View Full Version : Indian Army During World War II

09-18-2004, 12:36 PM
A portrait of Tulbahadur Pun, Victoria Cross (VC).
Pun was awarded a VC at Mogaung on the night of 6/7th June 1944. After his comrades were killed around him, he single handedly charged a group of Japanese who were dug in 30 yards away across open ground, firing a bren gun from the hip he overcame the enemy and captured their position and two light machine guns.

Mogaung is counted as the 3rd Gurkha Rifle's most glorious day as it won two Victoria Crosses (the second was a posthumous award to Captain Michael Allmand), one DSO (Distinguished Service Order), one IOM (Indian Order of Merit), three MCs (Military Cross), two IDSMs (Indian Distinguished Service Medals) and 9 MMs.

The jungle is neutral. Gurkha soldiers make use of the ample cover that nature has bestowed on them in the fighting in the Arakan.

British and Indian troops exchange pleasantries as they meet on the road between Imphal and Kohima following the successful relief of the Kohima box. Circa April 1944.

Jawans from the 17th Indian Divison on assault at Imphal in June 1944. The Naik in the foreground carries a Thompson SMG and the riflemen in the background carry a SMLE with a fixed bayonet.

4.2" mortar crews of 5/5 Marathas, the machine gun battalion of the 8th Indian Division, in action in Italy. Machine gun battalions manned the Vickers machine guns and heavy mortars that supported infantry divisions.

ASikh-manned Bren gun team of the 4th Indian division participating in manoeuvres prior to Operation Compass, the December 1940 offensive against the Italian Army in the desert of Western Egypt and Eastern Libya.

Jawans of the 4th Indian Division, right after Operation Crusader. These Jawans were virtually the only fresh troops available to the Allies, in the advance towards the capture of the Libyan port of Derna in December 1941

Engineers of the 8th Indian Division rest on the morning of 12 May 1944. They have spent the night clearing mines planted on the Gustav Line allowing infantry and armour to break through during the drive that would take the Allies north to Rome.

Madras Sappers and Miners work on a 'corduroy' road east of Kohima, on the Jessami track, August 1944. Timber provided a cheap way of producing a reasonably durable road surface for those areas where mule or air transport was not enough.

5/5 Marathas in Italy, late 1944 or early 1945. Machine gunners with Vickers MMG's setting up pre-established fields of fire for a defensive position. The bulbous devices on the muzzles of the Vickers are recoil accelerators designed to minimize jamming during sustained fire.

Men of the 2/6th Gurkha Rifles who served with equal distinction in Italy. The second photograph shows a Gurkha soldier proudly displaying his feared Khukri - a Nepalese dagger. A Gurkha and his khukri are an extremely dangerous combination for the enemy which they carry to this day in every conflict both for the British and the Indian Army. Circa World War II.

Indian Paratroopers during World War II. Source: Parachute Regiment (India).

Ayo Gurkhali!!! (the war cry of the gurkhas) Gurkha troops charge the enemy lines in Burma. Possibly, Circa 1945

Sikh mountain gunners cleaning Italian guns captured by the 5th Indian Division in Eritrea. Circa 1941.

Humbling of a symbol of unbridled power - Indian troops examine a captured German Swastika, at Sidi Omer

Infantry of the 29th Indian Brigade assault Italian defensive positions at Jalo, a point to the west of Tobruk, on the 5/6th of December 1941.

A truly spectacular image. In the heat of the moment - Indian soldiers storm a German trench, after exploding it with hand grenades. Circa 1945.


An Italian soldier surrenders to a Jawan, during Operation Crusader, of an unnamed Division and Regiment, on 08 December 1941. The purpose of Operation Crusader was two-fold; to relieve Tobruk and destroy the Afrika Korp. First part of the conflict was a success, the second a failure. The battle took place between the Egyptian border and El Agheila in Libya.

Indian troops, during Operation Battleaxe on 06 August 1941. An Indian infantry division was involved in the first attempt to remove Reverend Major Bachs' forces out of Halfaya Pass - an important position between the Egypt and Libyan border. The latter was then an Italian colony. Bachs was a German priest and therefore had a religious title, as well a military rank.



Sikh VCOs (Viceroy's Commissioned Officers) report to their Battalion HQ.

Men of the 6th Gurkha Rifles use 3" mortar in action in Burma. Circa 1944

Caravan of General Von Arnim, German Army, who surrendered to the 4th Indian Division (a.k.a. Fighting Fourth) in Tunisia, Africa.

A group from the 152nd Para Battalion displaying the Japanese flag they captured while operating against the Japanese Army at Tangkhul Hundung. Circa 1945.
Troops of the 5th Indian Division advancing against Indonesian Pemudas during the Battle of Surabaya, Java in November 1945. Lasting for 19 days, this battle was the last time Indian troops were commanded in combat by British Officers

A painting depicting the Battle of Medicinia, 16 April 1945 by Terence Cuneo. 2/6 Gurkha Rifles were used for close infantry protection for the Sherman tanks of the 14/20th King's Hussars. Subedar Raghu Gurung, from 2/6 GR, was leading down a street, supported by a tank, when a bazooka rocket whistled past narrowly missing the vehicle. Realizing that a second shot might be more lucky, he dashed forward and killed the soldier with his kukri before he could reload. He then cleared the German strongpoint, which allowed the attack to continue.

09-18-2004, 01:07 PM
Great stuff. You rarely hear about their participation in WW2. Interesting that they used both British and American firearms.

09-18-2004, 02:17 PM
Anyone who is interested can go to the links below

1. Anthony Brett-James narrates how 'Ball of Fire' The fifth Indian Division fought against tremendous odds and won.From Africa to Europe to Asia, against the Germans, the Italians and the Japanese and triumphed.

2. The saga of the Fourth, Eighth and Tenth Indian Divisions - part of the 15th Army Group - fighting in Italy. His Majesty's Stationary Office for the Government of India published this book in 1946 to bring to light the bravery of our Indian Jawans.

3. This link has more images from Queen Mary's Book on India.

09-20-2004, 03:05 AM
Excellent photos!

Mark Sman
09-20-2004, 04:19 AM
It is possible that the Tommy guns were originally purchased by the UK. They did buy some.

It is also possible that they were supplied by the US.

Love the Kukhri.

09-20-2004, 04:17 PM
from what I have read the united states did supply a lot of engineering material at that time to India to keep up the pressure on the japanese on both fronts.