Plans for a longish stay. Philip & all round defence - Our
'fresh air' Bungalows -
Appreciation of the situation - A further
appreciation - late at night - We're
moving - Early rise& breakfast.
Embus with our honoured friends - The
R.I.A.S.C. (Royal Indian Army Service
Corps) Came the dawn - Came our turn.
4. We're on the move, into it - everyone eager, & on the alert
- 'Ils ne passeront
pas'!! - Scenes of activity all around
us -who says an itchy trigger finger!!! 32
hoves in sight, ably supported by Geoff
Page - we enter into the final phase of
an opening narrative.
Ghaspani and our first action stations. All round defence. Philip
eagerness. Worcesters strike it lucky.
Armoured patrols at early light then
'captured' documents. Our last usable
"W.C". Lectures, conferences, plans,
futures. We wait the first shot. Imagination
6. Embus again 4 mls nearer. Occupy position
in view of enemy. Dig in & wire -
bobby traps & all - à la
pamphlet. R.S. (Royal Scots) 'cop it' on left flank during
firstnight - Jap jitter patrol - few
casualties. 'Scots' officers drop 'clangers'.
Small change over in positions. L.F.'s
(Lancashire Fusiliers) patrols go out - I'm
the first - 24 hour patrol - out 1800
hours back 1800 hours. Gunned by own 3.
7s- Lovely grub. achieve object
& return. Bob Cameron takes one out - is
overdue. Relief patrol sent out. All
return - amusing Cameron incident - Poor
Bob!! - Andy (Lewes) Watson. Good steady
Philip - Bill (Rum ridden) Hall -
yours (stooge) truly.
A fast move by BDE(Brigade). On to Zubza. Say hello, have a feed,
off at night. Moving off
coincides with our being shelled - Roll on - lie on road all
night - Tarry surface.
Dawn & we're off. One whole Brigade - looms the Zubza
valley some 2000 feet.
All our stores on our back plus 3" mortar & bombs -
what a load - Intention
to cut Kohima and Meriema road & lessen threat to
India & also Ledo,
Bengal Railway - a hazardous and dangerous 'advance' - Still
we go on. Why I wonder.
Our first stop - halfway
up the other side at the Japs mercy. Our guns plaster
their 'known' positions
and their unknown positions plaster us. And how!! Day &
night our 3.7s pounds
on. At night Jap jitter patrols keep us awake - what is
sleep I wonder - still
we're alive. Worcesters have a 'rare do' & capture a few
M.G.s. (machine guns) We
examine critically & wonder. No patrols for us, &
'graves' only. Dig for
protection. We wonder whether these 'graves' will ever be
ours - on second day we
move on - knee deep in rice fields.
We cut the road & form 'Bde (Brigade)
Box'. First night 'A' Coy (Company) 'co it'.
Bob Elkin first officer to use a 'grave'
- killed by Jap officer with sword. Jap
killed by Bob's batman. Two doctors
haggle over wounded Jap - Roger Forest
John Mather - Day breaks & we clean
up. 'C' Coy and are given their first task
"Green Hill" - alleged unoccupied
- we'll find out. 'C' Coy - led by the stooge
occupies "Green Hill" - a
little party & two officers & 12 O.R.s (other
ranks) casualties. My first Jap - &
my fourth. A shooting lesson to Coy - at 600x
- Fergusons rifle & a Jap shot
in the heel, stomach & head.
Capt Gill & I recce - trail of blood denotes
Jap casualties. Further orders &
take over. Derek Hamilton & his sten guns. "Taffy"
Hughes & bringing
him in. Bob Gavins &
our two second grenades. We are baptised that night -
close work. Move on to
Kohima next morning - Jap .77 gets Stewart Renton
- nearly gets me. I share
RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) Brennans hole -
Camerons go on to next
hill & recce 'Firs Hill' - no "opposition" We bury
dead & move on Padre
Smythe broken hearted. We advance to occupy 'Firs
Hill'- Snipers. Shelled
& bombed half way up
Hurried plans by Brigadier from the
rear. Col West not in charge. Coysgo into
attack in waves, i.e., "B",
then "D", then "B" & "D", then
remnants of "B", "D",
& "C". C Coy strength 2 offrs (Officers) & 31.
