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L/F's Killed at kohima


"Mopping Up"
"The Brigadier"

Photo's of Japanese solders found at Kohima



There were two men to a trench in the 2nd World War, they were called slit trenches.

You would have a ration in case you were short of food, or you're cut of anywhere. That's kept in a special pocket in your uniform. It's like a very sweet chocolate, you couldn't eat a full block of it because it was too sweet. It would make you sick, but it's nutritious. They reckon it will keep you going for days, but you never touch that. It was a crime again to touch that, unless you could prove that you were starving more or less, you know. I'm just telling you now the sort of conditions you'd find yourself in.

So you arrive and you've dug in and then you start preparing, if you're stopping there for the night, because it's ten to one that the enemy will soon cotton on to the fact that you're there. And, of course he's fighting the war as well as you are, and he wants to win the same as you do. So he starts to plan his attack. More often than not the next morning some where along the line, it might not be in the trench you're in and it might not be in that section, but some where along the line it's more than likely that the enemy will attack your position.

When they attack they usually attack just before daylight, so everyone was ready. I should say that during the night after you've dug in, and you've had your evening meal, the cooks have brought the meal up and you've a mess tin, that's another thing you carry as well. A little oddment to add to your weight, and you eat probably stew out of a mess tin, and a cup of tea. (The other half of your mess tin takes your tea.) Then you camouflage your position of course, you've thrown the earth, most of it goes in the front of each trench. Then you cover it up with branches and whatnot to try and disguise the fact that you're there. Then you wait for the enemy.

Well, with it being known that ten to one they attack just before daylight, there is always a Stand To in the army. You don't get full nights sleep. When you've dug your trench and you've marched your fifteen miles the day before, the corporal who's in charge of your section then will organise the guards for the section. There might be ten men to start with in your section, ten or twelve men. So you work in pairs usually, and you do two hours on, and generally in the army in peacetime, it's two hours on and four hours off. (So when you've come off your guard, normally you've got four hours to rest, or sleep,) but in wartime, more often than not especially being short of men it becomes two hours on and two hours off. So you can imagine how tired you get.

So you might have gone on first guard duty at say ten o'clock to twelve o'clock, assuming it doesn't go dark until ten o'clock at night depending on where you are. Then they double the guards up you see, there is a normal guard on single sentry all the time. Well the first two guards would go on at ten o'clock till midnight. So say you were on with your mate at ten till midnight, and then another two go on, they relieve you and they are on till two o'clock in the morning.


Read extracts from a collection of short stories from the Far East which can be obtained on CD shortly.

"George Glover"
"The Pipe"
"John Murray"
"George an' Charlie"

"The Chiropodist"
"Arrival at Jorhat"

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