Guide Road of Bones: The Siege of Kohima 1944 – The Epic Story of the Last Great Stand of Empire

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When he attempts to discuss the bigger picture it is usually inadequate and suffers biases. Still as far as they go, these are episodic diversions from his primary narrative, centered on the West Kents. In that regard, the book can seem somewhat scattershot.

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Where he is detailed and focused at Kohima on the West Kents, and to a lesser degree on their Japanese opponents he weaves a solid narrative. When he digresses to other aspects of the bigger battle for Burma, the Naga, the V Force, etc, each a topic that could and should get their own books, it reads more like he was blessed with a plethora of material he wanted to include, because it is so rich, and when he sticks it in, he loses his focus in the process, before jolting back to his primary narrative, leaving the reader wanting more on the subject he has diverted to.

For students of military history the narrative is more social than battle history, more soldiers than commanders. I recommend the book as an introduction to a rich and relatively unknown side of the battle for Burma, compared to the more famous exploits of others like Wingate and the Chindits or the actions of Merrill's Mauraders, but it needs supplementing with other works and perspectives.

Future authors will find much to mine in Keane's account, and it is my hope his source material including hours of recordings with veterans finds its way to a proper archive somewhere. This is a good book about part of the Burma campaign, a bloody and awful part, but it is not the best book about it, which will be up to a future author to weave.

The Battle of Kohima is widely hailed as the Stalingard of the East for the ferocity with which the allied forces and the Japanese forces fought against each other. The combat details are described in depth by the author and you can feel the intensity of the battle as you read it.


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The Battle of Kohima was picked as the greatest battle in which the British forces participated during the Second World War and the author does full justice in narrating the events of the battle. I understand the author The Battle of Kohima is widely hailed as the Stalingard of the East for the ferocity with which the allied forces and the Japanese forces fought against each other.

I understand the author who happens to be an Irishman would definitely focus more on the British forces.

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However, the Japanese forces are also covered in great detail but where I was left a little disappointed was in the coverage of the Indian personnel of the allied effort against the Japanese. Being an Indian, I would have loved it if the author had shed some more light on the Indian effort. The epilogue part is not something that I agree with, especially the author discussing about "human rights" violations of the Indian armed forces which has generally been greatly exaggerated by the Western media particularly those who have a strong bias against India.

However, I would recommend this book especially for the way the combative details have been described in the book. I hope that one day, I get to visit Kohima which is located in the state of Nagaland in my native India. May 02, Peter rated it really liked it. This was a very detailed book about the siege of Kohima giving the progress of the war in the far east and who the generals were in the British and Japanese armies. The lead up to the battle and the tenacious way the British and Indian troops fought as they had heard how prisoners were treated.

The British had had a disasterous campaign and desperately needed a win at all costs. This was eventually acheived in horendous conditions with terrible casualties on both sides but the Japanese suffering This was a very detailed book about the siege of Kohima giving the progress of the war in the far east and who the generals were in the British and Japanese armies. This was eventually acheived in horendous conditions with terrible casualties on both sides but the Japanese suffering greater casualties as they were attacking fixed positions.

The aftermath of the fighting is also discussed and how the soldiers found it so difficult to settle in to civilian life. The Nagas local head hunter tribes who helped the British whose way of life was completely changed with Indian independance and were not given the help they deserved. It would be hard to imagine conscrpts fighting in the same way now. May 20, Chris Mallows marked it as to-read.


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    Only with the utmost reluctance did the prime minister agree to prepare for a new offensive, to meet insistent American demands to open the land route to China through north Burma. But, even as British and Indian forces assembled in northeast India, the Japanese launched three divisions on their own spoiling operation. The armies collided at two Assamese road junctions, separated by less than miles, which passed into the legend of the British Army.

    Between April and June , Imphal and Kohima witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of the eastern war. Fergal Keane focuses on the siege of Kohima, telling a brilliant story of human endeavour and suffering from both sides.

    Road Of Bones: The Siege Of Kohima Fergal Keane | Books | Entertainment | deotecitpingback.ga

    When the Japanese advance guard met Imperial army pickets outside the little town, many of the Indian soldiers fled. Some of its units did wonderful things, but some were poor soldiers. Though the British cherished romantic delusions about Indian loyalties, it is unsurprising that some changed sides as prisoners, joining the so-called Indian National Army to fight unimpressively, as the book recounts for the Japanese. Colonel Hugh Richards, charged with commanding the defence, had to improvise positions with a ragtag garrison, of which the most coherent element was a battalion of the Royal West Kents.

    Corporal John Harman was a misfit, embittered by growing up with a millionaire father who was eventually jailed for embezzlement. On the battlefield he displayed suicidal courage, seeming to think himself unkillable. It was worth it. At the outset, the British held a ridge a mile long. After nine days cut off, the West Kents had lost more than a third of their strength, and the perimeter had shrunk to a yard square. The trees on Garrison Hill, where the British made their final stand, were stripped of foliage by shellfire and grenades, which both sides used in thousands.

    Water was chronically short, and the local Naga people suffered terribly.

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    Keane has taken immense pains to gather accounts of the Japanese experience. Their general had recklessly overextended his supply lines, and within weeks his soldiers began to starve. Japanese courage was as great as ever, but the British were bemused by the manner in which Sato continued to batter headlong at Kohima, instead of bypassing it. But the tide had turned. The Japanese, always short of artillery, were reduced to six rounds a gun a day. Their retreat from Kohima, which began on May 13, created the road of bones that gives Keane his title.

    While British and Indian forces lost about 1, dead and 3, wounded in the battle, the Japanese suffered 7, casualties, mostly dead. The defence of Kohima, and the larger battle further south at Imphal, decided the campaign. Though hard fighting lay ahead when Slim, in his turn, advanced across the Chindwin river into Burma, the actions had smashed the best Japanese forces in the region.

    The British and Indian armies restored their self-respect, after years of failures and humiliations. Slim won chiefly because he displayed good generalship — after some initial mistakes — and possessed formidable US air supply-dropping resources, command of the skies, armour and much more artillery than the attackers. I had seen a History Channel special on the battle but one hour of television could nto do it justice. Excellent detail of the battle. The backgroud prior to and folllowup of the battle was very interesting without getting bogged down in too much detail. I also liked the epilogue detailing the lives of some of the main combatants after the war.

    Perfect for my research! For my second murder mystery novel involving famous battles and last stands, Fergal Keane's The Siege of Kohima, has ticked all the boxes, for my research into what has been described as Britain's greatest battle.

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    I am looking forward to reading more from this excellent award winning author. Will Roberts. Compelling read for those with little or no knowledge of the siege of Kohima Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Thank you. Road of Bones reveals the reality of the global war. The images Keane draws for the reader are overwhelming. A must read for all students of WW II.

    A vivid engaging read A truly interesting read.

    Well researched and well presented. It contextualizes the action and different rationale very well. It take you through the hell that is war from very human perspective. If you are a WW2 History reader this is a must read - describing the beginning of the end for Japanese expansionism.