The following are extracts from the diary of Captain H. Swinson, the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, who served with our 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and at 5th Infantry Brigade Headquarters.

Additional information and photos added by Louis Scully.
Below is a list of 7th Battalion men mentioned in this diary.

Major (A/Lieut.-Col.) John Buckley Brierley M.C.
Major Harry “Chick” Elliott, M.C. (121805)
Captain “Johnnie” Edward Sydney John Brazier (201440) – killed 01.05/1944 (age 27)
Lieut. John “Bertie” Woodward (153938) - killed 19/05/1944 age 26 (I.O.)
Lieut. Alstan Heath Watkins (138104) – killed 11/04/1944 (age 26)
Captain Edward Reed Ward Tooby (64486) (‘B’ Coy)
Captain R. H. K. Evers
Lieut. John Gould Dalton (149833)
Lieutenant Dennis Ernest Brewtnall (113599)
Lieutenant Bob Cassidy (wounded 11/04/1944)
Lieutenant “Freddy” Newman
Lieutenant “Bunny” Young
Padre J. O’Callaghan (R.C. Chaplain)
Sergeant James Douglas Plumley, M.M. (later Lieutenant)

Officers of the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
 (photo kindly provided by Cameron Crampton - son-in-law to Lieut. James Douglas Plumley, M.C., M.M.)
Lieut. Plumley is on the middle row far right


It was silent in the jungle . . . .

Sometimes in the evening the wind would creak through the bamboo trees, waving their tall green branches against the sky; or sometimes the leaves would rise from the ground and dance onward a few steps before falling to sleep again; or the monkeys way up on their jungle roof would quarrel and screech and squeal in excitement, then swiftly swing into the leafy distance; but these temporary sounds could not break the eternal silence any more than a pebble churn the surface of a pool. Nor could the cooks rattling their dixies, nor the troops patrolling along the paths, nor any of the sounds of an army in training.

The silence of the jungle is not the silence of the town, nor the open fields, nor the downs, nor the plains, nor the high mountains; it is the stifled silence of one who waits seeing his enemy bare before him. The troops knew and feared this jungle silence; they spoke in hushed voices or walked glancing about them. At night, though they slept side by side, the sentries would hear them crying out, the nameless fear having entered their dreams, look round them, then lie back to sleep again. Some became sick and others sullen, but all felt the dull stifling of the heart.

It was cold in the jungle. The men dug themselves down into the earth, slashed bamboos and unrolled them to make their beds, wove branches for a mattress, and huddled together in their blankets for warmth. But at night the dew dripped down from the tree-tops and the air would turn to a frozen breath. At Reveille there were few men who would strip to waist, for the cold stream water burned on the flesh. The morning sun would not penetrate the jungle; sometimes a thin beam would creep down the paths and paint the bamboos at a bend with gold, or sometimes skim along the roof ; but no warmth would reach the men on the ground till breakfast was eaten and work begun.
It was lonely in the jungle ....

Sometimes when the wireless was louder than usual the troops would hear news of the battle in Italy, or the Russian advance, or the fighting in Arakan. But these were far-off tidings of another world bearing no relation to their own shut-in existence. Sometimes the Mobile Cinema would come and the towns and fields of England and America would stretch before them; the stars of the earth would make love and the comics would clown and Prime Ministers and rulers would speak for them, all set incredibly in that sullen dark background. The monkeys would make a loud complaint, be it Hayworth or Dietrich, Chaplin or Astaire; the voice of the jungle protesting against this last violation. It was lonely in the jungle, though sometimes the Officers and men would get leave, ride out into the open country and the town, eat from tables with clean white cloths spread upon them, drink, laugh, and dance till exhaustion cried a halt. The people of the towns would remark on their wild energy and ask what put the frenzy in the dance and the desire in the drinking and what keyed the laughter to such a high note. Vague answers would be given them of silence and loneliness and fear and the jungle. But they had not lived in the jungle and did not understand.
And so we say farewell to colourful Ahmednagar.

The train pulled out at 2130 hours. It is packed so tight its a wonder it can move. There are six in our compartment designed for four. Tom Hughes (G.3), Elderfield (Field Security Officer), Keith Halnan (Sigs. O.1), Charles Barker (Sigs. O.2) and "Boggie " Allen (L.O.1) and myself. We have each got equipment, large pack, kitbag and rolled valise. Much too much baggage to go to war with, but we shall doubtless lose most of it before long.

The four Captains are to sleep on the bunks to-night, Boggie and Charles Barker having to make do on the floor. Tom Hughes suggests we change round each day. We reluctantly agree.

Slept well last night despite bad behaviour of train. Awoke 0700 hours to find the others still slumbering peacefully. Climbed down from my bunk, stepped across Boggie, who was sleeping across the far end of the compartment, collected toilet kit from small pack and proceeded to wash. My moving about gradually wakened the others. They cursed me for getting up so early and turned over, but, failing to fall asleep again, lit cigarettes. Vile habit, in my opinion, smoking before breakfast.

At 0800 hours train halted and cook's waggon produced some breakfast. Not too bad but chae stewed, damn their eyes. By 0930 hours were on the move again. Painfully slow journey—did not exceed 30 m.p.h. all day. Usual discomforts of Indian trains. Flies, dirt, and heat. Every station brought its new quota of ragged, half-starved children demanding "bukshees," some on their own and some egged on by their equally ragged parents. I hardened my heart against them, but "Boggie" (who is to take Holy Orders after the War) feels he must go about doing good and so gives them do annas. This causes their wails to increase tenfold. The persistence of the Indian beggar is only equalled by his ingratitude.
Boring day in which train has only made 100 miles all told. Weather is cooler, thank God, and occasional showers have laid the dust. Country green but flat and uninteresting. Only interesting feature the Gunganadi, which we passed about mid-day. The river is flanked on both sides by stretches of golden sand, most curious to find in the middle of India. We stopped on the bridge near the East bank, where a number of Indians were bathing themselves and their water buffaloes. Watched one woman perform the old trick of taking a dirty sari off and donning a clean one without exposing one square inch of flesh that she shouldn't. The troops were vastly amused and gave her a rousing cheer when she had finished. She was a lady though, and made pretend she didn't hear a thing.
Asleep at 0200 hours when 'Bunny' Young, of the Worcesters, who is acting as train Adjutant, called Tom and myself for orders. Cursed loudly and went down the train to find John Boardman (D.A.Q.M.G.) giving out a detail to John Brierley, Col. Howard, Angus Douglas, and others. Couldn't get in compartment, but listened from outside and heard that Bimbo Howard, Tom, and Keith Halnan were to go on to Manipur Road by the mail train, the rest of us to stay put. Suited me fine. Tom Hughes and Keith having removed themselves and kit from the compartment, the remaining four of us were very comfortable. Unrolled valise again and went to sleep.

Woke at 0715 hours to find train in a station only 20 miles out from Calcutta. Bought a "Statesman" which said that three Jap columns were moving into Manipur.

Lieut. 'Bunny' Young

"The object of the move is clear; it is, by cutting our road of communication North and South of Imphal, to force our withdrawal from the Naga Hills. This would enable the Japs to threaten the railways in Eastern Assam which are carrying supplies not only to the central front, but to General Stillwell's army in North Burma."

One column, it appears, has almost isolated Tiddim and another is away "to sever" the road connecting Imphal with Kohima. Imphal and Kohima, they seem to be the key positions in this party. Have studied the map and don't like the look of things. The Japs have been clever to surprise us like this and may be in greater force than is thought. They usually are. Hope we have got sufficient troops to hold 'em. It will take another eight days to muster this Brigade Group and guns, even without waiting for transport to come up. The remainder of the Division will take a fortnight.
Sir Claude Auchinleck says there is no need to worry. I hope he's right.

Arrived Parbetipur at 1545 hours and changed over to narrow gauge. Rather a muddling change over and as there were no Firsts for us we bundled into a perfectly horrible Third. Made me appreciate why the troops hate rail travel.

The Yanks are running this junction and all the railway forward of it. They shunt trains about at unbelievable speeds, but succeed somehow in keeping them on the rails. They wear all sorts of military, semi-military, and definitely civilian hats, and their lounging attitude almost succeeds in giving Parbetipur a Far Western atmosphere. Their uniform I won't comment on; for along time I've been convinced that the American Army has a range of 2,000 iniforms and lets the troops pick just which ones they fancy. For such a bewildering variety there can be no other explanation. They're good chaps, the Yanks, and I love them dearly, but I'll never, never understand them.

A hot meal was laid on at Parbetipur, which we ate thankfully. Tea, bully stew, bread, and oranges. By 1830 hours we are away again, this time with a Yank in the engine cab. We may have occasionally slowed down to 60, but by that time I must have been asleep.
Arrived at Pandu by 0530 hours and prepared to cross the Brahmaputra. Had always imagined the river to be a mile wide at this point, but it turned out to be only three or four hundred yards, a smooth flowing river, flanked by low hills and quite pretty in the morning mist.

Succeeded in getting some coolies to carry our kit down on to the Ferry boat, which was rapidly filling up to capacity with troops. Went on the Top Deck, which had been reserved for Officers, and found a cup of tea awaiting us.

Gazed at the Assam Hills on the East Bank, rugged and covered with thick green jungle. Chuckled at the thought that I was due to come on leave this way en route for Shillong. No leave now.

Breakfast awaited us at the other side. We dumped our kit in a carriage and then queued up for it. Couldn't get a paper and news coming down the line consists of the wildest rumours. Am ignoring the lot. The troops are tired of hoiking their kit about and are starting to grumble.

An American Army notice here says: "No firing of Arms on the station." More echoes of the Wild West!

Left Pandu at 0900 hours and travelled all day at the rate of knots. Saw mountains of Tibet away to the North, which gradually faded as we plunged into the jungle. My first view of the wet jungle. Very different from the hard, grassless jungle of Belgaum and Londa. Rather overpowering to look at and hell to fight in. It rained most of the way along.

Were having lunch when an ambulance train passed. The tail end of it stopped opposite us for a few minutes and I looked down at the rows of weary men. Some sitting up smoking, others lying quite still, but all with a glazed, hollow look in their eyes. It does you no good seeing ambulance trains—not when you're on your way to the front, it doesn't. If I hadn't remembered how tough I was going to be it would definitely have spoiled my lunch.

Arrived Manipur Road at 1930 hours. Seemed a much bigger junction than I had imagined. Lights on everywhere and trains hooting, evidently no fear of air raids. After some confusion, gained the information that we were to spend the night at a Rest Camp. Had half feared we might take up a defensive position round the railhead, but apparently things not quite so bad as that. Got truck, piled kit in, and drove to the Rest Camp. No sign of Basil Eckersley, the new D.A.G., nor the Brigadier. Bimbo and Tom Hughes, who got on the mail train at Calcutta to get ahead of us, have not shown up yet. What organisation!
Tom Hughes woke us up at 0300 hours to say transport would collect us at seven o'clock. Hadn't the vaguest idea where we were going.

