Britain’s Greatest Battle - Imphal and Kohima

The battles that turned the tide of the war in the Far East…

  • Visit Imphal and Kohima, often described as the scenes of “Britain and India’s Greatest Battle”
  • Explore Kolkata, the old capital of the British Raj known for its grand colonial architecture
  • Spend an afternoon in the beautiful, remote, and densely forested Naga Hills

The battles of Imphal and Kohima have often been described as the greatest Britain fought in the Second World War. In the distant hills and jungles of north-east India, they crushed Japanese ambition, reversing the advance into India, and marking the start of the long Japanese retreat back through South-East Asia. At Kohima, 1,500 men (from British, Gurkha, and Indian battalions) held out against 15,000 Japanese for more than two weeks before reinforcements arrived; at Imphal, eighty miles to the south, the troops carried out a fighting withdrawal before striking back against the Japanese. The fighting was bloody, bitter, and brutal, with a ferocity rarely equalled in the war. The two battles were among the largest defeats ever suffered by the Japanese, in the skies above as much as on the ground, and a triumph for Allied air power. Overall, as Japanese logistical difficulties worsened, so those of the British steadily improved.

The steep hills, paddy fields, dusty tracks, and villages have long since recovered from the months of hideous fighting, yet it is still possible to walk in the footsteps of those who fought there. The war in the Far East is still relatively little known, and Imphal and Kohima were two of the greatest battles fought in that long, difficult campaign. Our tour will offer the chance to visit this extraordinary part of the world, and to reconnect with the story of the Forgotten Army of India and those men who so valiantly fought there.

Practicalities

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Itinerary 2017

Day 1

Departure

We take a late evening flight to Kolkata.

Day 2

Introduction

We arrive on Day 2 and enjoy an introductory lecture before dinner.

Day 3

Colonial Kolkata

On Day 3, we visit the heart of Kolkata, the old first city of the Raj. We take an excursion to Belvedere House, a former Viceroy’s residence, and later headquarters of the Fourteenth Army.

Day 4

Slim’s Allegory

Fly to Imphal and learn the story of General Slim, the commander of the Fourteenth Army who likened Imphal and its surroundings to the hub and spokes of a wheel. We visit some of the main sites related to the Second World War in and around Imphal, including Nungshigum, the closest battlefield to the town, and two local war cemeteries.

Day 5

War & Peace

Travel to Bishenpur, where a face off between British and Japanese divisions opened the battle. We visit various scenes of fighting, including Red Hill and the village of Ningthoukhong. Finally, we visit Moirang’s Indian National Army Museum and memorial, and take in a view of glorious Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in North East India.

Day 6

Advance & Retreat

The Shenam Saddle, overlooking the road to the Burmese border, is our focus today, along with major surrounding scenes of fighting. It formed the axis of advance for the Japanese Yamamoto Force, before they were finally evicted in the last week of July, 1944.

Day 7

Road to Kohima

We drive to Kohima to explore the overlap between the two battles. We stop along the way at Milestone 109 — where the British 2nd Division and Indian 5th Division met in June, 1944 — Kanglatongbi War Memorial, and the Battle of Kohima Museum.

Day 8

India’s Stalingrad

We visit the site of the battle known as the ‘Stalingrad of the Far East’, one of the bloodiest of all those fought between the British and Japanese. We walk Kohima Ridge, including its war cemetery, and key strategic positions. Finally, we remember the involvement of the Naga, local tribespeople who were instrumental in helping the British to defeat the Japanese, as we visit the beautiful village of Khonoma.

Day 9

Conclusion

We drive to Dimapur for an afternoon flight to Kolkata, where we enjoy a farewell dinner and stay overnight.

Day 10

Return

We catch our return flight from Kolkata.

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager
  2. Flights - Return flights London to Kolkata
  3. Meals - All meals included with wine at lunch and dinner
  4. Hotels - 8 nights in 4* hotels in Kolkata, Imphal and Kohima

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2017 Tour Details

£3,495
  • 10 Days
  • 10th Nov - 19th Nov 2017
  • with James Holland
  • Code: QIK17A
  • Available
  • ex. flights: £2,995
  • sgl supp: £375

Tour Guide