U.S. Military HONORS!  ||  Information about the epitaph provided by Derek Lawbuary
All Gave Some - Some Gave All  ||  A brief history of the Kohima Battle
The words in the famous Kohima Epitaph
Some additional background about the epitaph,   it's origins and the Kohima Battle history.
Information was organized and placed here by me in March 2001 and was somewhat updated in April 2009.  Please notify me of any other relevant sources to Mr. Edmonds' penning of these now famous lines.
Send info here      Thank you     Sid Harrison     April 2009
Kohima memorial images search via

When you go home, Tell them of us, and say, For their tomorrow, We gave our today
Sid note:

This famous epitaph is found on numerous Veteran Memorials and Monuments throughout the world. It is also found on many internet websites for veterans ranging from India, Australia, UK, United States and very likely on non-English veteran websites as well.

In nearly all instances the words cite the origin as being from the Kohima Epitaph. Although that memorial is the most well known, the lines pre-date the inscription on that WWII memorial.

I have assembled some of the material from my internet search below. Several of which cite John Maxwell Edmonds as the original author of those lines.

I have presented material here from a few internet sources. Again, for the reason that sources on the web often blink off and are lost. The copied versions are presented here solely for informational and educational purpose with no intent to plagiarize.

It is my opinion that the lines of that epitaph are some of the most moving lines written about veterans. They state very succintly what it is that each veteran gave to his fellow citizens, i.e.    all of their tomorrows.

It also seems fitting that Mr. Edmonds, who wrote those famous lines, should be cited as the author.

In some of the quotes the epitaph reads "your tomorrow" vs "their tomorrow".

According to the (now defunct) BIBLIOTHECA website, Edmonds' original did include the phrase "their tomorrow". 

The following is an excerpt from the no longer existant web site:

This (BIBLIOTHECA) site is devoted to all aspects of military history and the sentiment of the site is best expressed by Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BC) the greek lyric poet who, after the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, wrote as a memorial to the valiant defenders ;
'Go tell the spartans,
Thou that passeth by,
That faithful to their precepts, 
Here we lie'
These sentiments were later used by John Maxwell Edmonds [1875 - 1958] as part of a collection of 12 epitaphs for World War One
'When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say, 
For Their Tomorrow, 
We gave Our Today'.
Note: Try your luck at finding a "cached" copy of the old BIBLIOTHECA website HERE
Who was SIMONIDES OF CEOS?    Search results:
  • http://research.info.com/searchw?qkw=Simonides+of+Ceos
  • http://info.com/searchw?qkw="Simonides+of+Ceos"+Kohima
  • http://research.info.com/searchw?qkw=Battle+of+Kohima
  • Other SIMONIDES info links LINK-1 LINK-2 LINK-3
    Searching for more internet references.

    Using a good search engine you can plug in various key-words or phrases and find many of the pages that mention the "Kohima Epitaph" or John Maxwell Edmonds.

    Here are just a few:

    Commonwealth War Graves Commission:  Cemetery Photos  KOHIMA WAR CEMETERY

    WORLD WAR II : CHINA-BURMA-INDIA (CBI) THEATER --April 1942-January 1945 THE SEIGE OF IMPHAL-KOHIMA  http://themanipurpage.tripod.com/history/wwII.html

    Never Forget

    The Arlington National Cemetery Website

    Remembrance Service at Enniskillen - 1997

    Welcome to the Imperial War Museum's Collections Home Page : What is the Kohima Epitaph?
    Kohima War Cemetery (2009)
    (Photo submitted by Mrs Susan Marsh niece of CSM Arthur Hooper Harcourt)
    Image copied from th worcestershireregiment.com website below
    Worcestershire Regiment(29th/36th of Foot) Web site:   The Kohima Memorial
    RefSource - 1
    The following was copied from

    The Kohima Epitaph

    In March 1944, the Japanese 31st Division moved northwestward in Burma, swept through the Naga hills, invaded India, and fell upon Imphal and Kohima. Confidently the Japanese planned to press toward the India Plains. The Allies in the CBI Theater faced a disaster of monumental proportions unless the enemy was stopped.

    A crucial battle ensued at Kohima where some 2,500 British Empire troops came under siege. They fought a formidable Japanese force numbering 15,000 soldiers supported by 10,000 ammunition laden oxen. For weeks the belligerents sparred in bloody artillery duels interrupted only by hand to hand skirmishes and bayonet attacks. Finally, after 64 days, amid terrible losses on both sides, the Japanese were beaten back. 

