The Battle of Imphal-Kohima 1942 India and Burma part four.World War Two.
Allied situation at the beginning of 1944 the front for which General Slim was responsible stretched from LEDO in the North to MAUNGDRAW in ARAKAN in a straight line about 600 miles in length and roughtly followed the line of the India-Burma frontier. At LEDO the American General Joseph Stilwell with a Sino-American force was preparing for an advance through appalling country towards MYILKYINA the object of reopenning the Burma road to China. The 4 corps on the central front and 250 miles south of Stilwell watched a front of 200miles from HOMALIN on the Chindwin to Tiddim in the CHIN HILL while 300 miles south – west in ARAKAN the XV corps (Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Christison ) with the 5th and 7th Indian Divisions and the 81st West African Division was planning to advance down to MAYU peninsula from MAUNGDAW. The lack of lateral communication in the tangle of mountains between the 4 and XV corps any reinforcement of one by the other entailed a road and rail journey back into India and forward again requiring 3 weeks to complete.
4 corps had been selected not only to cover the main approaches to Imphal but also with a view to a further advance into Burma. The 17th Division ( Major-General D.T. Cowan ) was based on TIDDIM 160 miles south of Imphal connected with it by a mountainous road in the dry weather decribed as ” a series of boulders joined together by dust” during the monsoon it was deep in mud. Often closed by landslides it was dependent on a bridge over the MANIPUR River. 80 miles due East of Imphal the 20th Divisions ( Major-General D.D. Gracey) it’s headquarters set up near TAMU and it’s brigades pushing forward to the Chindwin and south down the KABAW VALLEY . It was better served by a metalled road fit for heaviest tanks . Which stream of lorries carried all that was required to form a base close to TAMU to support a force of two divisions in operations across the Chindwin and to protect their flanks patrols and local service under the command of British Officers watched for any move by the Japanese.
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George T Saviel
26 November 2010