Coy goes in - Enemy fire colossal.
Losses heavy - & orders still come thru -
"crack on". Willie West decides
- 'no further' & withdraw all- casualties of
officers alone Eleven. Philip killed
leading jointly the last attack, also, Bill
Hollingsworth, Alan Whitfield, Bill
Nicholson, Jimmy Wynne.
- Bill Tanning, Henry Ainsworth, Sam Caloe, Eric Bentley, Derek
Manchesters give good covering
fire during withdrawal. Barrage laid on hill -
our cemetery. Form box
on reverse slope. Intensive patrolling by the stooge.
Only subaltern officers
left in L.F.s.Coy reformed with Bill Hall (plus men) as
Coy Comdr. (Commander).
Poor Bill - scared as hell. I have some grenade
splinters removed from
back & chest. Sam Caloe in a sling. Cpt(Captain) Gill
'blinded' - hangs on.
Sgt(Sergeant) Whitehead thigh wound - hangs on. The
wounded 'go down the road'
- i.e. three mile trek through Jap territory to Base
Hospital. Remain several
days in Box. Jap jitters - so do we. I take Ian
Carpenter R.A. (Royal
out on a 'spree' - shoot up a Jap eating
partydirect hit Good old Ian. Meet up
with Jap sentry. Good old sten gun.
Big sized chap 6'2" - Phew!! -
Sgt York (Evans) & five O.R.s prove
the British have guts - desert patrol in
panic & return to base. We get
back a 'bit' late - better late than never - Johnny
Jones gets a sniper. I go back up Firs
Hill on patrol - bring back the dead etc
. Pat Barrett brings in a wounded man.
They had been on Firs Hill all
thro(through) the barrage & during
the night lay there.
A damn good show. Incidents @ the water
hole - Jap .77 overshoots
Thank God!! - We move on by passing
Firs Hill - We attack Naga Village - Heavy
fighting - isolated posns. (positions)
Bill Hall is scared. A Manchester
gun gets a direct hit. Judson shows
what guts means when hit with a .77 shell.
Roger Forest & Padre Smythe do some
Then later on Evans 'stops one'. Things are tight. Hourly 'bashes'
by Jap .77s.
Supply drops go wrong. Take patrol
& bring them back - a casualty. Patrols
start & off I go. Second patrol
out rescue John Moore's
patrol who are ambushed. Heavy casualties.
I lose Stead. My sten gun lets me
down. I bring in Lazarus, who's wounded.
Any M.b.s(medical ?) around?!! There
are no senior officers to witness it.
Poor John Neal sure was scared.
Worcesters & Camerons beaten back
from Church Knoll & Gun Spur. Johnny
Jones' Coy has a bayonet fight at 0200
hours. Good results. We move over to
far side of Naga Village. Enjoy a spot
of sniping. More patrols - Ltn Patel
(Battle) leader. Good men in patrols
- all volunteers. Priceless. Larry Minton &
'B' Coy Barney Bates & his cooker.
Tanks & jeeps arrive - final sniping going on.
Brigadier Hawkins is hit thro not minding
his own business. Sam Caloe takes
over C Coy. A journey 'down to hell'
for supplies. Sgt Gill 'stops one' on patrol;
gets back ok - very bad (one of my
lads). On patrol again - three days - Phew!!
Back to Meriema. Still - someone has
to do it & my lads are good. I get my 11
Jap - official. BBC arrive with us
linking up with 6 Bde on the road glorious sight
- Broadcast. Worcester & attack
final positions beaten back - Tanks windlassed
to top & 6 pounder used on Bunkers
. Still no good.
