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Victory over Japanese at Kohima named Britain's greatest World War II battle

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stupid, provocative question to ask.

I personally don't think any "war battle" which claimed casualties and killed people on both sides should be celebrated.

-2 ( +7 / -11 )

Fought mostly by Indian and Gurkha troops, it appears.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

it demonstrated categorically to the Japanese that they were not invincible

I think the Yankees had been doing that since Guadalcanal in 1943

Definitely a pivotal battle. But, like Tamarama said, fought mostly by colonial troops. Similar to the myth of the Anzacs at Gallipoli - more British troops fought and died than ANZACS.

Overall, I agree with Kimizu - wars should never be celebrated. The dead remembered but not the fighting celebrated.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Fought over a vast area of jungle and mountain, it was marked by vicious hand-to-hand fighting.

... the most intense of which was on opposite sides of a tennis court! When it's all said and done, the British had at least one major advantage, which was that the Japanese commanding general Renya Mutaguchi was an idiot, with no grasp of logistics needed to supply his troops. By they time they reached Kohima they were sick, exhausted and starving. The Naga tribespeople in the area were mostly converted Christians and refused Japanese entreaties to switch sides.

And what would have happened to the Jews? The Nazis would have completed the Holocaust.

While it's true that the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 called for extermination of all the world's Jews, those in Britain, Canada, the US, Soviet Union, Australia, Turkey, Iran, and the middle eastern countries, numbering in the millions in total, were beyond the Nazis' grasp and never in any real danger, so "have completed the Holocaust" had they had several more years in which to do it is almost certainly inaccurate.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I wouldn't say celebrated here, this is or was a debate between a bunch of historical buffs and it was a significantly important part of British history and in the case of this battle, world history as well.

Seems to me that it's hypocritical to say that discussing this is improper but talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki is ok. These guys were NOT celebrating the victories, they were discussing the importance they played in British history.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Lest we forget all who fell in battle - and with ANZAC day 3 days away, all Kiwis and Aussies will honour their heroes on April 25. I don't know about other nations, but ANZAC day is certainly not about celebrating battles - it is about remembering the sacrifices people made for their mates, family and country.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

stupid, provocative question to ask.

I personally don't think any "war battle" which claimed casualties and killed people on both sides should be celebrated.

I guess we know which side your loyalties lay.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@somenumbers. It was the death of ANZACs (sent to their deaths by the gin-swilling, incompetent inbreeds that led Britain then) in proportion to their respective populations that was so horrific. A quarter of all NZ men of fighting age were injured or killed defending Britain's disastrous imperial policies.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

"The victory was of a profound significance because it demonstrated categorically to the Japanese that they were not invincible. This was to be very important in preparing the entire Japanese nation to accept defeat,”

I am afraid I can not buy this argument. We (The United States) had been defeating the Japanese decisively from well before then and it is a known fact that that with the military censorship and control over the media, the Japanese civilian never even knew that their nation was getting defeated battle after battle. It's no wonder they were shocked when the B-29s started showing up over their home islands.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Surprising that Kohima is the 'greatest' victors when it was the culmination of British actions in SE Asia starting with the greatest defeat at Singapore 3 years earlier.

@Jperson - absolutely agree about the gin swilling british officers, its probably reasonable to also assume that such incompetence from the British officer class continued into some battles of WW2, notably dunkirk and singapore. However, you do need to go read up about the battle of Nek in the gallipoli campaign and realise it was 2 incompetent Australian officers that sent the ANZACS forward. Officer level Incompetence isnt just restricted to the British.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@jperson - deaths relative to population were higher for the UK than NZ. Quick search on google reveals this. Where are you getting your figures because Im intrigued about this 'ANZACS gave proportionately more' myth you are peddling?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

However, you do need to go read up about the battle of Nek in the gallipoli campaign and realise it was 2 incompetent Australian officers that sent the ANZACS forward.

I hope you are not calling Gen. Monash incompetant - them's fighting words, mate!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To the victors... I guess. Imagine if some Japanese museum group decided to delve into its greatest WW2 victories.. the taking of the phillipines, Pearl Harbour, Conquest of China (at least the eastern regions) Fall of Singapore, Sinking the Prince of Wales, Battle of the Coral Sea(while technically an american victory after the fact, the US lost a large fleet carrier to an escort one for the IJN, but I digress)... there'd be outcry!!

