TODAY -

The case for a Second World War museum in Imphal

Hemant Katoch & Arambam Angamba *

Imphal bombed on May 10, 1942 :: RKCS Art Gallery
Imphal bombed on May 10, 1942 :: RKCS Art Gallery
Warning: These images CANNOT be reproduced in any form or size without written permission from the RKCS Gallery



Manipur has a rich Second World War history. In mid-1942, the War suddenly reached Manipur's borders with the Japanese takeover of Burma (now Myanmar). More than a hundred thousand refugees fleeing Burma passed through Imphal en route to Assam and Bengal. A massive refugee camp was set up in what subsequently became the Koirengei airfield. The defeated British Burma Army also trooped out via Imphal In the months that followed. Imphal became an important forward supply base for the British Army and thousands of soldiers arrived in Manipur. Infrastructure was developed like never before: among other things, roads were built and upgraded and six airfields came up in the Valley.

Imphal served as the base for the famous 1st Chindit operation in February 1943 and its airfields were used to transport Toops deep into Burma for the 2nd Chindit operation in March 1944. Then came the Battle of Imphal from March to July 1.94.4. when Manipur was transformed into a giant Second World War battlefield between the invading Japanese Army, together with INA units, and the British-led Allies. Fighting raged across the state for over four months which, interestingly, also pitted Indians from the British Army against their former comrades who were now in the INA on the side of the Japanese Imphal was under siege and cut off by land for over two months and kept supplied by air.

Together with the fighting in and around neighbouring Kohima the combined Battle of Imphal-Kohima is" today recognized as one of the four main turning point battles of the Second World War. Those at Stalingrad, IT Alamein and the Pacific arc the other three. The Japanese suffered one of their single greatest military defeats at Imphal-Kohima and this paved the way for the British-led takeover of Burma in 1945 (the Burma Campaign). Noted author Thant Myint U notes in his book, 'Where China Meets India': for a brief moment Manipur was at the centre of the global stage, the 'Stalingrad of Asia'. The Second World War also brought people from many parts of the country and the world to Manipur.

There were the Indians who made up the British Army, as well as those in the INA. The British, Americans and Canadians were here, as were the Japanese and even soldiers from East Africa. And then, of course, were the people of Manipur themselves who got caught up in some of the bitterest fighting the world has ever seen. The period of the War was a momentous one in Manipur's history and had a deep impact on the state, its people, and its politics.

All of the above makes for a truly fascinating narrative and experience, and the utmost should be done to present it to a local, national and international audience. A key future date in this regard will be the year 2014 As the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Imphal, 2014 will be the perfect opportunity for

Manipur to showcase its varied Second World War past and heritage. And the centrepiece of this effort should be the establishment of the Imphal Second World War Museum'. It is important to underline here that it is 'Imphal', rather than 'Manipur', that resonates with a national and - especially international audience, as any memoir or account of the Second World War will confirm.

Given the significance of what happened here during the Second World War. whether from a state, national or interna tional point of view, the establishment of a Second World War museum in Imphal is long overdue. Again, the author Thant Myint U put it best when he wrote that besides the Imphal War Cemetery, he found "...no other monument to the war in Imphal. no other sign..."

Like him any visitor to the state capital today is hard pressed to find that one venue that presents an overall view of the Battle of Imphal and of what Manipur experienced during the Second World War. Sure, there is the INA Museum in Moirang. but that focuses mainly on the INA part of the story. This is in stark contrast to, for example, Kohima, where a stunning Second World War museum on the Battle of Kohima has come up in the Kisama Heritage Village (home of the Hornbill Festival). The museum, developed over the years to its current high standard, was visited by Britain's Prince Andrew in May this year as part of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's reign.

Coming back to Manipur,setting up a Second World War museum in Imphal and doing a good job of it will require a significant amount of time and money. The money in particular will have to come from Delhi, but with recent news of the sanctioning of a Second World War museum in Arunachal Pradesh, there is reason to believe that it can be found provided there is a demand for it from Manipur's side. This process can be initiated at the earliest.

In the meantime, and especially in view of the" upcoming 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Imphal in 2014, an interim solution can be found by immediately identifying and making available a designated space that can start to serve as a museum. One option that immediately springs to mind is Slim Cottage in the Kangla Fort complex in Imphal. Named after General Slim (later Field Marshall), who spent some time there towards the end of 1941.

Slim Cottage has all that such a museum requires even if on a short-term basis until a more permanent venue is found It has a central location, symbolic value, and instant international recognition. Its focus would be on giving an overall view of Manipur's experience of the Second World War and on presenting the perspective of all sides: the people of Manipur. the Allies, the Japanese and the Indian soldiers serving in the British Army and the INA.

It is important to state here that the Imphal Second World War Museum' is not intended to replace or duplicate the INA Museum in Moirang. On the contrary, while the former will take a much more holistic approach to Manipur's experience of the War (which will include a mention of the INA), it is the Moirang Museum that could continue to concentrate on the INA.