Have set up a Brigade Office in an E.P.I.P. Tent for the time being. Woodward (I.O.) is busy trying to collect all available information and sift the truth out of it. Examined his map when he'd finished marking it up. Didn't like the look of things at all. The Japs seem to be well on the way to Kohima.
Manipur Road (or Dimapur) consists, I found, of the junction of the Imphal and the Bokazan Road with the Pandu-Ledo railway, the installations that have grown up around this, and a small native bazaar. Added to these are such accretions as a Line of Communication Sub Area Office, Rest Camps, a hospital, a cinema, and a few other military units. The whole place is in one big flap. The chair-borne Troops in the L. of C. Area are digging and wiring themselves in their offices and pioneers are putting slit trenches round the Rest Camp. Transport with wild-eyed Indian drivers is speeding North along the Bokajan Road with barely six inches between trucks. Haggard-looking coolies stagger on with loads and the number of refugees is getting considerable. They walk slowly on with their whole world on their heads; occasionally one collapses by the road and the others group round, blocking the traffic but doing nothing. Am told there are 80,000 men in this area and only 10,000 rifles! Can quite believe it; have never seen so many troops walking about unarmed. Basil swears the sentry at L. of C. area is mounted with a wooden gun. I believe him. Another week and I'll believe anything of this place.

Camerons arrived at 1500 hours. Went to station to meet them. They looked so calm and orderly amidst the confusion around us that I blessed the sight of them. They pushed on up to join the Worcesters in a box at Bokajan. Apparently all they can think to do with us yet is to hide us away in the jungle!

At lunch in the Rest Camp met assorted groups of officers, most of which are on leave here from Imphal. They are being kept on now to form defensive companies from the odds and ends of troops of every unit and service under the sun who have been trapped here. Were they depressed ?

The Brigadier (Brigadier V. F. S. Hawkins, M C. Wounded and evacuated 12th May, 1944.) called a conference for 2115 hours. He was calm and collected and in quite good form. Said two Jap Regiments were approaching us and had been located, the third was unaccountably lost; might be switched over to meet the threat from the Hukwang Valley, might be coming for us from a direction unknown. Worst news was that the Area Commander is now in Command of the fighting Troops. Plan is to withdraw the Brigade from Kohima to cover Dimapur while we concentrate; 2,000 men are left in Kohima and the Area Commander is quite confident they can hold it. By the tone of his voice the Brigadier indicates he is not. It is estimated that the Japs can't attack Kohima for five days. The plan for 2nd Division is to form up at Bokajan and the long-term policy is to wait till the Japs have come on a bit and are short of food and then hit them.

The Brigadier always inspires me with confidence. I hope we have the other two Brigadiers up and are all under our own Divisional Commander.
V.R.G. is situated about six miles out along the Kohima Road. On both sides saw large dumps of ordnance stores, petrol, ammunition, vehicles, medical supplies, and food supplies. Found the best stocked canteen have seen in years. The babu in a flap was letting masses of stores go. Let me have four bars of chocolate without argument. The size of this base emphasises the importance of holding it. If the Japs take Dimapur they will have enough stores for a march on Delhi.

The flap continues and the speed of the vehicles roaring North (empty) is steadily working up to a crescendo. Have heard no news from the front, which is just as well.

Spent morning trying to get ammunition, essential stores and tarpaulins. Never knew before so many A.D.O.S.'s existed. When you've persuaded one to give you something, you have got nowhere ; there are still two others to wear you down.

At tea met some officers engaged in local defence and leading patrols out Kohima way. Told me Area's idea of a patrol was to send chaps out in Jeeps and, if they didn't return, conclude Japs were there. One way of getting negative information, I suppose.

One subaltern who was due to take out a patrol this evening to search, I believe, for the missing Jap Regiment, told me he had ten men but not one automatic weapon. Poor devil. I hope he gets back.

Movement Control people here are first-rate. Amongst all the chaos they are calm professionals and give me accurate information about the trains in good time.
Basil gave the news that they are flying in a Brigade from the 10th onwards and the rest of another Brigade is due to arrive the same day. Thank goodness they appear to realise that some action is needed. There is talk already of moving railhead back to Lumding and the last of the nursing sisters have left here. Straws in a not inconsiderable wind.

Up at 0645 hours and in the middle of shaving when a rather dishevelled American Officer walked in, said he was from Kohima, and asked for a wash. I pointed to my canvas bucket and told him to use it. He stripped off his leather jacket, took the soap I handed to him, and commenced to wash. When he was clean :

"Are they going to hold Kohima?" he said.
"I hope so. Why?" I replied, somewhat startled.
"I've just come from there and I've 'never seen such confusion in my life. There's about 2,000 yaboos there and only about 200 fighting men."
"They're sending the Royal West Kents back there to-day, I believe."

1430 hours received orders to pack up and go up to the Box. Found Jelley, packed up, paid Mess bill, and departed. Absolute chaos raging in the Box. Got the picture off the Brigade Major, who was in the Command Post. Appears that Kohima is being attacked—three days earlier than they thought it would be. Area Commander is trying to move the rest of Brigade back in to join Royal West Kents. Another Brigade has to take up positions on road South of Dimapur. Worcesters and Camerons and a R.A. Battery to move out. Main Brigade H.Q. and Dorsets and the Field Regt. R.A. less one Battery to remain.
At 1100 hours a report came in that 1,000 Japs were moving down the Kohima track near where yesterday information said there were 300. Probably the same crowd and not more than a 100 of them at that.

At 1430 hours, though, Basil rang through and said, "Come in at once and bring your kit." Called for Jelley, packed up, and piled into a truck. Made the bumpy, dust-ridden journey to Dimapur and fetched up at Brigade H.Q. by 1600 hours. Found it situated in a Basha. I went in. Obvious at once that a big flap on. Brigadier was there, the G. I. and some odd members of Divisional Staff. Grabbed a cup of tea and waited for orders. Watched Woodward question Freddy Newman, of the Worcesters, who had just got back from a patrol. Had been out to Kohima and found a road block about M.S. 36. Saw a section covering it, he said, but estimated a platoon there altogether. Two carriers they had trapped were across the road.

Major Britton, the Brigade Major, called the Brigade Staff together, told us the Brigade was going out to hit the Jap at Kohima. To prepare for a minimum of a seven-day battle. (Most optimistic, I thought to myself.) Detailed plans to follow later.

Overwrought feeling at H.Q. all day with the Brigadier in a flaming temper. Have kept well clear, the only sensible thing to do. At mid-day the Japs' threat from Kohima was developing so quickly two companies of Worcesters were sent off to hold them. Big nuisance this while we're trying to concentrate.
At M.S. 32 a considerable ridge crosses the road, and on our side of it the ground is flat and sheltered. Found a big jam of transport just short of the crest, with more piling up every minute. Dismounted and went to find the Brigadier. Found him sitting on the ground below the O.P. "Get this transport sorted out," he told me. "The Worcesters are to go forward embussed, also the Sappers. Debus the Camerons and send back their trucks. If we get shelled now, there'll be hell to pay."

Went back on the road to find a C.M.P. Officer. Told him the orders and he detailed his men. Nearly wept at the magnitude of the task. By lunch time were in a worse mix than when we started. Kept on, though, and gradually the press lessened.

Heard the Worcesters were in action about 1400 hours. Soon the wounded came back in Jeeps. Mostly from "D" Company, my old crowd. Gave them cigarettes and tried to cheer them. They weren't badly wounded, but were palpably shocked. Their eyes looked watery and there was an uncontrollable tremor in their voices. Met two men from 18 Platoon, one shot in the shoulder, the other in the arms. Told me they had attacked a small woody hill, but the covering fire had proved insufficient. The Japs got them at short range with L.M.G. fire. "Mr. Watkins was the first to be killed," they said.

Brigadier's conference was a gloomy affair this evening. The Worcesters had put their Battalion H.Q. in Zubza village (M.S. 36), an easy mark for the Japs to range on. The mortar fire came down with deadly effect; Bob Cassidy was wounded, Padre O'Callaghan killed and some O.R.'s. It's easy to be wise after the event.

Plan now was to make a box here. Dorsets to relieve Camerons, who will move up to Zubza and try to get on the hill covering it unopposed. We are to form a defensive box here.

The Rev. James O'Callaghan (88257) grave

Padre J. O'Callaghan

Brigadier and Brigade H.Q. moved forward to Zubza this morning. The Camerons are off the road already.

Went to have lunch at Brigade H.Q. A curious scene—lunch that I wouldn't have thought possible. The box is sited on the right (uphill) side of the road just before the country starts falling away to form an oval-shaped bowl, with the road winding along just below the rim and the white bungalows of Kohima at the far end.

Everything and everyone out in the open; 500 yards away on a small hill, placed like a lump of jelly left over in the bowl, was a Jap bunker. We watched them and they watched us. And both presumably ate lunch.

Sat by "Boggie" Allen to hear the news. Told me the Japs had tried to bring up a Field Gun on to the Merema Ridge on the other side of the bowl, but his mule trains were spotted by our O.P.'s, and a couple of rounds gun fire finished him off.
At 1330 hours every gun in our box opened up (including two 5.5's which were "found" in Dimapur and adopted by a Field Regiment). Barrage went on for half-an-hour or so. Said a prayer for the Camerons who were doing the attack.

At about 4.0 o'clock General Grover came back down the line. He was standing up in an Armoured Car waving to the troops a la Montgomery. Gather from this the attack must have succeeded; if it hadn't, he would still have been up there giving them hell. Phone message from Brigade half-an-hour later confirmed I was right. Wounded men came in before dark, mostly in Jeeps, but a few serious cases in ambulances. Saw David Graham, who commanded the leading company. He was wounded in the shoulder by a hand grenade. Though has lost some blood, they think he will be all right. Pity he has been knocked out so soon. A fine Officer. 5 Field Ambulance are working with usual efficiency. Have dug slit trenches to protect stretcher cases as they wait. Most impressed with the operating theatre, not elaborate but everything there and to hand. Saw Ken Abbot and Doc. Lees working at pressure.

