Extract From The Diary Of Sgt I C Berry
Intelligence Corps, 7 Indian Division
Kohima Aug 8th 1944
It was a very, very special occasion today in this well-battered little hill town of Kohima in Assam. General Wavell, Viceroy of India, carne to see our troops and the Nagas on a ceremonial visit of thanks to us all.
I was deputed by 7th Ind Div HQ to accompany him around the area. The cautious HQ boys felt there could be an odd fanatic among the natives who might toy with the idea of throwing something heavier than flowers at our distinguished visitor.
The Naga headmen, who had trooped in for days from over the surrounding mountains, were dressed in their brightest and most festive garments. All wore red blankets (the Naga badge of rank), elephant tusk armlets, wicked looking spears and the choicest assortment of muskets - ancient and modern - I have ever seen. One wizened old Lhota Naga sported a very fine Japanese Meijie rifle with a telescopic sight; something I have never seen I have a feeling he is going to lose this last item.
Thepuvie, who has been my interpreter throughout the campaign, had managed to squeeze himself in among the Naga hierarchy. Front row too! How he has the nerve I don't known because he, for one, had diligently kept his head down whenever the shooting started a short while back.
I felt sorry for the Viceroy being on the receiving end of piles of Naga gift spears and dahs this very hot day. At one time he seemed to be weighted down with an armful of old iron and tribal blankets. Some Service museum or club back home will have cause to rue this day in the future. It was a joyous moment, also, when a Kezama headman presented him with a small, live pig, caged in a skin-tight bamboo basket with handles. The thing squealed miserably throughout the ceremony.
Our men appear to like old Wavell very much better than other and lesser brass-hats who have descended on us from far away Delhi in this war. The 1st Queen's are particularly well disposed towards him. For his part I think the Viceroy - old warrior that he is – enjoyed being with us in this battle-scarred hill station. With a friendly wave to us, he left in a jeep for Imphal during the late afternoon. This was the signal for' rum to be dished out in gallons among the Nagas. How they love this special brand of bath-tub liquor! It gave me a headache just to watch them lacing the rum with gourds of their potent zu. The drinking orgy went on throughout the night and as they warmed up each one of the lying rascals capped the other's story of a valiant deed against the Jap invader. Thepuvie translated a few of these tales for me and they were something to marvel at. Still, a good time was had by all. Including myself.