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Dear Hun & Sathyadas: <P>Please check BR Forum archives on this: we had a long discussion a few weeks back. <P>The German Afrika Korps had its first real defeat at the battle of El Alamein. The "British 8th Army" which is credited with winning that battle, was coincident with the British "8th Indian Army" which was shipped out from India in the months before that. There were also Australian units there. <P>The Japanese did in fact march up through Burma, and were stopped at the entrace to Assam. Sure, the ground troops there were the Indian Army. <P>To quote the great BR historian narayanan, "we Indians had to pull these millions of beer-drinkers out of trouble". <P>Now the comparison between Corregidor and Singapore is not a fair one. Just how populated was Corregidor by comparison to Singapore, and what was left of it after these months of non-surrender? The British and Indian troops who surrendered to the Japanese army, rather than fight to the last civilian, were no less brave than the Americans who fought on Corregidor. Unlike the Americans, the British-Indian forces had no prospect of any assistance arriving for a few years. <P>No embellishment needed. But there has been FAR, FAR, too little recognition of what Indians did to win the war for the so-called Allies. Most Westerners hear, if they hear any mention at all, only about the small Indian POW units which were converted to INA units by the Japanese, in the ususal myth that all of us are the "enemy" of western civilization. <P>Like they believe that Edmund Hillary climbed Mt. Everest and dragged Tenzing Norgay up, while the truth is that Tenzing climbed up carrying his own oxygen, tools and supplies, Edmund, and all of Edmund's stuff, and the camp supplies, and Edmund's flags and radio and batteries and TV and VCR and other stuff. Probably his easy-chair and his whisky decanter and his safari hat too...only the ice was available in plenty up there.<P>I wonder if you have seen the Benny Hill show on "The Men Who Built the British Empire" <p>[This message has been edited by narayanan (edited 26-09-1999).]
The Hun says<BR><B>The Indian Army in World War II has a fabulous record but it is unnecessary to embellish it with such sweeping terms. </B><BR>I took out my magnifying glass and looked for the sweeping generalizations and I cant quite see where they are in sathyadas' post.<BR>The IA has indeed an excellent record in WW II. That much is not in dispute. What is in dispute is that the Brits (and the Americans) rarely acknowledge this. I dont want to go through this whole litany, which we already did in the previous thread.<P>I will say this .After, the war India asked for help from Britain to build up its munitions industry. India was laboring under the myth that the Commonwealth meant something to the Brits. Britain of course flatly refused and eventually India had to go to firms like the Oerlikon Co. in switzerland to help India with technical help in building up its machine tool Industry and weapons industry. So much for gratitude for the immense war effort that India helped Britain with, a war effort which incidentally was forced upon the country. Gandhi's main bone of contention was 'you should at least go through the pro-forma of asking India before committing its troops'. For that he was of course put in prison along with Nehru, as on many previous occasions. <P>Kaushal
True. <P>Of all the forces that participated in WW2, the US was the one which least needed to, and yet did the most to turn the tide. They made a conscious decision that it had to be done, and then they went to work and did it, instead of standing around and arguing. I have seen nothing like it in history. <P>I maintain that if they followed all these policies of "restraint", the Japanese would now be shelling the LOC off Los Angeles, and the Chinese factories would be busy as they are now with military-run slave labor: the Imperial Japanese military instead of the PLA. <P>The other LOC would be in the middle of the English Channel, or the Atlantic. <P>Yes, the Russians suffered horribly, stood their ground, and then suffered even more as they rolled the Germans back to Berlin. But it was the US that provided the weapons that enabled even the Russians to survive till their own arms production ramped up. <P>17000 B-17s downed over Germany; 55,000 airmen killed. Thousands killed on the brutal Atlantic and Arctic Ocean convoys. The terrible cost of swarming ashore at Normandy under machine-gun fire on exposed beaches. And the battles against the Japanese were equally brutal, and could have gone either way until the 5 Japanese carriers sank at Midway and Truk: it was never such a sure thing as it appeared in retrospect: it could have been very different except for a few turns of the dice; like which admiral decided to refuel which types of airplanes. <P>The Americans have very good cause to be proud of what they did. Much to learn from, in terms of what it takes to solve problems for the long term instead of sitting around whining about violated UN resolutions. <p>[This message has been edited by narayanan (edited 26-09-1999).]
