- Title: GURKHA BATTLE IN THE IMPHAL AREA AND JAPANESE DEAD AT BISHENPUR [Allocated Title]
- Film Number: MWY 24
- Other titles: INDIAN INTER-SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTORATE COLLECTION - INDIAN HOME FRONT AND MILITARY OPERATIONS, AND ALLIED OPERATIONS IN ITALY AND THE PACIFIC DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
- Summary: Gurkha infantry, probably of 17th Indian Division, attack a Japanese position on a ridge near the Tiddim Road during the Battle of Imphal (in Manipur, India) while patrols enter Bishenpur and find abandoned enemy equipment and Japanese dead.
- Description: A United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Douglas Dakota (C-47 Skytrain) landing at an airstrip at Imphal (Tulihal?). Another USAAF Dakota lands. Indian (Punjabi?) troops firing an Ordnance ML 3-inch mortar. A kneeling Indian soldier observes the fall of shot with binoculars. A Sikh mortar team fires a 3-inch mortar. Series of shots examining a large captured Japanese spigot mortar of uncertain type with views of the mortar and its ammunition. A captured Japanese anti-tank gun, possibly a 47mm Type 1. A knocked-out Japanese tank, described on the dopesheet as a two-man tankette but more likely to be a Type 97 Improved Chi-Ha medium of 14th Tank Regiment. Footage from a hill overlooking a broad plain, with another ridge in the foreground and thin drifting smoke. Road on the plain below with some occasional vehicle movement. Same hillside view but with Allied troops in the foreground; the nearest man to camera is British and there is a wireless set close by. Another view of the road. Smoke on the hillside with occasional shell bursts visible. Dead Japanese troops, one quite contorted. A British soldier, wearing a wool cap-comforter, holds up a small captured Japanese booklet. Close-up shows Japanese script on the pages. Panning shot shows a number of dead mules. A Lee medium tank, possibly of 3rd Carabiniers, drives up a steep slope towards camera; it is visibly struggling with the gradient. The camera looks at the tank's muddy tracks and running gear as it passes. Wide view of a steep and bare ridge as a unit of Gurkha infantry ('in full spirits and [taking] the full episode like an exciting cricket match' - from the dopesheet) prepare to attack a Japanese position on the next hill. The Gurkhas move off with many stooping as they advance over the crest of the ridge; it is difficult to tell how many men are taking part but the attack is in at least company strength. Close-up of a Gurkha speaking on a radio. A Gurkha in a foxhole cocks his rifle. A wounded soldier is helped down the hillside. View from hillside overlooking the plain. A body lying part submerged in a pond or slow-flowing stream; one arm reaches upright out of the water in a macabre fashion. Four Indian or Gurkha troops walk through the shattered village of Bishenpur. They pass a broken section of mud wall lying on the ground and walk amongst wooden stumps of destroyed huts. A short and slightly too fast pan around the village. Bodies of Japanese dead in the village; some burned. Captured Japanese artillery piece, probably 75mm, with wooden-wheeled carriage and split trail. Brief shot of a camp oven. Brief shot of an Indian soldier posing for the camera while another appears to be carrying a small dog. Staged sequence beginning with pan across a hillside with Gurkha troops in their foxholes. A Bren light machine gunner changes magazines. A kneeling Gurkha, seen in profile, waves his men forward. Men, after receiving their cue, run down the hillside and one swipes at a small bush with his kukri for good measure. Men carry on running down the hillside; one appears to drop something and stops to pick it up, then his hat falls off and he stops again. A view, as if from a foxhole, of Gurkhas making their way up a slope from left-to-right while more troops run over and past the cameraman's position.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM
- Featured Period: 1939-1945
- Production Date: 1944-05-20
- Production Country: India
- Production Details: Public Relations Directorate, India (Production sponsor) Indian Public Relations Film Unit (Production company) Honawar, P H (Production individual)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: Indian Army, 17th Indian Division (regiment/service) British Army, 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales's Dragoon Guards) (regiment/service) United States Army Air Forces (regiment/service)
- Keywords: Imphal, Manipur, India (geography) Bishenpur, Manipur, India (geography) Imphal 1944, Burma 1942-1945, Second World War (event) British Army 1939-1945 (theme) Indian Army 1939-1945 (theme)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 1 Footage: 571 ft; Running time: 7 mins
- HD Media:Yes
- Notes: Unfortunately the dopesheet does not provide any details as to the date of this piece, nor a precise location, nor the identity of the Gurkha unit seen. However, some clues are apparent. The dopesheet identifies Bishenpur and refers to a three-day Japanese infiltration and heavy casualties amongst mules and drivers. It also refers to a Japanese attack on a divisional headquarters. The Japanese attacked 17th Indian Division's HQ on 20/21 May 1944, and at the same time a Japanese force overran Bishenpur. For several days fierce fighting ensued and Bishenpur was retaken but was by now, according to the official historian, 'a ghastly shambles of hundreds of dead animals and 150 dead Japanese from [1st Battalion 214th Infantry Regiment]'. Assuming that this film shows the actions described in the note above, it is still difficult to identify the Gurkhas with any confidence, as there are six possible Gurkha battalions in the brigades involved. Remarks: given the relative scarcity of film of the Battle of Imphal, this film is inherently valuable. However, the lack of precise information and the speculative date given above means that it should be used with care. One might also note the rather dubious quality of direction in the staged sequence. For record film of other Japanese artillery pieces captured at Bishenpur, see related items. Series note: The MWY series of films is believed to be part of a ‘pool’ of film received by the Government of India from various sources, including South East Asia Command, the Indian Inter-Service Public Relations Directorate, the Ministry of Information, and from Allied governments. This footage would have been considered for editing and release through the Indian Newsreel Parade; see INR series.
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
JFU 142 (CAPTURED JAPANESE ARTILLERY ON DISPLAY AT 20TH INDIAN DIVISION [Allocated Title])