The Edmondson Blog


In March 1944, at the height of the Burma Campaign during the Second World War, the Japanese Army invaded India but were stopped at Kohima, about 120 miles inside the border. Here there was probably the most bitter fighting of the entire Burma Campaign when a 2,500 strong British Empire force held out against repeated attacks by 15,000 Japanese. Finally, after 64 days, amid terrible losses on both sides, the Japanese were beaten back.

The fiercest of the fighting was in and around the garden of the Deputy Commissioner’s bungalow in Kohima: it is here where the Japanese invasion was halted and it is here where the military cemetery is sited.

No trace remains of the bungalow which was destroyed in the fighting, but white concrete lines mark and preserve for all time the tennis court.

Keeping silent witness to the surrounding 1,378 grave markers, is the Kohima Memorial with its famous inscription:
When you go home
Tell them of us, and say,
For their tomorrow
We gave our today.
These lines, composed by J. Maxwell Edmonds after the Great War, are clearly inspired by the events at the Battle of Thermopylæ.

In 480BC the Greeks send a 100,000 strong force to delay the invading Persians, whose army numbered over 800,000, with some accounts suggesting up 1,700,000. The Greeks took their stand at the pass at Thermopylae.

After inflicting great losses to the Persians, the Greeks evacuated their army, leaving 300 Spartans to defend the pass to allow the rest time to withdraw. Every Spartan fought until they were all killed.

Simonides’ famous epitaph for the Spartans instructs:
Go tell the Spartans, thou that passest by
That faithful to their ideals, here we lie.

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