Col DF Easten MC visits Kohima

Col Easten at the memorial
Col DF Easten at the 2nd Division Memorial in 2008

The only surviving company commander of the 4th Royal West Kents at the battle of Kohima, ninety-year-old Colonel Donald Easten MC, visited Kohima along with members of his family in the second week of March 2008. As commander of D Company of the Royal West Kents during the siege, Colonel Easten wrote the citation for Lance Corporal John Harman’s posthumous Victoria Cross.

The 31st Assam Rifles, successors to the Assam Regiment which also participated in the siege, were the hosts of Colonel Easten and his party.

Officers of the Kohima Educational Society – Pfelie Kesiezie, Chairman; Charles Chasie, Secretary; and Atuo Mezhur, Treasurer – participated in the programme for Colonel Easten’s visit.

After laying a wreath at the war memorial, Colonel Easten stood for a minute or two in remembrance. He paid tribute also at the Royal West Kents memorial, the 2 Div memorial and John Harman’s grave.

During their two-day visit, Colonel Easten and his party were received by the Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Nagaland, and visited Naga heritage village and the museum.

The mess where Colonel Easten and his party were staying was on DIS Ridge. Nearby, he was able to pinpoint where his battalion headquarters, the dressing station and the rifle companies had been located during the battle.

Colonel Easten says that he “never expected to be visiting Kohima in my ninetieth year and it was a truly wonderful experience. Most of all I am left with the memory of the hospitality and kindness I received from the Indian Army and the Naga officials and people”.

The idea of the visit began with Colonel Easten’s son-in-law, who works in Delhi with two military historians, both of whom joined the party.

Source: KET News April 2008