The Situation on 20th March 1944.

This day 75 years ago marks the high-water mark of danger to Imphal. The Japanese still had the initiative and progress since they crossed the Chindwin was as good as expected. Mutaguchi was characteristically bullish. The Japanese troops were only a few days into the three weeks of supplies they carried and so their logistic limitations were not yet evident.

In the south on the Tiddim Road the Japanese had the upper hand. They had trapped 17 Infantry Division forcing Corps Commander Lt Gen Scoones to send his most of his reserve south from Imphal to rescue them.

In the Kabaw Valley the Yamamoto force had forced the withdrawal of 2 Border after a series of attacks at Witok which were costly for the Japanese. They had not quite managed to trap 2 Border but were harrying them back up the Kabaw Valley. The 2 Border withdraw was chaotic and it must have looked like very much like business as usual for the attacking Japanese, namely Allied units withdrawing when threatened from behind. Maj Gen Yamamoto had sent the Itou force around to try and cut off 20th Division which remained obligingly forward in Moreh because Divisional commander Major General Gracey did not want to withdraw as ordered. Yamamoto held back from pressing on Tamu and then Moreh from the Kabaw Valley because he wanted Itou to achieve the cut off before he did so.

31st Dvision were making good progress toward Kohima and the battle at Sangshak had just started.

At this point Slim had few reserves where he needed them. Dimapur was wide open. He did not at this point know a full Japanese division was going to Kohima because the map, captured at Sangshak which told him that, had not yet reached him.

The good news for Slim came from further afield. The Chindits had been successfully inserted. Better still Chinese 18th Division had finally after months, indeed years, of cajoling started an offensive in northern Burma. If Lt Gen Kawabe had any unease about this Chinese offensive he hoped it would be quickly relived by a rapid success at Imphal so he could switch the troops to counter this new threat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s