Well, we've won our first battle. We ought now to be able to cut through Jatsuma and then eventually relieve Kohima.
Special message from the General came to-day. Sets the position out clearly. Here it is:

Commander, 2nd DIVISION.
(To be read to all ranks on arrival in the Operational Area)

I know well the enthusiasm with which every man in the Division is looking forward to the chance of at last having a crack at the Jap, and that no encouragement is required from me.
But I wish all ranks to understand THREE ESSENTIAL POINTS:

FIRST: We have been sent up here to meet a sudden emergency. The Japs are doing their utmost to delay our preparations for the major counter-offensive, which must be the first step towards their ultimate defeat.

If the Japs succeed in establishing themselves on our important L. of C. in this area, they will have struck a severe blow to our preparations, and may put back our programme quite a bit.

We have therefore been entrusted with the vital task of seeing that the JAP is NOT successful in the area for which we are responsible. We are going to prove that the confidence imposed in us to carry out this TASK is not misplaced.

SECOND: But that is only the beginning of the story. In making this bold advance into the MANIPUR State, the Japs are offering us a golden chance to hit them a real crack which may have far-reaching results. The heavier his casualties, the greater will be his difficulty in extricating himself.

So our SECOND MAIN TASK is to KILL JAPS, and to KILL AS MANY of them as we damned well can.

THIRD: This brings me to my final point.
In the excitement of meeting the Japs at last, don't let us forget all the SKILL and CUNNING we have learnt in the past two years. We want to KILL JAPS without unnecessary casualties to ourselves.

One well-aimed bullet is all that any JAP wants. Now, 2nd Division, it is up to us!

After lunch Ken Daniels, our Sapper Major, came to take his bridging lorries forward. There is a bridge blown at M.S. 39½. Great chaps, these sappers. They never get enough real work to do on training, but now is their chance and they are seizing it firmly.

Cleared the road this afternoon for a convoy of Medical Stores. Brigade have run pretty short. Later saw their wounded come back. Mostly cases in ambulances crawling at 3 miles an hour. They, must have had a bit of a battering.

Am beginning to appreciate the lay of this country. Will be as difficult to fight in as any in the world. Have a good, though long, L. of C., but that's our only asset ; the main advantage is to the Japs. The road is covered every mile of the way by thickly-jungled peaks, ideal for snipers, but too big to picquet. Between them swift tree-hidden nalas plunge down to the valleys. As far as you can see there's no flat feature of ground; mountains range to the South and East and the West.

The road clings precariously to the steep hillside like a ribbon fastened to a wall by tin-tacks. We shall have to supply the whole Division along it and any other troops who may arrive to support us.
Hear the attack on the approaches to Hospital Hill starts to-morrow. If it succeeds, the road is to be cleared for columns bringing wounded out. To-day's joke: Some 25-pounder gunners in action near the road saw some 3.7's moving through. "Hi," they cried in derision, "do you want some water for your pistols!"

Last night the gunners put down a concentration on Kohima. Stood and watched the flashes spurt and die as they fired, lighting up the camp one second, to plunge it into darkness the next. What with these lighting effects and the demoniacal roar of sound, the whole scene was pitched into the over-real vividness of a nightmare. Firing over by midnight and then a blessed silence. But not for long. Soon heard the B.S.M.'s metallic voice: "Take post!" Then it started again. An S.O.S. tussle, this time. Apparently the Camerons reported activity in the nala below them.

Went forward to Brigade H.Q. after breakfast. More activity than usual to-day. Saw Bimbo Howard, who told me that an attack was going in on Kohima by mid-day. We are not seriously involved, thank God. Now that the whole Division is deployed, it is time for the other two Brigades to have a crack. Heard that the packs are coming up to-day. That means we can get a change of clothing at last.
Disturbed night. Shooting started at about 2300 hours down in the lower end of the box where the Mule Coy. is now in position, the Brigadier having suddenly removed his veto. Kicked Jelley in the buttocks (no firing ever awakens him), grabbed tin hat and gun, and manned our slit trench. Quite a dark cloudy night. Only after ten minutes or so did our eyes become acclimatised enough to see 20 or 30 yards. To make matters worse, field of fire spoiled by a couple of armoured cars that had pulled in late. The firing which started at one or two posts spread rapidly all round the box. Even the people at the back of us up on the sharp wooded rise opened up with tracer, which came over uncomfortably near our heads. Then the guns started—whether on a set piece or on a S.O.S. task, I didn't know; anyway they greatly added to the confusion. From the noise one might have imagined there was a Brigade attack coming in. I somehow felt, though, there was nothing of the sort; the firing was too wild and uncontrolled. The telephone rang. I picked it up to answer. C.O. of the Worcesters was on the other end. Said: "For God's sake stop the Mule Company firing on the East of the box. You are shooting up my picquet on Hill X." I knew where he meant. It was a small hill feature about 300 yards out in the valley. "I'll do my best, sir," I replied, " but at present I am pinned down by the fire from behind me." "Well, do your best." He rang off abruptly. An awkward situation. I did not really believe that the picquet would be hit. They were dug in and could sit pretty. But if anyone did stop one, there would be some tricky questions to answer. On the other hand, in box warfare, anyone moving about on top with a night show on is just asking for death.
Luckily, the fire slackened. Was about to crawl out of my hole when Hewitt, of the Dorsets, came crawling past. Said he had to get down to his chaps on the road. I was not very heroic. "Okay," I said, "if you're going down there tell Horton to stop his chaps shooting up the Worcesters picquet." He assented and moved off. A few minutes later he came back to say this was done. Got through to Tom Hughes and told him no idea what firing about, but would try and find out; then crawled back into bed.

A group of twenty or so Nagas came in during the morning. They were the first I had seen at close quarters, so I took a good look at them. A fine group of men they were, with dark, smooth-skinned limbs and a manly bearing. From the broad grins that traversed their faces you would never have guessed they'd had trouble with the Japs. Their dress was pretty; there's no other word for it. It consisted firstly of a short, tight-fitting, skirt of some rough black material, rather reminiscent of the flappers in their early heigh-day. Their knees were covered by a series of bangles, piled one over the other. Their torso was left quite bare, though some older men wore bright red coatees, neatly designed by some local Schaparelli who had somehow forgotten to put in the sleeves. Except for a cloth around their shoulders, that was all the dress proper, but Carmen Miranda herself was never more loaded with bangles, rings, necklaces, beads, ear-rings, charms, nick-nacks, and jew-jaws. These hung in great festoons from the ears, neck, and arms. Some men, I noticed, had white shells hanging down the nape of the neck. To complete the picture was their jet black hair, cut pudding-basin wise, and decorated with flowers, and, to spoil it, their black umbrellas, sordid enough to pass muster in Whitehall or Leadenhall Street. A great pity about the umbrellas.

Elderfield, the F.S.O., received the Nagas. He has collected a gang of cut-throats together so that at second or third hand he can interpret pretty well any dialect. He motioned the Nagas to sit, which they did, solemnly in a circle, their headman stepping forward to make his speech. He spoke eloquently like a French politician, making quick, nervous gestures with his hands. I listened intently, but, except for catching the word "Japani," understood not a thing.

Suddenly he stopped and sat down, the Nagas smiling and nodding their heads emphatically. An interpreter dressed in khaki shorts now came into action. He asked the headman one or two questions, thought for a moment, and then addressed Elderfield in fluent Urdu. Elderfield turned to the Brigade Major and said: "What they want is rifles. The Japs have been coming to their
village for food and, if they are refused, start to loot. They say that if the white sahibs will give them rifles, they'll be only too glad to shoot the Japanese and bring in their heads."

I remembered then that the Nagas were head-hunters and saw the underlying humour of their request. Since the British Government wouldn't allow them to scalp each other, what an excellent opportunity of keeping their hand in by practising on the Japs. A rare combination of business and pleasure. The Brigadier agreed to their suggestion, which made the Nagas laugh more than ever. A couple of hours later I saw them trekking away to the hills, their Jap rifles carried proudly at the slope.

Generally speaking, a great day, except for the gunners, who never seem to rest. I gather that although we hold Hospital Hill (the centre of Kohima) and (precariously) the road up to it, the Japs still hold the hills to the East, South and West. Brigade are working forward to-day, in preparation for the first phase of the attack.
The Brigadier gave some news of enemy movements. It seems that the Japs, having observed that we are launching a right hook on Kohima, have themselves decided to do a right hook on us and in preparation for this are moving troops along the ridge opposite to occupy Merema. If the enemy's plan succeeds it will, of course, temporarily cut off our L. of C. to Dimapur, and if our plan succeeds we shall cut his L. of C., which runs back to the Chindwin. The difference is, however, that if we get cut off we can supply ourselves from the air, but he can't. It will be interesting to see what happens. Meanwhile a company of the Camerons are going to worm their way up on to Merema Ridge to see what's happening.

Had a look at Dupont's sketching before lunch. He was seated on a tree stump, a charcoal pencil in his mouth, putting in the details of a drawing of the attack on "Cameron Pimple." He is a good artist, Dupont, and if he survives will become a respected member of the Royal Academy (Three of Captain Dupont's sketches have been purchased for the 7th Battalion by officers who took part in the campaign).

After lunch went back to Zubza, where the Admin. Box is now pretty well organised. Was walking round the area to see how it could be improved when I came across the grave of our Roman Catholic chaplain. It is at the north end of the village, marked by a plain wooden cross; the inscription reads: "Reverend Father J. O'Callaghan, Killed in action, 11th April, 1944."

It was here that the Worcestershires were mortared on that first chaotic day's fighting. The Padre, knowing that he could be back at the M.D.S., chose typically to stay forward with the men. His death came as a shock to all ranks and all creeds. He was a fine man who did good naturally wherever he was, and whatever he was engaged in.

Later heard the Brigadier's plan. The Camerons were to step right back from the village to let the guns give it hell. This, in fact, happened. 2330 hours saw the box reeling beneath a hurricane of sound; the earth shook and the flimsy bivouacs shuddered with fear. The troops opened their eyes only to be blinded by the light that raced like a demon up and down the gun lines. They cursed the Gunners as lousy bastards who slept all day and kept other people awake at night. They questioned their morals, disputed their parentage, and suggested in no way were they natural. They were definitely not kind about the Gunners.
Working peacefully in the "Q" Office at 1030 hours, when a big flap started. Brigadier ordered a conference for 1100 hours. Reason for the flap was this : 

Yesterday, a couple of wee Jocks, watching the road south of Merema, saw an enormous Japanese Sergeant-Major, pedalling down from Kohima on a bicycle. Their first reaction was to catch him alive, but as he approached they changed their minds. "He was so big, sir," they said, "we thought we'd best shoot him and pick his pockets." Their first shot winged him, and down he came; they rolled him into a ditch, hid his bicycle, and began to search him. The result of their search was an operation order which, when sent back to Division for translation, gave a good idea of the Japs' intention.

