British Indian Army during World War 2

Apr 2014
395
Istanbul Turkey
What do you recommend for researching about British Indian Army and where they fought how they performed between 1940-1941 ? Any good resource because I couldn't find much online or any high profile work about them. Which front they played most role ? North Africa in 1940-1943 ? , Italian Campaign in 1943 - 1945 ? , Far East in 1941-1942 , Burma Campaign and Operation U-Go in 1942-1945 ? What do you think of Indian troops in British Army performance ?
 
Mar 2019
1,811
Kansas
What do you recommend for researching about British Indian Army and where they fought how they performed between 1940-1941 ? Any good resource because I couldn't find much online or any high profile work about them. Which front they played most role ? North Africa in 1940-1943 ? , Italian Campaign in 1943 - 1945 ? , Far East in 1941-1942 , Burma Campaign and Operation U-Go in 1942-1945 ? What do you think of Indian troops in British Army performance ?
Well how did they perform?

I will leave it to Winston Churchill who's dislike for all things Indian is well known.

But all this is only the background upon which the glorious heroism and martial qualities of the Indian troops who fought in the Middle East, who defended Egypt, who liberated Abyssinia, who played a grand part in Italy, and who, side by side with their British comrades, expelled the Japanese from Burma…. The loyalty of the Indian Army to the King-Emperor, the proud fidelity to their treaties of the Indian Princes, the unsurpassed bravery of Indian soldiers and officers, both Moslem and Hindu, shine for ever in the annals of war….
 
Apr 2014
227
Liverpool, England
I regret I am unable to help much with this enquiry. I would just mention the Animal Transport Companies from the Indian Army who served in France in 1940. The British Expeditionary Force was thoroughly modern in having only mechanical transport - only for it to turn out that some places could only be reached by mules. About 1800 men were involved. Most were brought out safely, about half of them through Dunkirk.
 
Oct 2015
894
Virginia
There is an "Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War" (8 vols) (!). Some volumes are on line at the "Hyperwar" website ahttp://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/India/index.html.
and the "Internet Archive". Official History Of The Indian Armed Forces In The Second World War,vol. 1, 1939-45 : Prasad,bisheshwar Ed. : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
(I doubt I got those addresses copied right-sorry)

India raised 18-20 divisions during WW2 (some were consolidated or converted to training units). They served in Abyssinia-Somaliland, the Western Desert, Persia-Iraq-Syria, Italy, Greece, and Malaya-Singapore. The largest number were engaged in the defense and re-conquest of Burma-Assam.
 

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
4,471
Japan
British Army in the Far East 1941-45 by Allan Jeffreys
gives full listings of all British and Indian troops deployed in Burma, India, Malaya and Singapore.

Indian Army 1914-47 by Ian Sumner is more of a uniform guide, though does give a fairly good over all view of the Indian Army.


I’ve not read this next one but it might be useful.
The Indian Army 1939-47:Experience and Development. A Jeffreys and P Rose.

Indian troops were deployed in Africa, Italy and a small number were in Europe. Their largest numbers were deployed in Asia against the Japanese.

Overall the Indians were solid troops. The Ghurkas
and Sikhs were probably the highest regarded amongst them.
Jats, Rajputs, Baluch, Dogras, Punjabi’s also had lots of troops engaged.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2019
1,811
Kansas
Overall the Indians were solid troops. The Ghurkas
and Sikhs were probably the highest regarded amongst them.
Jats, Rajputs, Baluch, Dogras, Punjabi’s also had lots of troops engaged.
Among Australian servicemen in the Pacific the Ghurkas had a fantastic reputation. My uncle told me of an almost supernatural encounter one night with one of them while fighting in New Guinea.
 
Sep 2012
1,095
Tarkington, Texas
If you can find it, FW Perry's "The Commonwealth Armies. I have another one, Ashley Jackson's "The British Empire in the Second World War". Beware of the newer books put out by Osprey, they have a lot of mistakes. Perry's book covers the First and Second World Wars. The Gurkhas were great, but they were from Nepal and not India. A Gurkha in New Guinea? I don't recall any Gurkha units going there. The only place the Gurkhas and Australians served together was in Malaya. The main problem with Indian Troops was getting replacements. You could not just send to the Repple Depple and get a certain number of Jats, Dogras, and Sikhs. You had to pull the whole Battalion out and hope you can find the RIGHT replacements. Another problem is getting people who could drive a motor vehicle.

Pruitt
 
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Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
4,471
Japan
Ghurkas were Nepalese. But the Indian Army had regiments of them.
Unless the op specifically wanted only Indian nationals... but I took him to mean the Indian Army.

New Guinea was Australian mostly with some US help at the end. Royal Navy and Dutch Navy might have been involved in the Naval part of the campaign.. but on land it was a Aussie-Yank show.