V Force was established by the British as a reconnaissance, intelligence-gathering and guerrilla organisation to combat the Japanese forces who were thought to be intent on invading India in World War II.
V Force was created by General Sir Archibald Wavell in April 1942. The idea was to harass the Japanese lines of communications with both ambushes and sabotage, and to provide intelligence from behind enemy lines. V Force commanders were police officers, former civil administrators, or tea planters - those with expert knowledge of the local languages and peoples - and included the anthropologist Ursula Graham Bower, who had been living in the Naga Hills among the Naga peoples since she first visited the region in 1937.
Dr Lyman discusses the role played by V Force within the wider picture of the defence of the region surrounding Imphal and Kohima.
V Force: The Phantom Army of Burma by Gordon Graham (1945) This document is referred to by Dr Lyman during the talk, and for those who would like to learn more, it is available here:
Here is a link to the film produced by The Royal British Legion in 2020 which tells extraordinary story of Ursula Graham Bower and the role of the Naga people in the fight against the Imperial Japanese Army in India and Burma. Our thanks to her daughter Catriona Child for sharing the link with us:
Dr Robert Lyman - Military Historian, Author and Trustee of KET
Born in New Zealand in January 1963 and educated in Australia, Robert Lyman was, for twenty years, an officer in the British Army. Educated at Scotch College, Melbourne he was commissioned into the Light Infantry from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in April 1982. In addition to a business career he is an author and military historian, publishing books in particular on the war in the Far East. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Robert is married to Hannah, has two sons, and lives in Berkshire. For information about Robert's publications please visit his website: robertlyman.com
Sylvia May - CEO of The Kohima Educational Trust
Sylvia May was born in New Jersey, USA in 1957. Her parents moved to England in 1963. Educated at High Wycombe School for Girls, she decided to pursue a career in the world of books. Sylvia worked for HarperCollins for 37 years, the last eleven of which she headed up their UK-based International Sales team. Sylvia May is the daughter of the late Gordon Graham, Founder and President of the Kohima Educational Trust. She is proud that her father has inspired many people to share his vision to commemorate those who fought and died in Kohima, and the wonderful Naga people who have done so much for the British in the past. She first visited India in 1994 with her husband Robert, and has returned on numerous occasions, staying in Kohima several times. In 2000, they followed the WWII route of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, her father’s regiment. The regiment’s first main engagement in this theatre of war was at Zubza shortly before the Battle of Kohima.