The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter twenty-nine. Crisis
caption: scouts
medium: books
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Namkia came into the room. I could tell by his look, as surely as though the dogs had barked, that strangers were coming.
text: "Who is it?"
text: " Two Sepoy-Sahibs."
text: Boots clumped on the matting in the veranda and I went to the door. There were two British sergeants.
text: " Hallo," I said. " Come in. What's up ? "
text: " Well - - -" said the first. There seemed a certain constraint. " It's like this. Fifty Japs crossed the Imphal road at Kangpokpi about a week ago, and they ought to be here by now. We wondered if you'd heard anything of them. We've been sent from Silchar to see."
text: The familiar hills visible above the veranda rail - Nenglo and the Hangrum hump - seemed, momentarily, to get up and revolve.
text: " Well," I heard myself saying in a bright voice. " You might as well have some tea while we talk it over."
text: When they went on, half an hour later, they left me wiser, but shaken.
text: For eighteen months we had lived behind a belt of defences a hundred and fifty miles deep. We were the farthest back of all back areas. Now, suddenly, there was nothing. The belt had been swamped and rolled up. Boxes remained at Imphal and Kohima, and the rest was a vast expanse of country filled with advancing Japs.
text: What front line there was lay on the railway, twenty miles behind us. We were the only thing between it and the Japanese. The sergeants had asked me what force I had to meet them. I'd told them - a hundred and fifty native scouts, one Service rifle, one single-barrelled shotgun, and seventy muzzle-loaders.
text: We had arranged that I should put every man I could along the line of the Jiri, to give warning of enemy approach. The (207) two sergeants would return to report, and do their utmost to send me help from Silchar. And so we parted. The first thing was to send the scouts forward without starting a panic. I called up Namkia and told him some of the news, adding that troops would be up at any minute. Paodekumba and anyone else available (the little man was unmoved) were sent out at once, and runners went back to call up the best men from Impoi, Asalu, Pangmual, Hange, and the villages to the rear.
text: The frontier was more or less manned by the second day. When I saw the effect which this cold gust of war produced, I could only be thankful they didn't know all that I did. For myself, I had just realized that the camp, with its steep-sided hill and one neck, was a perfect trap. I should have liked to sleep in the jungle. But I daren't; that would have set off a panic in good earnest. So I cultivated an easy air and slept in the house, as usual. They seemed very long nights.