The victors can build any monument they want to their heroes, while the vanquished lament..

0 ( +2 / -2 )

From what Ive read:

The scale of the tragedy at The Nek was the result of two inept Australian officers; Brigade commander Brigadier General Frederick Hughes and Lieutenant Colonel John Antill.

Monash is rightly an Aussie hero. The ANZACS in general were/are awesome fighting men. But lets not let myth cloud the facts. Incompetent officers of Britain and its dominions saw to the wholesale slaughter of the men doing the actual fighting, ANZAC, Colonial and British.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"The victory was of a profound significance because it demonstrated categorically to the Japanese that they were not invincible.”

Before the British or the Americans, the Russians had done this by routing the Japanese army at Nomonhan in Mongolia.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Now if you load your rifle right And if you fix your bayonet so And if you kill that man my friend The one we call the foe And if you do it often lad And if you do it right You'll be a hero overnight You'll save your country from her plight Remember God is always right If you survive to see the sight A friend now greeting foe................

-2 ( +0 / -3 )

That should read ...Greatest World War II Land Battle.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Really, I thought the Battle of Britain would rank up there, or possibly El-Alamein.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The Indian troops "weren't fighting for the British or the Raj but for a newly emerging and independent India and against the totalitarianism of Japan."

Actually it was the 43,000 Indians of the Indian National Army (supported by Japan) that were fighting "for a newly emerging and independent India." If Indian troops under the command of the British weren't fighting for the "British or the Raj" then why were Indians that fought against the British charged with "Waging War against the King Emperor." If INA soldiers are fighting against the "King Emperor" then those fighting for the British must necessarily be fighting for the "King Emperor" and not Indian independence. Of course the truth eventually got out. You need only look at what happened after the Red Fort trial to see who the Indian people believed had really fought for Indian independence.

This sentence, however, was never carried out, as the immense public pressure of the demonstrations and riots forced Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, to release all three defendants.

Which veterans do you think receive the Freedom Fighters Pension in India today? Those that served in the British Indian Army or those that served in the Indian National Army? Here are the numbers from 2010:

There are 22,468 freedom fighters under Netaji Subash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army category. Every pensioner gets Rs.11,331 a month, besides enjoying other facilities, including free travel on trains.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Really, I thought the Battle of Britain would rank up there, or possibly El-Alamein.

Ditto.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Battle of Britain, El-Alamein, Agincourt, Waterloo, Rorke’s Drift ... All of these are greater battles than what won.

If Lieutenant General William Slim’s army of British, Indian, Gurkha and African troops had lost, the consequences for the allied cause would have been catastrophic, he said.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was chosen for the dumb politically correct idea of showing how we can all get along, which obviously isn't the case.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Britain's victory over the overstretched Japanese who had marched beyond their supply lines, low morale, low supplies, less than decent weapons. virtually no food and a no name commander was chosen over other victories

The Indian troops “weren’t fighting for the British or the Raj but for a newly emerging and independent India and against the totalitarianism of Japan.”

Sad how Japan's not the only ones who have warped views on imperialism.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Britain's victory over the overstretched Japanese who had marched beyond their supply lines, low morale, low supplies, less than decent weapons. virtually no food and a no name commander was chosen over other victories

This is the same National Army Museum that voted George Washington as Britain's greatest enemy commander.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The Indian troops “weren’t fighting for the British or the Raj but for a newly emerging and independent India and against the totalitarianism of Japan.”

And they were for the totalitarianism of British rule which caused countless famines throughout the country, the Jallian Bagh Massacre and the subsequent acquittal of General Dyer and a policy of divide and rule which left the country so broken that the subsequent partition caused a bloodbath.

I'm with NeoJamal here is seems that there is more than one country that wants to deny it's holocausts. Perhaps we British are a war loving people, we certainly seem to be very good at it and love to celebrate it at every available opportunity.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This is one of those late night drink-session questions that you ask your university buddies for a bit of a laugh, not a serious historical one.

Any serious historian knows that this kind of "ranking" is, at best, a load of malarkey. It's a "what if" that, while interesting, is in no way scientific or fair; an attention-grabbing stunt.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The Indian troops “weren’t fighting for the British or the Raj but for a newly emerging and independent India and against the totalitarianism of Japan.”"

what a load of crap!!!

Indian freedom-fighters (led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose) sought the help of Japan to defeat the British in India. The Japanese were defeated in Kohima due to overstretching of their resources and low morale because defeat at other fronts.

