared to send the British 2nd Division and Indian XXXIII Corps HQ under Lieutenant General Montagu Stopford from reserve in southern and central India to Dimapur, by road and rail. The 7th Indian Infantry Division was also moved by road and rail from the Arakan to Dimapur.

Orde Charles Wingate

Orde Charles Wingate
Born 26 February 1903
Naini TalUttarakhand, India
Died 24 March 1944 (aged 41)
near BishnupurManipur, India
Place of burial initially near BishnupurManipur, India, later exhumed and reburied inArlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia, United States
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1921–44
Rank Major-General
Commands held Gideon Force
Battles/wars 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine
World War II
East African Campaign
Burma Campaign
Awards DSO (13 September 1938)
DSO (30 December 1941)
DSO (5 August 1943)
MID (1 April 1941)
Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck

Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck
Nickname The Auk
Born 21 June 1884
Aldershot, England, United Kingdom
Died 23 March 1981 (aged 96)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Raj Red Ensign.svg Indian Army
Years of service 1904–1947
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held
Battles/wars World War I

Mohmand Campaign (1935)
World War II:



Sir Montagu Stopford

Lieutenant General Sir Montagu Stopford
Born 16 November 1892
Died 10 March 1971 (aged 78)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1911 – 1949
Rank General
Commands held 17th Infantry Brigade
56th (London) Infantry Division
Staff College, Camberley
XII Corps
XXXIII Indian Corps
British Twelfth Army
South East Asia Command
Northern Command
Battles/wars First World War 

Second World War

Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches

Until XXXIII Corps headquarters could arrive at Dimapur, the HQ of 202 Line of Communication Area under Major General R.P.L. Ranking took command of the area.




Kohima Ridge

Kohima’s strategic importance in the wider 1944 Japanese Chindwin offensive lay in that it was the summit of a pass that offered the Japanese the best route from Burma into India. and through which ran the road which was the main supply route between the base at Dimapur in the Brahmaputra River valley, and Imphal, where three divisions of British and Indian troops faced the main Japanese offensive.

Kohima Ridge itself runs roughly north and south. The road from Dimapur to Imphal climbs to its northern end and runs along its eastern face. In 1944, Kohima was the administrative centre of Nagaland. The Deputy Commissionerwas Charles Pawsey. His bungalow stood on the hillside at a bend in the road, with its gardens and tennis court, and a clubhouse, on terraces above.Although some terraces around the village were cleared for cultivation, the steep slopes of the ridge were densely forested.

North of the ridge lay the densely inhabited area of Naga Village, crowned byTreasury Hill and Church Knoll (Baptist and other Christian missionaries had been active in Nagaland over the preceding half century). South and west of Kohima Ridge were GPT Ridge and the jungle-covered Aradura Spur.

The various British and Indian service troop encampments in the area gave their names to the features which were to be important in the battle e.g. “Field Supply Depot” became FSD Hill or merely FSD. The Japanese later assigned their own codenames to the features; for example, Garrison Hill was known asInu (dog) and Kuki Piquet as Saru (monkey). These were frequently-used names, and not generally as memorable as the British names which are used in most histories.

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Before the 161st Indian Brigade arrived, the only fighting troops in the Kohima area were the newly raised 1st Battalion, the Assam Regiment and a few platoons from the 3rd (Naga Hills) Battalion of the paramilitary Assam Rifles. Late in March 161st Brigade deployed in Kohima, but Major-General Ranking ordered them back to Dimapur, as it was felt initially that Dimapur had more strategic importance. Kohima was regarded as a roadblock, while Dimapur was the railhead where the majority of Allied supplies were stored.Slim also feared that the Japanese might leave only a detachment to contain the garrison of Kohima while the main body of the 31st Division moved by tracks to the east to attack Dimapur. To Slim’s relief, Sato concentrated on capturing Kohima. Early in the siege, on 8 April, Mutaguchi directly ordered Sato to send a detachment to advance on Dimapur. Sato unwillingly dispatched a battalion of the 138th Regiment but a few hours later Mutaguchi’s superior, Lieutenant General Masakasu Kawabe commanding Burma Area Army, vetoed the move.

