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Kohima 1944, a review by Thomas W Johnson
on 21 June 2011
I was surprised by the avalanche of stars for this work. As already pointed out, Osprey gives the author 96 pages to tell his story; and by the time you back out the photos, maps, drawings, introduction, table of contents, suggested reading, index, etc... I doubt if there is more than 50 pages of text. I compare it, favorably, to a Clift's Notes version of Edward's "Furthest Battle", or Kohima for Dummies. If I were a high school student in a history class and needed to write a book report, this is a good option.
Previous reviewers have already pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of this book. Like Charpoy Chindit, I would have found the "3-D" drawings a lot more useful if the artist had included the Dimapur to Imphal Road, the Jessami Track and the road from Naga Village to Merema and Bokajan. Otherwise, they didn't add measurably to the book, and the items that were hidden by the binding made using the maps a little frustrating.
Also, as previously prointed out by Charpoy, there are some errors that are surprising given Rob's familiarity with the subject.
On page 24 Merema is moved to the East of Naga Village and 138th Regiment would lead the "southern prong". In several places (pages 36 and 71 for example) he refers to "tanks" on the tennis court. I checked Sgt Waterhouse's report in Tank Tracks to Rangoon (pages 142 - 143) (Bryan Perrett, Robert Hale Publishers, 1978) to make sure, and there was only one tank on the tennis court. I just get the feeling that the editing was rushed and the proof reading was half hearted.
At the bottom of page 59, the author writes "While the immediate crisis was over, Stopford now had to prevent Sato from capturing Kohima and Dimapur." This statement seems to contradict the chronology on page 2 where Sato is not contemplating the capture of Kohima and Dimapur, but is, in fact, complaining to Fifteenth Army "that none of the promised supplies has arrived." On the same page on April 23rd "Thereafter, Sato turns to the defensive."
I am for anything that keeps the memory of Kohima alive and look forward to Rob's expanded work for Pen and Sword coming out later in 2011. I just don't think this was his best work, compared to earlier efforts.
I don't agree with the five star treatment, but maybe the rest of you are kinder then I am; and less demanding.
I want to close with a request to the other reviewers to take a look at the photo on page 36. The caption says it is a photo "looking "north-east with the edge of the Kohima Ridge on the left...". I would expect to be looking at Naga Village from that perspective and the photo doesn't look anything like Naga Village compared to other Naga Village photos. I was wondering if that is a photo of the Treasury Area or the reinforcement camp. Any help would be appreciated.
On a personal note I see that Bob Cook is mentioned in the Acknowledgements. Bob is the curator of the Kohima Museum in Fulford, south of York. I believe Fergal Keane also mentioned Bob in his acknowledgements. Its nice to see Bob get some recognition after all this time.