Though on a short visit, we did not get much time to explore Kohima but still managed to visit one of the most important landmarks of the city, Kohima War Cemetery.
Right in the middle of the city, a short walk from Japhu Hotel are graves of several hundred brave Indian and British soldiers who sacrificed their lives for a better tomorrow for us.
Formerly this was the grounds of Deputy Commissioner’s bungalow and you can still see the white lines representing the tennis court.
During the Second World War, in the Battle of Kohima, 1420 Commonwealth soldiers, 330 Indian soldiers and 8 flyers from Australia & Canada laid their lives and prevented the Japanese onward movement. It was one of Greatest Battle Britain fought and is often called ‘Stalingrad of the East’. At the highest point of the hill stands Kohima Cremation Memorial where 900 Hindu and Sikh soldiers were cremated.
The Japanese came from India Myanmar (Burma) border and while they consolidated their position, Indo British 14th Army was formed to defend them. In Mar 1944, Japanese launched an offensive into Manipur state and their 1st attack was on 4 Apr 1944 after dark. The village was besieged and the defenders were pushed to the Garrison Hill. Air supplies which were dropped were also captured by the Japanese and as a result water had be rationed to 1 pint per soldier per day.
Very heavy fighting took place near the Deputy Commissioner’s Bungalow so it is often been called Battle of the Tennis Court.
On 18 April 1944 shortly after the day break reinforcements from 2nd Infantry Division arrived and together with 161st Indian Brigade the British were able to end the siege.
On the terraces of the sloping ground there are the stone markers of the names of the soldiers and their family who waited for their return. On either side of the hill are two huge crosses.
There is an epitaph in the cemetery which reads ” When you go home tell them of us and say that for your tomorrow we gave our today.