I agree that Uncle made the best out of a bad deal, but I will not agree that there was any diabolic plot to achieve such a result. The kids who went to the recuiting centers did so out of patriotism, a sense of duty and/or the search for a career. They trained and fought well. <P>Their planning, logistics and execution of combat was bold and brilliant, they worked as hard as any humans ever have, and they won, then and ever since. At every stage, I can imagine how they could have messed up far , far worse, and I wonder how our compatriots would do when faced with similar threats and opportunities. <P>Ramen_das said it right: Uncle made the best out of a very bad deal. All credit to Uncle.
I belive there are three major reasons why India receives little credit for it's forces in WW II. The biggest reason is that Indians did not fight under a seperate command; not only were RIA Regiments completely integrated into the wider British Army, 95% of the Officers above the rank of Captain were British. To a large extent it is the Officers accounts of battle that will shape the wider public's perceptions. As British Officers serving in the British Army, they characterised their victories as British victories rather than Indian ones. The ANZACs and Canadians with their own officer corps had a distinct identity, and so when the 7th Armoured Division took Benghazi, it was not only a commonwelth victory, but an Australian victory by Australian soldiers and Officers, the only Pom in the picture being Cunningham the 8th Army commander and Wavell above him. <BR> <BR> The other issue is that the vast majority of Indian forces fought on the Eastern front in the China-India-Burma theatre, and in Singapore-Malaya. This was what was despairingly called 'The Forgotton War by the men who fought in it', Yanks, Indians and Brits alike. The Major focus of British attention was their struggle for survival first in Dunkirk, then Crete, in our air, in the Atlantic, and then North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normany, Belgium and Arnheim. These are also the theatres in which the majority of British troops fought. It was the same politically as well; Commonwealth commanders in Asia were on the bottom of the priority list; Australia was told they were to all intensts and purposes on their own, after which they turned to the Yanks (and have stayed with them ever since) for national defence. Singapore was a disaster, the worst in British military history, in part because a German commerce raider in the Indian Ocean captured British documents outlining the serious weaknesses of British forces in SE Asia. The germans promptly passed the intel on to the Japanese. After the humiliation of Malaya and Singapore came Burma. This string of defeats has clouded interest n the theatre long after the war ended. few appreciate the determination, valour, sound (and often brilliant) tactics and logistics both Indian and British that characterised the Burma campaign, which if not for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have steam rolled the Japanese right back out of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. an While Indian forces did in fact participate in the N.African campaign, they were not numerically significant. The 4th Indian Division did distinguish itself in action against the Italians in 1940 during Wavell's counter attack. I'll post Montgomery's OrdBat at El Alamein, but there were I beleive only two Indian divisions out of 17 present in the 8th Army. Someone mentioned the seige of Tobruk earlier; there were the three brigades of the 9th Division, the 7th Australian Division's 18th Brigade, the 3rd Armoured Brigade (two regiments), four regiments of British field artillery, and two of anti-tank and two of anti-aircraft artillery. Of the twenty seven infantry, artillery, and armoured units fifteen were Australian, eleven British and one Indian. Morshead the garrison commander had 13 infantry battalions, 12 Australian and 1 Indian at his disposal. <P><BR> There is I believe one other reason why Indian contributions to the War are so poorly understood, and that is the lack of Indian publicity, or healthy self promotion. Few Indians and non Indians alike realise that the RIA was an all volunteer force. The assumption amongst many is that these were poor men unwillingly pressed into service by a colonial government. Such men are to be pitied, not praised. This impression is reinforced by the apparent lack of Indian pride in India's contribution to the war effort. <P>Overall, no single ally could have won the war on their own; Not the Soviets whose lifeline for nine desperate months depended on the artic convoys to Murmansk, and resources tied down by the cancelled Sea Lion operation, the Blitz, and North Africa, or even the Americans who triumphed in the Pacific largely on their own, but could not have won in Europe without ULTRA, 'Tube Alloys' , hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth soldiers, tens of thousands of Commonwealth aircraft, naval and merchant marine vessels, and of course an unsinkable aircraft carrier anchored of the coast of Europe.<p>[This message has been edited by Johann (edited 26-09-1999).]
