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India - Provisional Government of Azad Hind


Ed_Haynes
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Whihe sometimes viewed as "Nazi" awards these are not, these are alliesd awards of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind [Free India] (PGAH). Established in Germany by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the PGAH represents the sole pre-1947 issuance of awards by Independent India. (Well, there are a couple of medals issued by Congress for various Satyagraha campaigns, but....)

Will post PGAH awards here.

Ed

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Shaheed-i-Bharat / Martyr of India

Established in 1942. Awarded posthumously to all Indian soldiers who gave their lives in the armed struggle for Indian independence, 1942-45. The medal is sometime seen without swords, and this is almost certainly a fantasy manufacture. It is estimated that only about three hundred of these decorations were manufactured in Europe; South-East Asian manufacturing has not been established. Known to have been awarded 4 times in Southeast Asia.

This is a restrike from original dies by Rudolf Souval of Vienna.

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Sher-i-Hind / Tiger of India

Established 1942, though the first documented award came only in 1944. Awarded to soldiers in the Indian Legion or Indian National Army or civilians, already in possession of the Sardar-i-Jang medal for additional or ongoing acts of bravery (with swords) or distinguished service (without swords). In this sense, the award was generally patterned on the German Iron Cross. This decoration carried with it an annual stipend of Rs. 300 when awarded with swords. It is estimated that only about one hundred of these decorations were manufactured in Europe; South-East Asian manufacturing has not been established.

To understand the award better, a sample recipient would Naik Kehar Singh (presumably an award with swords, but the citation does not specify this):

?On the 18th of May 1944, a unit of the I.N.A. was picqueting a hill in the central sector of the Indo-Burma frontier. Of those on duty, Naik Kehar Singh was one. On an early morning the enemy made an unprecedented pre-planned attack on our picquet.

?One of our comrades, who was working a light machine-gun against the enemy was fatally wounded by enemy fire. He signaled to his comrades to come and occupy his machine-gun. But the man who was to relieve him had already been shot dead by enemy fire. Naik Kehar Singh was witnessing all this from a short distance. He made a spontaneous decision.

?The enemy was firing uninterruptedly. But caring not for his own safety, he rushed through the pouring bullets to occupy the machine gun post. By the time he reached the post, the enemy had approached him to as close as ten yards. With a smile on his lips, Kehar Singh picked up the machine gun and resting it against his hip opened fire on the enemy who were shooting at him with a tommy gun.

?Neglecting the enemy fire, Naik Kehar Singh went on working his own machine gun, so much that the enemy had to retreat. At this he put the machine gun in position and went on firing to push the enemy back to complete retreat.?

The medal ? as well as the others ? was also awarded to German (and, one presumes, Japanese) officers and others involved with the Indian Legion and Indian National Army. For example, the famous late German phalerist Dr. K.-G. Kleitmann was awarded the Sher-i-Hind with swords. It is estimated that only perhaps twenty-five Sher-i-Hind medals were awarded, including two awards for Southeast Asia.

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Sardar-i-Jang / War Leader

Established 1942, although there is no sound evidence of awards prior to 1944. Awarded to soldiers in the Indian Legion or Indian National Army or civilians, already in possession of the Vir-i-Hind medal for additional or ongoing acts of bravery (with swords) or distinguished service (without swords). In this sense, the award was generally patterned on the German Iron Cross. There is good evidence that, at least in this case, the European and Asian awards differed substantially. The Southeast Asian variety existed in two classes and it is unclear how these relate ? if at all ? to the structure of the European award. This decoration carried with it an annual stipend of Rs. 250 when awarded with swords. It is estimated that only about one hundred of these decorations were manufactured in Europe; Southeast Asian manufacturing has not been established. Known to have been awarded 12 times in Southeast Asia.

To understand the award better, a sample recipient would be Major Pritam Singh (presumably awarded the medal with swords, though the citation does not specify this):

?Major Pritam Singh was commanding one unit of the A.H.F. [Azad Hind Fauj = Indian National Army] in Central Sector [of Burma]. This unit had instructions to penetrate the enemy positions and reconnoiter the enemy. He organized his unit and went on his errand early in May [1944?].

