The period of 1939 to 1945 was one of the darkest moments in the history of mankind. It was during this period the world witnessed the Second World War – a state of ‘total war’ where the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. This war brought down the major super powers of the period into ashes. Japan was rocked with the mighty nuclear explosion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it was after the Second World War that the world realized the might of the Americans!
The World War II might have brought down the will of the Germans and Japanese to be the might of the World but it to be mentioned that all wars lead to destruction of devastating proportion. The World War II too led to the same fate and millions of people were killed around the world that included the soldiers of the Army who laid down their lives to bring peace to the World. The bodies of these brave soldiers were laid to rest across various cemeteries through the World and one of such is the Guwahati War Cemetery that was built and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Located in the heart of the largest city of Assam ~ Guwahati, this cemetery has about 500 burials mostly of British soldiers who laid their lives during World War II.
To give a brief history of the Guwahati War Cemetery, it was started during the World War II, for burials from several military hospitals in the region. Soldiers and workers who couldn’t make it after fighting the enemy and building the epic Stilwell road were laid to rest here. Later, other graves were brought in by the Army Graves service from military cemeteries in Sylhet and Amari Bari and civil cemeteries in Nagaon, Mohachara and Guwahati for permanent maintenance. Some graves were later also brought from isolated sites in present-day Mizoram, Coochbehar, Darjeeling, Shillong, Dibrugarh, Lumding, Dinjan, Dhubri etc.
Today, the Guwahati cemetery has 521 graves, which includes:
- 316 known and 18 unknown graves of soldiers from the United Kingdom
- 136 known and seven unknown Indian soldiers
- 4 from Canada
- 4 from South Africa
- 1 from New Zealand
- 2 graves of soldiers whose nationality is unknown
- 24 graves of Chinese Army soldiers
- Among the 9 world war cemeteries in India, Guwahati is the only cemetery which has graves of Japanese soldiers (11 of them). The graves were rested peacefully in the cemetery until the Japanese government decided to dig up the graves (on 19th January 2012) and fly them back to Japan so as to give them a formal burial in their native country.
The 11 soldiers of Japanese forces who died in World War II were Lance Corporal Miyata Kotsuo (died on September 13, 1944) and 10 soldiers — Komatsutomoshige (September 8, 1944), Morata Doshu ( September 10, 1944), Yamado Kesakti (September 5, 1944), Okamoto (January 8, 1945), Kito Zawo (September 2, 1944), Ikdmiraisao ( September 2, 1944), Shotasaburo (August 31, 1944), Ishiwara Hiroja (no date mentioned), Urata Yotaka (August 8, 1944) and Hachivetsuyoshi (November 25, 1944).
And truly mentioned in one of the quotes of the cemetery –
‘These graves bear silent testimony to those soldiers, unlisted workers and laborers who ventured into Virgin jungle amid blistering heat and laid down their lives in the line of duty during the Second World War. Whilst part of all forces against the Imperial Japanese Army. THEIR NAME LIVETH FOREVER MORE’
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to Witness History and Relive the Memoirs of the World War II – the Guwahati War Cemetery, Guwahati, the State of Assam, Incredible India!