Mittong Khunou: The Battle Honour of INA

Yumnam Rajeshwor Singh *

Introduction :-

The Indian National Army of which Subash Chandra Bose took personal command, was made up from civilians and Indian Officers and other rank prisoners of war, chiefly from those taken during the invasion and occupation of Malaya.

The Guerrilla regiment under the INA consist of four Brigades:
1. Bose Brigade under Lt Col Shah Nawaz Khan
2. Gandhi Brigade under Lt. Col. I.J. Kiani
3. Azad Brigade under Major Gulzara Singh
4. Nehru Brigade under Lt. Col Aziz Ahmad Khan.

 Indian National Army under Subash Chandra Bose
Indian National Army under Subash Chandra Bose :: Picture Courtesy:

The No 2 Guerilla Regiment. (Gandhi Brigade) and the Divisional Headquarter moved to Burma early in March, and after a short rest at Rangoon they started moving to the Imphal front early in April. The route and condition under which they travelled were the same as those faced by the Subhas Brigade .

The Division was commanded by Major General (then Colonel) M. Z Kiani, who was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant and daring Commanders of the I. N. A. The Gandhi Brigade was commanded by Colonel I J. Kiani who was a cousin of Gen M Z Kiani. Col I. J Kiani was well known for his perseverance and doggedness.

Prelude of the battle of Mittong Khunou:-

On arrival at Tamu, the Divisional commander found out that Imphal had not fallen yet and that severe fighting was going on in the vicinity of Palel. He contacted the Japanese commander on the Palel front and in cooperation with him and with Major Fujiwara (of Singapore fame) who was now a Staff officer in the Japanese General Headquarters, it was decided that the No 1 Division would have an independent sector to the west of the main Tamu-Palel road and from there carry out guerilla activity against the British forces on the Tamu front and against the Allied aerodrome at Palel.

The Divisional Head Quarters were established at Chamol and the Regimental HQ at Mittong Khunou. Mittong khunou is located at the south east of Palel Airfield. Although the Japanese concentrated its main effort on the Shenam bastion itself, Yamamoto did send the 'Gandhi Brigade' or 2nd Infantry Regiment of the 1st Indian National Army Division to capture Palel from the south, the only time that the I.N.A was used in an independent role.

Major Pritam Singh with a force of 300 men attack the Palel airfield on 3rd May 1944. This attack on the aerodrome came as rude shock to the British who decided to counter attack and drive back the Gandhi Brigade from Mittong Khunou. After the Palel Aerodrome attack, the British patrol activity increased very considerably.

Seaforth Highlanders Attack Mittong Khunou

Post Palel airfield attack, the British Battalion strongly supported by heavy artillery, attacked the foremost company in the vicinity of Mittong Khunou. With propaganda weapons of loud-speakers and heavy artillery effectively to aid , the British launched a large-scale offensive. The loud speakers repeatedly disturbed the calmness of the jungle air by threatening the I.N.A. " either surrender, or else get ready to face death in the hilly area of Imphal."

The loud-speakers shouted : "Gandhi Guerillas, beware ' We are attacking with big topkhana and with the superiority of arms and ammunition. If you want safety, lay down your arms in half an hour's time. Now 20 minutes are left.. Only 10 minutes are now between your life and death.'"

Addressing the commander, the loud-speaker shouted : " Listen well, Commander Kiani, we will completely blow up your weak defences. We pity you and your regiment."

The leading platoon of the forward company was commanded by a young Second Lieutenant Ajaib Singh who had been trained at the I.N A. Officers' Training School in Singapore. The Scottish soldiers of the Sea Forth Highlanders knowing that they were up against the I N A attacked fiercely. It was the first battle of the Gandhi Brigade against British troops, and at the very sight of them they became wild.

The British soldiers came almost upon the trenches occupied by INA men, but time and again, they were beaten back with heavy losses. After their first setback, the British fell back and after reorganizing their troops they attacked again, this time supported by artillery and air support, but the gallant platoon of the I N A led by their brave commander, held firm and continued to beat back attack after attack.

Eventually being unable to make any headway against the I N A soldiers, the British called a halt and withdrew to their defences. Rallying his men, and collecting ammunition from the British dead and wounded left behind by the attackers, Lt. Ajaib Singh advanced from his position and approached the nearest British defence post.

