Well, thanks to the recent debate (and brihaspati ji) on the subject of BIA and Indian officers + men who formed part of it, I ended up reading on the topic from a wider perspective.
And courtesy the research I wan doing online, I came across this book:Contribution of the Armed Forces to the Freedom Movement in India
- written by Maj General V.K. Singh (retd)
and here is an free e-book: http://indianstrategicknowledgeonline.com/web/Contribution%20of%20the%20Armed%20Forces%20230109.pdf
Please read this for a perspective on the issue. I've not read the same beyond some sections but hope to complete it in sometime.
A very telling excerpt from the book which captures the essence of what an Indian Officer in BIA would have generally felt like:
In 1928, Captain (later General) KS Thimayya’s battalion, 4/19 Hyderabad, moved from Baghdad to Allahabad. Thimayya spent a few days in Bombay, enroute, where he met Sarojini Naidu, who introduced him to Jinnah. This was Thimayya’s first contact with nationalist leaders, and he found the experience confusing. As an Indian, he sympathized with their cause. But as a soldier, he had sworn an oath of allegiance to the British sovereign. He was not sure if he could reconcile his position, with respect to his country, and his profession. At Allahabad, he came into close contact with the Nehrus, and was a frequent guest at Anand Bhawan, where he came to know Nehru’s sisters, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit and Krishna (Betty) Hutheesingh. He also met Dr. Kailash Nath Katju and Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru. After the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, there was a general upsurge of nationalist feeling among the people.
Thimayya was deeply impressed by the winds of nationalism then blowing through the country, and the sacrifices being made by the people. On one occasion, he almost got into trouble, for throwing his peak cap in a bonfire of British goods, at the behest of Krishna Hutheesingh. One day, he and some other Indian officers, met Moti Lal Nehru and told him that they wanted to resign their commissions. The elder Nehru told them not to do so. “There are enough of us in the Congress, and we need more people in the army”, he said, advising them to stick it out. He felt that the Indianisation of the army had been achieved after lot of effort and should not be stopped. He added: “We’re going to win independence. Perhaps not this year or the next, but sooner or later the British will be driven out. When that happens, India will stand alone. We will have no one to protect us but ourselves. It is then
that our survival will depend on men like you.”
Another very pertinent excerpt:
Although the struggle for freedom had been going on for almost half a century, the Indian armed forces remained virtually untouched until the out break of World War II, when a large number of Indians were granted emergency commissions. Though Indians had been given commissions earlier, their number was small. Moreover, most of them came from feudal or military families, which were largely unaffected by political events. on the other hand, the majority of emergency commissioned officers came from rural or urban middle class backgrounds, which were the most active constituents of the freedom movement.
Due to their upbringing, lack of training and political leanings, the emergency commissioned officers were not treated as equals by British officers. This discriminatory attitude was largely responsible for the growth of disaffection
and nationalistic fervour among Indian officers during World War II. Another reason that caused frustration among Indian officers was the perceived delay in the process of Indianisation, which seemed to progressing at a very slow pace, mainly due to opposition by British officers.
Lt. General Thakur Nathu Singh was one of the best of the initial lot of senior leadership of the Indian Army. He refused the post of first COAS of Indian Army when it was offered to him by JLN acting through Sardar Baldev Singh. He was clear that Cariappa was senior to him and deserved the post of COAS. For his nationalistic views, he was called the 'Fauji Gandhi'.
He is the one who famously said these lines to Nehru:
Soon after Independence, the Prime Minister held a conference of senior Army officers, to elicit their views regarding keeping British officers for some more time, as advisors. Nehru felt that Indian officers lacked the experience to take over the responsibility for such a large Army, and wanted to retain British officers for a longer period, as Pakistan had done. Almost every one agreed with Nehru, except for Nathu Singh.
He said: " Officers sitting here have more than 25 years service, and are capable of holding senior appointments in the Armed Forces. As for experience, if I may ask you Sir, what experience do you have to hold the post of Prime Minister ?" There was a stunned silence, and Nehru did not reply. Finally, it was decided to keep the British advisors for some more time, as proposed by Nehru.
The reason I am quoting his example is because thought process of an officer like him to an extent is symptomatic of what officers and men felt in that period.
You can read about this great man here:
Here is an excerpt from the book linked above:
The most well known nationalist soldier was Lieutenant General Thakur Nathu Singh, a Sandhurst trained King’s commissioned Indian officer who had been christened ‘Fauji Gandhi’ by his colleagues. Even as as a young officer, Nathu Singh openly expressed his anti- British feelings, for which he was often in trouble.
When he was a major he was asked to suppress an agitation during the Quit India movement in 1942. Nathu Singh objected, saying that it was not fair to ask him to shoot at his own countrymen, who were only asking for their freedom. He requested the commanding officer to give the job to some other officer, but this was refused, and he was told that if he disobeyed orders he would be court martialled. Nathu Singh refused to carry out the orders, and the matter was reported to the District Commander, Major General Bruce Scott. When he was marched up to General Scott, Nathu Singh defended his action, as a “conscientious objector”, quoting the example of similar cases in Ireland. To his good luck, Scott turned out to be an Irishman. He appreciated the stand taken by Nathu Singh, and let him off.
Nathu Singh was of the view that the slow process of Indianisation and the discriminatory treatment of Indian officers were largely responsible for the birth of the Indian National Army (INA). He had grave doubts whether the British were serious about Indianisation, or it was merely “window dressing,” to impress the public and the outside World. Despite the fact that two and a half million Indians had fought in two wars, they had not been able to produce a single general. Important appointments dealing with
operations were denied to them, and just a handful were given command of units. Drawing a parallel with the Soviet Union, which took shape at about the same time as Indianisation began in India, the disparities were obvious.
However, his most scathing comments were reserved for the unfair treatment meted out to Indians, which he covered at length in a strongly worded letter to the Commander-in-Chief, General Auchinleck, on 17 December 1945, soon after the commencement of the INA trials in the red Fort in Delhi. Nathu Singh, who was then a lieutenant colonel, wrote:
The formation of the INA was not alone the work of its leaders like Bose, or of the Jap opportunist. The creation and growth of the INA was a direct result of the continuous unjust treatment of Indian officers in the Army. It is the natural heritage of years of dissatisfaction, disappointment and disgust of various elements in the Indian Army. The present members of the INA are to be blamed for their conduct, but equally to blame is the Imperialist Anti-Indian British element in the army who by their talk and action daily estranged the otherwise loyal mind of the Indian, and last but not the least to blame are the British reverses in the Far east, which left the Indian soldier to their fate
I will answer other points raised by Bji later.