According to Woodward he has decided that an advance forward of Kohima is now impossible and is withdrawing his troops into the town.

1100 hours, the C.O.'s came along bristling with notebooks and map-cases; the Gunners, the Sappers and the Doctors, too. Got sat down when General Grover arrived. He was obviously excited. "Good morning," he said, "I think the Japs have bought it this time. They've got too far forward and want to get back. Now is the time for you to fetch 'em a good crack. Best of luck. Good morning." A few words with the Brigadier and he was away like a flash, his entourage running to keep up behind him.

The Brigadier sat down to give his orders. He looked rather worried and his voice was subdued. His plan was simple but entirely unorthodox. Like Marlborough before Blenheim, he intended to march in column slap across the enemy's front. If anything went wrong he would catch a packet. "I wonder what the Staff College would say," he remarked. The L.F.'s have come in to the Brigade temporarily.

The troops were to move off after dark along to "Cameron Pimple" down into the Zubza nala, and then toil up the slope on to Merema Ridge. Time estimated for the march, six hours. No blankets to be taken, no cookers, no messes. No comforts at all. Just the men, their weapons, 24 hours' rations, a little ammunition, and a few medical stores, that's all.

Maintenance project to supply by coolies to-day and next three days, after that by air-drops. Any questions? No questions. The conference dispersed, looking anxiously at the sky, which was far too cloudy. A drop of rain, and we knew the Brigade would not get up that mountain.

After dusk, the Brigade got under arms and led off down the road in single file. It was dark and cold and no one was happy. But discipline tells and they moved in good order, silently, and with barely a word spoken.

Pray the Brigade gets up on that ridge to-night.
Awoke this morning at 0500 hours to find we were being shelled. Accurately for direction but, luckily, out for range. The shells came screaming over about one a minute from the Merema Ridge, and passed directly above our heads to explode in the wooded re-entrant beyond. Kicked Jelley awake and took cover in the slit trench. Saw the flash of the gun precede each shell. Could not observe the strike owing to obstruction of the trees, but the sound of the explosives indicated the shells were falling in the same spot. There was no question of their having a bracket on us. Woke up Colonel Howard, who was in the annexe to the Command Post, and put a call through to the gunners. They said that the Jap gun had already been flash-spotted from five angles and that the counter-battery staff were already at work. A short time later the 25-pdrs. opened up and the Jap was heard no more.
Gunners in action this afternoon softening up Jail Hill and the Treasury. The hillock behind us makes an excellent grandstand, so sat there with the troops watching the white puffs dotting around the targets. Troops quite excited. Muttered: Give 'em hell! Give 'em -- and derision. The gunners did. The rate of shelling went up to 30 a minute and the concentration lasted about half-anhour. Towards the end great tongues of flame were licking the southern sky and dull explosions were heard in the distance. Then came the smoke. It was as if twelve "Majesties" were getting up steam behind the ridge.

The second Act brought on the Vengeances. A dozen of them, and they dived, straightened out, bombed, and climbed again. It was the first air-strike the troops had seen, that is, on the enemy. As they watched, many remembered, no doubt, the retreat on Dunkirk, where they themselves were dive-bombed by the Germans. Four years of war—and now some measure of revenge. It was good to see.

Third Act of the show was the air-drop. As the Vengeances flew away over came the supply 'planes. Very low and cumbersome, they steered for Hospital Hill. The parachutes came down, two or three at a time, glinting white in the afternoon sun. The planes flew in a circle, each dropping in turn; apparently it takes six or more runs to empty a 'plane load. Hospital Hill, which is already flecked with white like the hide of a cheetal, will soon look completely snow-capped. The parachutes are lodged up in the trees and it is not yet possible to salvage them.

Heard later the drop was only 35 per cent successful, the bulk, presumably, having gone to the Japs. If we go on like this, they'll be holding out for months.

Scraps of news came through this evening. Heard the Camerons killed three Japs before breakfast and seventeen more later on in a show around Merema. The D.L.I. hit a sticky patch last night. Japs attacked them before their defences were completely organised. A hundred odd Japs got into the box and an hour or so's bloody fighting ensued. Not a Jap got out alive, but the D.L.I. lost five officers killed, besides a number of troops.
This afternoon the first column of wounded came down from Brigade. It was a precarious journey as a heavy shower of rain had rendered the precipitous tracks unnegotiable. Saw the slow, winding column come up to the road, the casualties lying quite still, obviously exhausted. Here they were transferred to ambulance cars, each car moving off as it received its four stretchers. The doctors were full of praise for the conduct of the Nagas. When the odd mortar bomb came over they had put the stretchers down under cover, and fanned the wounded men with branches till they could move on again. A great show this. I could see the A.D.M.S. was pleased. Had the Nagas shown they couldn't take it, a most difficult situation would have arisen; there aren't enough troops to do the job.
Heard this morning that Johnnie Brazier killed. Very sorry. He was a fine chap, small, sandy-haired, and with bags of guts. He shared my cabin on the voyage out. Big loss to the Worcestershires.

News of the fighting vague and confused. Patrol activity, but not much else. Teddy Edwards, the Dorsets' Q.M., came to see me this afternoon. His unit is in an exposed position around the District Commissioner's bungalow. They took over from an Indian battalion who liked their trenches wide and shallow as opposed to our chaps, who like them narrow and deep. The Dorsets are deepening the trenches gradually, but digging is difficult owing to the activity of snipers. The Japs, Teddy told me, have got dug in under the concrete base of the tennis court. This is peculiarly situated on the top of a twelve-foot bank, so that tanks cannot get at it and grenades and flame flowers cannot reach it. Mortar bombs are ineffective and the troops are too thick on the ground for the mediums to have a crack. A nasty position, but I have no doubt that the Sappers will find a way out. They may be mad or Methodist, but when they're set on something nothing can stop them.

Up to Division this afternoon. It is now in position on the Upper Road about three miles this side of Kohima. Saw the Grants moving forward, great steel, noisy monsters. Wish the country were better for them. The Gurkhas are up with us now. Saw them pitching camp just behind Divisional H.Q.'s. Small, wiry, rather Mongolian to look at, they are one of the finest races in the East.
Day dawned bright but misty, and the parachute-studded Hospital Hill was barely visible. The sun was determined to break through, however, and succeeded about 0900 hours, but this was too late. The Hurri bombers coming over to carry out an air-attack at 0830 hours stooged about for a while, but, failing to see their target, made off to the North. The guns opened up and we could see the shells falling on Jail Hill and the Treasury. No doubt was left that the attack would go in before lunch.

At 0900 hours I jeeped forward to see Horton, the shells screaming over my head all the way. He had established his H.Q. at the top of the jeep track running up from M.S. 42¾. It is the steepest thing I have ever been up or down except in a lift, and if there is another Wembley Exhibition after the War with a scenic railway I shall pass it by with a hollow laugh; 6d. from me it shall not have.
Found Horton, together with CRASC and his Adjutant, Gregory, who were using his H.Q. as a grandstand to watch the battle. For this purpose it was perfect, so I sat down and joined them. Kohima Ridge faced us like a set from Drury Lane ; Jail Hill on the right, then Hospital Hill, then the Treasury, and far away to the left Naga Village and Merema Ridge; 300 feet below us trucks were harboured and, to the right of them, guns, whole batteries of them, with the gunners moving like small specks, barely visible through the camouflage nets. Except for the odd D.R. and Jeep, the road winding up to was empty.

A modern battlefield looks rather empty. We were rocked by a hurricane of sound, but of the men who produced it we could see nothing. Only those gunners who happened to be below us. After watching for ten minutes or so, we saw an amazing sight—a couple of troops of Grants rolled up to the road block by Jail Hill and attacked the bunkers covering it. They just sat in the road and belched forth smoke and flame, some to the left and others to the right, till I thought they would run out of ammunition. The bunkers couldn't stand the weight of this onslaught; great columns of earth and timber shot into the air and then, as the incendiaries were pumped in at point-blank range, burst into flame, first one, then another, until four bunkers, two on either side of the road, were ablaze. I looked through my glasses to see if any Japs would come running out, but none did so. I think they must have fried where they were. The tanks stayed for a moment and solemnly regarded their handiwork, then slewed round abruptly, and rumbled out of sight.

Meanwhile, on our left, the mortars were putting down a smoke concentration in the low ground beneath Hospital Hill. I couldn't see the reason for this at first; no one wanted the ground, as it was tactically valueless. Then Horton pointed out some carriers, which were racing along the road to the left. The reason for the smoke was now obvious; it was to screen the carriers from the guns covering the road. I watched the carriers anxiously, as I could see they were loaded with troops and rather vulnerable. But they made it all right. Saw the last of them disappear round the bend near the D.C.'s bungalow.

Jail Hill was now covered by a confused mass of smoke. The gunners had been giving it hell all the morning and now the infantry mortars were having a go. Imagined the attack would soon go in from the other side.

There was a sniper just away to our right. He kept letting off a round every minute or so, but at what I didn't know. Thought at one time he might have a go at us—we were a big enough target, stuck up there like crows, but he didn't. He must have known who we were.

Back at the Adm. Area I heard that the Camerons had got on to Naga Village. What a Regiment! Imagine the rest of the Brigade will follow them.

Battlefield at the village of Naga

Evacuation of casualties is becoming increasingly difficult. Am told that in the last war troops wounded at 8.0 o'clock in the morning would be in hospital in London by mid-day; here, they are lucky to reach the A.D.S. in that time. Then, having been patched up, they must endure the nightmare three-hours' journey down the precipitous slope into the nala, and across it, and up on to the road. This, on a swaying stretcher carried by four faithful Nagas, often as not under mortar fire. Then a 43-mile trip by ambulance down the tortuous road into the torrid heat of Dimapur. Then later on a two-day journey by train to Calcutta. Then God knows what. Am continually amazed at the patience of the troops; they lie still beneath the blankets, white with pain, but uncomplaining. It's a miracle that so many survive. Later the technique of evacuating casualties by air was perfected and improved their lot enormously.
They told me Worcesters, L.F.'s, and Main H.Q. had joined the Camerons. From now until the road is open they are to be supplied by air.

Several more casualties came down this morning. Curious thing is that they were mostly shot through the legs by snipers. Wonder if it is true that the Japs would rather wound than kill, believing that our medical services are as bad as theirs. May be something in it.

