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The Trees are All Young on Garrison Hill
A Personal Memoir featuring the Battle of Kohima

Readers Reviews

Review by Charles Chasie

This book is intended to be the personal memoir of a British officer, Gordon Graham, who fought in the epic Battle of Kohima in the Burma Campaign during 1944. It portrays the life of a normal, regular young Scotsman from Glasgow who found himself in the forbidding, violent jungles of North East India and Burma. But the more you read, the more you find the book and the man quite extraordinary. This is an enjoyable read as it is reader-friendly, it is a story of a life that contains all the elements that make the narrative both human and something truly remarkable.

The book explores war but questions it and exposes how meaningless war really is as a means of finding answers to problems. It is about reconciliation and working with and befriending former enemies. And then there is the establishment of the Kohima Educational Trust (KET). Gordon Graham founded the Kohima Educational Trust to remember and honour the memory of the Nagas who assisted them during the war by helping with the education of their descendants. Today, the KET stands on a firm footing with many projects underway and support from both sides of the British-Naga coalition with His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, as Patron of the Trust.

The author’s entries in his diary in 1954 while re-visiting Kohima, 10 years after the battle of Kohima, with a 10-year old boy to guide him to the memorial of his dead comrades (the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders), became the theme of this book. He wrote in his diary, “The Trees are all young on Garrison Hill and in Naga Village children are playing”. The first part became the title of his book while the second part came to fruition with the establishment of the KET, 50 years later. Memory! He did not forget the Nagas. It is also worth mentioning Gordon Graham’s view on “memory”. In a speech in Scotland, introducing the KET film on the Battle of Kohima, he said that to be meaningful memory must lead to action.

When Gordon Graham revisited Kohima in 1954, he met only two people – the person in charge of landscaping at the Commonwealth Cemetery and a 10-year old boy playing in Naga Village who guided him to the memorial of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. The next morning, he heard the bugle from the Assam Rifles Barracks and this was what he said:

“At that moment I had a flash of inspiration of the kind that comes very occasionally to us all, not necessarily revealing some new vision, but lending certainty and clarity to something we already know. In this instance, the vision was that life is a partnership between the living, the dead and the unborn, and that we, the living, have a duty to impart the wisdom and inspirations and ideals of those who went before us to those who come after us”.

He has lived up to this ideal.

For Nagas who have lived through violence and conflict all their lives, the book and the man can only be described as inspirational. The story is complete. It contains all the elements of human life and humanity. There is a beginning full of hope and some enjoyment of life, there is tragedy and sadness, there is reconciliation, there is loyalty and remembrance and there is the rebuilding of a future across continents bringing hope and inspiration universally.

This is a must read for anyone who wishes to live a meaningful life, and certainly for all Nagas. The online publication will surely make the book more accessible to a much wider audience. Those interested in learning more can look up this link.

Charles Chasie November 2014

The Trees are all Young

The Trees Are All Young on Garrison Hill
A Personal Memoir featuring the Battle of Kohima



Illustrated with maps and photos, including a select bibliography

All royalties go the the Kohima Educational Trust

 

 

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