Another gun battle started, this time with British on the defensive. Lt, Ajaib Singh had captured a large number of rifles and grenades in the first engagement and he use them. He fired 30 grenades using 303 rifles. Lt Ajaib Singh's small force had suffered severe losses, but he had inflicted far greater losses on the British. In the day's engagement, the British suffered at least 50 casualties, killed and wounded, while the INA losses were 10 killed and a few wounded.

During that time heavy rain had set in and made the ration and ammunition supply a most difficult problem. Due to the lack of proper food and medicines, the health of the INA troops deteriorated rapidly and by the middle of June, 1944, they had become so weak that they could hardly walk a few miles, but despite this they stuck to their posts and in the face of repeated British attacks never retreated. At about this time the tide of the battle had turned. The British had managed to substantially reinforce their beleaguered garrison m Imphal, and were now in a position to launch the main offensive.

Maj Gen. ShahNawaz Khan in his account of the battle wrote "Their first move was to capture the heights occupied by the men of "Gandhi Brigade" around Mithong Khunou. This time it was an attack launched by a whole British Brigade, 3,000 strong, supported by heavy artillery and aeroplanes Our old rivals, the "Seaforth", again led the attack. By a clever encircling movement, they surrounded one of our companies commanded by Capt. Rao, and it looked as if they would annihilate our force The situation looked extremely grave.

All the commanding heights and strategic points were in enemy hands Besides this the strength of the Gandhi Brigade was very much depleted owing to widespread illness and battle casualties In this particular action there were 600 I N A men opposing approximately 3,000 well-fed British soldiers having infinitely superior arms and equipment. Our men fought most heroically Col I J. Kiani, the Brigade commander, himself was in the area of the company that was encircled by the British He realized that unless the strategic heights were recaptured by them his garrison would be annihilated. He, therefore, issued orders to his officers to take possession of those heights at any cost".

The British force had the advantage over the I.N.A. as their defenses were at the top of the hills. The Regimental Commander, Colonel I J. Kiani had calculated that, if the I. N. A. captured the hill occupied by their enemy, it would save his whole regiment. To save the lives of 1,700, the Regimental Commander was ready to sacrifice, 300 of his men in this surprise attack. The weather was unusually bitter and the I. N. A. soldiers had no warm clothes to protect them from the biting cold.

The Valour of Lt. Mansukh Lall

Lt. Mansukh Lall was ordered to recapture one of the heights He was commanding a platoon consisting of approximately 30 men. With this small force he counter-attacked without any artillery covering fire, and recaptured one of the strongest posts occupied by the British. While leading his small, and semi-starved force up the steep ridge, he was wounded 13 times, through exhaustion and loss of blood, he staggered and fell to the ground His men seeing their gallant commander fall hesitated and slowed down their pace.

Lt. Mansukh Lall, like a tiger that is mortally wounded but is determined to make the last charge, roared to his men and exhorted them to continue their advance and not to worry about him. They were very near the summit, and making a last supreme effort, with 13 bullet wounds in his body, he rose to his feet and personally led the final assault on the height which was to decide the fate of Gandhi Brigade that day.

K R Palta wrote, ". Lt. Mansukh, who was in the front line, received serious bullet wounds in his chest, thigh, arm and right hand. He fell, but rose again and again he fell. Though he was completely exhausted, he rose once again to lead his men to victory. The revolutionary slogans, the heroic spirit and the determination of our •soldiers stood them in good stead. Brave Mansukh captured the hill and waved his hand cheerfully to his Commander, who was watching the battle. The Gandhi Guerillas were saved due, to the dare-devil spirit of Mansukh, the brave I.N.A, lieutenant".

Lt. Ajaib Singh was immediately sent to relieve the seriously wounded Mansukh. The first thing Ajaib Singh did was to stop the enemy observation post functioning by killing the English major, who was in charge of the O. P. He also killed two British captains who were handling the O. P. Now the British artillery was functioning blindly.

The British killed many of their own men by wrongly concentrating fire on their own lines. The attack, which started at 7.30 a.m. the previous day, was over with an I N.A. victory at 4 a.m. the following day. Seventeen British officers were killed and many of their men were either killed or wounded. On the 1. N. A. side, four officers were killed and 150 other ranks killed or wounded.