One of the reason British left India 3 years later because they could not control the Indian populace anymore, who were subjected to abject famine and poverty due to Britain's war efforts and their power in Europe had severely dwindled due to the war.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Perhaps we British are a war loving people, we certainly seem to be very good at it and love to celebrate it at every available opportunity.

Speak for yourself!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perhaps we British are a war loving people, we certainly seem to be very good at it and love to celebrate it at every available opportunity.

That was sarcasm

It seems shameful to me that the British can't acknowledge the suffering that their empire caused on millions of people. The myth that Britain was bringing civilization to the world as a benign ruler seems to persist in many sections of British society. When they asked Gandhi what he thought about western civilization he replied 'I think that would be a very good idea.' It seems we haven't quite got there yet when we continue to celebrate our wars as if they are something to be proud of.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Monash is rightly an Aussie hero. The ANZACS in general were/are awesome fighting men. But lets not let myth cloud the facts. Incompetent officers of Britain and its dominions saw to the wholesale slaughter of the men doing the actual fighting, ANZAC, Colonial and British.

The Gallipolli campaign has been mythologized in Australian culture so as to become folklore. But in truth, it was an abject disaster. The ANZACS got hammered, gained bugger all territory and in the end withdrew in the night. They had no business being there in any case. I went to Gallipolli many years ago, long before all these starry eyed, John Howard inspired young nationalists draped in the Australian flag trudge their way about the place every ANZAC Day and claim stupid stuff like 'it should be Australian territory'. I hate seeing that. It should just be remembered for what it is.

I just hope they don't do the same same to the Kokoda Track. The only saving grace of that place is that most of these clowns can't get there.

Just remember Aussies. The flag isn't a piece of clothing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Britain's victory over the overstretched Japanese who had marched beyond their supply lines, low morale, low supplies, less than decent weapons. virtually no food and a no name commander was chosen over other victories

And who was it who "overstretched" the Japanese? Well, it was the British, wasn't it. That's what brilliant victories are all about.

Indian freedom-fighters...led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

India was never invaded and occupied by the imperial Japanese, so it's pretty easy to see Bose as a "freedom fighter." If India had been under Japanese control, I'm sure your view of the Japanese would be more in line with the Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos. You know, the countries that lost millions of its citizens during the war and to this day continue to harbor deep distrust toward the Japanese....for some reason.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Both the British and Japanese empires were responsible for large numbers of people suffering.

Yet, somehow the British Empire is "cool".

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

there'd be outcry!!

The only reason there isn't an outcry here, now, is that WWII effectively made England irrelevant militarily on the world stage and they no longer carry the clout nor power that it once did.

It's only about a bunch of folks reminiscing about the "old" days and nothing more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

JeffLeeApr. 22, 2013 - 07:56PM JST India was never invaded and occupied by the imperial Japanese, so it's pretty easy to see Bose as a "freedom >fighter." If India had been under Japanese control, I'm sure your view of the Japanese would be more in line with the >Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos. You know, the countries that lost millions of its citizens during the war and to this day >continue to harbor deep distrust toward the Japanese....for some reason.

Korea was part of the Japanese Empire with over 240,000 Koreans soldiers fighting the allies.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Which is why the Koreans love the Japanese to this day and welcome visits by Government Officials to the Yasukuni Shrine. Before the Americans at Guadalcanal, the Aussies did it at Milne Bay. But Coral Sea and Midway came before that either of those. The Japanese were tough and skillful fighters that many Allied veterans will grudgingly admit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Indranuj Dey

And yet, prior to becoming a republic, Britain begged the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to change the rules of entry so that India could remain. Prior to that, the Commonwealth included only Dominions with the king as Sovereign.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Edit: India* begged

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any serious historian knows that this kind of "ranking" is, at best, a load of malarkey. It's a "what if" that, while interesting, is in no way scientific or fair; an attention-grabbing stunt.

Thank you. Totally agree.

It seems shameful to me that the British can't acknowledge the suffering that their empire caused on millions of people

Some of us do. I for one, as a Brit, am embarrassed and ashamed by this nonsense. Battles should be reviewed in their historical context and lessons learned, not ranked as to which one was our "greatest". How would British relatives of those killed in The Falklands, for example, feel if Argentina suddenly announced it as their "Greatest Battle". Bad example I know, but the principal remains the same.