Masakazu Kawabe

General Masakazu Kawabe
Native name 河辺 正三
Born December 5, 1886
Toyama Prefecture, Japan
Died March 2, 1965 (aged 78)
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service 1907–1945
Rank General
Commands held

As the right wing and centre of the Japanese 31st Division approached Jessami, 30 miles (48 km) to the east of Kohima, elements of the Assam Regiment fought delaying actions against them commencing on 1 April. Nevertheless, the men in the forward positions were soon overrun and the Assam regiment was ordered to withdraw. By the night of 3 April, Miyazaki’s troops reached the outskirts of the Naga village and began probing Kohima from the south.

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Stopford’s Corps HQ took over responsibility for the front from Ranking on 3 April. The next day, he ordered the 161st Indian Brigade to move forward to Kohima again, but only one battalion, 4th Bn. The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment (a forebear of thePrincess of Wales’s Royal Regiment), commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Laverty, and a company of the 4th Bn. the 7th Rajput Regiment arrived in Kohima before the Japanese cut the road west of the ridge. Besides these troops from 161st Brigade, the garrison consisted of a raw battalion (the Shere Regiment) from the Royal Nepalese Army,

Nepalese Army (नेपाली सेना)
Roundel of Nepal.svg
Flag of Nepalese Army
Active 1768 – present
Country Nepal Republic of Nepal
Allegiance Government of Nepal
Type Army
Size 105,000
Garrison/HQ Kathmandu
Engagements Battle against Mir Kassim 1763
Battle of Pauwa Gadhi against Captain Kinloch, 1767
Anglo-Nepal War 1814 AD
First Nepal – Tibet War
Nepal-Tibet/China War
Last Nepal-Tibet War
World War I (Casualties)
Nepalese Civil War
General Gaurav Shumsher JB Rana
Jang Bahadur RanaPrithvi Narayan Shah

some companies from the Burma Regiment, some of the Assam Regiment which had retired to Kohima and various detachments of convalescents and line-of-communication troops. The garrison numbered about 2,500, of which about 1,000 were non-combatants and was commanded by Colonel Hugh Richards, who had served formerly with the Chindits.

Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment
Royal West Kent Regiment helmet plate.jpg
Helmet Plate of The Royal West Kent Regiment
Active 1881–1961
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Infantry
Role Line Infantry
Size 1-2 Regular Battalions
1-2 Militia Battalions
2-4 Territorial and Volunteer Battalions
Up to 12 Hostilities-only Battalions
Garrison/HQ Maidstone, Kent
Nickname The Blind Half HundredThe Celestials,The Devils RoyalsThe Dirty Half Hundred
Motto Invicta (Invincible), Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt (Whither Duty and Glory Lead)
The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
Pwrr cap badge.jpg
Cap Badge of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment
Active 9 September 1992-Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Line Infantry
Role 1st Battalion — Light Infantry
2nd Battalion — Light Infantry
3rd Battalion — TA Reserve
Size Three battalions
Part of Queen’s Division
Garrison/HQ RHQ – Canterbury
1st Battalion – Paderborn, Germany
2nd Battalion – London
3rd Battalion – Canterbury
Motto Honi soit qui mal y pense ”Evil be to him who evil thinks”
March Quick – The Farmer’s Boy/Soldiers of the Queen
Slow – The Minden Rose
Colonel in Chief HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Colonel of
the Regiment
Brigadier Richard William Dennis OBE ADC
Tactical Recognition Flash PWRR TRF.svg
Arm Badge Tiger
From Royal Hampshire Regiment
Abbreviation PWRR

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

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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.

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The British 2nd Division, commanded by Major General John M. L. Grover, had begun to arrive at Dimapur in early April. By 11 April, Fourteenth Army had about the same number of troops in the area as the Japanese. The British 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division broke through Japanese roadblocks to relieve 161st Brigade in Jotsoma on 15 April. The British 6th Brigade took over 161st Brigade’s defensive position (the “Jotsoma Box”), allowing the 161st Brigade with air, artillery and armour support to launch an attack towards Kohima on 18 April. After a day’s heavy fighting, the leading troops of the Brigade (1st Bn. 1st Punjab Regiment) broke through and started to relieve the Kohima garrison. By this point, Kohima resembled a battlefield from the First World War, with smashed trees, ruined buildings and the ground covered in craters.

