The World War II Cemetery in Kohima, Nagaland: A Moving Experience

The World War II Cemetery in Kohima, Nagaland
The World War II Cemetery in Kohima, Nagaland

During World War II, the Japanese had overrun Burma and were advancing into India when British forces, ably assisted by Naga troops, finally forced them to retreat at Kohima. The site of one of the war’s bloodiest battles, Garrison Hill in April 1944, now has a War Cemetery with 2,337 graves and memorials to the soldiers who laid down their lives. It is a moving experience just walking there, reading the tombstones.

View the complete set of photos of Facebook or Flickr.

The battle of Kohima was fought between the 31st Japanese Division under General Sato and the British 2nd Division under the command of General Slim’s 14th Army. Approximately 13,000 Japanese soldiers battled against a 9,000 strong opposition; roughly 3,000 Japanese and 4,000 British casualties were counted at the end of it.

Many of these casualties were Nagas (mostly belonging to the Angami tribe) but there are no statistics for them. The only Naga grave at the cemetery is that of 21 year old Saliezhu Angami; the inscription on his grave reads, “The big-minded warring youngest son of mine shall arise and shine like a star.”

The youngest known casualty of the war, 16 year old Ghulam Muhammad of the 2nd Punjab Regiment, also lies buried here.

Also visit the War Museum in Kisama to learn more about the events. As also Kohima’s impressive Catholic Cathedral, which the families and friends of deceased Japanese soldiers partly funded when they learned that the congregation prays for the fallen of both sides.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. So many precious lives are lost everywhere during wars. I hope people watch these things and learn, so that there is never a World War III. At the end nobody wins. In reality it’s only Loss-Loss situation for all. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. This is beautiful, have been there about 20 yrs ago when I was in school and still remember it very well…..was so impressed…

  3. o many precious lives are lost during wars. I hope people of nagaland tought that there is never a World War III. At the end nobody wins. In reality it’s only Loss-Loss situation for all. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Well it is too late to comment on this blog. I visited this cemetry for the first time in March 1968.Our Office was across the road.The Kohima War was the bloodiest war which saw about 5 generals being sacked.It was one of the most critical war because had the Japanese advanced towards Dimapur(the rail head) the history of the sub continent would have been different.The rag tag British army in this war deserves all the praise because they stopped the advancement of Japanes army in one of the most hostile areas. In my time(1968-71) the cemetry was also the ideal spot for love couples.

  5. Something wonderful and so nostalgic.Almost 43 years ago I visited this cemetry after reading the book "Kohima" by Arthur Swinson.His book gives very vivid account of this critical battle.

  6. I recently came into some b&w negatives taken by my uncle in 1945 while he was the army in India. There was a photo of a cemetery along the Ledo Road. The graves were obviously new and marked with white crosses. The photo was clear enough that I could read some of the names and serial numbers, so I did a search hankto find out the name and location of the cemetery. I was happily surprised to find your photos of what it looks like now.Thanks for sharing. Hank

  7. Visited the war cemetery in Nagaland recently. One feels emotional reading the epitaphs. Its a place to see indeed

  8. I had been to North east almost three months back and this place is one of the best places i have seen in North East.

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