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Kohima and Imphal in .NET
Kohima and Imphal
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The Japanese planned an offensive aimed at establishing an impregnable defence line along the crest of the Naga Hills, on the border between Burma and India They wanted to destroy any hopes the British may have had of reconquering Burma from the north The plan, codenamed U-Go, was for three divisions to cross the Chindwin on a broad front: The 31st Division would then sever the British lines of communication by cutting the road at Kohima; simultaneously, the 15th Division would attack the Imphal Plain from the north and east, pressing Lieutenant General GAP Scoones s IV Corps back against the 33rd Division, which would be closing in from the south and west All this looked very fine on paper, but in practical terms the difficult nature of the country prevented the three divisions from cooperating with each other As usual, Japanese rations consisted of little more than a picnic A factor that the Japanese did not know was that in northern Burma a Chinese/American army commanded by Lieutenant General Vinegar Joe Stilwell was about to start driving south with a view to reopening the Burma Road supply route to China Stilwell, a prickly old Anglophobe, didn t like anyone much, but curiously he got on quite well with General Sir William Slim, commanding the British Fourteenth Army Slim agreed to mount the second Chindit expedition to support Stilwell Slim s plans also included an advance by Scoones s IV Corps to the Chindwin, but when he learned of the Japanese advance he cancelled this and ordered Scoones to concentrate his divisions on the Imphal Plain
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The Battle of Kohima, 5 20 April 1944
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The Japanese isolated the little hill town of Kohima on 5 April The fight for Kohima possessed a savagery that has rarely been equalled For 13 days the little garrison, with Colonel Hugh Richards in command, beat off frenzied attacks by an enemy many times their number Hand-to-hand fighting took place both above and below ground as the Japanese tried to tunnel their way
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Part VI: The Second World War (and Beyond)
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in and were met by counter-mines One by one important features were lost, but somehow the garrison held on, supported by the mountain guns at Jotsoma, a defensive box 3 kilometres (2 miles) away Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Montagu Stopford s XXXIII Corps had assembled at Dimapur and was coming into action It relieved Jotsoma on 14 April On the night of 17 April, fearing that they were about to be frustrated, the Japanese launched mass attacks on the Kohima defences, overrunning what remained of the position, except for Garrison Hill With the coming of daylight Richards believed that his exhausted men would never see another dawn, but at 8 am the Allied artillery began hammering the Japanese as a prelude to the advance of 1/1st Punjabis, spearheaded by Lee tanks By 20 April the relief was complete
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The Battle of Imphal, 10 April 22 June 1944
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Down at Imphal, the battle began with a crisis on 10 April when the Japanese captured the detached Nunshigum ridge This towered 300 metres (1000 feet) above the plain and dominated several airstrips on which IV Corps relied for its survival A counter-attack failed the next day, but a larger attack was planned for 13 April Nunshigum ridge is 6400 metres (7000 yards) long, and its slopes presented a hard scramble even for infantry, but Brigadier Reginald Scoones (the Corps Commander s brother) had trained his tank crews in hill climbing and was confident that the Lees were capable of reaching the crest At approximately 1130 am the tanks, manned by the 3rd Carabiniers B Squadron, were proceeding along the knife-edge crest when their artillery and air support ceased The enemy immediately counter-attacked on both flanks The Allies beat them off with difficulty, but by then all of the Carabinier officers were dead, as were the commanders of two supporting 1/17th Dogra infantry companies The success of the attack hung by a thread Squadron Sergeant Major Craddock and two surviving Indian VCOs worked out a plan to continue the advance Craddock would carry on the attack with the remainder of the tanks, beating in the bunker slits with gunfire, and the Dogras would go in with the bayonet They tried this, and failed They tried again, and the plan worked By the time the fighting was all over, no Japanese were left alive on the hill The enemy tried to recapture the feature that evening, without success After their failure at Nunshigum, the Japanese were thrown on to the defensive and routed out of their positions in a series of actions around the edge of the Imphal Plain Whatever hopes they may have retained for the success of the U-Go offensive were shattered when the leading elements of XXXIII Corps, driving south from Kohima, reached IV Corps perimeter on 22 June The Japanese lines of retreat to the Chindwin were littered with countless bodies, abandoned tanks, guns, and equipment of every kind In their deserted field
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24: Welcome to the Jungle: The Far East, 1941 1945
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hospitals, the wounded were shot to spare them the dishonour of falling alive into Allied hands The Japanese army had sustained the loss of 53,000 dead, of whom perhaps half were battle casualties while the rest stemmed from starvation and disease British and Indian casualties at Kohima and Imphal amounted to 17,000, but because of the medical services efficiency many of the wounded returned to duty later in the campaign
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