Lest anyone forget, Hitler did in fact declare war on the US the day after Pearl Harbour. <P> Even before that, the US had been fairly deeply involved with the len-lease agreement, production of war supplies for Britain as well as US naval escort for Commonwealth shipping through the Greenland-Iceland gap. <P> Even if Hitler hadn't tripped and fallen over his megalomania, the US would not have been able to stay out of the war for much longer. The campaign of persuasion, manipulation and occasional deception engaged on all levels by the PM, and the FCO (with the help of intelligence agencies) had already gained the upper hand with Presidential and State Department support. There were more than enough wealthy and influential Americans, such as the Rockerfellers who not only supported but organised the effort out of emotional and yes, financial ties to the 'Old Country'. There were of course plenty of Americans who saw these efforts and oppposed them publicly and bitterly. Hitler's declaration made it a moot point, but it was only a matter of time before deepening covert American involvement lead to a <I>Lusitania</I> -like event with the same effect.<p>[This message has been edited by Johann (edited 26-09-1999).]
An excellent thread all around. I particularly enjoyed Naryanan's and Johann's posts. A couple of minor quibbles:<P>1. Narayanan: If I remember right, the US sank four Japanese carriers at Midway, not five. But I must admit, I'm not sure.<P>2. Johann: I don't think FDR took a lot of persuading to enter WW2. It was the rest of the US establishment that needed convincing, and the isolationist or outright pro-German elements (Charles Lindbergh, for instance) that needed to be overcome. Also, re. your remark about the Lusitania -- are you saying that the Lusitania was a "fake" job, engineered to make the US enter WW1? That's what I suspect it was, but I'm not sure what your post was saying.<P>Thanks to all for an excellent thread,<BR>Mohan<BR>
Johann you hit the nail on the head. Indian contributions are not so well highlighted due to all the facts you mention. I thik the 5th Indian division was also involved in Italy. I am subject to correction.<BR>Kevin, WWII is generally regarded as starting on Sept.3, 1939 when UK and Frnace declared war on Germany for its aggression on Poland.<BR>Kohima was where the Japanese where defeated first on the Asian landmass and started their rollback. True Chinese troops did stem the Japanese at the place you mention but it did not turn the tide.<BR>BTW, I read a book about Special Operations in Burma by a group called Force 136. Anybody know what happened to them and any books etc.<BR>The book I read was called "Burma Drop" by John Beamish. <BR>More interested in knowing what happened to the Indian members of Force 136 and the training facilities in India.
The anti-interventionist lobby in the US was very powerful, which is why Roosevelt did not enter the war prior to Pearl Harbor, despite the fact that his leanings were against Hitler. Joseph Kennedy, ambassador to Britain and father of JFK, was one of those who was vehemently opposed. Substantial numbers of americans about 30 to 40% had German ancestry at that time and they had no desire for another war with their German cousins. Neither was Hitler particularly thrilled about the whole prospect. But he was not fully cognizant of the capability of american industry and in any event his hand was forced by the Japanese.<P>I am not sure about the extent of american dead in WWII, 400,000 seems too high. The most costly war that the americans indulged in,(using casualties as an index) was i believe the american civil war which was particularly brutal.<P>Kaushal <p>[This message has been edited by Kaushal (edited 27-09-1999).]