Not much to do this afternoon. Sat on the dugout roof writing letters when the phone rang. The Box Commander's Adjutant on the other end gave me "Air-raid Warning Red," which message I passed on to Andy at the Workshops and told him to sound the siren. He had just got out the first wail when the Zeros came over, four of them. They were flying low and swept down the valley through the flak that was already filling the sky, to strafe Div. H.Q. and the forward gun positions. A quick wheel before Kohima Ridge and they came roaring down on us, their cannons blazing. The flak by this time was thicker than ever, but the Zeros seemed equipped with immortality. Ten seconds and they were on us, so low that I felt I could reach up and pluck them out of the sky. The pilots' heads were quite visible as they banked. The troops were determined to enjoy this party. Grabbing rifles, Brens, and—I regret to say—Stens, they stood in their slit trenches and let the planes have it. Such a barrage from small arms I've never seen, and from the strike of the tracer it was pretty accurate. The Zeros circled beyond us and went back for a second run. The A.A. barrage was obviously worrying them now; they lost formation and writhed their way forward individually, but at Kohima they turned about as before and we braced ourselves for their second run at us. The troops, split up as they were into small parties, and few of them under N.C.O.'s, showed admirable discipline. They changed magazines and held their fire. Five seconds of suspense and the small arms were crackling again. The tracer raced up in a dozen streams and why no 'plane was brought down I can't imagine. The Zeros manoeuvred for their third run up the valley, but this time I could see they'd had enough. First one, then another peeled off to the left, the flak chasing them all the way. A few moments and it was over. The guns ceased firing and the 'planes disappeared over Merema Ridge. Got out of my hole to see if there were any casualties. I couldn't find any, though the ground just behind me was ploughed up slightly. Monkey's C.S.M., who had a box of magazines at his elbow, found it smashed to pieces when he turned round in his trench to change mags. As far as I could see the only casualties in our half of the box were four vehicles slightly damaged. I dug up some of the Jap bullets, ugly brutes they were, about point 739. I imagine the raid was meant to bolster up the sinking spirits of the Japs in Kohima; it may have done, but it has also improved our chaps' morale no end.
Bertie Woodward came up just before lunch bringing a draft from Ahmad Nagar. He was on a course when the show started, but they wouldn't release him for security reasons. Gave him lunch and he went on his way.
Decided last night that I must go up and see Brigade. This morning arose at 0530 hours to find a watery sun struggling up above the hill tops. The sky, pale but clear. An early shave and breakfast and went forward with Jelley in the Jeep to M.S. 42 to join the mule column. I have had a piece of ground levelled here by the Bengali Pioneers and stuck up a notice saying: "MULE LOADING POINT."

We pushed off at 0700 hours. First, the guides with a section of the escort, then Max Rose and myself, then the long line of mules and Pathans. We made our way down to the nala, the path wriggling and turning among the rocks, and not easy going for man or beast. Only a shallow stream confronted us at the bottom; we chose a spot where a pebbly bottom showed through the water and waded across without any difficulty. On the far side the country became wooded, but occasionally a clearing on our right would expose us to the Japs on the Treasury. They let us alone though; probably they were too worried by the shells, which came screeching over our heads from Zubza.

After we had been climbing for five minutes a group of Zeros came over, but we were not worried as the woods effectively screened us. They released their bombs on the dumps near Lancaster Gate and flew away again. It was all over in a few seconds. We toiled up the slope; the escorts in front cursing the weight of their packs; myself puffing like a grampus; the mules slipping and sliding on the rocks; and the troops hanging on the tails of the mules. It was abominably hot and sticky; I regretted my decision to go up the Brigade. I felt completely exhausted.

An hour's more climbing and we made contact with the party Basil had sent out to meet us. Everything was quiet this morning, they said. They led us on for a bit, but soon we had to halt for a column of wounded coming the other way. The men on the stretchers looked anxiously at the mules, not wishing to pass them on the narrow track, but the mules behaved like the gentlemen they are, and not one hind leg went lashing out. The Pathans held their bridles and patted them gently; the Nagas carrying the stretchers didn't care a damn. They gave us a broad smile, edged past us carefully, and disappeared down the hill.

Ten minutes' rest and we moved on again. The paths were now level, but there was a nasty, thirty feet rock face on our left and no trees to screen us. Naga Village loomed up in front, but before
we, could reach it we had to cross a road. The escort crouched under cover, then, choosing their moment, ran to the buildings on the other side. We followed suit, a few men and mules at a time. Now came the steep slope up into the village, the first part of which was almost devoid of cover, but had to be traversed nevertheless. Halfway up a Pathan grabbed my arm and pointed to the sky.
"Humara," he asked, "humara hawaii jahaz?" I looked up to see a dozen or more Zeros manoeuvring above us. "Nahin," I said, "Japani log."

I admired those Pathans during the next few minutes. There we were on a steep hillside with no cover from view and very little from fire, a dozen men and about twenty mules. The track was narrow and we couldn't get off it; a panic among the mules and we'd certainly have been kicked over the khud-side. But the Pathans were magnificent; they edged their beasts against the cliff and remained motionless. Above us the Zeros were positioning themselves for an attack. Not on us as it turned out. I think they were after the guns again, but whatever their plan was it failed miserably. The volume of flak chucked up by the gunners was terrific, and with relief I saw we had nothing to worry about. The Zeros broke formation, peeled off to the East, the flak chasing them like a clutching hand. We had news later that the Spitfires received them on the way back.

Five minutes more climbing and we reached the Brigade. It is a filthy spot, this, covered in dirty, half-ruined bashas, and littered with the rubbish of generations. The earth is fouled, not only by the excretions of the Nagas, but also by the diseased bodies of the Japs, loosely buried beneath the surface. The smell is sickening; no wonder the troops hate the place.
Found Tom Hughes and Ian McKillop in the Command Post. I took them up some drink and food for the Mess, so they were glad to see me. The Command Post is dug in beneath a ramshackle hut, has sandbag walls and a reinforced roof. It seemed pretty safe. Tom and Ian looked strained, dirty, and unkempt. Like everyone else, they hadn't changed their battledress or washed in weeks. Water is scrace, the ration being about two pints a man a day, so baths are off. The mortaring and shelling has been a strain on them, too. It starts at any time of day and is murderously accurate. The Japs are still using 3inch mortars they picked up from our early air-drops. They are entrenched on three sides of the box; to the West on the Treasury, to the South on Church Knoll, and to the North on Merema Ridge. Our people are doing a valuable job by staying here, as this feature dominates the East of Kohima, but we've lost a lot of men without a chance of hitting back, and the troops don't like it.

Saw Basil and worked on the maintenance project. The plan is for the mules to bring up reserves of petrol, supplies, and ammunition for seven days. We estimated it would take another four days to do this.

Lunch with Boggie Allen beside his dugout. I call it a dugout, though it was only a slit trench with a bivouac beside it. Food not too bad considering the Brigade is semi-beleaguered; sardines, beetroot, peas, tinned pears, biscuits, butter, jam, and tea. Chief deficiencies were potatoes and bread. We had reached the tinned fruit when the mortaring started; the first bombs not very close, but you never know when they are going to switch. We looked at each other, Boggie and I, neither confessing our longing to get in the hole. Three more bombs, this time a bit closer; and the strike of our spoons went up to forty a minute. Then we fairly gobbled up what was left and scrambled into the trench. Bloody fools, both of us.
In the afternoon went round the units with Basil. Everyone fairly happy though grimed with dirt. Field Ambulance, as usual, hard at work; they have established an A.D.S. deep down in a nala bed. Legges Lyon and Bill Briggs (gunner and machine gunner) were having great fun at a game they called "ferretting." Legges put down a few shells on the lower village and three Japs came running out of a basha. A short burst from the machine guns and the Japs had had it. Two dropped down crash, another checked in his stride, swayed for a moment like a poplar in a breeze, took one step forward, then flopped down on the earth. They have killed thirty Japs like this in the last few days.

Left Brigade at 1600 hours for the return journey. Just Jelley, the BOWO, myself, and the escort; the mule train having gone back after lunch. Uneventful journey down. Stopped halfway to watch the concentration put down on the Treasury. The gunners were giving it absolute hell. Trees crashed down and the earth showered up; bashas and buildings splintered and cracked. Not a second passed without at least one shell landing. It was good to see.
The rain is rapidly assuming the role of enemy No. 1. Apart from flooding roads and rendering Jeep tracks unjeepable, it has a bad effect on the morale and condition of the troops. . The infantry, as usual, get the worst of it. Living in waterlogged slit trenches, their clothes soaked, their boots sodden, their food when they get it often cold and mushy, life rapidly becomes almost insupportable. In the forward positions, groundsheets and gas-capes, their sole protection, are useless against the torrential rains, and the men are compelled to sleep in wet blankets on the slushy ground. In these circumstances their health quickly deteriorates, however seasoned they may be. Diarrhoea, influenza, dysentery, and other ills set in, diseases that can soon render whole armies ineffective. We are combating this deterioration as much as possible. Whenever the tactical situation permits, regiments or companies are whipped out of the line, given baths and a complete set of dry clothes. Fresh rations are issued whenever the units can cope with them, and the cooks are sent forward to join their companies. Meanwhile the infantry are battling on despite all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; neither the Jap nor the weather nor the terrain can stop them. If ever troops wore the mantle of greatness, ours do at this moment.

Now that the Treasury is clear, we ought to be able to reach the Brigade by road. Div. came on at 1800 hours to say: "Send up supplies round the road by mule. NOT, repeat NOT, by M.T." There was a good reason for this, though at first it seemed wasteful; the supplies had to be manhandled up the last 300 yards, and not enough men could be found to do the job.
Road to Brigade open. Up at 0600 hours and made a hurried breakfast. Sent Frank Broadbent up to Kohima to recce. a mulehead. He returned about 0745 hours, having made the journey both ways without being potted at. Said the mess in Kohima was beyond description.
1400 hours, jeeped round to Brigade. The drive through Kohima I shan't forget. The road was littered with every kind of refuse; scraps of corrugated iron, fragments of huts, equipment, helmets, saddlery, burnt-out trucks, window frames, and Jap bodies in every state of decay and mutilation, some still in the last attitude of life. The goods of an aluminium store lay there too; a shell must have hit it and scattered them abroad. Not a building in Kohima remained undamaged; the panorama of destruction was complete. Along the road gangs of pioneers were at work, sorting the wreckage into heaps, and then transferring it into salvage dumps. I pitied them rather as the stench was terrific; death and decay literally hummed in the air. I got through to Bde. as quick as I could.
Up at Naga Village there was great activity. Although the Japs are still on Hunters Hill and Firs Hill, their withdrawal from the Treasury has made it possible for the troops to wander out of the narrow confines of the box. When I arrived they were hard at work, stripping bashas and huts of every tarpaulin or stick of furniture they could lay their hands on. A steady stream of men was going uphill, carrying every conceivable sort of object. Their bivouacs will soon be positively palatial. A Sunday School just below the box has yielded a 100 or so chairs, and I saw some char being brewed up in a vessel I suspect came off an altar. On the notice board outside the school was written in chalk : "Sunday School, 9th April, 9.30 a.m." It looked rather pathetic and I wondered whether the service was held.

