Event Detail


Fight your way out: The Extraordinary Story of Japan's Invasion of India

David Allison
Wednesday, 28 Feb 2024
Complimentary Free-Flow Fine Wines from 6:30 pm; Talk at 7:30 pm
The HK Management Association, 14/F, Fairmont House, 8 Cotton Tree Drive, Central

“When You Go Home, Tell Them of Us and Say,

For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

In March 1944, Japan launched its audacious overland invasion of India from Burma. Taken by surprise, the border areas lay exposed and undefended, except for the previously untested British 50th Indian Parachute Brigade, which was by chance training in the jungles around Manipur in the far east of India.  The extraordinary valour of the Brigade delayed the Japanese advance for a week, allowing British generals vital time to move tens of thousands of troops around India, prior to the decisive defeat of the Japanese army at the Battle of Kohima, one of Japan’s first major defeats of WW2.  

David Allison tells how the Brigade consisted of just 300 Indian and Nepali Gurkha troops with British officers, with a machine gun company, a mountain artillery battery and other supporting arms, commanded by Brigadier Maxwell Hope-Thomson.  After a series of brutal encounter battles, the Paratroopers consolidated on the isolated Naga village of Sangshak high in the Manipur hills.  
Holding out against an aggressive and determined enemy, the Brigade fought off wave after wave of attacks in bloody hand-to hand fighting.  With shortages of ammunition and supplies and casualties mounting, the defenders held on for a critical week before fighting their way out through the mountainous terrain, back to British lines.
David describes this critical first major battle between Indian and Japanese armies on Indian soil.  The siege is described in detail using first-hand accounts, as is their daring escape through the jungle, and the experiences of Indian and British survivors captured by the Japanese.
David Allison is from Perth, Australia.  With degrees in Chinese studies and Law, he has practiced as a lawyer in Australia, China and Hong Kong for more than 20 years. He has also served as an officer in the Australian Army (Reserve) for over 15 years. David’s primary historical research interest is the military history of Commonwealth forces in Asia from the Second World War to the present.

Members of the RGS-HK, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$200 for RGS Members and HK$250 for guests and others, including free-flow drinks.


The opinions expressed in this talk are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong.

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