They say the sun never really set on the British Empire at its height.
The British Empire, during its height of glory stretched from New Zealand to Australia all the way up to Canada.
But it came with a price.
The price being waging numerous wars and battles throughout its long chequered history.
So, the National Army Museum in London, exploring more than 400 years of British Army history, wanted to know which is the most important battle ever fought ? A clash of arms that produced not only a winner and a loser but perhaps changed everything that came after.
The selection criteria included:
- political, historical and cultural impact
- challenges faced by the Army
- innovative use of strategy and tactics
- global spread of British Army deployments
- recognition of the vital contributions of Commonwealth troops
20 battles were shortlisted for the title of “Britain’s Greatest Battle”.
And the audience voted their outright winner: The Battle of Imphal/Kohima
The Battle of Imphal/Kohima took place in 1944 in north-east India when Japanese troops poured over the Burmese border to strike at India. Fought over a vast area of jungle and mountain, it was marked by vicious hand-to-hand fighting. The victory decided the outcome of World War II and eventually changed the course and fate of many nations.
The successful British defence meant they were then able to push into Burma and roll back the Japanese from mainland Asia, thus preventing a possible Axis tie-up on Indian soil.
For the British, the war may have ended in victory, but the empire was never the same again. The end of the Raj was near. For Japan, the loss of South Asia marked the end of its era of aggression, the end of totalitarianism and its imperialist ambitions.
Written by : Shubho Deep Bhowmick