TODAY -

2nd WW-Imphal campaign team revisits action field
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, July 22 2013: The team of 2nd World War - Imphal Campaign Foundation has on Saturday discovered Runaway Hill, an important landmark of the Battle of Imphal of World War-2 .

Prior to April 6, 1944, Runaway Hill remained an unnamed feature.

So, the discovery of the team with the aid of detailed war diaries of 3rd Battalion, 9 Jat Regiment and war maps has been hailed as a landmark achievement.

This important peak stands at an altitude of 3124 ft above sea level.

It stands on the northern side of the road leading to Sagolmang from Yumnam Khunou.

From the battle field site of Nungshigum, Runway Hill is located at 335 degree with an aerial distance of 3.5 km.

On 6th April, 1944, the company commander Major W.D Ritchie, MC ordered Jemadar Abdul Hafiz of 3rd Battalion, 9 Jat Regiment to attack the enemy with two sections of his platoon at 9.30 am.

After softening the Japanese position by the artillery, Abdul Hafiz led the attack on the steep crest.

He so inspired his men that from the start the attack proceeded with great dash.

Few yards from the crest, the Japanese opened fire with machine gun and grenades.

In spite of being wounded, Abdul Hafiz immediately ordered an assault personally leading with the mohamadan battle cry.

On reaching the crest, he was wounded on the leg but seeing a machine gun firing from the flank he immediately went towards it and seizing the barrel pulled it upwards while another man killing the gunner.

He then took a bren gun from a wounded man and advanced firing and killing several Japanese soldiers.

So fierce was the attack that the enemy who were still in considerable numbers on the position ran down the opposite slope of the hill.

Regardless of the machine gun fire from another feature a few hundred yards away he pursued the enemy.

Abdul Hafiz was badly wounded in the chest again from the machine gun fire and collapsed holding the bren gun still ordering his soldiers to reorganise while he giving covering fire.

Sadly, he died shortly.

For this act of raw courage, Abdul Hafiz was awarded the Victoria Cross, the most coveted award of the British Army.

He was the first Indian Muslim to get a Victoria Cross and he is also the first to get it in Indian soil.

During the latest exploration which was conducted with the help of metal detractor, the team of 2nd World War - Imphal Campaign Foundation came across many battle relics which include rare spent catridges of 6.5X50 mm Arisaka rounds, brass belt buckles, watch strap buckles of Japanese origin, 6 rounds of .45 thompson submachine gun and various bomb splinters.

Earlier, the team had explored many battlefields such as Sangshak, which witnessed the first ever action fought on Indian soil between combined force of 15th Japanese Imperial Army and Indian National Army with the Allied force; at Nungshigum which is fondly remembered for the daring courage of the tank commaders of 3rd Carribiniers; hard fought battle at peak Isaac during the action for Kanglatongbi depot, the notorious Pt 5846 at Laimaton Hill which witnessed see-saw action at Old Silchar track as well as at Torbung which would be ever remembered for the timely pincer action from 43rd Infantry brigade in opening Japanese road block at Milestone 34 during Tiddim retreat and other battlefield sites.

The 2nd world war- Imphal Campaign Foundation is ready to open a museum "Imphal War Museum" in which the relics they have collected from different battlefields and different parts of Manipur will be displayed.

As the twin Second World War clashes of Imphal and Kohima have been named as the greatest ever battle involving British forces by the National Army Museum, London, the team would be celebrating 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Imphal from March-July, 2014 .


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