    They withdrew from Kohima. Japan’s dominance in northern Burma had begun its crumble. Understandingly, the determination and gallantry shown by allied troops in the Kohima siege was quick to become the subject of poem, song, and legend.

    Today in the Kohima cemetery, among the 1,378 grave markers, is the famous Kohima Memorial with its historic inscription:

    "When you go home
    Tell them of us, and say,
    For their tomorrow
    We gave our today"

    Kohima Epitaph

    RefSource - 2
    The following was copied from http://research.info.com/searchw?qkw=Went+The+Day+Well?
    Went the day well?
    We died and never knew
    But, well or ill.
    Freedom, we died for you
    Went the day well?
    The epitaph is by the Greek scholar John Maxwell Edmonds, and originally appeared in The Times(UK) dated February 6th 1918, page 7, under a short section headed Four Epitaphs.

    It is the second of four epitaphs composed for graves and memorials to those fallen in battle – each covering different situations of death. The second epitaph is headed:

    On Some who died early in the Day of Battle

    Went the day well? We died and never knew;
    But well or ill, England, we died for you.

    After the above date, the epitaph is regularly quoted in 'The Times’ notification of deaths section in connection with those who have fallen during the First World War. It appears again regularly during the Second World War.

    Inscriptions suggested for war memorials, published in 1919, lists 'Went the day well' along with Edmonds’ other epitaphs, after which it appears on numerous town war memorials.
    by J. M. EDMONDS
    For a general grave on Vimy Ridge. 
    You come from England; is she England still? 
    Yes, thanks to you that died upon this hill. 
    On some who died early on the eve of battle.
    Went the day well? we died and never knew ; 
    But well or ill, England, we died for you. 
    On, those who died at the Battle of Jutland.
    Proud we went down, and there content we lie 
    'Neath English sea if not 'neath English sky. 
    For a village war-memorial. 
    Ye that live on 'mid English pastures green, 
    Remember us, and think what might have been.
    Copied from the  INTERNET ARCHIVES

    There has been confusion between 'Went the day well' and Edmonds’ other famous epitaph published in the same 1919 edition of inscriptions:

    When you go home, tell them of us and say,
    “For your tomorrows these gave their today.”
    It is 'When you go home ...' that is inspired by an epigram by the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos to the fallen at the Battle of Thermopalye, and was later used used (with a misquote) for the memorial for those who fell at the Battle of Kohima. Some resources incorrectly give 'Went the day well' as being the translation of the Simonides epigram.

    In some quarters, 'Went the day well' has been incorrectly married up with “When you go home …”:

    When you go home, tell them of us and say,
    For your tomorrow, these gave their today.
    Went the day well? We died and never knew,
    But, well or ill, freedom, we died for you.
    'Went the day well' appears in an unidentified newspaper cutting in a scrapbook now held in the RAF Museum (AC97/127/50) and in a book called Voices of Silence, a collection of first world war poems put together by Vivian Noakes. The poems appear in chronological order and this appears under the heading “Verdun, The Battle of the Somme begins.
    RefSource - 3
    The following was copied from

    The Second World War Cemetery

    The Kohima war cemetery is serene and beautiful. Roses bloom in season, the grass is always billiard-table smooth and two tall crosses stand at the lowest and highest points of the cemetery overlooking Kohima. between them, and stretching all the way across this gently rising hill in the centre of the town, are stone markers with shining bronze plaques. Each commemorates the name of a single man who gave his life for freedom. At the base of the. upper cross there is an inscription which says :

    "Here, around the tennis court of the deputy commissioner the men who fought in the battle of Kohima in which they and their comrades finally halted the invasion of India by the forces of Japan in April 1944".
    Additional Edmonds References:

    The following are the results of internet searches for J.M. Edmonds.
    They cite several of his academic works. Mainly translations of ancient documents.

    Theocritus. "The Women at the Adonis Festival" Idyll XV. The Greek Bucolic Poets. Trans. J.M. Edmonds. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950 (The Loeb Classical Library).

    The Greek bucolic poets. [Rev.] ed. Translated by J.M. Edmonds. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970,c1928. xxviii, 526 p. Annotated no. 645 English and Greek on opposing pages.

    The Idylls. Translated by J. M. Edmonds. In The Loeb Classical Library The Greek Bucolic Poets. 1912. Reprint. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1938.

    Epigrams, translated by J. M. Edmonds, rev. John M. Cooper