?When Major Pritam Singh and his party reached near their objective, the enemy opened fire on them with machine-guns and mortars. Not caring for the fire, they marched forward and with loud should of ?Chalo Delhi? [roughly, ?On to Delhi?] charged the enemy. After fulfilling the duty, with which he was entrusted, he ordered his men to retreat. But it was not an easy job to escape from so heavy fire. With a marvelous strategy, Major Pritam Singh was successful in bringing back his unit, with a very little loss. He also inflicted losses on the enemy.?

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b]Vir-i-Hind / Hero of India

Established in 1942. Awarded to soldiers in the Indian Legion or Indian National Army or civilians for acts of bravery (with swords) or distinguished service (without swords). This decoration carried with it an annual stipend of Rs. 200 when awarded with swords. It is estimated that only about one hundred of these decorations were manufactured in Europe; South-East Asian manufacturing has not been established. Known to have been awarded 11 times in Southeast Asia.

To understand the award better, a sample recipient would be S.O. Gurbachan Singh (who was, presumably, awarded the decoration with swords, though the description of his deed does not indicate this):

In 1944 ?by the end of May S.O. Gurbachan Singh was going in a boat with some Burmese boatmen to a certain place in Northern Burma.

?At some sound in the river, the enemy by chance opened fire and a bullet struck him just below his knee. One of the boatmen was also injured and the other two having lost their senses left rowing.

?Thirteen American soldiers fell upon the Sub-Officer to arrest him. S.O. Gurbachan Singh plunged into water and lying in concealment behind the boat, began to fire with his pistol. He fatally injured two of the enemy. All his four fingers with which he was resting on the boat got injured, but in spite of that he reloaded his pistol and opened fire again. Just then a bullet crushing his pistol went through the palm of his right hand injuring further his face and brow.

?Still he kept up his courage. With his wounded hand he shifted the boat slightly to the left and with this act saved the life of the two boatmen. After this, when he rowed across to the left bank, he discovered three dead bodies of the enemy soldiers ? the rest having fled.?

For this deed, S.O. Gurbachan Singh was also awarded the Tamgha-i-Shatru Nash, first class.

Illustrated here is an award without swords (obviously).

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Tamgha-i-Bahaduri / Medal of Bravery

Established in 1942. The medal with swords was awarded for bravery, while the medal without swords was awarded for distinguished service to the Indian Legion or to the Free Indian Government. This decoration carried with it an annual stipend of Rs. 150 when awarded with swords. It is estimated that only about three hundred of each division these decorations were manufactured in Europe; South-East Asian manufacturing has not been established. Known to have been awarded 21 times in Southeast Asia.

To understand the award better, a sample recipient would be Naik Sultan Singh (presumably, an award with swords, though the account does not specify this):

?During military work in the central sector [of Burma], Naik Sultan Singh preached the British Indian Army in a very able way. But one day, he was arrested by the enemy and he was handed over to a British Indian Coy.

?He convinced the Indian Commander of that Coy. About our I.N.A. and Independence movement in such a way, that next day, when the soldiers of this unit became inclined towards I.N.A. not only Sultant Singh came [to] our rank but he also brought four men, who were placed as guards on him. In addition to this, that Coy. Commander (Subadar) and his Coy. started propaganda work in British Army for the I.N.A.?

This is a restrike from original dies by Rudolf Souval of Vienna. The obverse of both the "swords" and "no swords" medals is shown. The reverse is the same as the Shaheed-i-Bharat, above.

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Tamgha-i-Shartu Nash / Medal for Destroying the Enemy

Not much is known about this award. It was established (date unknown) by Bose after he was in Southeast Asia. Awarded to members of the Indian National Army or to civilians for the killing or capture of a British or American officer or enlisted man under conditions where individual bravery and initiative were involved. This appears to be the only Free Indian award distinctive to the Asia Theater.