The Gandhi Guerillas started withdrawing on July 18, 1944. By the time they reached Mandalay, out of 94 officers, only 17 were still alive, and out of 3,000 other ranks, only about 250 Jawans had managed to survive, all being in shattered health. The rest perished either fighting for the noble cause or suffered from diseases, which they had developed on the battlefield.

Medals and Awards

Many officers and other ranks of the Gandhi Brigade were recommended for the Shatru Nash. And many officers and men received the highest medals of bravery, the Sardar-e-Jang and, the Sher-e-Hind.

These were
1. Major Pritam Singh, Sardar-e-Jang ;
2. Lt. Ajaib Singh, Sardar-e-Jang(Class II);
3. Lt. Taj Mohd. Sardar-e-Jang (Class II) ;
4. Sepoy Kehar Singh, Sher-e-Hind ;
5. Lt. Mansukh, Sardar-e-Jang ;
6. Captain Sadhu Singh ,Vir-e-Hind :
7. Capt. Rama Ji Rao, Sardar-e-Jang, and
8. Lt. Lai Singh, Sardar-e-Jang.

The I.N.A fought extremely well in spite of serious handicaps and lack of armament and air support. They had no plane, no lorries for transport. The soldiers themselves had to carry munitions and supplies. The Japanese Air Force gave little or no assistance. The supplies of rations were extremely irregular and several I.N.A men died of starvation.

On July 17th writes Shah Nawaz " I do not know what is the idea behind this deliberate starvation of my men". When the retreat began Shah Nawaz again noted " Japanese have left us completely in the lurch. They are running away themselves and are not bothering about us'.

Bibliography :-

1. Shah Nawaz Khan, INA & Its Netaji, RajKamal Publications, Delhi, 1946
2. Louis Allen, Burma The Longest War,Phoenix Press, London, 1984
3. Geoffrey Evans & Antony Brett James, Imphal, Macmillan & CO Ltd, London, 1962
4. K.R . Palta, My Adventures with the I.N.A., Lion Press, Lahore, 1946

*** Written on the occassion of 14th April (2019), the first flag hoisting day of INA at Moirang

* Yumnam Rajeshwor Singh wrote this article for
The writer can be reached at yrs001(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 13 2019.

* 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 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.

