We recently broadcast a podcast that took a look at the 2nd Royal Norfolk Regiment’s involvement in the Battle of Kohima in India and one incident stood out to us: the attack by ‘B’ Company on the Japanese bunker complex at the base of GPT Ridge on May 6, 1944.
‘B’ Company was led by Captain John Randle and Sergeant Bert Fitt. As they attacked, Fitt remembered they were under heavy fire: “Captain Randle staggered twice – that told me that he had been hit fairly heavily.
“I shouted to him, told him to go down and leave it to me. He said, ‘No! You take that left-hand bunker; I’m going to take this right-hand one!’ They were two light machine gun posts – and they were carving up the company terrible.”
Fitt managed to get close and dealt with his bunker in textbook fashion: “I got mine by coming up underneath, and before they could spin a gun onto me, I had a grenade in the bunker – pushed it in through the slit and ‘WHHOOFF!’ knew anybody inside was dead or knocked out.”
He dashed across to Randle’s bunker, but was too late. Fitt was a helpless spectator to Randle’s final act of heroism: “I saw Captain Randle at the bunker entrance. I couldn’t do a thing to save him. He had been hit again at point-blank range. As he was going down, he threw his grenade in and he sealed the bunker entrance with his own body. But he had got the occupants.”