Everyone looked more cheerful than usual. They had the feeling that an ordeal was over I saw Tom Hughes and Ian McKillop, both looking scruffy, but elegant as usual. I told them I was sending up several thousands of rupees worth of canteen stores, but they weren't impressed. Said they'd captured a depot with enough stuff in it to last them three more campaigns. That's War, that is.
Started the day by laying on bathing arrangements with the Q.M.'s. Fatigue parties detailed, fires lit, and our bisected petrol drums ready to receive the troops by 0800 hours. The Worcestershires turned up first. Saw Freddy Thomson and Drake, both looking incredibly dirty and ragged. After fixing up BOR's, took them over to the officers' bath house. When they saw the hot water in the tubs the tears almost came into their eyes! The Battalion were in very good heart; had done some good work for reasonably light casualties, so had every reason to be pleased with themselves. Later in the day Keith Evers came down with John Brierley and John Dalton. Talk mostly of the impending attack on Point 5120. All anxious to know what the role of their own company would be. I pray this attack goes in all right. I don't see why not; the troops know their job and the fire support is big enough, God knows. With 6 batteries of 25-pounders, 3 of 3.7's, 2 of 6-pounders, 1 of 5.5's, a troop of Grants, and a couple of squadrons of Hurribombers to harry them, the Japs should feel depressed, to say the least of it. Am sure this is the way to fight the Jap; knock hell out of him with every gun and round you've got before the infantry go in. A gun or a tank can be made in a week, but your infantryman is twenty years a-growing. And when he's killed, none of him can be salvaged for use again; neither his body, his experience, his skill, his fighting spirit, nor his great heart. It's all gone forever.

Congratulatory message from the Corps Commander. Here it is : 
0224L. Div. Comd. has much pleasure in passing on the following personal message from the Corps Comd. Begins—please convey to all staffs and units under your command my appreciation of their determination, tenacity and gallantry during recent stubborn fighting which culminated in the final capture of so many important posns. yesterday. So far as is known this is the first co-ordinated offensive operation on a large scale which has yet been carried out against the enemy, and there is no doubt that your hard fighting and gallantry have disrupted the plans of the Japanese 31 division and dealt it a heavy blow. My best wishes to all ranks for the speedy completion of the capture of KOHIMA. Ends—all informed.
Rained all night, but to-day dawned sunny. The sky looks suspiciously innocent, but we may get a dry spell.

After breakfast Max and I jeeped round to Bde. Kohima much clearer now with the hordes of pioneers still at work clearing debris. The odd Jap corpse still lies on the road, one so completely flattened by a tank that it is no thicker than cardboard. Hear that a Jock had a look at it yesterday and found Rs 200 in the pockets. He deserves it, both for braving the smell and telling which were the pockets.

On Naga Village a couple of bulldozers are making a road to get the Grants up for the attack on Pt. 5120. This road is the last word in madness, it is utterly impossible; it is going to work. The bulldozers, snorting and roaring at an angle of about 60 degrees from the horizontal, are cutting thousands of tons out of the hillside. I've never seen anything like it. And now I hear they intend to get the tanks up at night.
Anxious all morning about the Worcestershires' attack. The arty. concentration started at 0815 hours and there was sporadic shelling for some hours. Not as heavy as I expected, probably because some batteries have moved up.

They wouldn't let either myself or supplies go forward while the battle was on, so I had to be content with scraps of news from the gunners. David Lowe, whom I saw at lunch-time, told me they were still fighting for the first objective. This worried me a lot; I knew that unless they got the second (final) objective they wouldn't be able to stay on the first. This would mean starting from scratch again. Basil came on the set at 1500 hours to say: "Send off ration column at 1600 hours." Laid this on and it left in good order. At 1700 hours I jeeped forward myself.

Found Basil working in his dugout and, like everyone else, depressed. He told me the Worcester-shires had taken eight bunkers, but when they got on top of the hill found a mass of positions on the reverse slope that the gunners couldn't touch. As it was too late to dig in, the Brigadier called them off. Bertie Woodward was killed leading his platoon on to their third bunker, the first two having been dealt with successfully. Rather shaken at this. He was with me in "D" Company a couple of years ago when I was the only officer who wasn't a B.A. Bertie had a degree in Agriculture and hoped, after the war, to take a small farm and work it for the rest of his days. We'll miss him a lot.
Learned that the Brigade was to be relieved and would go into reserve on Two Tree Hill. Very pleased at this. The troops need a rest from Naga Village. The water supply is poisoning their stomachs; not surprising when you think that the whole place is a graveyard and the water has to seep through the diseased bodies of the Japs before it reaches the wells. Colonel Howard was about to take a recce. party to the new area, so I rushed across to my Jeep and followed the column down the hill.

Two Tree Hill stands above the main road a mile or so North of Kohima; the jeep track up to it is the most hair-raising ever. A spot of rain and it will obviously become impassable. With Bimb Howard at the head, the Jeeps roared their way up the track. It was a depressing area when we reached it. Just trampled grass, and mud, and a few scattered corpses. Saw the B.M. and then made a recce. with Copestake, the Sapper. Water point good. Shan't have to use water trucks. Shall have to bring supplies up from the road by mules. A sweat, but not impossible.

At 1600 hours a rumour floated down that Ian Thorburn had been killed and Boggie Allen wounded. Monkey Moncrieff got hold of it and came over to me for confirmation. I phoned up Brigade and asked the signaller: " Is No. 6 in good health ? " The answer came back: "Unfortunately, no." I said: "What about L.O. 1 ?" They replied: "He's on the way down to you now." So the rumour was right.

7th Battalion Worcestershire passing a supply dump a few miles from Kohima
 (photo kindly provided by Cameron Crampton - son-in-law to Lieut. James Douglas Plumley, M.C., M.M.)
Lieut. Plumley sent this photo to his wife Ellen in 1945

Brigade completing move over to Two Tree Hill. Damned lucky we are going, for the Japs have got some guns up on Aradura Spur and are lobbing over shells with murderous accuracy.

Bde. are attacking Pt. 5120. Hope to God they get it, though I'm not too optimistic. It's one of the most impregnable positions that ever was.

Sitreps say the Japs have got a gun up on Merema. I suppose that now we shall start getting shelled again.

This morning early I got wind that the Brigade had moved in the night to take up position for the operation. This was rather ahead of schedule, so I jeeped forward after breakfast to see what was to do.

Saw "God" (General Grover) soon after. He was standing in the rain in a battered felt hat with a muddy monsoon cape slung round his shoulders. He waved as we passed and shouted: "All right, Bunting." He looked as though all this movement through the mud was the greatest fun in the world. What a soldier!
The tactical position, I found, was this: Bde. now in position on Aradura Spur, though some Japs were still holding out in odd pockets. Seems we will have to clean up Aradura before the Armoured Column can trundle down towards Imphal. The Bde. Command Post was already established on Jail Hill and Main Bde. was packed up ready to join it.

It seems that the operation, in its present form anyway, is off. The Aradura Spur is going to be a harder nut to crack than was ever imagined. We shall have to have another think. Royal Berks are holding on in an outpost position, but the rest of the Division is being withdrawn. The troops are pretty well exhausted. Although there hasn't been much hard fighting, the constant moving and the lack of cooked meals, in fact, any meals at all, together with the appalling weather, have been too much for them. We shall have to rest a day or two before attempting another party.

Went up to Brigade at 1000 hours to find the Brigadier, Lt.-Colonel McNaught, Tom and Basil having a chatty conference. Brigadier wanted as many troops as possible to get back and bath. Told me to make arrangements to house, feed and bath a company of Dorsets a day, starting to-morrow. Came away before he flung any more work at me and ferretted out Pryke-Howard, who was sniffing around the Dorsets H.Q. We went back to Zubza and made a bandobast. All okay, I think.
The chat at Division is that we've got to open the road by the 16th of June, after which date Imphal cannot be maintained by air, the air-strips not being all-weather. Whether this is true or not I don't know, but we've certainly got a job on. After Aradura there are twenty miles of mountainous country before Mao Song Sang, which, in itself, will be some battle. Beyond Mao the mountains range another thirty or forty miles, so if Imphal gets relieved in time she'll be bloody lucky.

Bde. H.Q. are moving back still further to an area North of Two Tree Hill. Quite a nice spot, but will be bloody if the rains start again in earnest. Went up there this afternoon to find an advance party digging away. They all move in to-morrow.
Fine weather for the second day running, but the air is getting unbearably humid and there is a feeling that the rains are not far away.

Went forward this morning for the Brigadier's conference. Arrived early and sat chatting to John Brierley—now with his crown and pip up—John Craven and Bill Briggs. Very amusing. One of those moments which make War almost bearable. The Brigadier called us over and began his conference. The first of his I had attended and was quite impressed. He was good-humoured, but stuck to the point and gave out his stuff in lucid English. His main points were as follows: Royal Berks are now a 100 yards from the crest of Aradura and it is considered that they must make the top before anyone else can move. If, and when they have done this, the next job is to get the tanks down the road. At present they are held up by a block of tar barrels. The Sappers are experimenting to try and remove them without damaging the road, but this isn't easy as the block is covered by several strong fire positions. Now that the Japs have withdrawn from Kohima, they have made a definite semi-circular line running from Pt. 5120 to Aradura. It is limited in depth, but is fairly formidable owing to the lie of the country and the fact that the flanks are resting on two almost impregnable positions. Now that they have lost their monsoon base, the Japs' object seems to be to hold us up as long as possible in the hope that their forces besieging Imphal can take it before we arrive. It's going to be a near thing.
On the 5th June the Dorsets attacked and captured Big Tree Hill, a mile South of the Assam Barracks, thereby forcing the Jap line. Bde. H.Q. was established in the morning in a bungalow near the barracks, and the whole time I was there was the scene of frantic activity. The Q plan was difficult, requiring the employment of mules and coolies.

I was surprised at the other end to find that the Camerons, Worcesters, and the Brigadier's Command Post had moved forward to join the Dorsets. Basil, who was reclining on a charpoy, looking like death, said: "God, have you just arrived? You're supposed to be with the Brigadier on Big Tree Hill and he left an hour ago." I told Jelley the bad news. We quickly dumped all the kit we couldn't carry, packed toilet kit, emergency ration, a spare field dressing, a 24-hour ration, a cardigan, and a gas-cape in our small haversacks, rolled a blanket on top, and staggered forward to Big Tree Hill.