  • Hinduism in Manipur # 1
  • Foundation of School Fagathansi Mission
  • Healing Leadership- Need of the Hour
  • Shri Krishna Janmasthami :: Book
  • Police : A friend or a foe ?
  • Cry of a Dying River - 90 :: Poem
  • King Leishemba attended HUNIC, Thailand
  • MBA in Global Supply Chain Management
  • Significance of Aug to NSCN (IM)
  • Restoring public education system
  • Lai-Harouba @JNMDA #2 : Gallery
  • Sangai fest: Dance Drama : Gallery
  • Our Destiny Lies Only In Our Unity
  • Hanging : Suicide or homicide ?
  • Trainees from Ukhrul selected as Air Crew
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • NPF met with Nagaland Governor
  • NH7 Weekender Artists for Meghalaya
  • NH7 Weekender Artists for Pune
  • Studying how schools are run
  • Nature- the answer to global warming
  • N'Jang-Ngi Thangal fest : Gallery
  • TB is preventable & curable
  • Fake :: Poem
  • Pradhan Mantriji's 'Leirum Lengyan'
  • B Voc / M Voc courses at DM College
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Awareness Program on Child Rights
  • Mountain Echoes, Bhutan Festival
  • Ambeshori : Gold at Nation's Cup, Serbia
  • Th Muivah : Man in the news
  • Doctors: scapegoats of a faulty system
  • Jhulon @ Nabadwip, WB : Gallery
  • Chinguremba, Adon Yanglen :: eMing
  • School Fagathanshi Mission : Gallery
  • GojiLove : Top 20 biggest startup of India
  • Manju & Aneshori : Bismillah Award 2018
  • Healthy & active lifestyle: A healthy Manipur
  • Football Kits Distribution at Kshetrigao
  • Reiterating ST status demand for Meiteis
  • Lapses of duty and knowledge
  • NSCN (IM) against Ravi as Interlocutor
  • Nagaland Nagas need a common platform
  • Heikat-Leikat [13 Aug] #2 : Gallery
  • 13 August: Day to remember the heroes #2
  • Dynamic groundwater resources...
  • Lukanand Ksh & Langpoklakpam Melody
  • Meiraba winner @ All India Badminton
  • Archers win at World Police & Fire Games
  • 73rd Independence Day: One Constitution
  • Preparatory Revision Course at Sanakeithel
  • IIT Guwahati's half marathon
  • Getting the best out of Govt schools
  • Babysana: Student - Aug 10 #2: Gallery
  • Jhulon @ Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • A Soldier speaks over Timeline of Kashmir
  • Tamenglong not be used as a money field
  • Food intolerance - Diagnosis & tests
  • That Jungle of a Garden :: Poem
  • International Day of Indigenous People
  • Saving future Manipur- need of the hour
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #9
  • Independence Day : Gallery
  • Suicide: how it looks like & what is
  • Manipur's 1st photojournalist, Santosh Ph
  • Mutum Ramo : President's Police Medal
  • A Letter to my Mother
  • Candle Light at Delhi for Babysana
  • In search of the elusive unity
  • Naga solution anytime soon, says Ravi
  • Landscape Dzukou Valley #1 : Gallery
  • Indigeneity: Expression & Experience : Book
  • Cry of a Dying River - 89 :: Poem
  • Career in youth development
  • The Wind Will Carry Us : Film screening
  • Communication Course for Development
  • Impact of Christianity among Vaiphei #1
  • Dolaithabi Barrage: An emerging failed Dam
  • New India in Konung Lampak
  • High Court & Workers on Sand Quarrying
  • Niranjoy attempt to break Guinness Record
  • Scripting Congress Mukt slogan
  • Bharat Mata has no place on August 13
  • Heikat-Leikat [13 Aug] #1 : Gallery
  • 13 August: Day to remember the heroes #1
  • Jallianwala: Manglen Onkhraba Lamjao
  • Lets us preserve indigenous languages
  • Hepatitis and pregnancy
  • On statement by Hoho & Naga Mother
  • Thangmeiband : Distasteful politics
  • Remembering patriots
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #5
  • Patriots' Day @ Pune : Gallery
  • Historical War fought by Manipur :: Articles
  • Police adapting to challenge by trafficking
  • Preventing TB is rooted in medical ethics
  • In the name of Love :: Poem
  • Expensive motor laws on the way
  • 13th August observed at Pune
  • Youth conclave with a difference
  • Alarming State of Students Life in Manipur
  • Babysana: Student - Aug 10 #1: Gallery
  • On Manipur Handlooms: A Clarion Call
  • Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth #2
  • Of Colours and Sunset
  • A Beautiful Mind :: Poem
  • An apple a day keeps wrinkles at bay
  • From hostels to the school
  • Renaissance of Meitei Hinduism
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #2: Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Azha - Id Festival :: Book
  • Would any journalist dare to stand up #2
  • Artic Haobam won 1st ArP championship
  • Invitation : RIST Talk - 40 @ MU
  • Condole demise of Phanjoubam Santosh
  • Making a New India & fate of Manipur
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #1: Gallery
  • Some basics that many people ignored
  • House building of the Zeliangrong #2