Piano still playable in the Kohima school
room - plus a gramophone. All area is
barren & shot ridden. 6 Bde use
flame throwers - Japs surrender singly. Snipers
a menace - so are ours - (me). A tank
is blown up on the road. Our birds eye
view of 4 Bde on G.P.T. ridge. Ghurkhas
of 7 div (Division) relieve us on Naga
village. Geoff Page has a recce patrol
to his credit. Good old Geoff. Worcesters
smell 'gas' when Japs mortar our posn.No
gas masks - Good Show!!
We get a bath - Tom Kershaw & I.
We see a Padres grave. Last night on Naga
village - all hell lets loose. Anticipate
general attack - Hm!! Only our Ghurkha
friends 'making a mistake'. Norfolks
name Norfolk Ridge - a ferocious battle -
one Jap sniper - one rifle - 35 Norfolks
casualties. We hike over & rejoin 4 Bde.
Thank God. Brigadier Goschen had been
killed - a good man, & a first class
soldier. Meet John McKenzie & old
friends in the Royal Scots. We dig in.
Many patrols & all for me.
I lay an ambush at a
water hole & lie there all night
waiting & waiting. The Scots go in on Bashas
spurs etc, in a monsoon - I take over
a grandstand view. Heavily defeated
against heavy odds. Dick Crockett's
mortars go haywire amongst his own
troops. I bring back the wounded in
carriers. Enjoy some more sniping. Sent to
recco Scot & Kennedy with 4 men.
Have dysentery @ the time. Patrol
successful & from information I
give, 5.5s pound Jap bunkers. Good going. We
attack Scot & Kennedy. Attack successful.
Dead Scotsmen abound in the
- a helluva stink.
We bury the dead, with the Scottish
Padre. We go higher up to Aradura spur &
Mathew, Mark, Luke & John. Attack
Jap pos with Norfolks - successful. New
Coy Comds. Appleyard - aptly named Applecart.
A real bloody fool - Gum boots,
pistol, & map case - How long will
he last. On again. L.F.s in the lead again -
"Primo leado, sempo". Tanks
way behind. Advance on Viswema. Bridge
broken, carry on. A.tank(anti)gun opens
on us 20x range. My batman is killed -
Jud Wardle. A grand lad. We flank an
attack & capture the gun, make a box.
Willie West killed by a .77, when in
a jeep on the road. Is buried on the
roadside, along with my lads. Applecart
wounded. Thank God - I have lucky
escape, but get out when tanks give
me some smoke. Pat Hayward takes over.
Assumes C.O."Horse" Langlands
rather perturbed - so are we. Start attack on
Viswema. Roads mined & blocked.
Grenaded from above. M/gunned from
Viswema. A real mess alright - stooge
again. Go flanking on Viswema. Go in at
the dawn. Sniping from Shaving Brush
spur. Heavy. Norfolks in possession of
Hence our move on Viswema when dominated
from above by Jap. Heavy toll on
my platoon. Guts & guts only to
lie under enemy fire & not budge. No food for
36 hours. Armoured ambulances come
thro- Jap holds fire. Cars stop out jump
c.o.n.s.'s(?) & food. Consternation
- Have our fill of food. Jap m/g (machine gun)
opens up on us - kills four - wounds
five - riddles my sten gun & food boxes.
Sam Caloe & John McKenzie &
I just miss it. Scarisbrick, my mortarman is
killed. Japs cleared from S.B. (shaving
brush) spur. Thank God!! Japs in
burnt out & sniped as they go. One
crawls 3/4 ml with broken legs & a
broken arm. Padre O'Dowd holds a mass
in a basher while Japs snipe him.
Jones as courier arrives & gives us some news of the outside
Waldron, unmindful of Jap sniping goes amongst the wounded
the open & tends their wounds -
narrowly misses being killed. Inspires men
by this, & lifts up morale which
is very low. I recommend him for the M.M.
Which he won from the recommendation
We are pulled out for a hard earned
rest a few miles down the line
. Driven in jeeps. Indeed a luxury.
Reorganise in Kigwema. I.G.H. (?) Old
faces missing. 2/3 rds of the Battn
casualties. A bad state of affairs.
