Cameron Veterans Remember Those Who Fell at Kohima
May 2014

The Old High Church is the oldest Church in Inverness.

Veterans of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders paraded at the Old High Church in Inverness, on the morning of Sunday May 4 to remember members of the regiment who died 70 years ago at the Battle of Kohima.

Their presence coincides with the transfer 'home' from Glasgow Cathedral to the Old High – the Camerons’ regimental church – of the colours of the former regular 1st Battalion, which played a vital part in the defeat of Japanese forces during the battle.

These colours, which were rededicated by minister the Rev Peter Nimmo, now join the colours of the 6th and 7th wartime service battalions, and the 3rd Militia Battalion, which have hung in the Old High Church for many years.

Veterans of the battle, now in their late eighties or nineties, were among those who attended the service in memory of the men who fell serving with Inverness-shire’s own regiment.

Former Cameron Highlander and Queen’s Own Highlander Lieutenant Colonel Angus Fairrie, North Kessock, a leading expert on regimental history, delivered a short address on the Camerons’ contribution to the battle. He said: "Kohima was a very significant battle for the 1st Camerons in the war, as it marked the beginning of the campaign to liberate Burma."

Presentation of the KOHIMA Roll of Honour
Special presentation of the Kohima 1944 Roll of Honour

A bronze plaque, with the names of around 100 Camerons who died in the battle, is now on permanent loan to the Old High Church, thanks to Col Fairrie’s intervention.

It had previously hung on the 2nd Division’s memorial at Kohima, but had been removed in the 1980s, for fear that it might fall prey to metal thieves, and had lain for many years at Fort George Museum.

Among those attending were Major Donald Maclauchlan, son of the Rev Francis Maclauchlan, who served as padre to the 1st Camerons at Kohima, and later as minister of the Old High from 1950 to 1963.

The battle for the strategic community of Kohima, which took place over a 50-day period between March and May of that year, only 30 miles from the Indian border, marked a pivotal point in the war in the FarEast.

The victory by British and Commonwealth forces there, together with a similar triumph at Imphal, 50 miles to the south, ended forever Japanese attempts to conquer India. As part of the British Second Division, the 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders fought throughout most of the battle, playing a leading role in eventual victory.