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-seven. The Scheme Begins
caption: visit from commander of 'V' Force, Assam, bringing guns
medium: books
person: Binny/ Col.NamkiaRintening
date: 1.1943
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: In January Colonel Binny, our immediate C.O., who commanded " V " Force Assam Zone with H.Q. in Imphal, arrived to inspect and brought the promised guns. The Zemi had never had a great many firearms, though most Kuki villages had at least two; what Zemi guns there had been were confiscated in the " troubles ". Namkia had one still, but his family had been hard put to save it. It belonged to Rintening, his aged father. The S.D.O. of that day - 1931 - had been searching for a Zemi interpreter. It was impossible to find a candidate. When he began to ask in some anger whether Asalu could produce a man, Namkia's elder brother rushed home, seized the young Namkia, and crying : " Go on, you be the interpreter - we might save the gun ! " hauled Namkia miserable and protesting along behind him and handed him over as prospective interpreter to the S.D.O. That was how Namkia entered Government service, and how the Rintening family saved their gun.
text: With the issue of the first few weapons to scouts you could feel a wave of confidence pass over Watch and Ward, confidence in us because we had fulfilled the chief and apparently most impossible of our promises, and confidence in themselves because they were now armed. I myself felt that it was most unlikely that they would ever, in Critchley's phrase, " stand behind a tree and poop off at Japs ". The guns were muzzle-loaders, of a type and vintage I wouldn't have fired if you'd paid me, long-barrelled, Last-of-the-Mohican guns, (196) taking two minutes or longer to re-load. In some the barrels were of sheet-metal coiled and were not solid at all, and one or two scouts arrived back at Laisong looking very put out, with weapons which looked like a stock attached to a spring - the barrels had burst and simply unwound themselves. But most of all, civil guns, which were chiefly used to protect the crops from game, had had no powder-rations for two years. We were able to give our men powder and shot " for practice ", and so the scouts became, overnight, almost a privileged elite encouraged to spend their leaves in any village where game was doing damage. It was excellent target- practice and the effects on morale were immense.