Remembrance Sunday and as usual the weather was cold and miserable but the sun did come out and the rain held off during the actual service. Chatting to a few people mention was made of the terrible weather and a comment was made that we only have to put up with it for an hour a year, the lads in the trenches in WWI, who survived, had it for 4 years. Very True.
The service this year included the epitaph
‘When you go home, tell them of us and say,
for their tomorrow, we gave our today’
This got me wondering about who wrote it and when. The Internet is a wonderful thing and I soon learned the words are attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 -1958) who had put them together among a collection of 12 epitaphs for World War One. However it is now more widely known as the Kohima Epitaph, adopted by the Burma Star Association at the end of World War II.
In March 1944, the Japanese 31st Division moved northwestward in Burma, swept through the Naga hills, invaded India, and fell upon Imphal and Kohima. Confidently the Japanese planned to press toward the India Plains. The Allies faced a disaster of monumental proportions unless the enemy was stopped.
A crucial battle ensued at Kohima where some 2,500 British Empire troops came under siege. They fought a formidable Japanese force numbering 15,000 soldiers supported by 10,000 ammunition laden oxen. For weeks the belligerents sparred in bloody artillery duels interrupted only by hand to hand skirmishes and bayonet attacks. Finally, after 64 days, amid terrible losses on both sides, the Japanese were beaten back. They withdrew from Kohima. Japan’s dominance in northern Burma had begun its crumble.