Imphal War Cemetery, Imphal, Manipur
Located in the town of Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, the Imphal War Cemetery is the final resting place of 1600 men who fought in and around Imphal in World War II.
In 1942, the Imperial Japanese Army defeated the Allied forces in Burma, in turn forcing them to retreat to Imphal in India. Due to its close proximity to the border, Imphal was the easiest place for the Allied troops to move and as a result, stationed themselves in the town and reinforced their army and air force units over the next two years. In the first half of 1944, the Imperial Japanese Army attacked Imphal and succeeded in securing the town for three months. However, continued fighting from the Allied forces over this period combined with a dwindling level of supplies reaching the Japanese led to the retaking of Imphal in June 1944 and a swift retreat from the Imperial Japanese Army. The Battles of Kohima and Imphal is now considered by some historians as one of the most important British battles of World War II, not to mention the bloodiest with a predicted 53,000 Japanese soldiers and 18,000 British and Indian soldiers dying on the surrounding fields.
Managed and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Imphal War Cemetery initially only had 950 burials on site. At the conclusion of the Second World War, the remains of soldiers from two other smaller nearby cemeteries, along with those buried in isolated spots surrounding the battlefield, were moved to the Imphal War Cemetery, increasing the total to 1,600 men. Originating from countries that include the UK, Canada, Australia, India, East Africa, West Africa and Burma, each gravesite is marked with a brass plaque. Another nearby cemetery, known as the Imphal Indian Army War Cemetery, holds the graves of 828 men, many of who were Muslim soldiers within the British Indian Army. A memorial also stands on the site, commemorating the 868 Sikh and Hindu soldiers who were cremated there.
Visitor numbers to the Imphal War Cemetery have increased over the past few years, leading to the installation of a number interpretation panels that can be read or accessed via smartphone technology. More recently in 2014, the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Imphal was commemorated at the site with dignitaries attending from India, the UK, Australia and the US.