Once an interim venue is identified a few simple measures can be taken to make the Imphal Second World War Museum as operational as possible in time for the 70th Anniversary in 2014. This include

i) Procuring photos on Manipur during the World War from sources such as the Imperial War Museum in London and other independent sources;
ii) Transferring some of the relevant relics of war on display in Moirang:
iii) Mobilising the people of Manipur to contribute any additional items or artefacts relating to the War: and
iv) Collecting video testimony of the few remaining survivors from that era to display in the museum (some of which has already been done over the years by independent documentary makers in Manipur).

To conclude, one can arguably claim that Manipur is the part of India that was most affected by the Second World War. It is high time it starts to showcase this fascinating part of its history and heritage not just to the rest of the country and the world, but to its own people. With an eye on the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Imphal in 2014 , the establishment of a Second World War museum in Imphal will be a key step in this regard.


* Hemant Katoch & Arambam Angamba wrote this article for The Sangai
The writers are working on an INTACH project aimed at promoting the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Imphal in the year 2014. They recently organised a Rattle of Imphal stall exhibition at the 2012 Sangai Festival and produced a brochure that highlights the Battle. They can be reached at manipurww2(at)hotmail(dot)com
This article was posted on December 06, 2012.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Ningol to her mapam lamdam :: Gallery
  • Chakkouba Fish Mela #1 :: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba Tribute : Flash
  • 'Merger Agreement' and Manipur Question
  • Should fake news be merely brushed away
  • Frozen street laws & nasty people..
  • Resolution of CEC, NPF : Oct 20
  • Concern over meeting btn China, NE ultra
  • Materialistic interpretation of Chakkouba
  • Of power and the powerful
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download it
  • Chakkouba Shopping #1 :: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba : A message
  • 2 novel TB drugs move into human studies
  • Japan & its myriad culture from my eye
  • Cry of a Dying River- 5 :: Poem
  • Thanksgiving for first Naga woman pilot
  • Manipuri film nominated for APSA, Brisbane
  • NPF whip - the plain truth
  • Subterfuge & money cannot buy the law
  • Pearls of wisdom from Dalai Lama
  • Resisting Partisanship
  • Mera Men Tongba :: Gallery
  • Liberation War And Merger : Part 1
  • Diwaligi Ahingdo :: Wari
  • Exploding cyber crime in India
  • Manipur National Day- 18 October 1948
  • Greetings on Diwali & Ningol Chakkouba
  • TSA DJ Theme Song , DJ icon audition
  • Meghalaya Venue & Daywise Lineup
  • Tasked to monitor talk: Koijam-Himalay
  • Looking beyond the tough words
  • Rejoinder to deserted NPF Group Longleng
  • CM honors U-17 WC Footballers :: Gallery
  • Yinmajo, Thotchui, Daithaorei: eMing
  • I don't want to die before I am dead : Poem
  • Is the 'Fear for Qur'an' Being Traded ?
  • MUTA Series 4 : Who supports Whom?
  • What ails Manipur ?
  • Old Age pension Scheme details uploaded
  • Increased privilege for responsibility
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Culturals @ Mera Houchongba #1 :: Gallery
  • Seven Years Devastation: Book Review
  • Prelude to what we need to know 2!!
  • Matos bhai & our FIFA boys "bravo"
  • Trafficking vis-a-vis Domestic Work
  • An open letter to Chief Minister
  • DG Assam Rifles calls on Chief Minister
  • Nagaland press firm against intimidation
  • No Aadhaar, No Mid-day Meal stand
  • The good, the bad and the ugly
  • Footballer: U-17 World Cup :: Gallery
  • Kwak Tanba #3 :: Gallery
  • Night Plaza: Outlook of a developing Manipur
  • Biased national media
  • Agri-volatic: boosting agricultural income
  • Natural skin glow for Diwali
  • Eleven LPG refills in 4 months !
  • 'No change in territorial boundary of States'
  • MaiOn (scenes) #1 :: eRang
  • Tune out within dark
  • Loktak: Storm brain before blasting barrage
  • Gojilove : Now In Manipur
  • Fighting a losing battle
  • A Poem for My Wife :: Poem
  • October 15 retrospection
  • E Sonamani: Jnangarima Manad Alankaran
  • 11th Mega Marathon Manipur #5 :: Gallery
  • Langbal Keithel @ Kangjeibung #4 :: Gallery
  • Geo-politics & Skill Devlp in Act East Policy
  • Wildlife Week: Working together for wildlife
  • Letter to ATSUM (Reply to rebuttal)
  • A rebuttal to "Imprudence of ATSUM"
  • Don't sleep with minor wife ruling: Rapist
  • Awaited expectation
  • Journey of Amur falcon #2
  • Irabot Day - March Past #2 :: Gallery
  • Buddha's Metta & Karuna #2
  • Hei-kak: An aquatic cash crop in Manipur
  • Flood prevention and mitigation