Mohan: Four carriers it was, the <I>Agaki, Kaga, Soryu</I> and <I>Hiryu</I><P> The isolationist lobby had enough public support that FDR couldn't simply leap into the war. Just like Vietnam, America was growing more and more enmeshed on Britain's side through the use of executive orders. Churchill had sold his pitch, and the two turned to work on Congress, the Senate and the upper classes (who owned the media). It was one of the biggest and least talked about intelligence operations ever initiated.<P> The Lusitania was a very real tragedy, what I meant was that it was inevitable. Just as they would 24 years later, the US had already begun sliding into the war on Britain's side. At some point the Germans would no longer be able to treat the US as a "non-belligerant", and would be forced to take action. This worked out nicely for Britain, and the pro-involvement US factions, because a German declaration of war, or direct action on American citizens was something that not even the isolationists could pretend to ignore. By 1941 the US Navy was escorting British flagged vessels loaded with suplies and ammunition for the war effort. I can guarantee you some overeager U-Boat captain would have eventually put a torpedo in a US destroyer, or US merchantman with or without Hitler's express orders. <P> Ramana: The SOE in Asia was named Force 136. They were the smartest and toughest of the bunch. They operated in Burma and Malaya, mostly but were active in Hong Kong, Malaya, Burma,Indonesia , Thailand , French Indochina and the Philippines. Some of the agents were Brits and Canadians of Chinese descent; as far as I know most of the rest who were sent in were white. Since blending in was not an option for them they usually worked in the deep jungle organising, training and equipping native resistance to Japanese occupation. A lot of these were communist movements who in the classic pattern promptly turned around and bit us in the arse as soon as the war ended. After the levelling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Force 136's role shifted to one of accepting the surrender of<BR>Japanese units and keeping public order until civil government could be restored. Force 136 also played a key role in assisting prisoners of war in these countries. HQ was in India I believe; I'll se if I can find a few printed sources for you. <P>The Italian campaign which kicked of in July 1943 involved the same British 8th Army which had just defeated Rommel at El Alamein, hooked up with the Allied TORCH landings in Tunisia where the Deutche Afrika Korps finally capitulated after fierce fighting. I might be wrong, but as far as I can remember, it was the same 4th Indian Diviion that fought in N.Africa and up the Italian boot. Naveen Andrews was pretty good in the English Patient as an Engineer if you remember. <P>Kaushal: Senator Kennedy actually weakened the isolationist lobby through his gaffes while Ambassador to Britain.
American Civil War: 600,000 dead (both Union<BR>and Confederate) or about 2.1% of the American population at that time.<P>WWII: 450,000 dead or about 0.32 % of the population of the US at that time.<P>This thread reminds me of a (true) story I once heard. In Hyde Parks's Speaker corner<BR>in London, a friend of mine witnessed a particularly hilarious and sarcastic speech<BR>concerning The Brit's contribution to WWII,<BR>As an obvious spoof on Churchill, The speaker stated:<P>"In WWII, We Britons stood alone!<BR>The Russians fought the Germans and<BR>the Americans fought the Japanese.<BR>But We stood alone!"<P>It is good to know that we can add India<BR>to more than a paranthetical role in WWII,<BR>like say "The Indians fought the Afrika Korps and the Japs in Burma".<BR>
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The SOE in Asia was named Force 136. They were the smartest and toughest of the bunch. They operated in Burma and ...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Johann:<P>Where did Wingate's Chindits figure in all this? They were special-ops forces used in the Burma Campaign, but I'm not sure how.<BR>
Wingate's first expedition in 1943 was a Brigade sized experiment, not part of an integrated campaign. SOE had no involvement with it. The idea was to demonstrate that Commonwealth forces could fight a guerilla war behind deep Japanese lines, operating on their own in the deep Jungle with aerial resupply. The operation was a qualified success; the concept had validity but 1/3rd of the force was lost to tropical diseases and exhaustion.<P> Churchill loved the idea, and promised Wingate all the support he wanted. the second Chindit expedition was in 1944, and this time it was division sized, and part of the overall Burma campaign in a role similar to that of the SAS Long Range Desert Group in N.Africa. They had a tremendous impact in disrupting the Japanese logisitcs and psychological balance. The units were largely Brits, Gurkhas, Karen and Kachins. RIAF contribution was invaluable, and Indians troops were a major part of the artillery and <BR>(I think) recce columns. <P>there's a nice little synopsis here at <A HREF="http://magweb.com/sample/sfront/sfr11chi.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://magweb.com/sample/sfront/sfr11chi.htm</A>
