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Nagaland

Revisiting 70 years of the Battle of Kohima

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By EMN Updated: Apr 15, 2014 1:14 am
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EM Bureau
DIMAPUR, APRIL 14

The 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Kohima, voted as the Greatest Battle in the history of Britain, will be receiving a week of salutation from April 15 till April 22 with the arrival of two British delegations – one official (military group) and the other comprising writers and historians to the state.
The tour of the teams is being overseen by the Kohima Educational Society, as Nagaland counterpart of the Kohima Educational Trust, UK, started by the veterans of the Battle of Kohima to assist education of Naga children, is helping to coordinate their programme.
An intense programme maximizing the visit of the delegates has been chalked out. It has been detailed to ensure that as many sights of the strategic areas of the Battle of Kohima are covered during the one week visit of the “pilgrimage” tour of a different kind.It may come as a surprise for many of the younger generation who perhaps take the Dimapur Railway Station for granted…little realizing the crucial role it played during WWII. Not surprisingly the Railway Station which formed the Base Camp is one the places of interest on the itinerary for Day 1.
The week will see the teams go on a trek between Zubza/Secü, Mezoma, Khonoma on the “Porters’ Trail”. A Rememberance Service is also being held on April 17th at the War Cemetery, where wreaths will be laid by several men in uniform including Brig. (Retd) Roy Choudhury, Director, Rajya Sainik Board, CO., 2 Signals Regiment, Lt Col. Ian Hargreaves and Brigadier Greville Bibby, CBE, Comd. 15 Brigade. A visit to WW 11 Museum at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama is on the cards as well as other Memorial sites in Kohima. The World War tank in Garrison Hill will also be remembered on this occasion.
Known to very few of us here in Nagaland the teams are also scheduled to visit Queen Own Cameron Highlanders memorial at Naga/Kohima village.
Another important relic of the past is not being forgotten during this journey the orginal Bailey Bridge outside Dimapur. It now lies in disuse after the concrete bridge which spans the Chathe river was constructed.
History will be retraced this week. With it an opportunity comes for the people of the state to remember and pay tribute to the hundreds who fell on both sides (Japanese and Allied Forces) in the toughest battle during WW II.
It was fought on our land and peace was sacrificed as the our people were affected by the war which came into our homes. But as one of the elders remarked about the WW II, “Come to think of it the Japanese were never our enemies, but I am glad that the Nagas were not turncoats; that they remained faithful to the British government” – Lhusi Haralu (Quote from a Coffee table book on Kohima in a chapter describing the Japanese invasion).
History reminds us of who were, what we were and where we were. It has a way of returning its debts, and today for all those families, men and women, who as their conscience guided them, we are here seventy years later , to celebrate a trust that was not betrayed.

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By EMN Updated: Apr 15, 2014 1:14:59 am