US journalist Tom Ricks put me on to this piece in last week's The Telegraph on a question asked by Britain's National Army Museum. One hundred paid guests heard five historians make their case for Britain's Greatest Battle. Over half of the attendees then voted in favour of the argument made by Dr Robert Lyman, an author and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, that Britain's greatest battle was actually two, the twin fights of Imphal and Kohima, fought in Burma in 1944.
Lyman had this reaction: "I had thought that one of the bigger names like D-Day or Waterloo would win so I am delighted that Imphal-Kohima has won. You have got to judge the greatness of a battle by its politcal, cultural and social impact, as much as its military impact. Imphal and Kohima were really significant for a number of reasons, not least that they showed that the Japanese were not invincible and that that they could be beaten, and beaten well. The victories demonstrate this more than the US in the Pacific, where they were taking them on garrison by garrison.”
I freely admit that I know next to nothing about these battles, and only a little bit about General Slim and the campaign in Burma. I need to fix that gap in my military knowledge this summer. Hammock reading suggestions, anyone? Any good paper wargames of these fights or of this campaign?