Replacements badly needed. Will they
come?!! Here's hoping. A rest, &
there's not a drop to drink - Roll
on the reinforcements - new 6.0 only.
M.T.& on the move again to Tuophema
- beyond Mao Song Sang. Jap in full
retreat - running too fast. Tanks,
carriers, guns, trucks rumble along road
daily - Halt @ the 87m.s. Jap HQ disturbed.
Leave ponies, wireless sets
, rice & boiling
water on fires - We sure are on their tail. A race for the Bridge
blow it. We get there first. Lan Fus(Lancashire
Fusiliers) in the lead again.
Start hiking in early morning - march
13mls (miles) till nightfall - minor fights
& skirmishes - 'Box' @ 99m.s. Contact
Imphal forces late that night - Thank
God!! For one week continued patrols
recce & fighting - Japs finished -
Battn(battalion) withdrawn & given
bivouacs. A luxury. Return to 57m.s.
New C.O. & 2 i/c(in charge) arrives.
"Horse" Langlands leaves us. Set up a
camp @ the 57m.s.
All 4 Bdes in area. Entire 2 Div rests
on its laurels. John Grover returns to
England to take over D.M.T. New G.O.C.
(General Officer Commanding)
Gen.Nicholson an alleged good 'bloke'.
Reinforcements arrive plus my old
batman from hospital Ginger Evans. Battn
takes it easy & cleans up. Spit &
polish creeps in. Sport etc. I get
14 days leave to Simla - lovely. Off by air to
Simla& real live food - especially
eggs 21 in one day. To Simla& some real
drink. Cheerio Kohima.
Return to 57ms - fat,
lazy, & full of liquor. Place deserted - Bde gone off to
Ukhrul on Burma Border.
We go forward in jeep. Arrive at Ukhrul with food
& convoy of delicacies,
papers, etc. Road under water & bad. Meet
C.O.who gives me news
- a patrol the next day - Hell!! First of its kind -
L.R.P. named Kencol.
Intention - Go after some 1000 Japs on the Angor
Ching Range of mountains
overlooking the Chindwin river. Set off 300
strong plus mules, etc.
R.S. (Royal Scots) sending out a similar party named
Pincer movement on range - N&S.
Off we go - I oozing beer & whisky at
every step - Roll on. First step - Ongshim
- 17mls. Monsoon due to break
any day now.Good progress made. Second
day tackle Lushai Peak. 7000'
high to arrive @ Humlaing. No incidents
- natives sceptical. Yangshi (Dixie)
our interpreter in big need. My Hindustani
comes in useful. 3rd day arrive at
Chahang Khunew (?) & make battle
plans. Advance across river first light
and thence the Ching Range. Same night
monsoon breaks - everything
battened down. Malaria prevalent in
We treat all natives. Consider a pill
as treated; Recce river first light -
impassable - level risen some 6' overnight.
I sent to recce crossing - no good
- natives assent crossing impossible
now for 2 months. Scot Col in similar
plight only have had no air drops -
we are lucky. I try contact Scot Col. Take
2 men strike south. Report from AISHI
Column just gone there - we follow
in their wake - a sea of mud. Continual
downpour. Our dress for lightness is
Balaclava, underpants & boots -
stick & gun. Move faster
Contact rear elements camping for night
with a "U" (V?) force patrol. See
Pat Hayward. Explain situation - He
is going to return next day. Rest that
night & we push off next day. Back
to Khunew. River badly swollen. Nearly
lose "Tiny" Nugent when swimming
back across the river. Shoot deer on
return - fresh meat. On return find
no food - no air drops. Native comes from
a village 7mls off saying "parcels
drop from sky & birds come low looking
for them" - I go & investigate
- dressed similar - Sam Caloe comes along to.
Make 7mls in record time of 2 hrs.
Stiff climb. Parcels ours - air drop on
Chakong Khulen instead of Chakong Khuron.
Good old RAF. Commence
ferrying it back to Khuron by natives.
