Indian Comforts Fund


India House
London, WC2B 1NA
United Kingdom
Date began: 
01 Dec 1939
Date ended: 
01 Dec 1945

The Indian Comforts Fund provided humanitarian relief by British women for Indian soldiers and seamen. The Fund was initiated by Viscountess Chelmsford in December 1939 to provide for the war needs of Indian troops and Indian Seamen in Europe. The Fund was maintained uninterruptedly on an ever-growing scale throughout the war years. It was closed in December 1945. The Indian High Commissioner Firoz Khan Noon made space available for the fund at India House, Aldwych.

It was a voluntary organization that at the height of its activities in 1943 had mobilized around 100,000 individual knitters, providing woollen clothing for Indian POW’s, merchant seamen and others. It made a number of appeals for funds to buy wool for distribution to women who were organizing knitting parties. Once funding was secured, wool was supplied by the Personal Service League. It also provided ‘comforts’ for the Indian Contingent in France and relief for Indian seamen survivors and released POW’s from German and Italian camps. By April 1940 the Fund also cooperated with the Merchant Navy Comfort Service.

The Fund coordinated the packing of over 1.5 million food parcels for Indian POW’s in Europe, which would be sent to the Red Cross in Geneva for distribution. It also worked together with the Indian POW reception unit in the UK. The Fund made provisions for entertainments for Indian troops in Britain by supplying gifts such as gramophone records, books, and sports materials. The Fund also provided financial assistance to the large number of Indian seamen arriving at British ports.

The work of the Fund was a team effort where Indians and Britons interacted and collaborated to alleviate the plight of Indian soldiers and sailors as POWs and while stationed in the UK. The Fund worked in cooperation with the British Red Cross, Order of St John of Jerusalem, Director of Voluntary Organisations, Shipwrecked Mariners Society, and the Missions to Seamen and also cooperated with the Indian Red Cross. It was officially recognised by the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry in 1940.

Cornelia Sorabji donated her royalties from Queen Mary's Book of India to the Fund.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Mr F. J. Adams (1940-5), Mrs Waris Ameer Ali (1940), L. S. Amery (1940-5), Duchess of Atholl (1940-5), Lady Atkinson (1942-5), Lady Benthall (1940-5), Field Marshall Lord Birdwood (1942-5), Lady Doris Blacker (1940-5), Lady Bonamjee (1940-5), Lt. General Sir Ernest Bradfield (1940-5), Captain J. J. Cameron (1940-5), Lady Chatterjee (1940-5), Dowager Viscountess Chelmsford (founder), Lady Croker (1940-5), Lady Currie (1940-5), Duchess of Devonshire (1940-2), Lady Donington (1940-5), Mrs D. N. Dutt (1940-5), Lord Erskin (1940-5), Lady Marjorie Erskine (1940-5), Miss Christian Gretton (1940-5), Mrs Gupta (1940-5), Viscountess Halifax (1940-5), Lady Flora Hastings (1940-5), Lady Hodges (1940-5), M. Azizul Huque (1942-3) (Indian High Commissioner), Mrs Husain (1940-5), Mr S. Lall (1940-3), Mrs S. Lall (1940-3), Mrs G. A. Leslie (1940-5), Lady Lloyd (1940-5), Lady MacCaw (1940-5), Lady Meek (1940-5), Lady Middleton (1940-5), Mrs James Mills (1940-5), Mrs Monahan (1940-5), Mrs John Monck (1940-5), Marie, Countess of Munster (1943-4), Mrs Nation (1940-5), Firoz Khan Noon (1940-1), Lady Pears (1940-5), Lady Runganadhan (1944-5), Samuel Runganadhan (1944-5)(Indian High Commissioner), Sir Hassan Suhrawardy (1940-3), Admiral Sir Reginald Tupper (1940-4), Miss Irene Ward, MP (1940-5), Lady Wheeler (1940-5), Marchioness of Willingdon (1940-5), Earl Winterton (1940-5), Countess Winterton (1940-5), Marquess of Zetland (1940). 

Executive Committee: Chairman: Mrs L. S. Amery (1940-5) Members: Duchess of Devonshire (1940-2), Countess of Munster (1943-4), Lady Dornington (1940-5), Lady Katherine Nicholson (1944-5), Lady Atkinson (1942-5), Lady Currie (1940-5), Lady MacCaw (1940-5), Lady Runganadhan (1944-5), Lady Wheeler (1940-5), Mrs John Monck (1940-5), Mrs D. N. Dutt (1940-5), Mrs S. Lall (1940-3), Mrs G. A. Leslie (1940-5), Mrs R. M. M. Lockhart (1943-4), Mrs James Mills (1940-5), Mrs Nanda (1943-5) Mrs Charles Stainforth (1944), Miss P. Alison (1945), Miss M. I. Goodfellow (1941-5), Miss Terry Lewis (1940-3), Lt. General Sir Ernest Bradfield (1940-5), Sir Hassan Suhrawardy (1940-3), Admiral Sir Reginald Tupper (1940-4), Mr F. J. Adams (1940-5), Colonel H. L. Barstow (1945), Captain J. J. Cameron (1940-5), Mr S. Lall (1940-3), Colonel A. Wakeham (1944).

Treasurers: C. W. Waddington (1940), Henry Wheeler (1940-5); Secretary: Mrs John Monck (1940-1), Colonel Claude Shepherd (1941-5); Dep. Secretary: H. M. Burrows (1944-5); Assistant Secretaries: Miss M. I. Goodfellow (1940), Mrs Stainforth (1941-2), Miss P. Alison (1942-4); Accountant: Mr A. M. Menon (1940-45).

Involved in events details: 
Published works: 

Shepherd, Claude, War Record of the Indian Comforts Fund, December, 1939 to December, 1945 (London: Indian Comforts Fund, 1946)


Shepherd, Claude, War Record of the Indian Comforts Fund, December, 1939 to December, 1945 (London: Indian Comforts Fund, 1946)


In the brochure published by the Fund in 1946 the Indian High Commissioner S. E. Runganadhan hails the contribution of the Indian Comforts Fund.


The Indian Comforts Fund marks a glorious chapter in the history of Indo-British relations during the war, and its mission of goodwill and practical help will ever be remembered with affection and gratitude by the people of my country.

Archive source: 

L/I/1/837, India Offica Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras