World War II: Rising India should Claim Its Well Deserved Role in the Victory of Allied Forces

October 30, 2012

New Delhi: “Mobility was, is and will be the prime principle of war, which India lacks even today”, stated Lt Gen JFR Jacob PVSM (Retd.), known for the role he played in India's victory in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and the Liberation of Bangladesh, at the book launch of eight volumes of ‘Official History of Indian Armed Forces In The Second World War 1939-45’ at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on October 30, 2012.

Recalling the lessons learnt from World War II, Lt Gen Jacob insisted that the role of heavy guns and artillery remain relevant even today. “The role of artillery should not be confined to neutralisation, rather it should be destruction of the enemy” he concluded.

The book release was followed by a panel discussion, chaired by Lt General Satish Nambiar, who asserted that the contribution of Indian Armed forces during the Second World War has largely gone unnoticed.
The confusion among the ranks of the nationalist movement leaders on the issue of India’s participation in the war resulted in poor negotiation when it came to distribution of spoils of war, following Indian soldiers’ valiant display at the war, he stated.

The panellists commended the efforts of the publisher in bringing out the eight volumes on the history of Indian forces during the Second World War.

The Panellist also felt that as a rising power, India should create awareness about the tremendous role the Indian army played in the victory of the allied forces.

The volumes have been put together by the History Division of the Ministry of Defence in an attempt to bring to fore the contribution of the Indian forces, which has otherwise remained largely obscure. Each volume highlights the role of the Indian armed forces during various campaigns in the War -- including campaigns in Western Asia, East and North Africa, Japan and South East Asia etc.

The books highlight how the war expedited the progress of India’s Independence from British rule. They go on to describe how the Naval Mutiny and the strength of the professional Indian Army convinced the British that it was best to wisely exit from India in 1947.

The Indian Army’s strength, when the war began in 1939, was about 200,000 men and by the end of the war in August 1945, it had become the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men. These men serving in divisions of infantry, armour and a fledgling airborne force, fought on three continents in Africa, Europe and Asia.

The British appreciated the valour of Indian soldiers during the Second World War with the award of some 4,000 decorations. 29 Indian personnel were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), while eight were awarded the George Cross (GC).

The Panellists strongly recommended that the Indian Military history should be taught in the universities. More historical research on Indian armed forces’ role in the world war, based on fresh evidences is called for.