  • Condolence : Photo Jounalist Ph Santosh
  • World Indigenous Peoples at Khumulwng
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Zo Forum celebrates Indigenous day
  • Lukanand Ksh wins at Mister North East
  • Post mortem reports fail to cut ice
  • Babysana: Student protest- Aug 8: Gallery
  • Counterpoints: Transgender Rights Bill #2
  • Manipur topped rankings in Breastfeeding
  • Cry of a Dying River - 88 :: Poem
  • World Indigenous Peoples Day
  • Criticizes scrapping of Article 370
  • Naga leader compromise Naga future
  • Free Children Heart Surgery Camp
  • Another bandh after 12 hours bandh over
  • Babysana death: What ails this society
  • Folklore of Hao communities #3
  • Programm @Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • 'Tamenglong & Manipur' Amur Falcons #2
  • Haris Adhikari: Finest Whiskey in Writing
  • Manipur bag 6 medals at National Fencing
  • Agriculture and skill training
  • Resolutions on Naga Political Issue
  • Need for Imphal to reach out to hill CSO
  • ..should be justice for 1000s babysanas
  • Ibudhou Pakhangba Haraoba #2: Gallery
  • Mob Culture in Manipur
  • Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth #1
  • Abrogation of Article 370
  • Issue of illegal mining of minor minerals
  • Annual Legal Awareness Program at Pune
  • Power, Works back to Biswajit
  • Redefining India
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) #1 : Gallery
  • Would any journalist dare to stand up #1
  • The Truth Lie :: Poem
  • An opportunity to end AIDS & TB
  • Soft skills?? What are soft skills
  • Community - Road to healthy environment
  • Scrapping Articles 370, 35A
  • Matsyanyaya: Law of the Fish
  • Babysana: protest @Khuyathong : Gallery
  • Road from Haochong to Noney : Gallery
  • House building of the Zeliangrong #1
  • The World We Want
  • My Lil' Hamlet :: Poem
  • CM meet with CSO: Naga solution at hand?
  • Aliyah #2 (Film Scenes) :: eRang
  • Old Age Home Kumbi : Gallery
  • Counterpoints: Transgender Rights Bill #1
  • 'Tamenglong & Manipur' Amur Falcons #1
  • Vocationalisation of education in Manipur
  • Tourism Festivals & Tourists in Manipur
  • The World Turned Upside Down :: Poem
  • Think about the future
  • Nachom : used traditionally by Meitei
  • Kanglen Kang Chingba #2 : Gallery
  • Trend of private drug rehabilitation centre
  • Saffronites unhappy with power politics
  • IABP (Balloon Pump) saved life
  • Mega Mister & Miss North East
  • Anti-terror laws & victimization of innocent
  • The state today: blame the representative
  • Will remain true to Framework : IM
  • Laonii Fest @Phuba #1 : Gallery
  • No #endAIDS without #endTB
  • Cry of a Dying River - 87 :: Poem
  • Green your skills for green jobs
  • Ji Ingobi Chingtham: Bicycle tour
  • Will surrogacy law be really effective?
  • Vacancies at Hadron Techs, Imphal
  • 14 hours out of 24 hours
  • When people turn violent against HC order
  • Babysana's last rites performed: Gallery
  • August Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Parade @ Manipur Police, Pangei: Gallery
  • War with Climate
  • Matric, UG & PG days of an aerobiologist
  • Invitation : Workshop on Mathematica
  • Job vacancies at Makok Technologies
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Arrested but not on murder charge
  • Threatened future and the way out
  • Downside of Khuga Multipurpose Project
  • Manipur State Drug Policy #2
  • Scope of career in legal field
  • Demising the Adolescent Miss :: Poem
  • Threats against Rights defender Sobita
  • Demands action against scribe-assailants
  • Back home after Delhi's suggestion
  • Babysana's death and its questions
  • Licypriya: Abdul Kalam Children Award 2019
  • Two positives attracting each other
  • Kakching World War-II Memorial Run
  • Assessment your Tax for ITR
  • Who is responsible ?
  • Rejoinder to branding me as Fortune Teller
  • From Dec 8, 2016 to July 29, 2019
  • Of faith and failed justice
  • Neli Chachea: Doll Maker : Gallery
  • Traditional Practices of the Kukis: Book
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Haraoba #4: Gallery
  • CMHT cards to journalists : Gallery
  • Twinkle Twinkle Scientists Star
  • Rohan Philem Reception @Pune : Gallery
  • General strike on Babysana : Gallery
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #2: Gallery
  • Nupi Pali @ Kang festival: Gallery
  • Sanamahi Cheng Hongba #2: Gallery
  • Weaving at Nongpok Sanjenbam : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #3: Gallery
  • Social service @ Moirang : Gallery
  • World Music Day @Yaiskul #3: Gallery
  • 3rd Singcha Wuyawon Festival 2019
  • seL tiHZakaNdta nuHZa_Iba :: Seireng
  • Cracks at Thong Nambonbi : Gallery
  • Yumnam Shamu : Natbhusan (Duhar)
  • The Great June Uprising #5: Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download