Just before dark we crawled up on to the grassy bank that housed the Command Post and found Tony Bridge (who had come to take over B.M.) drinking his chae. I went to see the Brigadier about some orders. "Hullo," he said, "Swinnie, glad to see you made it before dark. Got the picture?" I hadn't got the picture. "Well, now," he continued, "we've made a break in the Jap line and we're pushing the whole Brigade through up to Phuchama. Start at first light to-morrow. What I want you to do is to organise this supply racket. All the Battalions have got mules, the Manchesters have got mules, the Gunners have got 'em, and Bde. H.Q. How many, and if they're the right number, I can't imagine. All I know is they're parking all over the damned place. Now I want you to get them organised, Swinnie, and see they move off in a properly protected column. Basil is pushing up some coolies in the morning. Talk to him on the set and find out all about it. Don't want anything to go wrong."

The infantry moved off at first light with the Brigadier; I called in unit representatives and issued orders about the mule column. It seemed quite simple. Basil came on the set to say he was sending 150 coolies with a day's compo rations right up to Phuchama. At 1000 hours Jelley and myself moved off.

It was a nightmare journey. The day was hot and sticky and the country some of the most difficult I've ever seen. We plunged down into yet another nala, lying in a dark, rocky chasm; mules and men jostling each other on the narrow track. The Sappers were hard at work carrying rocks to make a bund for the mules to cross. They said it would be finished in half-an-hour, so we waited, glad of a breather. Saw Chick Elliott, of the Worcesters, whose company was guarding the ford. He was sitting on the grass eating his breakfast, with C.S.M. Mountford beside him. I said : "Yes, I would have a cup of char," since they insisted.
The Sappers completed the bund on time, so I said farewell to Chick and, calling Jelley away from the other chae-drinking batmen, waded across the bund and scrambled up the other side. It was heavy going. After a few hundred feet we had to climb for five minutes and then rest for five; our packs became an intolerable burden. The infantry were feeling tired, too. Small groups would come sweating past us as we rested and then we would pass them later on, flat out on their backs. This crossing and re-crossing went on all up the mountain. The country higher up became thickly wooded and we could get no idea of how far we were from the top. It was a matter of just staggering on. About 1145 hours we met some Sappers coming down. They looked fresh and cool and regarded us with compassion. "Cheer up," said they, "the village is just round the corner." A solid wooden gateway, primitively but ornately carved, told us we were nearly there; the Jap positions dug into the hillside along the path, with the litter of occupation still in them, told us that a scrap had just ended. There was a narrow flight of stone steps leading up into the village, which was tactically sited for defence like most Naga bustis. We walked along the main street and found the Brigadier in one of the front yards. "Stick it," he said, "the Second Front has opened. We've landed in Normandy."

The Brigadier held a conference at 1630 hours. He congratulated everyone on getting up the hill; he said he wouldn't have thought it possible. He also produced a message from the Div. Commander, which read : 

Major Harry 'Chick' Elliott

2223. To-day, 6 May, has undoubtedly been a red-letter day for this Div. To you has fallen the honour of breaking the Jap ring, which has been holding us up. You have captured all their objectives in grand style and are well through the gaps. The other Inf. Bdes. have equally contributed by the determined way they have maintained pressure on their fronts ; the Jap is undoubtedly trying to pull out. Our task now is to get hard after them, cut them off if we can and try to let no enemy escape. Flat out, everybody. Message ends.
The tactical situation, the Brigadier said, was this: the Japs, having failed to keep us from moving South, are now trying to stop us re-joining the road. The track from Phuchama led down to Phesema and patrols said the enemy were astride it in some strength. There was a hope that to-morrow Bde. would have got past Aradura and be batting down the road ; meanwhile the Worcesters were going to move on Phesema in the dark, ready to attack it at first light.

This, in fact, happened, and by ten o'clock on the 7th we heard that Phesema was ours. Focussing our glasses on the road, we could see tiny specks moving southward, which must be our men. At mid-day we packed up and prepared to move to Phesema. This journey was rather like the one up to Phuchama, except that it wasn't so much uphill. Luckily, the compo rations arrived at Phuchama before we left, but the coolies had orders to go straight back. This meant loading all the rations on mules, of which there weren't quite enough. But we did it, left a platoon of Dorsets to guard some heavy kit the Bns. left behind and, by two o'clock, were on our way.

Phesema was as smelly, dirty, higgledy-piggledy, and bug-ridden as any other Naga busti and does not need describing. I was bitten to death and made a vow that never again would I sleep in a native basha, even if it meant getting wet. Next day we moved up to Kigwema, about four miles along the road. Our tents had come up by this time and we pitched them in a meadow by the side of the road. Below the meadow was a nala bed and, clambering down into to it see what I could find, I got an idea of how the Japs feared our air-strikes. The nala ran about twelve feet below the ground level and was hidden by tall, sturdy trees, but the Japs had dug hideouts right into the nala bed and roofed them with the stoutest timbers they could find. These were purely funk holes, having no field of fire vision at all. The bombers had found them, though, as two great gaping craters testified.
Jelley and myself were digging a ditch around our tent when a group of Nagas brought in a Jap prisoner. He was all trussed up and the lashings were cutting right into the flesh on his wrists. He didn't look happy. In fact, he looked the dirtiest, the most diseased and degenerate specimen of erring humanity that I've ever clapped eyes on. Woody's I Section cut his bonds and brought him some food—this to the annoyance of the Nagas, who hoped to see him quartered. He regarded the bully beef for a moment, then turned round and snapped off two twigs from a bush. These he delicately held in his hands like chopsticks, and proceeded to gobble up the bully. Dupont came along with his pad to sketch him. This seemed to please the Jap, who was somewhat amazed to find himself the subject of a work of art; his face manoeuvred itself into some semblance of a grin to show the tips of his black and broken teeth. The Nagas, disgusted that there was to be no bloodshed, went off chatting to their village. A few minutes later Dupont pronounced his sketch finished and the Jap was bundled into a truck and sent back to Division for interrogation.

A few more Japs were brought in during the afternoon. The mule company, finding half-adozen in a basha, killed the lot as they lay there. The Japs were definitely beginning to straggle.
Next day we moved forward to establish our H.Q. on a precarious ledge just above the road at M.S. 58½. There we sat doing very little until the 13th. The Japs were holding a line from Veswema across to Kigwema on the East, and patrols soon showed that they didn't intend to move without a good reason. This lull I occupied by getting up my dumps, the BOWO and the B Eschelons, also the Sapper stores were still at Zubza, 26 miles back. I brought them forward to Kigwema.
To-day has seen the fight for Veswema. Up at 0330 hours and went forward to see the Camerons off on their flanking movement. The coolies from Division arrived exactly on time and, having debussed them, I handed over to Bertie Harvey, who had his stores arranged by the roadside ready for loading. Came back to see the Sappers by 0600 hours. All the consolidation stores were ready, so I thought it was time for breakfast.

The roar of the guns was the worst ever. This H.Q., being situated in a re-entrant, has mountains on three sides of it, so that the sound, once it has got in, cannot find a way out again and goes screeching around the hillsides like a madman in a cell.

By 1000 hours we heard that things were going very well. The Grants rumbled up the road and after them the bridging lorries. Everything was surprisingly quiet at Bde. H.Q. I flattered myself this was because things were laid on so well beforehand. The Brigadier came on the phone occasionally for something or other, but made no excessive demands. At 1600 hours he came back in person. Said the battle had gone very well, but he'd had enough of it and was going back for a bath. He did, too.

Learned later that Viswema was completely in our hands. The Worcesters put up a grand show.
An 'orrible day. Moved forward in the rain to Khuzama (M.S. 64) and took up a position on the reverse slope of a thickly-wooded hill. Heavy fighting was going on all the morning just the other side of the hill, but nothing came our way. Khuzama is the same as any other Naga village, except that the main street is wider and by the side of it are some Dutch Barn affairs, which by mid-day CRASC had utilised for his supplies and petrol.

About two o'clock the Brigadier ordered the Worcesters to do a left hook on to Mao Song Sang. Tactically, fairly simple, but, from the supply point of view, rather tricky. Agreed with John Brierley that the Battalion should go light and I would send light scale rations after them.

The Worcestershires pushed off at 1600 hours, leaving Dennis Brewtnall with an escort for the coolie train. The coolies fetched up slightly late. To feed the whole Battalion, the lcad had to be two tins of rations per coolie. I showed them this, but they thought the tins were the same as compo tins, which they were to look at, but weighed only two-thirds as much. The coolies, however, thought that two tins of anything whatsoever was too much and shook their heads and stood sullenly by. I was pretty anxious. It was getting late and I just had to get the rations up before dark. In desperation I took a tin of compo off the dump and handed it to a cooli who looked slightly more intelligent than the rest. I made him balance it in his hand for a second, then took it away from him and gave him a tin of Light Scale rations. Surely, I thought, the damned fool can tell the difference between 34 lbs. and 22. A moment later his wrinkled face broke into a smile. He turned to the other coolies and jabbered for a bit. The light was spread abroad. In less than ten minutes, having loaded like mad, the coolies formed a single file and moved up the street. I waved good-bye to Dennis and came back to Bde. for some chae.

It is now past midnight and there seems no hope of our getting any sleep. The Brigadier is talking about holding a conference in an hour or so to plan to-morrow's move forward. Reports have come in that the Worcestershires have got into position East of Mao and patrols have reached the outskirts of the village. The night is unusually dark, though, and the patrols can neither see nor hear anything. They are going to lie up ready to have a look-see at first light.
Up before first light. The morning was grey and moist, but no rain was falling. Message came through that the Worcesters had got into Mao Song Sang. Brigadier ordered the Camerons up to join them. What a relief. What bathos. For weeks we have been expecting a fight at Mao; have regarded it as the great bastion between ourselves and Imphal. And now the Worcesters have strolled in, apparently unopposed.

Pushed transport forward for Worcesters and Camerons. Not easy, as what seems like the rest of the 14th Army is trying to race down this mountain road. Even bulldozers are well up and going strong. The Brigadier and his Command Post went forward at 0700 hours. I handed over the H.Q. and followed him soon after; Jelley, Cpl. Sheldon, myself, and baggage in the Jeep. It was a thrilling ride. The day was fair and the light was dancing on the mountains, and we were racing forward after an enemy who was too demoralised to fight and too exhausted to run. Mile after mile we rode gaily along, passing troop-carrying 3-tonners, 15-cwts., and all manner of vehicles, until we found ourselves well up in the Armoured Column and were lucky not to get crushed between the Grants. Occasionally a landslide delayed us, but not for long. A frenzied half-hour with the Sappers and the whole force moved forward, on, on, into the mountains. Some time during the day the thought ran through my mind that we had outstripped our supplies by twenty miles or so, but I didn't worry. It is the job of a vanguard to go hell for leather; it is the jcb of Division behind to race stuff up.