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Under cover of darkness, the wounded (numbering 300) were brought out under fire. Although contact had been established, it took a further 24 hours to fully secure the road between Jotsoma and Kohima. During 19 April and into the early hours of 20 April, the British 6th Brigade replaced the original garrison and at 06:00 hours on 20 April, the garrison commander (Colonel Richards) handed over command of the area.

Miyazaki continued to try to capture Garrison Hill, and there was heavy fighting for this position for several more nights, with high casualties, on both sides. The Japanese positions on Kuki Picquet were only 50 yards (46 m) from Garrison Hill, and fighting was often hand-to-hand. On the other flank of Garrison Hill, on the night of 26/27 April, a British attack recaptured the clubhouse above the Deputy Commissioner’s bungalow, which overlooked most of the Japanese centre.

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To support their attack on the ridge, the British had amassed thirty-eight 3.7 Inch Mountain Howitzers, forty-eight 25-pounder field gunsand two 5.5 inch medium guns. The RAF also bombed and strafed the Japanese positions. The Japanese could oppose them with only seventeen light mountain guns, with very little ammunition. Nevertheless, the progress of the British counter-attack was slow. Tanks could not be used, and the Japanese were very deeply dug in. Their positions were well-concealed and mutually supporting. The Japanese had reorganised their forces for defence. Their Left Force under Miyazaki held Kohima Ridge with four battalions. The divisional HQ under Sato himself and the Centre Force under Colonel Shiraishi held Naga Village with another four battalions. The much smaller Right Force held villages to the north and east.

Ordnance QF 3.7 inch mountain howitzer
3-7 inch mountain gun.jpg
A 3.7-inch QF mountain gun. Dated from 1939
Type Mountain gun
Place of origin United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1917–1960
Wars World War IWorld War II
Production history
Produced 1915–?
Weight 1,610 lb (730 kg)
Barrel length 3 ft 7.5 in (1.10 m)
Shell 20 lb HEShrapnel, Smoke,StarshellHEAT
Calibre 3.7 inches (94 mm)
Recoil Hydro-pneumatic, variable, 17.5–35 inch
Carriage Wheeled, split trail
Elevation −5° to +40°
Traverse 20° L & R
Muzzle velocity 973 ft/s (297 m/s)
Maximum range 5,899 yd (5,394 m)

File:Indian Army QF 3.7 inch gun battery Jerusalem 1917.jpg


Ordnance QF 25 pounder
25 Pounder Gun.JPG
Ordnance QF 25 pounder gun shown mounted on its firing platform, King Street West, Dundas, Hamilton, Canada.
Type Field gun/Howitzer
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1940-present
Used by See users
Wars World War II
Malayan Emergency
Korean war
Rhodesian Bush War
South African Border War
Dhofar Rebellion
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Sri Lankan Civil War
Iraq War
Production history
Designed 1930s
Manufacturer Royal Ordnance
Variants See variants
Specifications (Ordnance QF 25 pounder Mk II on Carriage 25 pounder Mk I)
Weight 1,633 kg (3,600 lb)
Length 4.6 m (15 ft 1 in) (muzzle to towing eye)
Barrel length 2.47 m (8 ft 1 in)
Width 2.13 m (7 ft) (width at wheel hubs)
Height 1.16 m (3 ft 10 in) (trunnion height)
Crew 6
Shell High Explosive
Shell weight 11.5 kg (25 lb) (HE including fuze)
Calibre 87.6 mm (3.45 in)
Breech Vertical sliding block
Recoil Hydro-pneumatic
Elevation -5° to 45°
(70° with dial sight adapter and digging trail pit or wheel mounds)
Traverse 4° Left & Right (top traverse)
360° (platform)
Rate of fire Gunfire, 6-8 rpm
Intense, 5 rpm
Rapid, 4 rpm
Normal, 3 rpm
Slow, 2 rpm
Very slow, 1 rpm
Muzzle velocity 198 – 532 m/s
(649 – 1,745 ft/s)
Maximum range 12,253 m (13,400 yd) (HE shell)
Sights Calibrating & reciprocating

