Medical Support at the Siege of Kohima, April 1944

Published:March 26, 2019DOI:


      • The battle of Kohima marked a turning point in WWII in Asia.
      • General Slim turned a demoralized army into one prepared for victory.
      • The staffing and equipment of military anaesthetists was upgraded during this period.
      • Medical staff treated the wounded under ever deteriorating conditions.


      For 12 days in April 1944, a hastily constituted force of British and Indian combat troops held at bay 10 times their number of the seemingly invincible Japanese Imperial Army. The story of the siege of Kohima is one of courage, determination, and leadership. The Burma campaign and, indeed, the Asian theater of World War II as a whole are often overlooked other than by those with a special interest; this article is intended to inform and perhaps inspire a wider readership. The article describes the situation in North Eastern India, prior to and during the siege, from both military and medical points of view. It highlights some of the qualities of leadership that led to the garrison’s survival and describes the remarkable performance, against all odds, of the medical staff who cared for the many casualties.
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