7 Interesting Facts On India’s Contribution To World War 1 & 2
Pre-independence India played a crucial role in the world wars.
Driven with hopes of getting freedom post-war, India volunteered a lot of soldiers to the British and provided enormous financial and tactical help.
The volunteering wasn’t limited to the general public as members of royal families of India took part as well.
The British Indian army later saw resistance from the rebel Indian National Army (INA) led by Subhash Chandra Bose, during the World War II.
1. World War I – India sent about 1,500,000 personnel, 170,000 animals, and 3.7 million tonnes of supplies overseas, also to a large loan to the British (equivalent to INR 20,000 crore today)
Indian Bicycle Troops at the Battle of the Somme – Image Source
Most of the volunteers were from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.
2. World War I – Indians won 13,000 gallantry medals and 12 Victoria Crosses, the highest military honor in the UK
Sepoy Kamal Ram who silenced two machine guns single-handedly, receiving Victoria Cross from King George - Image Source
The first Victoria Cross was received by Khudadad Khan.
3. World War 1 – Of the volunteers, over 50,000 died, 65,000 were wounded, and 10,000 were reported missing, in addition to the death of 98 Indian army nurses
4. World War II – India sent the largest force, which comprised of 2,50,0000 soldiers, of which 24,500 were killed, 64,000 were wounded, and 11,754 went missing
Indian crew of a Sherman tank of the 9th Royal Deccan Horse, 255th Indian Tank Brigade - Image Source
5. World War II – A special force of the British Indian Army, popularly known as ‘Chindits’, was responsible for stopping the inroads made by the Japanese into South Asia
Chindits crossing a river in Burma – Image Source
The ‘Chindits’ often suffered from diseases such as dysentery and malaria as they marched into the Japanese lines via difficult terrains.
Battle: Burma Campaign, 1943 – World War 2
6. World War II – A 40,000 strong Indian National Army, which was led by Subhash Chandra Bose allied with the Japanese and fought against the British Indian Army in the same battle, in Burma
Japanese executing soldier of British Army who refused to join INA – Image Source
7. World War II – India provided the 3rd largest contingent during the invasion of Italy, which was under the Nazi control, the first two were the British and the USA
Gurkhas of the 4th Indian Division at the Italian Campaign – Image Source
The battle saw a loss of about 19,000 Indian lives among thousands of casualties.
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