Photographing the Kohima Veterans
Updated: May 18
I was delighted to be commissioned by the Kohima Educational Trust recently to shoot their annual memorial event. Attended by HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, this takes place at a memorial which sits in the grounds of York Minster, and pays homage to the brave soldiers who fought at Kohima.
Kohima, in North East India near the border with Myanmar (Burma), was the site of an epic battle in the war against Japan. In fact it was one of the crucial battles of World War II.
In April 1944 the town was besieged by a Japanese division spearheading what they hoped would be the invasion of India.
The defenders, 1500 men of the Royal West Kents, the Assam Regiment and the Assam Rifles, held out for two weeks until relieved by their comrades of the 2nd British Division. The ensuing battle, fought at close quarters for two months, was the first defeat of the Japanese by the British army, and a turning point in the war in Asia.
My role for the day was to capture the atmosphere of the annual event, photograph the arrival of Prince Andrew, and photograph him meeting and chatting with the veterans. This was all done behind closed doors, but meant I also heard the stories of the men as they chatted with the Duke.
I then photographed the service itself, including the moving laying of wreaths:
A flypast by a Hurricane brought the service to a close.
Back behind closed doors, I had chance to photograph the more relaxed lunch, and get some portraits of the veterans:
This wasn't a case of turning up on the day and hoping for the best however. I attended several meetings with the Trust to find out exactly what they needed, and I visited the venue several times to check light conditions, and to photograph the memorial being prepared.
On the day, I set up a mobile studio to photograph the veterans and worked with the Trust to ensure all speeches and key moments were covered.
I've photographed all sorts of portraits, for actors, politicians, business-people, musicians and everything in-between, but photographing these gentlemen was a real highlight.
What matters most to me at an event like this, is what the client thought of the service they received, so I was delighted to receive the following testimonial from Sylvia May at the Kohima Eductional Trust:
"I needed a photographer for an event I was organising in York. Living nearly 200 miles away from York I was doing most of the planning from a distance and relying heavily on the internet, which is where I found Duncan Lomax.
He proved to be the best choice ever. He made himself available several times in advance of the event itself to rehearse ( there was to be a Royal in attendance ) and on the day coped with a huge variety of different situations, from a church service of over 350 people, to capturing a Spitfire on the flypast, to taking beautiful portraits of the veterans of the Battle of Kohima which the event was commemorating.
His attention after the event was also particularly first rate. He made all the photos available for the attendees and supplied me with the portraits so that I could mail them on to the veterans.
He is definitely booked for next year!"
To find out more about the Kohima Educational Trust, visit their website here.