On this day, September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. And World War II introduced a new history of disaster. In this war, India’s contribution was a lot. Let’s see what was the consequences.
In this time, 1939, India was under British Rule. The British Indian Army during in 1939, numbering just under 200,000 men. At the end of the war, it had become the largest volunteer army in history. Even it was last over 2.5 million men in August 1945. Serving in divisions of infantry, armour, and a fledgling airborne force, they fought on three continents in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Hitler invaded Poland and the World War II started. Three days later Britain and France also declared war. By 1941 the Axis Powers were winning the war. Germany had almost occupied Western Europe.
Contribution of Indian Army in World War II
In the early hours of May 27, 1942, there was a brave Lieutenant Abhay Singh who was probably filled with anticipation. His unit, the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, had been constructing defenses throughout the night 9.6 km south-east of Bir Hachiem (presently Libya) after having spotted the Italian Arete Division and German 21st Panzer Division advancing towards their position the previous evening. Having been caught unawares by the sudden outflanking maneuver, the Indian brigade stood little chance. It now waited for the enemy. Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel was the commander of the Axis forces. His nickname was “Desert Fox”, as he had held a masterclass in mobile warfare.
The Italian and German armored units finally attacked at around 6.30 am. And the Indian Anti-Tank guns returned fire at once. Despite being outmaneuvered, outgunned Lt. Abhay Singh and his fellow officers and soldiers put up a stiff resistance. This was just a story of one Lieutenant, but that somehow same story happened with every soldier of that Indian army. That bravery was the contribution of Indian Army in World War II.
They held the Axis powers under control for around three hours of an inconsistent fight before at long last giving in. Singh was taken prisoner and would use whatever might remain of the conflict in Italian and German internment camps, getting away once – prior to being caught again in Northern Italy.
Aftermath and Casualities
World War II costs the lives of over 87,000 soldiers, including aircrews and mariners from the Indian Empire. This casualty includes 24,338 killed and 11,754 people missing in action. The overwhelming majority being members of the Indian Army. Another 34,354 more were wounded.
More than 40,000 Indian POWs captured by using Japanese forces volunteered for the pro-Japanese Indian National Army (INA), which fought the Allies in Burma and north-east India. Out of 60,000 Indian POWs taken at the Fall of Singapore. 11,000 died in Japanese camps from disease, malnutrition, physical abuse, or overwork. Many of these had been transported to New Guinea or the Solomon Islands. This is the place they have been used as pressured labour by means of Japanese forces.