File:25 pounder base charges diagrams.jpg

File:QF 25 pounder Ammunition-001.jpg

 Ammunition used on the Ordnance QF 25 pounder

Display of 25 pdr shells and cases. Left to right: Smoke (Modern, NATO standard colour “eau de nil”), Armour-piercing, HE (RDX/TNT), HE (Amatol), Smoke (1939-1945, British colour scheme Brunswick Green). Although some shells are shown in the cases, the shell and the case were separate items even in the bore before firing.

BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun Mk 3
Ordnance bl55 140mm gun hameenlinna 1.jpg
BL 5.5 inch Mk 3 at The Artillery Museum of Finland
Type field gun
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1941-1980 (UK)
Used by  United Kingdom
 South Africa
 New Zealand (13)
Wars World War IIKorean WarYemen,Borneo ConflictAngolan Civil War
Production history
Produced 1941-1945
Weight 13,647 lbs (6,190 kg)
Barrel length 13 ft 9 in (4.19 m) L/30
Width 8 ft 4 in (2.54 m)
Crew 10
Shell HE shell: 100 lb (45.5 kg) and 82 lb (37 kg)
Calibre 5.5 inch (140 mm)
Breech Welin breech and Asbury mechanism
Recoil Hydro-pneumatic
Carriage Split trail
Elevation -5° to 45°
Traverse 30° left and right
Rate of fire 2 rpm
Muzzle velocity 100lb shell: 1,675 ft/s (511 m/s)
82lb shell: 1,950 ft/s (590 m/s)
Maximum range 100lb shell: 16,200 yd (14,813 m)
82lb shell: 18,100 yd (16,550 m)
Sights Probert pattern reciprocating and calibrating

While the British 6th Brigade defended Garrison Hill, the other two brigades of 2nd Division tried to outflank both ends of the Japanese position, in Naga Village to the north and on GPT Ridge to the south. The monsoon had broken by this time and the steep slopes were covered in mud, making movement and supply very difficult. On 4 May, the British 5th Brigade secured a foothold in the outskirts ofNaga Village but was counter-attacked and driven back. On the same day, the British 4th Brigade, having made a long flank march around Mount Pulebadze to approach Kohima Ridge from the south-west, attacked GPT Ridge in driving rain and captured part of the ridge by surprise but were unable to secure the entire ridge. Two successive commanders of British 4th Brigade were killed in the subsequent close-range fighting on the ridge.

2nd world war

Both outflanking moves having failed because of the terrain and the weather, the British 2nd Division concentrated on attacking the Japanese positions along Kohima Ridge from 4 May onwards. Japanese posts on the reverse slope of GPT Ridge repeatedly caught British troops attacking Jail Hill in the flank, inflicting heavy casualties, and prevented them from capturing the hill for a week. However, the various positions were slowly taken. Jail Hill, together with Kuki PicquetFSD and DIS, was finally captured by 33rd Indian Infantry Brigade on 11 May, after a barrage of smoke shells blinded the Japanese machine-gunners and allowed the troops to secure the hill and dig in.

The mined tennis court and terraces of the District Commissioner’s bungalow in Kohima.

The last Japanese positions on the ridge to be captured were the tennis court and gardens above the Deputy Commissioner’s bungalow. On 13 May, after several failed attempts to outflank or storm the position, the British finally bulldozed a track to the summit above the position, up which a tank could be dragged. A Lee tank crashed down onto the tennis court and destroyed the Japanese trenches and bunkers there. The 2nd Bn, the Dorsetshire Regiment, followed up and captured the hillside where the bungalow formerly stood, thus finally clearing Kohima Ridge. The terrain had been reduced to a fly and rat-infested wilderness, with half-buried human remains everywhere. The conditions under which the Japanese troops had lived and fought, were described by several British sources as “unspeakable”.

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The situation worsened for the Japanese as yet more Allied reinforcements arrived. The 7th Indian Infantry Division was arriving piecemeal by road and rail from the Arakan. Its 33rd Indian Brigade had already been released from XXXIII Corps reserve to join the fighting on Kohima Ridge on 4 May.The 114th Indian Infantry Brigade and the Division HQ arrived on 12 May and, (with 161st Brigade under command), the division concentrated on recapturing the Naga Village from the north. The independent 268th Indian Infantry Brigade was used to relieve the brigades of British 2nd Division and allow them to rest, before they resumed their drive southwards along the Imphal Road. Nevertheless, when the Allies launched another attack on 16 May, the Japanese continued to defend Naga Village and Aradura Spur tenaciously.

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Japanese retreat

The decisive factor was the Japanese lack of supplies. The Japanese 31st Division had begun the operation with only three weeks’ supply of food.Once these supplies were exhausted, they had had to make do with meagre captured stocks and what they could forage in increasingly hostile local villages. (Shortly before the siege of Kohima began, the Japanese had captured a huge warehouse inNaga Village with enough rice to feed the division “for three years”, but it was immediately bombed and the stock of rice was destroyed.)The British 23rd LRP Brigade, which had been operating behind the Japanese division, cut the Japanese supply lines and prevented them foraging in the Naga Hills to the east of Kohima. The Japanese had mounted two resupply missions, using capturedjeeps to carry supplies forward from the Chindwin to 31st Division, but they brought mainly artillery and anti-tank ammunition, rather than food.

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By the middle of May, Sato’s troops were starving. He considered that Mutaguchi and the HQ of Japanese Fifteenth Army were taking little notice of his situation, as they had issued several confusing and contradictory orders to him during April. Because the main attack on Imphal faltered around the middle of April, Mutaguchi wished 31st Division or parts of it to join in the attack on Imphal from the north, even while the division was struggling to capture and hold Kohima. Sato considered that his division was being “messed around” without proper planning or consideration for the conditions. Nor did Sato believe that Fifteenth Army headquarters were exerting themselves to move supplies to his division. He began pulling his troops back to conserve their strength, thus allowing the British to secure Kohima Ridge.

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On 25 May, Sato notified Fifteenth Army HQ that he would withdraw on 1 June, unless his division received supplies. Finally on 31 May, he abandoned Naga Village and other positions north of the road, in spite of orders from Mutaguchi to hang on to his position.(For a divisional commander to retreat without orders or permission from his superior was unheard-of in the Japanese Army.) This allowed XXXIII Corps to outflank Miyazaki’s position on Aradura Spur and begin pushing south.

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Miyazaki’s detachment continued to fight rearguard actions and demolish bridges along the road to Imphal, but was eventually driven off the road and forced to retreat eastwards. The remainder of the Japanese division retreated painfully south but found very little to eat, as most of what few supplies had been brought forward across the Chindwin had been consumed by other Japanese units, who were as desperately hungry as Sato’s men. Many of the 31st Division were too enfeebled to drag themselves further south than Ukhrul (near the Sangshak battlefield), where hospitals had been set up, but with no medicines, medical staff or food, or Humine 20 miles (32 km) south of Ukhrul, where Sato vainly hoped to find supplies.

File:IND 003495 link up at Imphal-Kohima MS109.jpg

The link-up at Milestone 109 between the two arms of the 14th Army which relieved the Japanese siege of Imphal.

Indian XXXIII Corps followed up the retreating Japanese. The British 2nd Division advanced down the main road, while the 7th Indian Division (using mules and jeeps for most of its transport), moved through the rough terrain east of the road. On 22 June, the leading troops of British 2nd Division met the main body of 5th Indian Infantry Division advancing north from Imphal at Milestone 109, 30 miles (48 km) south of Kohima. The siege of Imphal was over, and truck convoys quickly carried vital heavy supplies to the troops at Imphal.

During the Battle of Kohima, the British and Indian forces had lost 4,064 men, dead, missing and wounded. Against this the Japanese had lost 5,764 battle casualties in the Kohima area, and many of the 31st Division subsequently died of disease or starvation.


