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Kohima War Cemetery in Nagaland has figured in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) five sites with unusual features. These sites are associated with World War I and World War II.
What is Kohima War Cemetery?
Kohima War Cemetery is a memorial dedicated to the soldiers of the British Division of the Allied Forces who died in World War II at Kohima in April 1944.
It has been identified as the only cemetery on the Earth which incorporates a tennis court.
It is also one of World War graves across the continents maintained by the CWGC.
What is the sequence of events that led to the formation of Kohima War Cemetery?
In 1944, Japanese forces attacked Kohima and its strong British force.
This led to fighting as the British forces were pushed back to the former house of the British Deputy Commissioner. The lawn of this house had a tennis court where the British officers played for recreation.
The British forces who were around the garden tennis court prepared for their final stand. As the Japanese forces prepared to attack, they were attacked in turn by the lead tanks, saving the defenders and pushing the attackers back.
Despite this setback, the Japanese force continued to fight for Kohima before they were finally forced to withdraw in May 1944. Those who had fallen in the defence of Kohima were buried on the battlefield, with further burials from the surrounding areas.
What is the significance of Kohima in World War II?
Present Day Kohima (Nagaland) and adjoining Imphal (Manipur) comprised the only theatre of World War II in the Indian subcontinent.
The invasion of these areas meant that the Japanese could strike further into India.
What is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)?
It is an intergovernmental organisation of six member-states (Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom) who ensure the men and women who died in the wars will never be forgotten.
It was formed in 1917 as the Imperial War Graves Commission. However the present name was given in 1960.
Headquarters: Maidenhead, UK
Source: This post is based on the article ‘In Kohima, a cemetery with a tennis court’ published in The Hindu on 19th January 2022.