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Forces War Records Blog

KOHIMA - THEN & NOW

The Battle of Kohima took place in 1944 and was the turning point in the war against the Japanese; from there they retreated. It was a savage and critical battle. Had the Japanese broken through Kohima and moved on to the critical logistics base at Dimapur and deeper into India, politics would have taken a different twist in India and much of the Far East.

The 2nd Division Kohima War Memorial in the CWGC-tended cemetery in Kohima

During this WW2 battle, the local Naga hill tribes acted as scouts, stretcher-bearers and guides for the British as they fought the Japanese.  Their work certainly a major factor in the victory.  However, the headstones in the Kohima cemetery, so well tended to this day by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, exposes the courage and sacrifice of British and Indian troops as well as that of the Naga people.

The Kohima Educational Trust (KET) was formed in 2004 by surviving veterans in gratitude to the Naga hill tribes who gave such vital help at Kohima.  The Trust’s purpose is to deliver projects of educational benefit to the people of Nagaland. 

The author reading the inscriptions on the headstones in the Kohima Cemetery; among them are those of two VC winners – Lance Corporal John Harman (4th Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment) and Captain John Randle (2nd Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment)

I was in Kohima in March, in my capacity as Chair of the Trustees and I had the privilege to hand out 188 scholarships to young students, aged from 12 to 18.  The scholarships are the flagship programme of the KET and they give youngsters the opportunity to benefit from a better education than they might otherwise have.  Other KET projects include ones that provide health and hygiene education and, in the near future, there may be a literary prize.  Many of the scholarships awarded are sponsored by the families of soldiers who were killed during the battle.

Author and former Chair of the KET, Rob Lyman with a Naga veteran.

If you would like to support the KET, and help the Trust provide educational benefit to Naga people, do come to the annual memorial service and reunion in York on 5 and 6 July 2017.  Find out more about the KET and make donations through this website: [www.kohimaeducationaltrust.net]

Students and their families at the Kohima Educational Trust’s Scholarship Awards Ceremony in Kohima in March 2017.   The KET awarded 188 scholarships in 2017.

 

We are delighted to announce that Major General David Shaw will be our guest writer, providing his insights twice monthly on a variety of topics.

David was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1976 and served in UK and abroad until 2012.  He commanded 15 Brigade in York from 2002, was Assistant Chief of Staff Regional Forces from 2004 and Director of Media and Communication at HQ Land Forces from 2007. He took up the post of General Officer Commanding 2nd Division and Governor of Edinburgh Castle in 2009.  David was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours as he left the Army. 

He has a significant background in change management, leadership and communication and is a director of Unicorn ARC Ltd.  He is also co-founder of the award-winning veterans' charity “Launchpad" that supports 80 or so veterans in Newcastle and Liverpool at any one time, trying to get them back into independent living from homelessness or dealing with other complex issues.  He is also involved in the Veterans’ Foundation and the Kohima Educational Trust.

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