HUN<BR> the German Biscmark sinking was a german defeat but you have to remember that the German and Jap u-boats sank a lot and i mean a lot of allied ships. I have done extensive reserch on WW2 (being in a histroy class) and i have to say that the biggest defeat for Germans was the Invasion of Russia and For the Japs it was the Battle of Midway and thebattle near the Guam islands. <BR> After their defeat in these wars there was no way that they could have maintained their power. I am not really sure of the role played by the IA but by reading the posts it does seem quite fantastic feat performed by them. <P>------------------<BR>jai HIND<BR>jai JAWAN.<BR>
Well guys, Indians can certainly take credit for beating the Japanese in the battle of Kohima. This is the Imperial Army's first defeat in its entire history. Though the Imperial Army was bogged down in China, there was no decisive battle fought except for inconclusive hit and run all over China.<BR>As for beating Rommel, well Rommel was outmanned, out gunned, out everything by Monty due to huge American supplies. Still Rommel did preety good despite the long time Monty took to prepare for this battle.<BR>What broke the Nazis..........American material strength and Soviet man power strength. Russians had to fight because if they run away from battle they would be shot by their own commisars. If they are captured they mosly ended up dead due to Himmler's policy. So what they do.........fight as any dead man walking would do.<BR>Why do you think the NATO countries adopted the German fighting methods after the war? Even the Israelis adopted the german way of fighting.<BR>**The German were about a decade a head of the rest of the world in the field of aerospace/jet technology and the US and Soviets got a head start due to this.**
Ramen Das: only until the allies developed the tactics and technology og the U-Boat menace; by the end of the war the Kriegsmarine's sub arm had the highest casuality rate of any service of any combatant in the war. Sealing the hatch on a sub was just as good as hammering the nails into a coffin. <P> Hitler had little choice in attacking Russia; there was simply no way he could have invaded England after the failure of the Battle of Britain, and the inherent weakness of German amphibious and navy capabilities; it was a stalemate. A peace treaty would have at most returned german territories confiscated after WW1 along with a few more pieces as 'war indemnities'.on the whole not too bad a deal for Britain. <P> You cannot say 'If only hadn't invaded Russia..'. The quest for <I>Lebensraum</I> was a major element of Hitler's ideology and at the very core of his agenda, along with the control and elimination of the 'lesser peoples'. He wished to avenge himself upon France for the humiliation of Versailles, and put Britian in a position where it had no option but to accept German supremacy over continental Europe. <BR> <BR> Churchill was an old bigot who would have probably found me too 'latin-looking', but he was a man of tremendous moral courage and conviction. Hitler's entire plans hinged on Britain folding quietly, ackwnoledging the insanity of resisting a numerically and technologically superior enemy, and coming to an 'honourable' peace. It would have ben so,very, very easy to say yes.... <P> Now Germany was fully mobilised, and ready for war with no one to fight while the Russians were armed with obsolete weapons systems and had most of their border unguarded. Given the general state of security in Europe it is unlikely things would have stayed that way for long. It was the best oppurtunity he would ever have. <P> I'm not sure how much difference 3,000 heavy bombers would have made, even if the Germans developed the long range escorts they needed. Germany in a similar situation in 1944-45 actually <I>increased</I> aircraft manufacture compared to 1943-1944 despite the heaviest possible hammering from RAF Bomber command and the US 8th Air Force. High altitude heavy bombers simply did not have the kind of accuracy needed to put out factories before repairs could be made, nor was HE that effective against heavy machinery.
