39-Hour Walk in her grandfather's footsteps

54-year-old Charlotte Carty & her children, Robyn, Seb and Lauren all set to embark on the 39-hour walk.

54-year-old Charlotte Carty & her children, Robyn, Seb and Lauren all set to embark on the 39-hour walk.

'Their power of resilience is extraordinary,' reflects Charlotte Carty

Vishu Rita Krocha
Kohima | April 7

On the midnight of April 1, 2024, exactly 80 years after Lieutenant Colonel William Felix Brown undertook an arduous journey of traversing difficult terrains while being chased by the Japanese Army, 54-year-old Charlotte Carty set off on a 39-hour walk to recreate her grandfather’s march from Jessami to Kohima

Lieut Col Brown served as the Commanding Officer of the 1st Assam Regiment during the Battle of Kohima in 1944. 

According to Carty, the youngest grandchild among his five grandchildren, a significant aspect of replicating the march is "transmitting the memories and stories to the succeeding generation.

“We owe these people our respect for the services they gave however much life has changed and it is not right not to remember them,” she told The Morung Express in an exclusive interview

But for those who remember them, she felt that there is a growing feeling and acknowledgement of everything that happened in the Far East.

She also maintained that it was an “Indian battle” and India should also remember this battle” even as she went on to say that it is a real Indian history and must be embraced as it had an impact on the country’s independence.

She further maintained that the Battle of Kohima was an "Indian battle" and stressed the importance of India acknowledging and embracing the same as it was a “real Indian history” with significant impact on the country's struggle for independence.
Carty, who is also a KET (Kohima Educational Trust) Trustee had conceptualised the idea of recreating his grandfather’s march sometime in the year 2019 when she visited Nagaland for the 75th Commemoration of the Battle of Kohima.

Since then, she had been pondering whether it would make more sense for her to observe the terrain firsthand.

During the 39-hour walk, she later discovered that the terrain was even more challenging than she had initially imagined. 
Reflecting on the hardships her grandfather and the soldiers endured then, devoid of the privileges of the 21st century, she wondered, "How on earth did they cope?"

Accordingly, having completed on April 3 at the World War II Cemetery, Kohima, she saluted, “Hats off and Huge Respect for these soldiers!”  asserting that “their power of resilience is extraordinary.”

“They were wonderful men! These people were in real fear of their lives and it put into perspective the privileges that we have and shouldn’t take for granted,” she added.

As she returns to the United Kingdom, she said  is looking forward to the Kohima 80th Anniversary Weekend at the National Army Museum in London on April 20 and 21, highlighting the importance of continued discussion about "Kohima."

‘Life changing experience’
Upon her arrival in Kohima on April 3, despite extreme exhaustion and blisters on her feet from nonstop walking to complete the mission, Carty remembered, "there were beautiful sheets and pillows, and I slept forever." She reflected on how her grandfather and the soldiers lacked the luxury of a shower or bed, instead persevering by digging trenches and fighting for their lives.

The actual walk itself, she said, is an outright challenge, and a really hard thing to do.

“It was blisteringly hot and because we were on the road, the challenges in so many ways made you realise what these people had to do,” she put across.

It may be mentioned here that Carty had slept only for about 10 minutes during the entire 39-hour walk.

However, she underscored that it was “extraordinary and a life changing experience” to have been able to replicate what her grandfather and his men had to endure.

“It was really meaningful and impactful, and gave me an understanding of the challenges they faced,” she added. 

Upon accomplishing the mission, Carty sensed for intimate connection with her (late) grandfather, adding, “I lost my mother a few years ago and doing this, I felt closer to them.”

‘Warm & welcoming nature of Nagas always there’
Besides satisfaction of replication her grandfather’s march, Carty also noted that she was overwhelmed to find the support of the Nagas."The warm and welcoming nature of the Nagas is always there.”

Reiterating that it was an extraordinary experience, she maintained "everybody was moved and although it was extremely challenging, they were all delighted."

Not all the 20 walkers, half of whom are in their twenties and the other half in their fifties, completed the walk within the stipulated time but she affirmed that they all felt 'a sense of accomplishment.'

"We were helped by the Naga people, photographing us on their phones, providing us with food and water. They were compassionate just as they did to my grandfather,” she added.

Carty was accompanied by her three children namely Robyn, Seb and Lauren and they were among the team of 20 walkers including fellow descendants of those who fought in the Battle of Kohima. 

Most importantly, for her, replicating her grandfather's march was “to ensure that they remember the past.”