The award came in two classes: first class, for those members of the I.N.A. who exhibit conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in killing or capturing alive any British or American officer or other rank, either in single combat or in group fighting, where qualities if individual initiative and bravery come into play; second class, for those members of the I.N.A. who kill or capture alive any British or American officer or other rank, either in single combat or in group fighting, where qualities of individual initiative and bravery come into play.

To understand the award better, sample recipients would the awards in the second class to Havildar Pir Mohammed and Havildar Hakim Ali:

?In the Arakan Sector [of Burma], Hav. Pir Mohd. And Hav. Hakim Ali, along with other men, were sent on patrol duty on February 5 [1944?]. On the way they came across a small unit of the 30th Indian Cavalry. Our patrol tried hard to persuade this unit to join the Azad Hind Fauj [= Indian National Army], but as they were under command of a British N.C.O., they did not respond. Upon this Hav. Pir Mohd. and Hav. Hakim Ali fired at them with Tommy guns and killed a British officer and a soldier. The enemy unit who was on patrol took to his heels.?

No specimens of the award have been observed or reported.

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Tamgha-i-Azadi / Medal of Freedom

Established in 1942. Awarded to all soldiers in the Indian Legion who had served for a year and a half in the unit. The medal is sometimes seen without swords, but this seems to be a fantasy fraudulent postwar restrike. It is estimated that only about three hundred of these decorations were manufactured in Europe; South-East Asian manufacturing and award has not been established.

This is a restrike from original dies by Rudolf Souval of Vienna.

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Sanad-i-Bahaduri / Certificate of Bravery

Awarded for low levels of bravery not warranting the award of a higher decoration. In essence, a mention in dispatches award. Sources are unclear whether this is a certificate alone, with or without a representative ribbon, or whether it was even issued at all.

Awarded to those who rendered meritorious service in the field but fell short of qualifying for a decoration. While it appears to have been a sort of mention-in-dispatches award, some sources suggest some sort of medal accompanied the award. Known to have been awarded 12 times in Southeast Asia.

To understand the award better, a sample recipient would 2/Lieutenant Dura Badadur:

?In March [1944?], in the Central Sector [of the Burma front] 2/Lt. Dura Bahadur was sent to contact a Gurkha unit of the British army. Dura Bahadur, risking his life, reached the Gurkha unit, through the enemy lines, and talked with them for half an hour.

?The Gurkha unit promised to do propaganda for the I.N.A. in other Gurkha units. 2/Lt. Dura Bahadur also told them that I.N.A. wants to capture that position and that it is an important point for the I.N.A. from the military standpoint.

?The same day, a few hours later another I.N.A. officer met those people and they surrendered that place according to the instructions of the I.N.A. officers.?

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Guest WAR LORD

This a wound citation for Unteroffizer Horst Hamann, wounded in the retreat to Germany. He recieved the Axad Hind Cross suposedly for this action.

Edited by WAR LORD
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Guest WAR LORD

Thanks Ed. I have about 300 photos of the unit together with a book with the command orders in German and Presumably Hindi. Also with this came an arm patch. Am looking for a citation to go with the collection.

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  • 1 month later...

Ed,

The original wartime pieces reputedly had the disc with the Souval name soldered to the back (like this one). Early postwar copies had the disc, but stuck on with Epoxy glue. Once the supply of old discs ran out, Souval sold the copies without the disc. I believe this to be a good wartime one.

Thanks, Gordon,

Do you see this as a Souval restrike or an original?

Ed

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Ed,

Thank you for this informative thread. I knew that the Indians had a German backed military, even having many in German uniform but I did not know that they had their own awards system. Do you know how many men were in this organization?

Paul

Edited by Paul Reck
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Let me check Paul. Most numbers quoted by "Third Reich" style sources are rubbish. I hope to be going through their debriefing reports from when they became British POWs at war's end, this summer in Delhi.

I would be very excited to be in your spot to do this research! How often do you go to India?

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