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In pics | Horrors of war: Villagers of Kohima recall 'Stalingrad of the East'

The landscape near Kohima village in Northeast India was as spellbinding as a rice field, golden and ripe for harvest, but it was the village that burned black during the battle of Kohima, also known as 'Stalingrad of the East.'

August 24, 2020 / 07:50 PM IST
The landscape was as spellbinding as a rice field, golden and ripe for harvest, but it was her village burned black. An Angami Naga man stands by a field growing "Rosolha," or ration rice that was first provided by the British as ration after they bombed and burnt Kohima village during World War II in 1944, on the outskirts of Kohima village, in the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, August 18. Between April and June 1944, Japanese and British Commonwealth forces fought across Kohima and the villages around it in a battle that has been chosen as Britain's greatest battle by the National Army Museum, beating Waterloo and Normandy. 'Rosolha' was planted by Kohima villagers as they had no seeds even to grow after their village was flattened out. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
The landscape near Kohima village in Northeast India was as spellbinding as a rice field, golden and ripe for harvest, but it was the village that burned black during the battle of Kohima, also known as 'Stalingrad of the East.' (Above) An Angami Naga man stands by a field growing 'Rosolha' or ration rice, that was first provided by the British as ration after they bombed and burnt Kohima village during World War II in 1944, on the outskirts of Kohima village, in the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, on August 18.. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Monsoon clouds form a border over Kohima War Cemetery, green terraced lawns in center, and the area which was the main site of a bloody battle in 1944 between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces in Kohima, India, August 14. Between April and June 1944, Japanese and British Commonwealth forces fought across Kohima and the area around it in a battle that has been chosen as Britain's greatest battle by the National Army Museum, along with their battle in neighboring Imphal region. The cemetery is the final resting place of more than 1,420 Commonwealth servicemen of World War II. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Monsoon clouds form a border over Kohima War Cemetery, green terraced lawns in centre, and the area which was the main site of a bloody battle in 1944 between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces in Kohima. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
In this Oct. 15, 2014 photo, a gardener walks past the preserved outlines of a tennis court around where some of the fiercest battles were fought in Kohima, now part of the Kohima War Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 1,420 Commonwealth servicemen of World War II, in Kohima, India. Between April and June 1944, Japanese and British Commonwealth forces fought across Kohima and the area around it in a battle that has been chosen as Britain's greatest battle by the National Army Museum, along with their battle in neighboring Imphal region. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
In this October 15, 2014, photo, a gardener walks past the preserved outlines of a tennis court around where some of the fiercest battles were fought in Kohima, now part of the Kohima War Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 1,420 Commonwealth servicemen of World War II, in Kohima. Between April and June 1944, Japanese and British Commonwealth forces fought across Kohima and the area around it in a battle that has been chosen as Britain's greatest battle by the National Army Museum, along with their battle in neighbouring Imphal region. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Vichuzo Rutsa, 101, shares a laugh with his daughter-in-law Nelly as he recounts memories of the bloody battle between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces in his village during World War II, in Kohima village, India, August 12. For the locals, World War II was a conflict brought to their quiet lands by outsiders, and along with it, immeasurable loss. A population that had never been exposed to life beyond the village saw battle tanks and fighter planes dropping bombs over their beloved land. "We really suffered during the war," Rutsa said softly from his bed. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Vichuzo Rutsa, 101, shares a laugh with his daughter-in-law Nelly as he recounts memories of the bloody battle between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces in his village during World War II, in Kohima village, on  August 12. For the locals, World War II was a conflict brought to their quiet lands by outsiders, and along with it, immeasurable loss. A population that had never been exposed to life beyond the village saw battle tanks and fighter planes dropping bombs over their beloved land. "We really suffered during the war," Rutsa said softly from his bed. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Angami Naga boys clear weed from the graves of 8 children, killed in 1976 when a World War II-era bomb exploded while they were playing, in Kohima village, the site of a bloody battle between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces, in the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, August 18. For the fiercely independent Nagas, World War II was a conflict brought to their quiet lands by outsiders, and along with it, immeasurable loss. Wartime arms and ammunition are still being found in the region as reminders of the devastation. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Angami Naga boys clear weed from the graves of 8 children, killed in 1976 when a World War II-era bomb exploded while they were playing, in Kohima village, the site of a bloody battle between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces, in the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, August 18. For the fiercely independent Nagas, World War II was a conflict brought to their quiet lands by outsiders, and along with it, immeasurable loss. Wartime arms and ammunition are still being found in the region as reminders of the devastation. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
An Angami Naga boy Viketouzo Miachieo, 22, displays ammunition from World War II that he found a few years ago while cleaning the area beside his house in Kohima village, in the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, August 18. Miachieo fitted the RG 1942 20mm cartridge, left, with a wooden carving on top to make it look like an unused shell. Between April and June 1944, Japanese and British Commonwealth forces fought across Kohima and the area around it in a battle that has been chosen as Britain's greatest battle by the National Army Museum, along with their battle in neighboring Imphal region. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