  • Unearthing gems: Northeast Diva 2016-17
  • Nagaland Whip issue hearing in the court
  • Film screenings on NE held in Estonia
  • Of Leikhom Leinang & Uphul Waiphul: NH-2
  • March: Mera Houchongba #2:: Gallery
  • AMAND Pune: Annual Cultural #2:: Gallery
  • Langol Tourist Watch Tower #7 :: 360 ° View
  • .. end AIDS by 2030: Are we on track ?
  • Career in Tourism - Part 2
  • Which one should precede- ILPS or ST ?
  • Comedian Audition during Night Plaza
  • Seizure of Dried Fish Grenet (Tirkiya)
  • LPG diversion: Non-local in subscribers list
  • For a little bit more
  • Pot Lannaba: Houchongba #1 :: Gallery
  • Crowd @ World Tourism Day :: Gallery
  • Moreh PWD complex controlled by militants
  • FIFA U-17 : A milestone for NE football
  • Post submergence impacts of Mapithel dam
  • Cry of a Dying River - 4 :: Poem
  • Program on World Mental Health Day
  • Out but not down :: Needed : A strong Cong
  • Redefining 'Manipuri'
  • Imphal Evenings- Night plaza #2 :: Gallery
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Kh Ninthoinganba
  • Keithel Lairembi Ima #3 :: Gallery
  • Observation of World Mental Health Day
  • Ruskin Bonding - VI
  • Life - A Bubble :: Poem
  • Mapung fana chathari
  • Surgical Closure of 'Hole in the Heart'
  • Inferred or in B/W? Integrity Vs integration
  • Imphal is changing but traffic a menace
  • Kwak Tanba #2 :: Gallery
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Thounaojam Jeakson
  • Langbal Keithel @ Kangjeibung #3 :: Gallery
  • NE Fashion Week @ Dimapur:: Gallery
  • Journey towards Breaking the Shackles
  • The Man Who Saw Tomorrow :: Poem
  • Free Medical Camp at Lilong
  • From Nobap to World Cup: Magnificent 8
  • Journey of Amur falcon #1
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Nongdamba Naorem
  • Lamyanba Irabot- Birth Anniv #2:: Gallery
  • 11th Mega Marathon Manipur #4 :: Gallery
  • FIFA U-17: US won but we were lauded more
  • Imprudence of ATSUM
  • Tonsuring the nature
  • March: Mera Houchongba #1:: Gallery
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Dheeraj Moirangthem
  • AMAND Pune: Annual Cultural #1:: Gallery
  • Research Line : Book release Function
  • 100 Yrs Of Tangkhul Naga Football
  • Make RIMS shining
  • Another NE Youth Missing in the Capital
  • AMAND, Pune : 6th AGM / Annual Cultural
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Nungshibi : Social Networking :: Website
  • Seeking 2 years time: Too early to judge
  • Let Holy books be replaced by Constitution
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Amarjit Kiyam (Captain)
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Thangjam Boris
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Wangjam Suresh
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Md Shahjahan
  • Loktak Folklore Museum- for fishing
  • Opening: Imphal Evenings :: Gallery
  • Mayanglambam Gourachandra: Awardee
  • Win the hearts if not the FIFA Cup
  • Cry of a Dying River #3 :: Poem
  • For the 8 football players of Manipur..
  • Article 342 makhada furup amana ST ki list
  • Manipur to set up land bank
  • Hosts India set to make FIFA WC debut
  • ATSUM against ST: Let the experts decide
  • A matter of concern for the future
  • Irabot Day - March Past #1 :: Gallery
  • Bor khoiramba @ Hiyangthang #2 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Have done it again
  • Hingchabi Changba: Possessed/ Exorcism
  • Tourism as career option
  • Hydro Electric Power: A must for Manipur #4
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Imphal Evenings- Night plaza #1 :: Gallery
  • Keithel Lairembi Ima #2 :: Gallery
  • Doren: 'Theatre of the Earth' wins in Kerala
  • Solo Album Launch of Awarthanga Chiru
  • How Manipur missed internal autonomy..
  • Whispering of Heart :: Peom
  • Kwak Tanba #1 :: Gallery
  • Nitya Raas, Ras Leela Fest #1 :: Gallery
  • 11th Mega Marathon Manipur #3 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Assembly Elections 2017 #2
  • Manipur State League: Table - 1st Oct
  • Lamyanba Irabot- Birth Anniv #1:: Gallery
  • Vanishing pottery craft & Livelihood: Chairen
  • Irabot Day Celebration at New Delhi
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • World Tourism Day- Inauguration :: Gallery
  • Research Line : Book Preview
  • Irabot Day Celebration (2017)
  • 'Maniwood' vs 'Haolywood' Football :: Gallery
  • Death Anniv- Bhagyachandra #5 :: Gallery
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #4 :: Gallery
  • Nangna Helli Nungshiba #1 :eRang
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #6 : Ooba
  • Traditional Ritual @Khurkhul #4 :: Gallery
  • Priyogopal : Senior Film Artist :: eRang
  • Hathei Phanit @Sirarakhong :: Gallery
  • Heitha Leithaba @Kekrupat #2:: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Kang Tournament #2 :: Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Landscape of Manipur #7: Wallpaper
  • SPONSORED ADS