In Sampan’s Forgotten War Tour, historian Dr Robert Lyman takes us through modern-day Manipur and Nagaland to the towns of Imphal and Kohima. It was here in 1944 that the Japanese attempted to knock out the Allied forces and potentially march on Delhi. Instead, General Bill Slim’s galvanized Fourteenth Army repelled the Japanese back across the Chindwin into Burma.
This is not your standard battlefield tour. Our itinerary has been meticulously created to help our guests both understand the context of the Burma Campaign in India and to dive deep into the stories of soldiers and civilians caught up in the tide of war: British, Indian and Japanese, yes, but also the Manipuris, the Nagas, the Kukis and others, too. We look at the struggles of these people post-WW2 and how the war is remembered by them today.
The number of people on this tour is capped to ensure that this remains an intimate and hands-on experience for our guests. We are happy to consider the specialist interest of our guests and see how we can tailor our itinerary to ensure that they find what they are looking for on this journey.
Since finishing a twenty–year career in the British Army in 2001, Rob has published widely on the Second World War in Europe, North Africa and Asia. He is Field Marshal Bill Slim’s military biographer. He is an elected fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a trustee of the Kohima Educational Trust since 2004.
In addition to Rob, this tour is led by expert, specialist guides in each location. Hotels full of character; superb, local food throughout. This tour is running in November 2023 and February 2024. More details below.
Sampan’s Forgotten War Tour in November 2023 will start and end in Kolkata. The majority of the tour will be spent in Nagaland and Manipur including the highlights of Kohima and Imphal.
To book, please contact Sampan Travel directly.
Unlike traditional battlefield tours, Sampan’s Forgotten War Tour is not a hop-on hop-off coach trip. We offer the chance to walk the routes of the soldiers, stay overnight in villages, scale the peaks and see the trenches and fox holes of both armies. This journey allows our guests to dive into the traditions and contemporary lives of the people that call these battlefields home: whiskey-tasting in Imphal and an evening with the Kohima Educational Society in Kohima.
Unlike other battlefields tour in this region, Sampan will take you up into the Naga Hills to the towns of Jessami and Kharasom. It was here at the latter that 100 men of the 1st Assam Regiment fought a battalion of up to 600 Japanese soldiers. Here, Captain Jock Young led the defence of the small garrison for four days, before he gave the order for him mean to return to Kohima.
In his book Japan’s Last Bid for Victory Rob picks up the story. Young remained “in his post […] while his men slipped out through gaps in the perimeter until his position was swamped the next morning by men of at least one Japanese battalion, this extraordinarily brave young officer firing Bren gun and throwing grenades to the last.”
Fifty six men reached Kohima two days later. Captain Young was last seen stacking grenades and Tommy-gun magazine in his bunker. Later, the local Nagas told the British that the Japanese had been so moved by Young’s bravery that they had shaved his head in the tradition of fallen heroes and buried him with full military honours.
With Sampan, you will both visit the site of Young’s heroic last stand, as well as stay overnight in Jessami. Spend time with the Naga people of Jessami, hear how they remember WW2 and what they are hoping for as their present government ‘looks East’ and they find themselves at the crossroads of Asia.
This tour is bookended by Kolkata. With Sampan you will explore the first capital of the British Raj: the early exploits of the East India Company and the history surrounding sites such as Dalhousie Square, Writers Building and the Victoria Memorial. We will also take you into the north town – home of freedom fighters, century-old sweets shops and contemporary Bengali art.
For further details see the full itinerary via the button below.
The Kohima Educational Trust would like to thank Sampan Travel for their support of the work that the Trust does in Nagaland.