Please note I am fiercely proud of our troops and come from a military family. But crowing is distateful and I dont want to be a part of it.

On a personal note though, I think the movie Zulu (Rorkes Drift) portrayed beautifully the courage of BOTH sides and the ultimate integrity of the Zulu nation.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I just hope they don't do the same same to the Kokoda Track. The only saving grace of that place is that most of these clowns can't get there.

Just remember Aussies. The flag isn't a piece of clothing.

Well said Tamarama. I've never been to Gallipoli like you, but am hesitant now when I see the "Aussie Aussie Aussie - Oi Oi Oi" mob there en masse. Wanna pay my respects at Kokoda some time soon, though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the operation was under the command of Britain’s Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

General Eisenhower was the overall commander of D-Day forces.

His planning skills and ability to keep the Germans guessing was crucial to its success. The capture of Caen by British and Canadian troops allowed the Americans to break out, Tootal said.

The Americans broke out before Caen was captured. They were able to do so because most of the German forces were committed to defending Caen. It took about two months to capture Caen..

I agree with others who said the Battle of Britain should be considered Britain's greatest WWII battle.

I also think the capture of Singapore was Japan's greatest WWII battle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@PaulJ: er, what are you on about? We British do nothing BUT beat ourselves up over the Empire, and everything else for that matter. We are perhaps the most self-deprecating, self-hating and abjectly apologetic nation on earth. All those nations that wanted to stay 'in the club' by forming the Commonwealth must be just masochists.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@ChibaChick

One thing to come out of all this is now a lot more people know about the British jungle war against the Japanese and the sacrifices made. They weren't called the 'forgotten army' for nothing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

General Eisenhower was the overall commander of D-Day forces.

Montgomery was commander of all the ground invasion forces. Eisenhower's role was more like a chief administrator's: Montgomery's of a commanding general.

Montgomery had also created the overall invasion plan. Eisenhower's job was to approve/disapprove or revise it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yet, somehow the British Empire is "cool".

Go to Canada, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, etc. -- you know, the world's most successful societies -- and "somehow" you'll find out why.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I've never been to Gallipoli like you, but am hesitant now when I see the "Aussie Aussie Aussie - Oi Oi Oi" mob there en masse. Wanna pay my respects at Kokoda some time soon, though

Thanks Burakumin. I didn't go there specifically - I was in Turkey and just happened to be nearby, but I'm disgusted to see what's become of the place since. Complete nonsense.

Kokoda is a far, far more significant series of battles for Australia, but I genuinely fear it suffering the same fate as Gallipolli. It would be an incredible trek though, I agree.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@JeffLee

Go to Canada, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong

And ask the locals what they think?

Sure they loved their country getting stolen from them in various nasty ways. Are you for real?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

House Atreides Apr. 22, 2013 - 03:09PM JST

Which veterans do you think receive the Freedom Fighters Pension in India today? Those that served in the British Indian Army or those that served in the Indian National Army? Here are the numbers from 2010:

"There are 22,468 freedom fighters under Netaji Subash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army category. Every pensioner gets Rs.11,331 a month, besides enjoying other facilities, including free travel on trains."

Pretty brain-dead comment. The soldiers of the BIA became soldier of the Indian Army. They get their pensions.

And how many INA volunteers were allowed to join the Indian Army? Not a lot. Nehru agreed to this before the end of the Raj, and kept the bargain though he could have voided it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

PaulJApr. 22, 2013 - 04:28PM JST

And they were for the totalitarianism of British rule which caused countless famines throughout the country, the Jallian Bagh Massacre and the subsequent acquittal of General Dyer and a policy of divide and rule which left the country so broken that the subsequent partition caused a bloodbath.

Totalitarianism? Most of India's affairs were dealt with by Indians - including agriculture, which lead to the dreadful situation in Bengal in 1943 when the Provincial Governments would not permit grain surpluses to be sent to Bengal.

Dyer acquited? He was forced to resign and leave India. Should have been hung, but that is a different matter.

Divide and rule? One of the most over-used and nonsensical phrases - it's up there with the "Military-Industrial Complex". India was divided before the British came, with hundreds of princely states, each owing allegiance to other larger states. The ideal of India as a nation came to bloom with British control of most of the Indian subcontinent. As for partition, this came because the Hindus and Moslems could not live with each other, not because of any British machinations. Same holds for Ireland.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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