The Battlefields of Imphal
The Second World War and North East India
In 1944, the British Fourteenth Army and the Japanese Fifteenth Army clashed around the town of Imphal, Manipur, in North East India in what has since been described as one of the greatest battles of the Second World War. Over 200,000 soldiers from several nations fought in the hills and valley of Manipur on the India–Burma (Myanmar) frontier.
This book is the first systematic mapping of the main scenes of the fighting in the critical Battle of Imphal. It connects the present with the past and links what exists today in Manipur with what happened there in 1944. The events were transformative for this little-known place and connected it with the wider world in an unparalleled way. By drawing on oral testimonies, written accounts and archival material, this book revisits the old battlefields and tells the untold story of a place and people that were perhaps the most affected by the Second World War in India. The volume will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of military history, especially the Second World War, defence and strategic studies, area studies, and North East India.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations. Foreword Hugo Slim. Preface. Acknowledgements. Introduction: A Truly Forgotten Tale 1. North East India: The Canvas to the Second World War 2. Manipur: On the Frontlines 3. Imphal 1944: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Armies Clash 4. The Battlefields: Hub and Spokes 5. Battlefield Tourism – Ideas For The Future Conclusion – The ‘Greatest’ Battle Appendix Bibliography Index
Hemant Singh Katoch is an independent scholar based in New Delhi. His research has focused on the Battles of Imphal and Kohima of 1944, and he has designed and conducted battlefield tours around them, the first of their kind in India. He conceived of the original idea to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal and helped organise a series of remembrance events in 2014. In the past he has worked for a Swiss foundation in Geneva, the United Nations in Timor-Leste, and the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research at Jamia Millia Islamia in 2013 and is a donor member of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.
‘This excellent book is . . . detailed yet with an engaging narrative flow, and beautifully written . . . drawing in so many authentic Manipuri voices to the narrative . . . [I]t shines a new light on this significant part of India’s modern history.’ — Robert Lyman, Fellow, Royal Historical Society, UK
‘An overlooked patch of history brilliantly brought to life! A magnificent tribute to Manipur and the gallant soldiers of a forgotten front.’ — Lt. Gen. P.C. Bhardwaj (Retd.), Former Vice Chief of Army Staff of India
‘[A]n invaluable guide in any effort to build WWII tourism in Manipur, Nagaland and the Northeast region.’ — Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor, Imphal Free Press, India