Battle of Imphal

English Japanese (日本語)

Imphal - Kohima

The Thangjing Range as seen from the Tiddim Road. The path along the top of the Range was an important supply route for the Japanese 33rd Division for their approach to Imphal from the south-west. The Thangjing Range as seen from the Tiddim Road. The path along the top of the Range was an important supply route for the Japanese 33rd Division for their approach to Imphal from the south-west. Photo by Ranjit Moirangthem

"Kohima/Imphal was one of the four great turning-point battles in the Second World War, when the tide of war changed irreversibly and dramatically against those who initially held the upper hand" - Robert Lyman, Japan's Last Bid for Victory

In military accounts the 1944 hostilities in Manipur are referred to as either the Battle of/for Imphal, or the Imphal Offensive, or the Siege of Imphal, or the Imphal Campaign, and so on. Thus, the emphasis is normally on ‘Imphal’, as opposed to on ‘Manipur’. Whatever the nomenclature, it is clear that what took place in Manipur in 1944 was no minor skirmish.

The fighting around Imphal, and in Kohima in neighbouring Nagaland (known jointly as the Battle of Imphal-Kohima), was the turning point in the Burma Campaign of the Second World War. It was at Imphal-Kohima that the Japanese invasion of India and march through Asia was stopped, with the British-led Allies subsequently driving them out of Burma in 1945. The Japanese lost some 30,000 men in what was one of their single greatest military defeats.

Indeed, British military historian Robert Lyman notes in his book Japan’s Last Bid for Victory that Imphal-Kohima was one of the four great turning-point battles of the Second World War. The battles at Stalingrad, El Alamein, and in the Pacific between the US and Japanese navies were the other three.