Monday, December 26, 2016

In Search of a Lost War - Imphal Diaries Day Two India Peace Memorial

After completing my first day at Imphal spending time at the Imphal War Cemetery and Kangla Fort, i was in an expectant mood for the day ahead at Red Hill, Moirang and Loktak lake the following day. In this blog i cover the India Peace Memorial erected at the base of the Red Hill near Imphal. Leaving the hotel at sharp 9 AM we set off in the direction of the India Peace Memorial at the base of Red Hill, Maibam Lopkaching which is situated about 19 km's away from Imphal on the Tiddim Road. The Battle for Red Hill was one of the most bloody battles fought near Imphal in World War 2 and was the closest the Japanese and INA got to Imphal. The densely wooded hill stands next to the Tiddim Road and at the base of the hill lies the India Peace Memorial setup by the Japanese Government to honour all the soldiers who died on the Japanese, Indian and British sides. There is lovely poignant stone in black 'This Monument shall stand as a prayer of peace and a symbol of friendship between the peoples of Japan and India. In memory of all those who lost their lives in India during the last World War'. The same inscription is repeated in Japanese ( see photos below courtesy author) Image of Densely wooded Red Hill where over 50,000 soldiers lost their lives in battle across Japanese, INA and British Indian Army lines.

A stone plaque commemorating the Battle of Red Hill setup by the Government of Manipur

The India Peace Memorial with the three stones representing the 3 nations represented in the Battle Honours

The battle took place between May 21-29th,1944 and the Peace Memorial was setup on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal in 1944. I walked around the memorial and foothills of Red Hill soaking in the remains of what must have been a place of death and destruction some 72 years back.
Walking down from the Peace Memorial towards the road i found a small temple, built in Japanese style which had seen better days. The temple was set in black and white stones with Japanese inscriptions. Next to the temple lay a small anti-aircraft battery used by the Japanese in the battle. It is one of the few ruins that one finds of pitched battle that took place over 70 years ago.
Author poses at the India Peace Memorial

Japanese Temple adjacent to the Peace Memorial

World War 2 Vintage Anti-Aircraft Battery

Beside the main road lies a large board commemorating the 71st anniversary of the Battle for Imphal, of which Battle for Red Hill was a part. This was a big event held in May 2015 with the ambassadors of Japan and Australia in India in attendance along with the Manipur Chief Minister. Sadly there was no representative from the Central Government.
As i took photographs and made some notes, i wondered how it must have been for the thousands of young men who fought a pitched battle in these conditions. Sadly these battles and men have long been forgotten, lost in the sands of time. I was reminded of the touching words at the Kohima War Cemetery 'When you go home, tell them of us and say for your tomorrow, we gave our today'. How apt and touching these words were. 

No comments:

Post a Comment