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Imphal Cremation Memorial

CWGC Remembers 70th Anniversary of Imphal

23 June 2014

Senior officials from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the State of Manipur and the Indian Army, will commemorate the 70th anniversary of one of the fiercest battles of the Second World War - the Battle of Imphal - at ceremonies on 27 June at the CWGC Imphal War Cemetery and Imphal Indian Army War Cemetery in Manipur State, North East India.

The Battles at Imphal and Kohima were described by the Supreme Allied Commander, Earl Louis Mountbatten, as "probably one of the greatest battles in history,"1 as British and Indian troops halted the advance of Japanese forces into India. At the end of the battle the Japanese had sustained 53,000 casualties, while the British and Indian forces had lost 17,000 men killed and wounded.

Attending the are His Excellency The Governor of Manipur, Shri Vinod Kumar Duggal, and Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur, Shri Gaikhangam Gangmei. Representing the CWGC is Director of Africa and Asia Pacific, Mr Barry Murphy, accompanied by Lt. Gen Ravi Eipe (Rtd) CWGC Honorary Liaison Officer and Former Army Commander Eastern Command.

To commemorate those who died, Mr Murphy will unveil a new Visitor Information Panel that describes the fierce fighting that took place at Imphal and uses the latest smartphone technology to reveal the personal stories of some of those who are buried in the CWGC's cemetery there.

These include Abdul Hafiz, who as a Jemadar in the 9th Jat Regiment of the Indian Army, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross - the highest award for bravery - for his actions on 6 April 1944. Abdul Hafiz was ordered to lead an attack on a prominent position held by the Japanese - the only approach to which was across a bare slope and then up a very steep cliff. His bravery and inspiring leadership made the assault a success but he was fatally wounded in the attack. He is buried in Imphal Indian Army War Cemetery. The Victoria Cross was presented to his widow.

Mr Murphy said: "I am greatly honoured to visit Imphal to mark the 70th anniversary of one of the most important engagements of the Second World War. The work that the CWGC does to maintain the cemeteries here, our efforts to encourage people to visit them, and the panels that we have installed today, will help us and future generations to understand, and to remember, the great sacrifices made by the Indian, British and other Allied servicemen who fought and died here in 1944.

"I would like to thank our staff at the cemetery for their hard work, and our friends and partners in the local and national government and armed forces, who do so much to support the Commission's work in India."

Imphal War Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 1,600 Commonwealth soldiers and airmen. Imphal Indian Army War Cemetery contains the graves of 820 Indian and African Soldiers, while the Imphal Cremation Memorial within the cemetery commemorates more than 860 Hindu and Sikh servicemen whose remains were committed to fire in accordance with their faith. Both cemeteries were started during the fighting but were later enlarged when graves from smaller cemeteries around Imphal and other isolated locations were brought here.

The panels at Imphal are among 500 to be installed at CWGC locations worldwide and are some of the first to be placed at Second World War cemeteries. Each of the panels feature information about the site of the cemetery and a QR (Quick Response) code. When scanned with a smartphone, the QR Code provides access for further information including the personal stories of some of the casualties buried or commemorated there.

1 The National Army Museum nominated the Battle of Kohima and Imphal as one of the greatest battles in history, following a national survey in 2013.

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