19/03/1944 - 26/03/1944

Unknown to Japanese intelligence 50th Indian Brigade battalions were exercising and patrolling with light equipment around Kohima. The Japanese 15th and 31st Divisions found them in their path while conducting an east-west infiltration attack across the jungle covered Naga Hills beyond the River Chindwin, heading towards India.

C Company 152 Parachute Battalion was overrun on a high plateau near Ukhrul. Only 20 men survived but they killed 450 Japanese.

The Brigade was hastily ordered to concentrate whilst still under fire at the key point Naga village of Sangshak, perched on a steep hillside between Imphal and the Chindwin. They were ordered to hold the Japanese onslaught at all costs.

The Indian Parachute Brigade group held up the Japanese advance for six days, in appalling conditions, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy but at great loss. Fierce hand-to-hand fighting revolved around the Sangshak church within 200 yards of Brigade headquarters. Counter-attacks with bayonet and Kukri drove the Japanese back.

Air-supply fell wide, casualties could not be evacuated and reinforcements failed to get through. The Brigade held on doggedly as ammunition, food and water ran out.

On the 26th March, with both sides nearing complete exhaustion, the arrival of the 5th Indian Division in Imphal fulfilled the Brigade’s delaying mission. That night it was ordered to ‘fight its way out’ back to Imphal, having lost 40 officers and 585 men.

The Japanese thrust at Imphal was blunted by this action that cost the Japanese 2,000 soldiers, notably leaders. The 50th Indian Parachute Brigade’s achievement was recognized in a Special Order of the Day issued by Field Marshal Sir William Slim on 31st August.

The Japanese offensive was defeated at Imphal and Kohima. Survivors from the brigade took part in the final stage of the Burma campaign, successfully parachuting into Rangoon.

Read More


Make a donation to Airborne Assault ParaData to help preserve the history of The Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces