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4.4 out of 5 stars89
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 1 January 2007
Many readers will remember Michael Lowry's superb account as a Company Commander in Arakan in 1944, a book published shortly after the war and now long out of print. He has now returned to print with an excellent, readable and very personal account of the war, taking his infantry company through the `Box' battles in Arakan in February and March 1944 to the turning point battles of the Kohima hills in April and May 1944. Lowry begins by painting in the fascinating context of his time at Sandhurst at the outset of war followed by regimental service on the North West Frontier, an experience that bonded him fully into his regimental family and taught him the necessary detail of soldiering in plenty of time before he was thrown into the maelstrom that was Burma. He writes as an ordinary man, leading well-trained and disciplined troops in the desperate struggles against a fanatical enemy in the gloom of the Arakan jungle and the mud, rain and hand-to-hand terror of the Kohima ridge. In so doing, however, he comes across as a professional, caring and diligent leader, looking after each of his soldiers as he would one day care for the sheep on the farm he went on to run after his retirement.

The book is a refreshing antidote to the `jungle hell' variety of Burma Campaign history. Lowry's perspective by contrast is that of an infantry leader in a well-ordered and disciplined team, in no way dominated or outclassed by the fanatical `warrior ants' (as Slim called them) of the Japanese Imperial Army against whom they were fighting. It is a story of complete professionalism, of a commitment to maintaining the highest standards in the fastidious detail of an infantryman's existence, and of hard and relevant training. It is also a story of the camaraderie and affection that builds up between men dependent upon each other for their very lives, and who become lifelong friends through the shared experience of battle. Because of this it is possible in part vicariously to experience the loss Lowry feels when describing the death of his friends and to wonder again, for those of us who were not yet born at the time of these events, at the extraordinary sacrifices of this gallant generation.
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on 13 May 2010
Michael Lowry wrote "Fighting through to Kohima" LEST WE FORGET, and it's the story of a professional soldiers experiences starting on the Northwest Frontier, and then in India and Burma, particularly in the Arakan (Burma) and at Kohima (Assam). It's a rounded portrait eg beginning with the authors family background (Lowry was born in 1919), taking time to stress things the author found important, eg chocolates forwarded to the front line, ... tea breaks to fortify the men, well turned out troops, and the wonderful qualities of the British soldier. I particularly enjoyed the initial chapter about Lowry's background (eg his sister being a debutante), and the later climactic chapter about Jail Hill. There is a description of part of the battle for Kohima, more accurately for Jail Hill at Kohima, which impresses by it's concise account of what must have been hell. The battles for Imphal and Kohima were a turning point in the Burma War, and saw some of the hardest fighting ever. Mr Lowry's battalion sustained very heavy casualties at Kohima.

Nevertheless, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped. The reasons include that it's based upon contemporary diary entries, and at times felt like reading stale press cuttings - at times the text is a bit stilted. Mr Lowry is not a gifted writer. More importantly, perhaps as many soldiers would do, he states the facts more than he reveals and dramatizes emotions. For such reasons, I've rated the book 3*. The book is a testament to how things were, how it seemed from a professional soldiers point-of-view, the genius of British soldiers, the tremendous toughness of the Japanese enemy, ...but I don't think it's up to the standard of some other Burma war memoirs.
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on 7 August 2014
A personal account by the author of his experiences as an infantry subaltern on the Indian North West frontier against the Pathans followed by action against the Japanese in Arakan and Kohima.

This is a story worth reading. Whilst it is not in the same literary class as "Quartered safe out here" and "Bugles and a Tiger", it offers a similar perspective of what it was like to participate in some of the bitterest fighting on the Burma front. The author frames his account around diary entries written at the time and this gives an valuable insight into what was important to him. What comes over very strongly are the personal attributes that go towards making an effective platoon and company leader... The need to set an example, the care for his men, the need to do a job effectively without wasting lives, and finally his pride in his men and his regiment.

I found the company commander perspective of the fighting in Arakan and Kohima to be very effectively conveyed and I felt I gained a genuine insight into what it must have been like to experience life as a junior infantry commander in Burma at that time. For that reason I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to those who have a similar interest.

Like others I have found the "translation" of accompanying maps into Kindle format highly exasperating. There is no technical reason why maps have to be displayed in such a small format. Less that a quarter of the display page (and with the wrong page orientation!) is very simply sloppy technical adaptation. If I had paid the same price as for a physical book I would have been very aggrieved. I hope publishers take note for the future.
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on 6 January 2010
This book demonstrates the hardships and the sheer guts needed to be a member of the Forgotten 14th. Heavy on detail in places it is a first class read for those who are interested in a boots on the ground account of fighting the Japanese.
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on 28 July 2010
I enjoyed this book and encourage anyone who is a student or interested in the British experience in Burma in World War II to consider reading it. Lowry was a competent company commander who had the unfortunate timing to fight the Japanese in the Arakan and then get whisked to Kohima to take part in the capture of Jail Hill. For me, the description of the fighting for Jail Hill is enough to justify the time to read this book. This is not a "light" read and should be tackled only if you're seriously interested in the subject. Until I read Lyman's review, I didn't know that Lowry had previously published a book about his Burma experiences.
Lowry contracted malaria and was invalided out to India before the end of the war and he was not with the Queen's when the war ended.
His description of getting cut off and trapped by the Japanese in the Arakan is well written. His unit was not in the "Admin Box" but was in their own box, near by.
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on 1 July 2014
A most enlightening history written by an officer, but about actions at the sharp end. To often we get the bones of the issue, copied from histories of the various campaigns and without any reflection of the actual front line and the ordinary soldier. This book isn't like that, he mentions his mates, other officers of his own level, but here is reflected the squabble on the battle field and we can understand the actions and feelings of our relatives and aquaintances who fought in Burma. This book is the meat on history's bones. There is nothing of the ,'coffee table,' about it! We are taken down to the level of the company and the platoon. Once I had picked it up I couldn't put it down till it was finished.
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on 21 January 2015
The Author gives a fascinating account of soldering and the bitter fighting in the far east. Written in the quaint manner of a pre-war regular British line officer, the descriptions are vivid enough to convey the fear, complexities and danger of life as an infantry officer fighting a determined enemy.
The Author provides great insight into this famous battle that military history buffs will, I'm sure, enjoy. Anyone who has served in a British infantry regiment will be at home with this Author.
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on 3 September 2014
Excellent first hand account of how an individual company moved through the war. I read lots of WW2 books covering the more strategic or tactical level. This was a great insight into the operational aspect of conflict engagements. It ends with an excellent account of the battle of Kohima and the part played on a daily, almost hourly, basis by the company. You feel right in the heart of the action. If you enjoy WW2 books you should certainly enjoy this one.
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on 18 April 2015
Very vivid description of the life before the war of a junior officer in the regular army and his family background.Then a very detailed account of his posting and service in India and Burma. This is probably unknown except to those who served in these horrendous conditions.It is filled with amusing references and the author is incredibly modest.A true version of a ghastly war as seen from a brave soldier deeply involved in the combat.
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on 2 March 2015
Having grown up during the war and later served as a National Service NCO in and infantry regiment abroad I can appreciate the detailed accounts of the fighting a.nd the appalling conditions our soldiers experienced.This book is a real eye-opener about courage and fortitude under circumstances which most of us don't really know the full extent. Old Nick
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