The Battle of Kohima

The battle of Stalingrad of the East is referred to as the battle of Kohima. The battle is fought in three parts. It started on 4 April to 22 June 1944 around the town of Kohima, capital of Nagaland.

The Japanese army planned to overthrow British Raj by invading Imphal to disrupt the Allied Forces. The part of the plan involved sending the Japanese 31st Division composed of 58th Regiment, 124th Regiment, 138th Regiment, and 31st Mountain Artillery Regiment to capture Kohima and cut off Imphal. It involved the capture of Kohima pushing of 31ST division on to Dimapur- the vital railhead and logistic of Brahmaputra Valley

The 31st division commander Lieutenant general Kotoku Sato was unhappy with his role. He predicted initially they will starve to death and he considered Mutaguchi a blockhead.

The attack on Kohima began around the same time and it was weakly defended by Assam forces. Originally the Indian 161st Brigade was posted at Kohima and then moved out of Kohima to Dimapur before the attack. On 3rd April 31ST Division attacked Kohima ridge and overlooked the main supply route between Imphal and Kohima. The siege began on 6th April where Japanese mortar fired down on the Indian Troops that were poorly and lacked drinking water. However Indian troops held and combat turned into stalement.

On April 15, the British second Division which was in training in South reached Dimapur. The fresh troop relieved the Indian 161st Brigade who rested for three days before going on the counter-attack. During the ongoing siege at Kohima listed on 20 April, the incoming troops were shocked to see the village with bullet holes and surrounding hills were covered by broken trees. “Every inch of ground were disputed in the bloodiest and most desperate hand-to-hand fighting", described historian Frank McLynn.

The condition of the Japanese turned worse due to starving and lack of food. The supply situation and the soldier’s health becomes critical. With the arrival of the 33rd Brigade of the Indian 7th Division on 4 May. And the situation got worse when Indian 114th Brigade arrived near Kohima. Under Montagu Stopford's command XXXIII Corps, British and Indian forces attacked from southward from Kohima towards Imphal. Nevertheless, Japanese troops were driven out of the Kohima region by the end of May. (The RAF Royal Air Force) stepped up with bombing and strafing to destroy Japanese morale which had already been faltered.

The battle of Kohima was won by Indian troops and they were forwarding towards Imphal. General Lieutenant general Kotoku Sato was relieved for the defeat at Kohima, India. During the battle, British and Indian Troops lost 4064 men lost and wounded. While the Japanese military lost 5764 in the Kohima area and 31st Division died of starvation or took their own lives.

Kohima War Cemetery lies on the slope of Garrison Hill and also contains the British 2nd Division’s memorial. Kohima Epitaph is one of the famous inscriptions.


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Total number of casualties in WW1: 37 million Press



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