BATTLE OF IMPHAL AND KOHIMA, 1944

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[The third poem on a war poetry series on WWII]

World War 2 in the Far East, had shaken the British Commonwealth,
It knew not the might of the allies which would soon amass all resources and wealth.
The Japanese hopping Islands captured with boldness, swift and no stealth.
Fallen are Hong Kong, Malay, Singapore and Burma, none in best of grit and health.

The Japanese looked further West, the rich Indian subcontinent to claim,
Their overconfidence now abound, will later have themselves to Blame.
Mutaguchi, Sato and our own Netaji Bose all on double March,
The British Indian army faced Japanese and Indians in the month of March.

As Irony would have it, Indians would battle against Indians,
History will be made, by those who prevail the defending Indians.
Imphal and Kohima strategic towns in the plan to have it cutoff and captured,
The Japanese Fifteenth Army would have its units depleted and ruptured.

Four Japanese divisions and one INA attack, commencing Operation U- Go,
The terrain is not all flat they cannot lead with their tank such as the Ha-Go.
Slim, Scoones and Richards are prepared, three divisions and two to bolster,
The field commanders in action, their pistols held high out of the holster.

The Imphal-Kohima road cut, the central ridge at Kohima for the enemy to surround,
Richards’s Garrison holds and Mountbatten sends the second division rushing on the ground.
The INA Bahadur Group scouting and pathfinders thinking the enemy can be convinced,
The British Indian Army listen to their brothers, yet fight with loyalty and no plans evinced.

The fighting is at its bitterest, the defenders are not holding a huge fort,
The enemies are so close, the distance no more than width of tennis court.
The close quarter fighting rages, the perimeter growing ever so small,
Nungshigum and Palel face a few attacks, the defense as solid as a wall.

Bayonets fixed and guns firing all the metal in the monsoon light gleaming,
Gurkhas, Sikhs and Japanese all charge at each other, angry and screaming.
Men of war obeying commands not a time to stop and evaluate,
Too late for the Japanese command to ignore faults, soon have to evacuate.

Only by July after many losses, the link up made and siege lifted,
The Japanese are starving and dying, not even their dead being airlifted.
Imphal and Kohima now safe, the British Indian army surges East,
The Japanese suffer huge losses, their foothold in Burma to lose at the least.

The Japanese logistics faltered, failing to carry adequate supplies,
The Allied air superiority prevailed, always dropping the needed supplies.
The ‘Genghis Khan’ rationing of Japanese a far cry from success,
The buffalo and most cattle not reaching the soldiers but rotting as carcass.

The monsoon played havoc bringing sickness, starvation and death to the Japanese,
As a best batsman stands run out when his equipment fails unable to reach his crease.
The earlier campaigns of Japan saw ill-trained and poorly led British holds fall,
This was not the same after lessons learned, this battle above all stands tall.

The Royal Air Force flew several thousand tons of supplies and men,
The plan to use captured supplies and fight did not work for Tojo and the men.
The lack of bringing adequate anti-tank and assault weapons revealed,
The eventual retreat of Japanese in North East India nothing is concealed.

Imphal-Kohima was the biggest defeat the Japanese army suffered,
The British made plans to quickly free Burma and not having it deferred.
In excess of fifty thousand Japanese dead and missing, the cost so high,
The British Indian army lost a few thousand but their heads held high.

Indian men held their nerves and pushed the Japanese from hegemony.
The Commonwealth war cemetery at Imphal and Kohima are its testimony,
When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

Anand K C R
Mr. Anand K C R is a banker by profession, but an ardent lover of military history for whom the Second World War is a passionate topic. Besides his extensive reading on the topic, he is a collector of World War memorabilia, which include miniature models of tanks, aircraft and other weaponry that adorn his living room. This is the first of a series of poems he has set out to pen on WWII in its final phase, the D-Day and after. Anand can be reached at kcra73@yahoo.com
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