Bloxham Remembers OB Col Donald Friswell Easten MC

Burma MortarCol Donald Friswell Easten MC, fought in the Battle of Kohima during WWII.

We were recently contact by Mjr Shaw McCloghry, who many of you will recognise as former Master in College, and Resident Secretary to the Old Bloxhamists, and he informed us of the passing of Old Bloxhamist Donald Friswell Easten (Wf 1932-36). Donald passed away peacefully at home in Wormingford, at the age of 98. Widower of Billy, beloved father of Philippa, Susan and the late Crispin and a much-loved grandfather of nine and great-grandfather of sixteen.

Major McCloghry also informed us that Donald had been awarded the Military Cross for his role in the Battle of Kohima during WWII, which, was named in 2013 as the greatest ever battle involving British forces. D-Day and Normany were second. Donald was a young captain in the Royal West Kent regiment, and like many of his soldiers had been in the Territorials just before the war. His wife, Billy, commanded an anti-aircraft crew in London.

The battles of Imphal and Kohima saw the British and Indian forces, under the overall command of Lieutenant-General William Slim, repel the Japanese invasion of India and helped turned the tide of the war in the Far East. Some veterans of the battles and historians have felt the victories have since been overlooked, partly because the invasion of Europe, starting with D-Day, took place while they were still being fought. The fight for Kohima was so intense it has been described as the Stalingrad of the East. Donald Easten was a company commander when a small British force was surrounded by a vastly stronger Japanese army and held out against a two-week onslaught. They fought off wave after wave of Japanese attacks while the defensive perimeter shrank to a mere 500 yards. Shells landed in the midst of the wounded, food and water began to run out. 

In 2008, Donald visited Kohima, and laid a wreath at the war memorial.