Yesterday's Enemy

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Yesterday's Enemy
Original American release film poster
Directed by Val Guest
Produced by Michael Carreras
Written by Peter R. Newman
Starring Stanley Baker
Gordon Jackson
Music by None
Cinematography Arthur Grant
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Hammer Films
Release date(s) 1959
Running time 95 min
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Yesterday's Enemy is a 1959 Hammer Films British war film directed by Val Guest and starring Stanley Baker, Guy Rolfe, Leo McKern and Gordon Jackson set in the Burma Campaign during World War II.[1] It is based on a 1958 BBC teleplay by Peter R. Newman who turned it into a three act play in 1960. Gordon Jackson repeated his role from the BBC teleplay as Sgt. Ian Mackenzie.[2] Columbia Pictures co-produced the film with Hammer Films in an agreement for five co-productions a year with Columbia providing half the finance.[3] The film was shot on indoor sets in black and white and Megascope. The film has no musical score.

The TV play was reportedly based on a war crime perpetrated by a British army captain in Burma in 1942.[4]


The lost remnants of a Brigade headquarters make their way through the Burmese jungle following a retreat. Separated from their other units and without radio communication the survivors led by Captain Langford (Stanley Baker) stumble into a Burmese village held by a small group of Japanese soldiers. After finishing them off they are mystified that among the dead 10 Japanese is a full Colonel. They also discover a map with various positions marked in code and a Burmese collaborator who only talks after Captain Langford orders two villagers shot by a firing squad. The Burmese explains the map is a Japanese plan of attack against the British but the patrol had no way to get the information out unless they leave their wounded behind or fix their radio.

Other information[edit]

The film ends with the Kohima epitaph:

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

The verse is attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875–1958), and is thought to have been inspired by the epitaph written by Simonides to honour the Spartans who fell at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.[5]



  1. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | YESTERDAY'S ENEMY (1959)". 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  2. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | YESTERDAY'S ENEMY (1958)". 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  3. ^ "Yesterday's Enemy (1959) - Overview". Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  4. ^ Marcus Hearn, The Hammer Vault, Titan Books, 2011 p. 28
  5. ^ Imperial War Museum. "What is the Kohima Epitaph?". Retrieved 4 April 2013. 

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