The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

Typescript copy of extracts from letters from J.P. Mills to Mrs Pamela Mills (in England), 1936

caption: Armed and hostile confrontation with Pangsha; looting
medium: letters
person: Williams/ Maj.Smith/ Mr.Wenshoyi khel/ Pangsha
location: Noklak Pangsha Chingmei Noko (Nokhu)
date: 27.11.1936
person: Mills/ J.P.
date: 1936
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Mills Ms.
text: (16) Noklak
text: November 27th, 1936
text: Here we are, safely back in our old camp at Noklak in a lovely grove with a stream of perfect water a few yards from the perimeter. But we had our battle all right, for the most serious there has been in these transborder shows here. We sent the coolies and one platoon straight back from our river camp to here, and went up with one platoon to Wenshoyi, a Khel of Pangsha about three miles from the main village.
text: They had built a stone barricade loopholed for arrows but did not hold it. We scattered a few collections with Lewis gunfire and proceeded to loot and burn the village.
text: Then we withdrew. We had to go about 3,000 ft. down a long spur. Very soon down on our right we saw hundreds of men from the main village streaming along a path to cut us off. We knew the supreme moment had come, and that Pangsha were going to try and overwhelm us and annihilate us by sheer weight of numbers. They disappeared into dead ground, and then came at us over a ridge with a roar. It was an experience I shall never forget. I should think the nearest man rolled over like a rabbit with a bullet in the chest was not more than 50 ft. away. They were just drawing back their arms for a shower of spears. Of course they outnumbered us by ten to one. We beat them off.
text: The men were splendid, firing calmly and carefully. At one point, Williams, two yards from me, snatched a rifle from a Sepoy's hand and fired himself. Then began a long retire march down a slope, with Williams handling his men superbly. Rifles were cracking at the time as we held them off the rear, and we were going at the double in case they cut us off at the river. We got down and across all right without a single casuality. We had to keep them off, we couldn't afford to have even a few wounded. In civilised warfare you can leave wounded knowing they will be looked after, but in Naga warfare every man had to be brought along, even in a retreat, and that hangs up things frighfully.
text: Once across the river we could take things easy with friendly Noklak above us. It was a terribly hard climb and two Sepoys could hardly struggle along. Poor Smith has gone to bed beat to the world.
text: One's feelings in a fight of this kind, with your life or theirs at stake, are hard to define - I was completely absorbed in what was going on, and in listening to and obeying all orders instantly. There was no time for anything else, things were happening too quickly. The worst part was a frightful thirst, we were running hard in boiling sun, and my running days are really over.
text: I had always been told that Pangsha, who do not know what fear is, would make a real effort to wipe us out, which have been a very bad image for the Raj. We are due back in comfortable Chingmei tomorrow.
text: We may not have to go to Nokhu and if we do they won't be such a tough proposition as Pangsha. What the Pangsha losses were we shall probably never know, but I doubt if any other village will want a dose of rifle fire after today!