Don't forget Uncle and Joe and cousins Ivan and Yelena.<P>The USSR lost 20 millions in the War or to war-related causes. Not for nothing do they still refer to it as the Great Patriotic War!<P>As Stalin put it.<P>"America provided the money, Britain the time and Soviet Russia the blood."
There has never been any doubt among those who knew (the Brits esp.) that the Indian soldier is and has been a tenacious and formidable soldier throughout his history. Unfortunately, his leaders were no match for the trickery and deceit that the British played on India during the years that they consolidated their hold on the British Indian Empire, at a time when the Indian subcontinent was in turmoil.<P>Kaushal
Sathyadas<P>Actually Marshall Zhukov, the russian general gave the Japanese a pretty serious pasting in Siberia pre WW2.<P>A lot of people say that is why teh Japanses struck south towards Indonesia for resources rather Siberia, which is also resource rich.<P>The fact that Bali is so much nicer than Siberia aslo helped I guess.<P>Peeyoosh<P>
>>Such men are to be pitied, not praised. This impression is reinforced by the apparent lack of Indian pride in India's contribution to the war effort.<<<P>Johann,<P>What should the Indians pride themselves on? It was not an Indian war. We were forced to fight for the Brits (our conquerers) against someone else. India had nothing to gain or lose from WWII. I would think, going by the logic 'Enemy's enemy is your friend', that Germany & Japan were probably more closer to India than the British during WWII.<P>Chandra<p>[This message has been edited by chandra (edited 28-09-1999).]
Well how much Indians were forced into participating is open to debate, but your question only reinforces what I've said; As long as Indians themselves feel conflicted over their WW2 involvement, the world in general will simply ignore it's impact on the war.
chandra, you are right that India was not even asked by Britain, whether it wanted to be part of the war effort. All Gandhi asked of the British master was a pro-forma request. Even that much of a fig leaf ,the arrogant colonial master was not willing to provide. And for exhibiting the temerity to ask ,the naked fakir & Nehru were promptly imprisoned till the end of the war ( a total of about 15 years, more than a murderer gets in the US these days). <P>Kaushal
<B>As long as Indians themselves feel conflicted over their WW2 involvement, the world in general will simply ignore it's impact on the war. </B><BR>The world ignores India's contribution to WW II, not because it is 'conflicted' as Johann puts it ( I dont remember Lord Wavell saying his Indian soldiers were conflicted) but because Indians do not have the right skin color. <P>Kaushal<p>[This message has been edited by Kaushal (edited 28-09-1999).]
So I assume the Chinese can thank their yellow skins for the credit they recieved, eh Kaushal? If you don't attach any value to your actions or sacrifices then no one else will either. <P> To ask permission would imply an Indian head of state, and an Indian nation-state, neither of which existed at that time. The colonial administrators certainly weren't going to do that. The RIA was composed of volunteers. To institute a draft given the political situation of the times would have been pure stupidity. I'm sure they remembered 1857. It was no different than any other period in colonial history; the limiting factor of British control was Indian cooperation. Ghandi hit at the root of things.<P>
I have a confession to make. Actually I never knew about the Battle of Kohima until after the nuke tests last year. Pat Buchanan (yes that notorious Pat Buchanan) wrote a column in support of India and in that article he mentionned the Indian contributions in World war Two especially at Kohima.<BR>I took on this and did a small research and found out that if at all Kohima is mentioned it has been by Americans especially the military guys or in military institutions. In this respect I think the Americans did give credit where it was due.
For those who would want to know more about Force 136 in WW2, please checkout this book:<BR>"The Jungle is Neutral" by Major Spencer A Chapman.<BR>I read it when i was in high School (those many years ago). Good luck.
Mr Johann,<BR>To behonest I know of Israeli families who fled to Palestine from India during the war because the British were actually rounding up men of fighting age in India to be sent to the front.<BR>Many Indians did also run away to Malaya and Singapore to avoid the "draft". So to say that RIA was a volunteer force would be an injustice.
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