Platinum Jubilee Commemoration of Battle of Kangla Tongbi

Battle of Kangla Tongbi, considered one of the fiercest battles of World War II, fought by ordnance personnel of 221 Advance Ordnance Depot (AOD), was fought on the night of 6/ 7 April 1944. Its Platinum Jubilee was commemorated by Army Ordnance Corps, honouring valiant brave hearts of 221 AOD who made their supreme sacrifice in the line of duty during the battle, at Kangla Tongbi War Memorial near Imphal on 07 Apr 2019.

Descendants of Indian Martyrs, next of kin of Britishers who participated during the Kangla Tongbi Ops, Veteran Officers and Lt Gen Dalip Singh, VSM, DGOS & Senior Colonel Commandant as the chief guest did the wreath laying to commence the event. They visited Kangla Tongbi Childrens Home. To commemorate the occasion and as a matter of charity, the inmates were presented gifts during interaction with them. Locals enthusiastically participated during the complete event.

Battle of Kangla Tongbi also known as Battle of Lion Box was fought between the Axis (Japanese) Force and Allied Force during Second World War (1942-1945) when marauding Japanese forces were trying to extend their line of communication to Kohima, as part of their planned three pronged offensive to capture Imphal and surrounding areas;  the 33rd Japanese Division cut in behind the 17th Indian Division at Tiddim (Mynmar) and establishing themselves firmly, started advancing towards Kangla Tongbi on the main Imphal-Dimapur, road a few miles north of Imphal. Here at Kangla Tongbi, a small but determined detachment of the 221 AOD put up a stiff resistance stalling the desperate bayonet charges and the advances of Japanese forces till reinforcement arrived to turn the tide against the Japanese troops.

  • The 221 AOD was not at all sound from a tactical point of view as it was exposed to enemy from all sides and had to rely on its own combatant manpower for its defence.
  • Major Boyd, Deputy Chief of Ordnance Officer (DCOO) was made in charge of operations for defence of the Depot.
  • A Suicide squad comprising of Major Boyd, Havildar/ Clerk Store Basant Singh, Conductor Panken and other personnel from the Depot was created.
  • Orders were received on 06 Apr 1944 to evacuate 4000 tons of ammunition, armaments and other warlike stores.
  • Japanese mounted a heavy attack on the Depot, rushing downhill into a deep nallah, which was used as a covered approach to the Depot on the night of 6/7 Apr 1944.
  • Depot sited a very well camouflaged bunker on this approach.
  • Bren Gun Section in this bunker having spotted an enemy section within range, opened fire.
  • This shook the enemy and forced Japanese to withdraw leaving many dead.  Bren Gun was manned by Hav/ Clerk Store Basant Singh.
  • Major Boyd was awarded Military Cross (MC), Conductor Panken Military Medal (MM) and Hav/ Clerk Store Basant Singh Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM) for this act of gallantry.

Kangla Tongbi War Memorial, originally erected in 1946 from local naga stone, standing tall in Khengjang village of Kanglatongbi area, Sadar Hills under Imphal West District, Kanglatongbi, is a mute testimony to fighting prowess of AOD and unflinching devotion to duty of the Ordnance personnel of 221 AOD, 19 of them made the supreme sacrifice in this battle. Indian Army renovated and re-dedicated a new war memorial at the same site in 2011. It conveys to the world at large that Ordnance personnel, apart from being professional logisticians, are second to none in combat, being equally proficient soldiers, should the occasion demand.  It is a tradition for young Advance Ordnance Corps officers to first visit the Kangla Tongbi Memorial on their commissioning. As it commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of this hard fought battle, the spirit of Kangla Tongbi lives eternally in the hearts of all Army Ordnance Corps personnel of the Indian Army and continues to be source of inspiration for all ranks.

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