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 thirty-two. Tamenglong
caption: crossing the Barak River
medium: books
person: Tibbetts/ BillAlbrightIsonArcher
location: Barak R.
date: 5.1944
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (224) In the middle of May we received permission to move forward, permission for which we had been manoevering for weeks.
text: Albright, the instigator of the scheme, had gone by then, recalled again to H.Q. His last act for us was to make the final arrangements about our move with local H.Q. at Silchar, H.Q. " V " Force, and 14th Army itself. He was relieved by Bill Tibbetts of 2 V Ops, one of those displaced " V " Force officers who were kicking their heels at Manipur Road until their areas were re-formed. One of them - Betts - curious to see North Cachar, nearly crossed the " Tib " off on the signal so as to go himself, but found that Tibbetts had already seen it. So Tibbetts came, tall, fair, amiable, and hanging on to the tail of a ration-convoy mule, and was greeted with howls of joy by his old comrades the Assam Rifles. Then, in the second week of May, the coveted signal arrived. The move was sanctioned.
text: With six Assam Rifles, fifteen scouts, Ison the signaller (the best man on the network) and a hundred Zemi porters, we moved up, preceded by a Mahratta patrol bound for the Kangpokpi area, and followed, we hoped, by Archer and his company, who were to sit at Tamenglong with us and harry any Japs we found for them. We were marching none too soon. The Rains were almost on us. The Barak, when we saw it first from the rest-house at Hepoloa, was running thick and red at the bottom of the valley. Cloud was about us and it was raining hard.
text: The North Cachar porters panicked. They were terrified (225) of the big river. They knew all about the two disasters at the Falls. In one, a girl eloping with her lover had been drowned when he, jumping ashore on the home bank, stumbled and accidentally kicked the raft back into the current, where, girl and all, it was carried over while the boy ran helplessly along the bank. Then in the other, a whole dance-party on their way home had tried to cross while the river was full and rising. They lost control of the raft and were swept over, the bucks gathering the girls to them at the last and hiding from them the sight of death. So the porters downed loads in the rest-house compound and wouldn't go on a step. We argued with them, Namkia and I, under the dripping pines, while the rain stung us and made patterns of plops in the growing puddles. We got them going at last. They almost ran down the long, steep, slippery hill - two miles it must have been - to reach the river while it was still fordable. But when we came to it, scrambling hand-and-foot down a newly-cut trace in rank, wet bamboo jungle, it was marvellously shallow. Bill and the Assam Rifles leading, we forded it, the porters hurrying through as though the water scalded.
text: On the far bank were an overseer and a gang of workmen. The old suspension-bridge had been wrecked by a flood, and at our request the S.D.O. at Tamenglong was having it reconstructed for our line of communication. But, for reasons only he knew, the Kabui overseer in charge of the work had moved it fifty yards upstream, from hard, high ground to a sandbank, and it looked to me far too low: However, it was across - there was nothing to be done now; so we turned and tramped on. The 1938 camp was lost in grass and creepers. Without the bridge, the river there looked harsher and wilder; the crags of the far cliff stood out grey and bare. We left the stream and began the long climb.