by: Randy Harvey [ ]
From March through June, 1944, the Battle of Kohima, India was fought by Japanese and British troops, as well as colonial forces from India, including Naga natives. The battle was fought in the Imphal region of India, which the Japanese forces wanted to capture because it was an important British supply base. The Japanese planned to use Kohima as part of their Operation U-Go intended to provoke an uprising among Indians during a “drive to Delhi.”
Kohima Ridge outside the city was an important target as it held the strategic position commanding the only road with which the British could send reinforcements and supplies to Imphal from the railhead at Manipur. If Kohima would have been captured and held, it would have been a great advantage to the Japanese in their efforts to drive the British out of India.
Osprey Publications Ltd has released Kohima 1944 - The battle that saved India as Number 229 in their “Campaign” series. It is a paperback book with 96 pages; included with the text are color and black & white photographs, color illustrations, color maps and detailed captions examining the before, during and after details of the battle.
- The origins of the campaign
- Opposing commanders
- Opposing forces
- Opposing plans
- The Japanese invasion
- The siege of Kohima
- The battle of Kohima
- The battlefield today
- Further reading
The text is well-written and extremely detailed with none of the usual spelling or grammar errors one finds in many hobby books. Author Robert Lyman covers all of the details of the battle very well, and it’s obvious he has gone to great lengths to research the battle that covers all aspects of the battle. Anyone interested in World War Two battles in the Pacific Theater, or the Allied and Axis forces fighting there will find this book very informative and interesting.
There are color and black & white photographs throughout the book, and all are nice and clear with a few exceptions. Some of the older period black & white photographs have a blurry look to them, and some appear to be a little too dark. I have seen several photographs from WWII that have this look to them, so maybe that was just typical for the period. I do know that a number of WW II photos are actually stills taken from newsreel footage, so that could part of the reason as well. With that said, the overall quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author, and does not take anything away from the book. The color photographs included are fewer, with two of them being period photographs of the region and of the indigenous Naga people.
Two of my favorite photos are:
Page 38 – An American-made Jeep driving over a ravine on a wire (mesh) suspension bridge. The bridge doesn’t look very sturdy, and I imagine it would have taken a strong-willed person to complete that feat.
Page 43 – A pack mule train. The mules have mosquito netting over their eyes. For research information, I find photographs such as this one interesting due to the amount of detail shown.
I have provided scans of both of these photographs.
The color illustrations
The illustrations by Peter Dennis are well-done and cover the battle thoroughly. They include well-detailed ground and aerial action scenes, along with excellent maps.
The captions are interesting, and very detailed, explaining the accompanying photographs and illustrations so as to make them easy to understand.
All in all, I am very impressed with the book. It details all of the phases of the Allied and Axis participation in the Kohima battle, and I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library, nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.
Note: The pictures that I have provided look blurry and the captions are hard-to-read. This is due to my scanner, and is not how they appear in the book. Please don’t be misled by my examples.