After ignoring army orders for several weeks, Sato was removed from command of Japanese 31st Division early in July. The entire Japanese offensive was broken off at the same time. Slim had always derided Sato as the most unenterprising of his opponents, and even recounted dissuading the RAF from bombing Sato’s HQ because he wanted him kept alive, as doing so would help the Allied cause. Japanese sources, however, blame his superior, Mutaguchi, for both the weaknesses of the original plan, and the antipathy between himself and Sato which led to Sato concentrating on saving his division rather than driving on distant objectives.

After Sato was removed from command, he refused an invitation to commit seppuku and demanded a court martial to clear his name and make his complaints about Fifteenth Army HQ public. At Kawabe’s prompting, doctors declared that Sato had suffered a mental breakdown and was unfit to stand trial. He was replaced as commander of the 31st Division by Lieutenant General Tsutshitaro Kawada. Major General Miyazaki was promoted and appointed to command the Japanese 54th Division, serving in Arakan.

The huge losses the Japanese suffered in the Battles of Imphal and Kohima (mainly through starvation and disease) crippled their defence of Burma against Allied attacks during the following year.

Aerial resupply

At the sieges of both Kohima and Imphal, the Allies relied entirely on resupply from the air by British and American aircraft  flying from India until the road from the railhead at Dimapur was cleared. At Kohima, due to the narrow ridgelines, accuracy in the dropping of air delivered logistics proved to be a considerable problem and as the fighting intensified and the defended area decreased, the task became harder and more dangerous.

The increasing dominance of Allied airpower by this stage of the Burma campaign was a major factor in helping the Allies turn the tide of the war in this theatre. Allied air supply enabled British and Indian troops to hold out in positions that they might otherwise have had to abandon due to shortages of ammunition, food and water, as reinforcements and supplies could be brought in even when garrisons were surrounded and cut off. Conversely, the Japanese found their own supply situation harder to resolve and in the end it was one of the deciding factors in the battle.

Victoria Cross

Two Victoria Crosses were awarded for actions during the Battle of Kohima:

Victoria Cross
A bronze cross pattée bearing the crown of Saint Edward surmounted by a lion with the inscription FOR VALOUR. A crimson ribbon is attached 

UK Victoria Cross ribbon bar.svg

Obverse of the cross. Ribbon: 38 mm, crimson (blue ribbon for naval awards 1856–1918).

Awarded by some British Empire/Commonwealthcountries
Type Military decoration
Eligibility Some British Empire/Commonwealth and allied Military personnel. (Eligibility has varied over time.)
Awarded for “… most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.”
Status Currently awarded.
Description Bronze Cross pattée with Crown and Lion Superimposed, and motto: ‘For Valour’
Post-nominals VC
Established 29 January 1856
First awarded 1856
Last awarded 2006
Total awarded 1,356
Next (higher) None
Equivalent George Cross (for civil gallantry or military actions not in the face of the enemy)
Next (lower) Distinguished Service Order,Conspicuous Gallantry Cross,George Medal


John Niel Randle
Born 22 Dec 1917
Benares (now Varanasi), British India
Died 6 May 1944 (aged 26)
Buried at Kohima War Cemetery
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1940–1944 
Rank Captain
Service number 130097
Unit Royal Norfolk Regiment
Battles/wars World War II

Awards Victoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross
Relations Leslie Thomas Manser VC (brother-in-law)


Kohima has a large cemetery of 1,420 Allied war dead maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.The cemetery lies on the slopes of Garrison Hill, in what was once the Deputy Commissioner’s tennis court which was the scene of the Battle of the Tennis Court. The epitaph carved on the memorial of the 2nd British Division in the cemetery has become world-famous as the Kohima Epitaph. It reads:

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

The verse is attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875–1958), and is thought to have been inspired by the epitaph written bySimonides to honour the Spartans who fell at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.

For Your Tomorrow they gave their Today………………………….

The below images deal with the unveiling of the Kohima Memorial dedicated to those men who died in this bloody conflict by clicking on the image you will open up a larger version in a new window again I wish to thank Val Poynton for the supply of these images and permission to mount them here.These are from her father Leslie Rennick`s collection of documents/images



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