Imphal and Kohima

Imphal and Kohima

The Forgotten 14th Army

Battlefield Tours

17th - 28th February 2022
(12 Days)

Expert Historian : Robert Lyman

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Imphal and Kohima

The Forgotten 14th Army

Battlefield Tours

Your Holiday Essentials

17th - 28th February 2022
(12 Days)

Return flights from London, 3 and 5 star hotels, buffet breakfast, lunches, 3-course dinners, all entrance fees and expert guide throughout.

Activity Level: 2

Expert Historian: Robert Lyman

contact us for more information

Interested in this tour but not ready to book? Register your interest using the link below and we will keep you updated on the progress of the tour.

click here to register your interest

Tour Introduction

Surprised, unprepared, poorly led and in the face of overwhelming Japanese superiority, in the spring of 1942 Burma Corps performed the longest retreat in the history of the British Army withdrawing 1100 miles to India. For the next 21 months there followed a series of inconclusive operations in the Arakan and on the Chindwin, but when, in February 1944, the Japanese 15th Army embarked on a desperate mission to ‘liberate’ India and close the supply routes into China, the, by now, superbly trained and efficiently supplied 14th Army under ‘Uncle’ Bill Slim was prepared to stop them in their tracks. During nine months of hard-fought battles on the ridges of Kohima, the plains around Imphal and the Kabaw valley, Slim’s troops repeatedly repelled forlorn Japanese attacks until the latter were physically, psychologically and logistically exhausted: their ragged remains, emphatically defeated, crossed back over the Chindwin river into Burma, hotly pursued by the triumphant ‘Forgotten’ Army.

Background

Nagaland and Manipur are two beautiful and remote states in northeast India, generally off the beaten path of tourism. Amidst their unspoilt beauty of lush verdant vegetation, sparkling lakes and a wealth of unfamiliar tribal culture, evidence of the hard-fought battles of 1944 abounds in Kohima and its surrounding ridges and on the open expanse around Imphal and in the neighbouring hills. Travelling out along the Imphal ‘spokes’ through country that has changed little, the conditions of the some of the roads are challenging and will require the use of all-terrain vehicles resulting in some long days. But the effort is rewarding as we discover little visited villages, enjoy spectacular, unspoilt views and explore extant defences from where soldiers long ago fought fiercely and bravely, where many gave their ‘today’ to secure our ‘tomorrow’: at the lovingly maintained Commonwealth cemeteries in Kohima and Imphal you may wish to pay your respects and give thanks for such sacrifice.

The tour culminates in Kolkata (Calcutta), the former capital of British India, with its wealth of colonial-era architecture and middle-class wealth juxtaposed against a modern city striving against poverty and decay. Hotels in Kohima and Imphal are comfortable and the best available, but the last days of our tour are spent in five-star luxury.

To better understand the motive behind the 1944 Japanese offensive, you may wish to join our extension to Ledo. At its railhead, supplies from India were transferred to American forces be taken along the Stilwell Road or flown by air over ‘the hump’ to support the Chinese war effort. Our visits will include the CWGC cemetery at Digboi, the site of railhead, the airfield itself and the Ledo Road marker stone laid by Vinegar Joe himself.

As this may be the one and only time to visit West Bengal, you might consider joining our pre-tour extension to see where and how Lord Clive (of India) established British hegemony over India and explore two of India’s famous cantonments: Dumdum and Barrackpore, the latter where the 1857 Indian Mutiny started.

Highlights

  • 3 days in Kohima, 4 days around Imphal, 2 days in Kolkata (Calcutta)
  • All-terrain vehicles for access to more remote areas
  • Insurance liability waiver must be provided by all participants.
  • Clive of India extension starts 15 February 2022
  • Ledo extension until 3 March 2022
  • Dates for tour with both extensions: 15 February - 3 March 2022

What's Included

  • 3 Star Hotels
  • 5 Star Hotel
  • A three-course dinner party each evening hosted by your expert historian and tour manager
  • All lunches
  • Buffet breakfast each morning
  • Entrance fees for all site visits
  • Internal flight(s)
  • Return flights from London
  • Dedicated Tour Manager
  • The company of like-minded travelers

Itinerary

Day 1. Outward Travel.
Fly London – Kolkata via Doha.

Day 2. Dimapur-Kohima.
Arrive Kolkata early morning and transfer to airport hotel. Early afternoon flight to Dimapur. Follow 2nd Division’s route winding out of the Dhanshiri valley to the Zubza Plateau to enjoy a panoramic appreciation of the Kohima Ridge from the western valley. Thence up to the town itself to check-in to our hotel for three nights.

Day 3. Kohima.
Gain an overview of the battlefield From the dominating Kohima Village on Naga Hill. Explore the heroic defence of Kohima itself: the initial Japanese attacks on Garrison Hill, the Tennis Court/ CWGC cemetery with its famous epitaph, the sites of Kuki Piquet and the Field Supply Depot (FSD).

Day 4. Kohima.
Examine the approach of the relieving 2nd Division and the attacks on Jail Hill: 2 Div HQ at Jotsoma, the Lee Grant tank at Raj Bhavan, the sites of the Japanese bunkers and GPT Ridge. This afternoon learn about the work of the Kohima Educational Society/Trust, a grateful legacy of those who fought here to their allies, the Nagas.

Day 5. Nagaland.
Check-out. Drive through the beautiful verdant Nagaland mountain scenery following the many battles to clear the Kohima Ridge down to Naga, now rebuilt as a Heritage Village. Learn of the history and culture of these ‘headhunting’ tribesmen and visit the WW2 museum. At Kangla Tongbi discuss the fierce defence of the ordnance depot on 6/7 April 1944 at its war memorial. Thence to Imphal to check-in to our hotel for four nights.

