The Indian Army During World War IІ

The Indian Army joined World War II in 1939, fighting on behalf of their colonial masters: the British. The army consisted of about 200,000 men and the army itself was classified as the largest volunteer army, although willingness to participate in the army is a controversial subject to this day. Regardless, the Indian army fought in Ethiopia, Libiya, Tunisia and Egypt. It was the Japanese army that most of the Indian army fought against.

Unfortunately, the war was as bloody as could be and resulted in huge losses to the Indian army as it formed a huge portion of the British army itself.

The Losses India Faced

Many Indian men and even women lost their lives as a result of participating in the war. Over 87,000 Indian servicemen died and thousands other were wounded. Many still became prisoners of war only to be executed at the hands of the British’s enemies. The Indian army was considered the backbone of the Britain’s war but in reality the war itself broke the backs of the Indians. However, many Indians also benefited from the war in different ways.

Benefits To The Indians

Participation in the war was not as simple as displaying heroism or any loyalty towards the British. The matter was much complicated than that. Many of the men who participated in the war, not just as soldiers but also as cooks, tailors and other service men, did so to earn bread and butter for their family. For Indians facing famines and exploitation at the hands of the British, enlistment in the army was one of the very few options the Indians had left to support their families. Hence, many did so out of necessity and even unwillingly at times.

Furthermore, it wasn’t just the poor that wanted to earn money. The social elite of the subcontinent also wanted their businesses to make profits. Thus, it wasn’t just a case of British exploitation or forceful participation in the war. Many men from the upper classes contributed to the war by supplying merchandise or fuel for the war only to reap as much benefit as they could from this battle between the super powers.

Therefore, a great numbers of Indians participated in World War II on behalf of Britian and lost their lives. Many also saw the benefit in participating and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Thus, the Indians should be widely recognized for their significant participation in World War II.


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