An Angami Naga youth Viketouzo Miachieo, 22, displays ammunition from World War II that he found a few years ago while cleaning the area beside his house in Kohima village, in the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, August 18. Miachieo fitted the RG 1942 20mm cartridge, left, with a wooden carving on top to make it look like an unused shell. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Angami Naga girls walk past a World War II plaque on the Imphal-Kohima highway on the outskirts of Kohima, India, August 14. Between April and June 1944, Japanese and British Commonwealth forces fought across Kohima and the area around it in a battle that has been chosen as Britain's greatest battle by the National Army Museum, along with their battle in neighboring Imphal region. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Angami Naga girls walk past a World War II plaque on the Imphal-Kohima highway on the outskirts of Kohima, India, August 14. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Kuozeu Vizo, a 98-year-old Angami Naga woman, recounts her memory of the bloody battle between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces that took place in her village during the Second World War, as her granddaughter sits by the side outside their home in Kohima, India, August 14. To Vizo, the sight of her village bombed and burned black was as spellbinding as a rice field, golden and ripe for harvest. "I still wonder how they even knew which land belonged to whom when they started rebuilding the village," Vizo said. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Kuozeu Vizo, a 98-year-old Angami Naga woman, recounts her memory of the bloody battle between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces that took place in her village during the Second World War, as her granddaughter sits by the side outside their home in Kohima, on August 14. To Vizo, the sight of her village bombed and burned black was as spellbinding as a rice field, golden and ripe for harvest. "I still wonder how they even knew which land belonged to whom when they started rebuilding the village," Vizo said. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
A woman walks past a Medium Tank M3 Grant that was abandoned when it went down this hill and crashed against a tree while climbing the Kohima Ridge to support British troops of the 2nd Division on May 6, 1944, in Kohima, India, August 13. In April 1944, 15,000 men from the 31st Division of Japan's Imperial Army commanded by General Sato arrived with the aim of taking over Kohima, a hill town that was also the headquarters of the British in the Naga Hills. The hill station, on the Indian border with Myanmar, was considered strategically important for Japanese advancement into India. The tank has been preserved in the exact position where it was abandoned. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
A woman walks past a Medium Tank M3 Grant that was abandoned when it went down this hill and crashed against a tree while climbing the Kohima Ridge to support British troops of the 2nd Division on May 6, 1944, in Kohima, on  August 13. In April 1944, 15,000 men from the 31st Division of Japan's Imperial Army commanded by General Sato arrived with the aim of taking over Kohima, a hill town that was also the headquarters of the British in the Naga Hills. The hill station, on the Indian border with Myanmar, was considered strategically important for Japanese advancement into India. The tank has been preserved in the exact position where it was abandoned. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Kuou Kesiezie, a 108-year-old Angami Naga survivor of the Battle of Kohima fought between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces in and around her village, smiles as she sits outside her daughter's house in Kohima, India, August 13. Kesiezie, who worked as a British army porter during World War II in 1944, vividly remembers sprinting down the Pulie Badze mountain area. She had hurried back homewards after dropping off a load of supplies when she realized she still had an ammunition belt strapped around her waist, she recalled with a chuckle. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Kuou Kesiezie, a 108-year-old Angami Naga survivor of the Battle of Kohima fought between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces in and around her village, smiles as she sits outside her daughter's house in Kohima, India, August 13. Kesiezie, who worked as a British army porter during World War II in 1944, vividly remembers sprinting down the Pulie Badze mountain area. She had hurried back homewards after dropping off a load of supplies when she realised she still had an ammunition belt strapped around her waist, she recalled with a chuckle. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
A caretaker locks the door of a house that was one of the only houses standing after British aircrafts bombed and flattened the area in a bid to evacuate Japanese soldiers in World War II, in Kohima, India, August 13. Between April and June 1944, the two sides fought across Kohima and the area around it in a battle that has been chosen as Britain's greatest battle by the National Army Museum, along with their battle in neighboring Imphal region. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
A caretaker locks the door of a house that was one of the only houses standing after British aircraft bombed and flattened the area in a bid to evacuate Japanese soldiers in World War II, in Kohima, India, on August 13. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
B.K. Sachu, an 86-year-old Angami Naga, recounts his memories of the World War II battle between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces in his village, as he sits outside his house in Kohima village, India, August 12. While many Nagas supported the allied forces, others backed the Japanese with whom they shared some physical features and in the hope that they would help the Nagas achieve the independence they sought from British colonial rule. Sachu recalled the kindness of a doctor who "could not watch children suffer, he would treat them. From him I understood how good the Japanese were,” he said. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
BK Sachu, an 86-year-old Angami Naga, recounts his memories of the World War II battle between the Japanese and British Commonwealth forces in his village, as he sits outside his house in Kohima village, India, on August 12. While many Nagas supported the allied forces, others backed the Japanese with whom they shared some physical features and in the hope that they would help the Nagas achieve the independence they sought from British colonial rule. Sachu recalled the kindness of a doctor who "could not watch children suffer, he would treat them. From him I understood how good the Japanese were,” he said. (Image: AP/Yirmiyan Arthur)
Associated Press

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