About 1600 hours we were at M.S. 76. The tanks in front halted and word came back that down in the re-entrant ahead a bridge was blown. I parked the Jeep off the road and took out my glasses. There was a valley stretched below us about a mile wide and, opposite, a grassy ridge with an occasional white basha or dark green copse silhouetted on the sky-line. The road disappeared to the right, but came into view again as it climbed the ridge to wander into a copse and so out of sight. Over on our left was a feature so perfect as to seem theatrical rather than real. It was a great grassy hill plonked apparently slap into the valley. It bore no relation to the country around it and had obviously no right to be there; it looked as if God had taken a handful of the South Downs and planted it in Assam for His own amusement.
Well, anyway, it was four o'clock and the column was halted and I was standing on the side of the road surveying the hill opposite through my glasses. I focussed them on the point where the road ran into the copse and out of sight, and was surprised to see figures moving about. They walked on to the road, and along it in single file I counted thirty-one altogether. Some of the Japs were pulling out, anyway, though the ridge was a gift to a retreating army. Dupont came along and confirmed what I had seen, so we told the B.M. The Brigadier came up and said we would laager for the night where we were, his appreciation being that the ridge was held and it would need a set-piece attack to capture. The gunners came up into position behind us, and the Manchesters on our flanks, while the Worcesters pushed out patrols to probe the Jap positions.

The Brigadier held a conference this evening. He was in good form and it was difficult to imagine we were planning a battle. His theme was this: If the patrols find the place is lightly held, we will push forward the Armoured Column with close infantry support. If it is strongly held, the Worcesters will have to do a pincer movement on Maram (the name of the village), and the tanks will smash through the road later. The composition of the column was thrashed out in detail. The gunners' tasks were outlined. Actually the gunners had been in action since five o'clock and had probably registered all they wanted to.

Conference broke up about 2200 hours and we crawled to bed.
By 1000 hours the Brigadier had decided that a set-piece attack was required, and John. Brierley and his company commanders came in for orders. Meanwhile the gunners and M.G.'s put up an almighty concentration. Peter Cameron came in from the Camerons and was briefed for a patrol by the Brigadier. The object was to search a group of bashas on the ridge, about half-a-mile to the left of the road, and to look for any Jap positions. He went oft quite cheerfully and was back in an hour or so, having killed three Japs whom he caught snoozing outside their bunker. Nice work, that.

About mid-day the battle really got going. The Brigadier was squatting on a camp stool on a grassy bank by the side of the road. He was soon joined by the Divisional and Corps Commanders and more stooges than you would have thought could exist. The C.R.A. was along too, and the air was thick with orders and instructions. One shell here would have destroyed no end of military talent. By two o'clock the Worcesters' forward companies were putting up recognition smoke. We watched it anxiously. It appeared in small puffs without any apparent pattern, but slowly (oh, so slowly) it was moving up the hill. I could imagine the small infantrymen sweating and swearing their way up the slope. Then a small puff appeared in the scrub at the top of the ridge. Then another. Then another. Soon there was no end of it. The Brigadier lowered his glasses to mop his brow. A message came over the set from a company commander to say his men were fighting their way down the reverse slope. By 1500 hours it was all over, and the position had been taken. We found out later that a gun and miscellaneous kit and weapons had been taken and many Japs; our losses were one killed and seventeen wounded. A great day for the Worcesters, this.

A prisoner brought in said his company had orders to hold Maram for ten days. It looks as if the road will still be open.
This morning moved the H.Q. up into Maram. By 1000 hours the fighting had moved on to M.S. 82, where a few Japs were desperately trying to hold up the Dorsets. At 1100 hours the Brigadier held a conference. Everyone in good form and the conversation would not have been sub-standard in a salon. John Brierley's stories of the attack were most amusing. Very proud of capturing a field gun. It was dug right into the ground and camouflaged up so that it only had a 6 degree traverse. The Japs had sited it to cover the road in an anti-tank role, but as "D" Company with their left hook worked round the back of it, this didn't help much and the officer in charge was shot dead by Sjt. Plumley, M.M. The Japs never did know how to use guns in batteries or regiments, but to employ them like this shows utter panic.

Sjt. James Plumley, M.M.
(later Lieutenant)

Luckily the Brigade H.Q. has been static and the Brigade, except for an odd company of Dorsets, resting. The Armoured Column has been sweeping on, though. M.S. 84, 85, 90, 92—the news kept on filtering through. 
Then we heard that the bridge at Karong had been captured intact. Great stuff, this. Speculation is rife among both officers and men as to when we shall link up with the column pushing North from Imphal, and what will happen when we do link up. At 5.0 o'clock came word that the tanks were laagering for the night by M.S. 102. The gap is only three miles wide now.

The Brigadier says we must get the road open right away, as the Division at Imphal are in a bad way.

The Worcesters brought back their captured Jap gun to-day and have mounted it by their H.Q.(This gun is now exhibited in the Regimental Musuem as well as other Japanese weapons captured by the 7th Battalion). Permission has been asked to keep it and the Corps Commander has put the request forward. They are keeping the odd Jap machine gun. One, I saw, is very like a Bren Gun and has a curved magazine. If it has rimless ammunition—which the Bren was really meant for—it should be very useful indeed. Anyway, the troops love shooting the Japs with their own weapons. Met Edward Tooby, who had won a saki bowl with a delicately tinted drawing of the sexual act. He was very proud of it!

Capt Edward Tooby
(later Lieut.-Colonel)

The Brigadier and his Command Post shot off in a hurry at 0715 hours and I went down to see the Camerons embussed, leaving Dupont to mobilise Bde. H.Q. Camerons' embussing started well, but in the middle of it a bloody great workshops lorry got stuck across the road and before you could say Jack Robinson there was a milling mass of transport for half-a-mile on either side. Then the Corps Commander arrived. He would. He was very understanding, though, and refrained from blowing us sky high as he might have done. He just told us to get the mess sorted out as soon as possible, which we did.

The Camerons got away at last and Bde. H.Q. after them. I went up the hill into Maram to see the Worcesters. This, luckily, went all right.

The sun was shining as we rode forward, Jelley and Cpl. Sheldon, two of the Defence Platoon sitting on the trailer, and myself. The whole Army was surging forward with the knowledge that the Japs were beaten and soon, soon, there would be rest. Nights spent in comfort unbroken by a sentry-go; time to dry clothes; time to bath; time to write letters home; time to become human again; and, most of all, time to sleep. You could hear the troops singing on the crowded trucks.

We arrived at M.S. 102 to find an order awaiting us to push on to M.S. 106. On we went. The defeat of the Japs became now more evident. Piles of kit were strewn along the road in great disorder; enough to equip whole battalions. Most of the clothing, I noticed, was British—they must have captured it all at Kohima. The road was choc-a-bloc with traffic. About M.S. I noticed some armoured cars and carriers coming towards us. They were caked thick with mud and dust as if they'd been in action for days; their crews looked as if they'd been in action for weeks. I suddenly realised they weren't our chaps. The road was open; they must have come from Imphal. I waved as we passed. They straightened up slightly and a grin crept over their dirty faces. Then they put up their thumbs and went trundling past us. Well, that was that. We'd done our job.

Eventually we established H.Q. on a grassy bank near the M.S. 102. Here we are this evening chatting, drinking our rum, and thinking that perhaps life isn't so bad after all. By a stroke of luck I've had a pile of mail. An order came through an hour or so ago to clear the road for 60 8-tonners that are rushing beer and canteen stores through to Imphal. The first few trucks have just gone past us. Up on either side in the hills the troops are having the occasional scrap, but there's not much fight left in the Japs and they are being carved up. Our men have got their revenge all right.

A few days after the road was open, orders came through that the Brigade would move down into Imphal for a rest. The Brigadier proposed riding down for a recce. with his gun-man. The road winds down out of the mountains and on to the grassy plain. What a relief to find a piece of flat ground again and a straight road instead of the eternal hair-pin bends every hundred yards or so! We had a look at the Rest Camp allotted to us, then went along to 4 Corps H.Q. to see the B.G.S. As it was about one-thirty, he wasn't in his office, so we went along to "A" Mess to find him. I might mention that the H.Q. consists of well-built bashas on the side of a woody hill, and to get at it you have to cross the air-strip and then filter through whole covies of C.M.P.'s. In "A" Mess we found more brass hats than I've ever seen in one room together. Two Corps Commanders were there, their B.G.S.'s, not to mention B.G.A.'s, C.R.A.'s, and full Colonels. Lunch was finished and the mass of red was having coffee in the ante-room. The Brigader pushed his way in and I followed. In a corner I found a solitary subaltern: I didn't know him, but I fell on his neck like a long-lost brother. He was the only officer within three ranks of me. We introduced ourselves. "Good morning," he said, "will you have a beer?" "A beer?" I echoed. "I thought you were besieged and we were relieving you." "Besieged?" he asked in a pained voice. "Whatever made you think that? We've been all right. Do have a beer. There's plenty in the Mess."

I accepted with alacrity. It was good stuff when it arrived, and I said "Cheerio" and swigged it down. Then unaccountably (to the subaltern) burst out laughing. "What's the matter?" he asked. "Anything wrong?"

I thought of the weary, beerless months we'd spent trying to relieve these people. "No, nothing wrong," I said, "but it's a bloody funny war, isn't it?"
List of Abbreviations

A.A. Anti-Aircraft
A.D.O.S. Assistant Director of Ordnance Services
A.D.M.S. Assistant Director of Medical Services
A.D.S. Advanced Dressing Station
Bde. Brigade
B.G.S. Brigadier General Staff
C.M.P. Corps of Military Police
C.O. Commanding Officer
C.R.A. Commander Royal Artillery
CRASC Commander Royal Artillery Service Corps
C.S.M. Company Sergeant Major
D.A.G. Deputy Adjutant-General
D.A.Q.M.G. Deputy Adjutant & Quartermaster-General
D.C. District Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner
D.L.I. Durham Light Infantry
D.R. Despatch Rider
F.S.O. Field Security Officer
G.3 General Staff Officer, Grade 3 (G.S.O. 3)
H.Q. Headquaters
I.O. Intelligence Officer
L. of C. 
L.O. Liaison Officer
M.M. Military Medal
M.S. Mile Stone
N.C.O. Non-Commissioned Officers
O.P. Observation Post
O.R.’s Other Ranks
Q Quartermaster General Staff (Staff Captain)
Q.M. Quatermaster
R.A. Royal Artillery
Sigs. Signals


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