Day 6. Sangshak and Nunshigum Ridge.
Drive through the jungle-clad Naga Hills to explore the extant remains of the costly yet crucial defensive encounter battle fought by 50th Indian Parachute Brigade at Sangshak in March 1944. From the banks of the Iril River view the dramatic assault to recover the dominating Nunshigum Ridge by 3rd Carabiniers and 17th Dogras.

Day 7. Shenam Saddle and Pallal.
Return to the Naga Hills to see where and how the Indian Divisions held up the advancing Japanese 15th Division on their approach from Tamu. Scrambling up lofty heights to find the remains of trenches and enjoy spectacular views over the Tamu-Imphal Road and the surrounding peaks such as Scraggy, Recce and Nippon Hills that create the formidable Shenam Saddle. See the site of the important Pallel airfield which fought off numerous raids. Time permitting, visit the Khongjom War Memorial commemorating a colonial skirmish that ended a Manipuri royalist succession crisis in 1891.

Day 8. Tiddim Road.
Drive along the Tiddim Road to the floating Keibul Lamjoa National Park with its curious phumdis and perhaps catch a glimpse of the indigenous endangered Sangai deer. Visit the Indian National Army Museum in Moirang. Follow 17 Indian Division’s withdrawal through Ningthoukhong, where two VCs were won, to Red Hills forlornly assaulted by the exhausted Japanese 33rd Division. Visit the Japanese Martyrs Temple. Imphal Peace Museum and Memorial.

Day 9. Imphal.
Pay respects at Imphal’s two war cemeteries, see General Slim’s cottage and explore Kangla Fort. Check-out of our hotel and transfer to the airport for afternoon flight to Kolkata. Check-in to Oberoi Grand Hotel for two nights.

Day 10. Maidan.
Visit the 200-year-old Indian Museum (the former Imperial Museum) with its fine collection of Indian artefacts. Enjoy the opulent colonial-era Victoria Memorial with its fine collection of art, arms and armour. With special permission visit Fort William and its Command Museum which recalls India’s military heritage. We end our day at Princep Ghat to admire sunset over the Hooghly river.

Day 11. BBD Bagh/Dalhousie Square.
Enjoy the old-world charm and colonial era landmarks such as Raj Bhavan, High Court, St John’s Church, the Black Hole Monument, the East India Company Buildings and the Post Office. Grab some last-minute shopping at the New Market before transferring to our airport hotel for our last night.

Day 12. Return Home/Ledo extension.
Transfer to the airport for early morning return flight to London via Doha. Or join the Ledo Extension.

Ledo Extension.

Day 12. Transfer to the airport for lunchtime flight to Dibrugarth. Drive to Digboi and check-in to our hotel for two nights.

Day 13. Ledo. To Ledo to discuss logistics: the ‘Hump’ airlift at historic Ledo airfield, the railhead at Lekhapani station and American contribution at the Stillwell Monument Park.

Day 14. Return Travel.
Checkout. Final respects at Digboi CWGC. Drive to Dibrugarth for early evening flight to Delhi. Evening Delhi airport stop-over.

Day 15. Return.
Early morning flight to London via Doha.

Clive of India Extension

Day 1. Outward Travel.
Fly London – Kolkata via Doha. (day -2 main tour)

Day 2. Barrackpore
Arrive Kolkata early morning and transfer to airport hotel for two nights. Lunchtime departure to Barrackpore Cantonment for a stroll along the banks of the River Hooghly to discover the parade ground that gave birth to the mutinies of 1824 and 1857, the site of Mangal Pandey’s subsequent execution and a wealth of colonial buildings including the Clive era East India Company ‘’Old Kothi’. (Day -1 main tour)

Day 3. Plassey
Along arduous day trip to Plassey battlefield, where Lord Clive defeated the last independent Nawab of Bengal and laid the foundation for British dominance of India. The River Hooghly’s meanders have shifted much over the years, but historical and modern monuments and an extant water ‘tank’ help interpret the events of 1757. (Day 1 main tour)

Day 4. Dumdum/join main tour
Morning exploration of the nearby Dum Dum Cantonment including Clive’s much dilapidated country house, the Dum Dum Ordnance factory and the imposing monument to the British fallen from the 1st Afghan War. Join main tour after lunch (Day 2).


The operation of the Clive and Ledo extensions are dependent upon sufficient bookings being received 10 weeks prior to the departure of the main tour.

Robert Lyman, FRHistS

Robert Lyman, FRHistS

Dr Robert Lyman FRHistS is a former soldier, writer and historian and Field Marshal Bill Slim’s military biographer. His many publications include: ‘Slim, master of war: Burma and the birth of modern warfare’, ‘Japan’s last bid for victory: the invasion of India 1944’, ‘Kohima 1944’, ‘The Generals: from defeat to victory, leadership om Asia 1941-45’ and ‘Among the Headhunters: an extraordinary WW2 story of survival in the Burmese jungle’. He is currently finishing a new narrative account of the war in the Far East (‘A War of Empires’) due for publication in November 2021. He was the BBC’s historical adviser for the VJ commemorations in 2015 and 2020, is a regular contributor to documentary films on aspects of the war and has been a trustee of the Kohima Educational Trust since 2004, and Chairman between 2008-2016.

Your Holiday Essentials

17th - 28th February 2022
(12 Days)

Return flights from London, 3 and 5 star hotels, buffet breakfast, lunches, 3-course dinners, all entrance fees and expert guide throughout.

Activity Level: 2

Expert Historian: Robert Lyman

contact us for more information

Interested in this tour but not ready to book? Register your interest using the link below and we will keep you updated on the progress of the tour.

click here to register your interest

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