Where did the millions of Indian soldiers who joined the British army go after India’s independence?
As a populous country, India has the world’s leading paper military force. Especially during the Second World War, India contributed 2.5 million soldiers and more than 6 million logistics personnel to the suzerain Britain. So, where did the millions of Indian troops in the past go after the war?
As a populous country, India has the world’s leading paper military force. According to statistics, India’s current standing army is about 1.45 million, making it the third largest armed force in the world. However, this huge army is not the pinnacle of the South Asian subcontinent’s mobilization capabilities. After all, during World War II, India contributed 2.5 million soldiers and more than 6 million logistics personnel to the suzerain Britain. So, where did the millions of Indian troops in the past go after the war?
Indian soldiers were driven to the most dangerous battlefields with low salaries. Before Lord Kitchener became the Governor of India
in 1903, the British armed forces in the South Asian subcontinent belonged to Mumbai, Madras and The three provincial jurisdictions of Calcutta and a number of states with limited self-government.
The first thing Lord Kitchener did after taking office was to carry out drastic military reforms, and within a short period of time, he combined various people under his command into a new army. After some training by Lord Kitchener, the British Indian Army also became an important support for the British army in World War I and was highly appreciated by the British. In order to encourage them to continue to work hard, the British government specially awarded Victoria Medals to 12 Indian officers and soldiers who died on the battlefield.
However, behind the more than a dozen “loyal and patriotic” Indian soldier models set up by the British government, there are more than 100,000 dead and injured Indian corpses. In wars, Indian soldiers were often driven to the most dangerous battlefields by British officers with the cheapest military pay and the worst food.
The poor living environment made Indian soldiers choose to rise up. On February 15, 1915, the 5th Infantry Regiment of the British Indian Army mutinied in Singapore due to long-term poor food and the fear of being transferred to the front line.
It was due to a series of turmoil in the Indian army such as the “Singapore Mutiny” that after the end of World War I, the British government began to abolish the British Indian Army on a large scale, canceling the previous plan to deploy Indian troops in the UK. Ironically, after the end of World War I, the number of Indians entering the British mainland increased rapidly. Because of the large number of young and old casualties, Britain urgently needs to replenish a large number of labor force, so a large number of Indian laborers went to Britain.
Seeing that the British Empire is increasingly inseparable from the human resources of the South Asian subcontinent, Indian elites have also begun to make their own demands. Under their instigation, the British government made many concessions to India, including selecting a group of elites from Indian youths to serve as commanders of the British Indian Army. At this time, the future Indian Field Marshal-Kodendra Madappa Kalyappa (posthumously awarded the rank of Field Marshal by the Indian government in 1986) was one of the earliest Indian-origin officers.
The Marshal’s Way of Kariapa
Kariapa was born in the state of Karnataka in southwestern India. In 1917, tired of playing hockey and tennis in college, he resolutely chose to join the army. After completing a brief training at the military academy, he was sent out to the front line as a temporary officer.
In 1925, the British government arranged for Indian military officers such as Cariappa to conduct a global tour to demonstrate the British suzerain’s education and equal treatment of the aborigines in the colonies. However, in the eyes of many British people, Cariappa in military uniform is still just a lowly servant.
Facing Britain’s ridicule of being “black and smelly”, Cariapa chose to endure. It wasn’t until the outbreak of World War II that Cariappa, who had been promoted to colonel, openly launched an attack and complained to the British government about the differential treatment of Indian officers. Cariapa’s move seems to be unplanned, but in fact, he is sure that Britain is in the quagmire of war at the moment and has to rely heavily on the reality of the Indian army. Sure enough, Cariapa’s indictment worked, and he’s been on the rise ever since.
Interestingly, Cariapa served mainly in deputy positions such as “Assistant Quartermaster” in World War II, and hardly ever independently commanded any combat units. However, in view of Cariapa’s successful completion of various logistical tasks, the British government still awarded him the Order of the British Empire.
In 1946, Cariapa was promoted to brigadier general. However, at this time, the British Indian Army already had a large number of military chiefs who started from the ranks, and the British government, which was weakening sharply after the war, was eager to withdraw from India’s defense. Kariapa was quickly surpassed by some rising stars, such as Colonel Ayub Khan spent less than a year under Kariapa before he was promoted to brigadier general. A few months later, with the introduction of the “Mountbatten Plan” for the “India-Pakistan Partition”, Kariappa, who chose to join the Indian Army, and Ayub Khan, who joined the Pakistan Army, parted ways and met each other shortly thereafter.
The British Indian Army was divided by India and Pakistan
On the evening of June 3, 1947, the All India Radio broadcast the news of the partition of India and Pakistan. The Governor-General of India, Louis Mountbatten, set the date for August 15.
On August 15, India became independent and realized the transfer of power. For the Indian army, the problems they have to face have just begun. After hundreds of years of colonization and enslavement, the Indian navy, land and air forces were all under the control of the British, and they were separated during the Partition of India and Pakistan. By the time of India’s independence, they could not even find a general who could lead an army alone, and more than 10,000 British officers held command positions above the division level. So for a long time thereafter, Auchinleck, the former commander-in-chief of the British Indian Army, remained as the commander-in-chief of the Indian and Pakistani armies as a British.
In addition, the size of the British Indian army had already been reduced by this time. In the end, the Indian Army was divided into 15 infantry divisions, 19 armored regiments, 18.5 artillery regiments, and 61 engineering regiments under the southern and eastern command of the former British Indian Army, plus 6 military factories. In terms of the air force, India is divided into 7 fighter squadrons and 1 transport aircraft squadron.
In terms of the navy, 21% of naval officers and 47% of sailors in the former Royal Indian Navy chose to join the Pakistan Navy. As a result, after the post-war layoffs and the partition of India and Pakistan, the number of personnel in the newly established Indian Navy was greatly reduced, with only 672 officers and 5,008 sailors. In order to maintain the operation of its national defense forces, India was forced to “borrow” naval officers from the United Kingdom.
It is under the circumstances of such independence, which does not seem to be completely independent, that large-scale riots and conflicts occurred on the border between India and Pakistan. Religious vendettas, famine, and plague caused about one million deaths and 12 million people were left homeless. Refugees occupied the streets and alleys, and it took more than 10 years for them to be gradually resettled.