Sunday, 19 January 2014

Women Warriors - The Naga Queen

Or Ursula Graham Bower, as she was more properly known.
After reading about the Night Witches, I came across another fascinating story from the Second World War, and really, I can't do any better than to direct anyone who's interested to the Daily Mail article (and that's a sentence I never thought I'd type!) They did a feature in Femail on 23rd April 2010, which is excellent.
Ursula Graham Bower was a debutante who went out to Burma before the Second World War and fell in love with Nagaland. She did anthropological work with the tribespeople there. She even made some short films which are now in the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.
At the beginning of the Second World War, she was asked to organise "her" tribesmen into a scouting force to warn the British of the expected Japanese advance. The British army expected to quickly replace her with a male officer, but it never happened, and in the end they were sending men to her for jungle warfare training. She was made an MBE for her wartime work.
The British called her the Naga Queen, and that's the name of the book about her exploits written by Vicky Thomas. The Americans called her the Jungle Queen, and there was a comic strip of that name about her. She also wrote her own book, published in 1950, called The Naga Path. Fergal Keane, the BBC correspondent, has also written a book about the campaign in the Naga hills, centring on the siege of Kohima, but mentioning Ursula Graham Bower and her scouts. It's called Road of Bones.

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