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Mervyn Mitton

Indian National Army - 1944

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I had totally forgotten this 'official' looking poster - it came to light when we were clearing up after the

storeroom was flooded. The date on it, shows 1944 - but, they had probably been in operation from

an earlier date.

The initials I N A (Indian National Army) are very reminiscent of the I R A in Ireland - and I suspect that there were probably links. They may well have been advisors and instructors to the INA. Both groups

were very anti-British at the time and it would be interesting if we could establish a link ?

Basically, the INA were hoping to assist the Japanese Army to take control in India - although

1944 seems quite late in the War. Which is why I think they must have existed earlier.

The document is in - I think - Tamil on one side and English on the other. At the base of the

Indian side is a tin badge showing an outline of India and the initials INA. This has been fixed

in a way that makes it look like an official proclamation. The printing is poor and difficult to read.

I have broken it up into small sections and hope you can make it out. I suspect that it is probably

rare - and perhaps quite valuable. Remember that this is Sedition during a War - and if caught

they would have been shot.

I look forward to your comments and opinions ?

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_07_2012/post-6209-0-01738500-1341603177.jpgCLICK TO ENLARGE

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Hello Mervyn,

This is indeed an interesting and no doubt an extremely rare document. It brings to light that there was a movement toward independence within India during the war and, of course, well before that era. It's nice for us in the West to think that everyone was "on board" with the Empire against the Axis alliance but this is simply not the truth, not 100% at least. There were factions even here in Canada that did not support joining in the struggle against Germany, Italy and Japan. Many of the Indian soldiers who joined with Japan suffered the fate of traitors at the end of hostilities and, to me at least, it is a waste. I say this as I do not believe that the Japanese would have treated the Indian nation any differently than any other non-Japanese race as that was not in keepng with their policies of the day. The same is true, I believe, of Nazi Germany. Had they defeated the Eastern peoples (including Russia) they would not have treated them as welcomed additions to the German "empire". So, again in my opinion, the efforts to bring about an independent India through alliance with japan was doomed to fail regardless ot the out come of the war.

Thanks for posting these important specimens, not to mention giving me an opportunity to climb onto my soap box to deliver an historialy based rant. ;)



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Hello readers:

Thanks to Mervyn for bringing this pamphlet and through it the subject matter to our attention and perhaps jar our memory as it did mine.

The now legendary leader of the pro-independence/anti-imperialist movement was Subhas Chandra Bose who resided in Germany before and during WW II. He was married to a German woman and they had a daughter who later became a university professor. Subhas Chandra Bose had substantial propaganda exposure in Germany which probably accounts for a memory flashback of my part ( evidence at least of some lasting impact??). The German formed unit of captured Indian personnel of British Forces did not experience much action if any at all but was useful for propaganda purposes. There existed a decoration named after Azad Hind which I believe to be much sought after and much faked.

The internet contains information which is interesting to follow but may possibly be somewhat tainted.

Bernhard H. Holst

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Brian - well summed -up , at the end of the day the Japanese wouldn't have wanted them.

Bernard - amazing that you knew of the Movement - and the name of the Leader. I wonder

if any other details will come out ?


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Thanks, Mervyn, for posting this interesting badge & document. Amongst other research resources, type BOSE in GMIC's search function for more information on the INA & "Free India Movement"--see especially posts by Ed Haynes. Dr. K.-G. Kleitmann published perhaps the first English language study on Azad Hind in the 1950s--he himself received the Azad Hind decoration supposedly for designing the award. Ed provided citations for Azad Hind awards.

Edited by 922F

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There were considerable numbers of Indians who, after being taken prisoner by the Japanese chose to take service with them in the INA. Having seen photos of seated, bound and blindfolded Sikh POWs being used by Japanese soldiers for bayonet practice, I make no moral judgenment on any sepoy or sowar who chose the INA over probable death in a POW camp, coal mine or factory. The INA fought, well by many accounts, at the Battle of Imphal against the British Indian Forces and at one time numbered as many as 40,000 men, some POWs and some volunteers raised among the Indian populations of Burma and Malay

I do know that the memebers of the INA had extreme difficulty in being taken prisoner again by British Indian forces in the last stages of the war. A common practice, despite real efforts by the British high command, was to shoot them out of hand. Of those captured, only a few 'leaders' were tried for treason. With typical Imperial tact and delicacy, at the Red Fort in Delhi, where the survivors of the 1857 Indian rebel forces were tried and executed. Three officers, with the rank of Colonel in the INA were convicted of "making war against the King Emporer" and, despite the defence argument that they were soldiers of a legitimate army and state, were convicted and sentenced to deportation for life. That sentence was later commuted by Montbatten. The remaining INA members were denied re-admission into the Indian Army. Wide popular support for independence undoubtedly influenced these decisions and was, BTW, reflected in the mutiny/strike of the Indian Navy in 1946!

Keep in mind that there was widespread support for Indian independence and being a soldier didn't necessarily negate supporting the Azad Hind concept. In fact, Azad Hind actually administered the Andaman and Nicobar islands as a puppet government after the Japanese took those areas and had its own courts and currency, which fact was used at the trials to argue that the accused were not traitors to Briton but legitimate members of a sovreign state.

A much less significant group, but one which catches the eye and is the motive, I think, for the fake Azad Hind medals was the Indische Legion, also known as the Tiger Legion or Azad Hind Legion. It began among Indian students resident in Germany in 1939 and also recruited from Indian POWs, taken in North Africa. Similar to the Legion of St George, made up of small numbers of Britons and Irishmen, the Indische Leguion was trumpetted by the Nazis as a vistory for the ideals of National Socialism. The Legion never numbered more than a couple hundred men and late in the war was organized as an antiaircraft battery/unit under German officers: Indische Freiwilligen-Legion Regiment 950. Theis unit was captured and shipped back to India for treason trials as well, with results as described above

The Wikipedia article on the INA is not too bad as a general background piece, if one wishes to understand the broad strokes.


Edited by peter monahan

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The Japanese started recruiting among Indian POWs after the disastrous surrender of Singapore.

One cannot blame the Indian soldiers for believing - at that time, devoid of reliable, neutral news -

that with the Brits soundly beaten joining the INA was their only chance of quickly getting home to India.

In his memoirs FM Slim states that most of the INA units were of little fighting value and most of

them surrendered when coming in contact with advancing XIV Army troops.


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Thankyou MB - and welcome to GMIC. The overall information that has been provided is not only amazing, but also,

interesting and informative. I knew little about this Movement - did any of them get to positions of importance after

1947. I expect many of these 'sheets' must have been circulated - although I doubt if all would have had the metal

badge attached. I somehow doubt that too many of them still survive.

Thankyou everyone for taking the time to add info. - and hopefully, more is to come ? Mervyn

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