Pay with silver rupees. Decide to
return some distance & try another
route. I recce return route.
Chattrik & Laiyang (?). Back to
Khuron. All off to Loni. Contact Brigadier
McNaught. Gives new orders - another
new route via north route. I again
recce Chammu & bridges Bridge bad.
I take a Canadian Expeditionary
officer with me named PaniBallackey
- a great guy - a good plodder, but no
fast mover. His twangy talk a good
morale lifter. Bridge half burnt down &
land slide. Column moves to Chammu
- air drops - natives & men start
building bridge etc. I push onto Siapan
- meet Speller of "U" Force. He @
Siapan. Recce positions for oncoming
column. Men working wonderfully
well. Making roads, bridge building,
etc. We lose a mule crossing Chammu
bridge. Washed away down river
Column arrives & we. Sam Caloe &
I push on to Melabon & Chindwin.
Weather very bad - all 'chaungs' a rushing
torrent - Bridge building all the
way - Sgt Wyle, Nugent, Richard do
excellent service with the mules - also
our own 'subedar sahib' a first class
Indian & worker. Sam & I constantly
recceing route which is very hazardous.
Reach Melabon @ 2300 hrs in
pouring rain & darkness. How only
God knows - leeches very bad in
elephant grass. I burn 32 off me that
night. Column arrives next day. Still no
Japs - In fast running condition - air
drops come down. Fresh orders from
Corps. Recce east bank of Chindwin.
Make base @ Melabon. I take patrol
to Kettha via Hinnaung. Some 7 days
journey. First day out take malaria -
dose with quinine - high temp. Arrive
Kettha - Sigs Sgt Davies on a 48 set
gets through to Ukhrul district - a
good show. Recce Homalin on Sunday
morning. Pounded to hell - 500 lbs
RAF bombs lying around & natives
digging them up
We leave them
alone. Contact Speller coming from Shinwells
Intelligence operators. Japs
moved from Homalin 15 mls away. Oust
local headman from nearby village
collaborating with Japs. Kettha natives
take kindly to us. Malaria nearly
gone. Melabon wirelesses food posn
critical - no air drops. Is moving to
Chammu to receive drop there. I move
off next day. Camp at Paokow. Then
Melabon. Small rear party there only
- no food. We find some tins of bacon.
For 2 days eat bacon, bacon & bacon,
& rice. Lovely grub. Push on to
Siapan. R.I.A.S.C. muleteer shoots a
kuki; was a woman. Close arrest & an
impending trial - tedious work. Air
drop @ Chammu, & our mail - stacks off
it. The column feeds & rests. Next
stop Lushat - Lots of evidence of
Alexanders withdrawal in '42' &
Japs in '44' - skeletons, camps, etc. Met at
Khanggoi by some recce men with food.
An outpost evidently very welcome.
New column Comdr
drop a clanger. Gets drunk on 'gin'
at Khanggoi & is carried to Ukhrul -
within sight at least - on a stretcher.
Bad for native morale. This Major
Thornton is writing the War Diary -
I wonder what he will put in on that
day?!! Sam takes in the column &
I bring in the rear - Ukhrul in sight with
its parachute tents - a glorious sight
to our tired eyes. The Recce Regt is
now there. The L.F.s having moved back
to the 57ms. To show our fitness
we drink 4 bottles of glorious beer
& play the Recce Regt in a football
match the same afternoon. We lose -
worse luck. Jeeps are laid on to take
us back to civilisation - hurrah! It rains
so we hike the 30 odd miles to the
bridge & 3 tonners - Back to the 57ms &
more or less at home. Meet new faces.
Plus Applecart; Still under treatment
for malaria & other small ailments
- We idle our time away. Our repat
papers come through - Sam's & mine.
We say goodbyes to all - Farewell
Kohima farewell our friends
who lie there for ever more - We salute
you all - We visit Kohima
& say goodbye to officers &
O.R.s of 8th L.F. Never truer words are those
written on our memorial
"When you go home, tell
them of us and say,
for your tomorrow,
we gave our today"