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The Civilian Woman Who Fought World War II in India



Ursula Graham Bower went to visit her brother in India in 1937. While there, the British citizen fell in love with the indigenous Naga people of northern India, and went to live among them. By 1942, the Japanese were making incursions into the area, and the British government which had mostly ignored the Naga now needed their help.    

The British turned to Bower, asking her to use her Naga connections to monitor Japanese troop movement and rescue downed Allied pilots. Bower went further and mustered a 150 man strong guerrilla force who liked the imperialists who mostly ignored them more than the imperialists pressing the Naga into brutal forced labor. Armed primarily with old muskets, they mainly aided refugees escaping Burma, but also harassed Japanese troops to the point where a bounty was placed on the head of a woman with no formal military training leading male warriors who typically frowned on women in the war workplace.

In 1944 the Japanese suffered a backbreaking defeat at Kohima, a battle won with the help of Naga intelligence, and retreated. Bower pivoted to teaching Allied troops jungle survival skills and, in doing so, even found the husband her mother had been hoping for, marrying a British officer in a Naga wedding ceremony.

Read how Bower rose to the occasion, and three other stories from World War II you've never heard before, including Germany's worst defeat by the Soviets, an Italian fascist who became a Spanish diplomat to aid escaping Jews, and a strangely successful Nazi escape artist at Cracked.


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