Flypast over York Minster after Prince Andrew attends commemoration service

4 Jul 2019 @ 3.23 pm
| History

The 75th anniversary of a key Second World War campaign was commemorated in York with a royal visit and flypast over York Minster.

Seven veterans of the Battle of Kohima and the Burma Campaign laid wreaths at the service in Dean’s Park.

Organised by the Kohima Educational Trust, the service in honour of the veterans was attended Prince Andrew and special guests, family members and descendants of veterans of the battle.

The seven veterans represent a generation of courageous men who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in the face of terrible aggression.

After the service, conducted by the Dean of York Dr Jonathan Frost, three wartime planes flew over the Minster, including a Hawker Hurricane.

Posts on social media saying that the Red Arrows were due to be a part of the flypast were mistaken, an RAF spokesman told YorkMix.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, gave an address at the service next to the Kohima Memorial, saying:

  • We stand together today in gratitude and in remembrance of all who served His Majesty The King at the battles of Kohima and Imphal.

    Kohima’s War Cemetery has the renowned inscription ‘When You Go Home, Tell Them of Us and Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave our Today’. In memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice, Father God, make us better men and women, boys and girls, and give peace in our time.

The Burma Campaign

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In 1944, the Japanese Army launched the U-GO offensive, with two key aims: frustrating allied plans to re-take Burma (now Myanmar), and the invasion of India. The Japanese strategy depended on taking control of two remote jungle locations in Nagaland in the north eastern province of Assam: the town of Imphal and the garrison village of Kohima close to the India/Burma border.

The epic battles were fought in three phases from April to June 1944. More than 85,000 strong, the Japanese Division deployed siege warfare.

They met determined resistance from British and Indian troops and from Naga villagers supporting the allied forces. The Japanese surrounded Kohima launching attacks from the surrounding jungle.

Fighting was fierce, often at close quarters including hand-to-hand combat and in appalling conditions. Sickness and disease took a heavy toll on the allies and the Japanese.

Against overwhelming odds, 2,500 allied troops in Kohima withstood 15,000 Japanese troops for two weeks until they were relieved by the British 2nd Division. Their courage and bravery came at great cost.

At Kohima and Imphal more than 12,500 British and Indian Troops lost their lives with another 4,000 injured. The defeat was a catastrophe for the Japanese forces with around 53,000 deaths, more than 7,000 injured and the destruction of Japan’s regional ambitions to control Burma and invade India. Historians regard the Battles of Kohima and Imphal as the beginning of the end of the war in Asia.

Source: York Minster