Second World War

Indian Writing


The Indian Writing magazine ran irregularly from 1940 to 1945. Ostensibly a literary magazine, Indian Writing was a platform for the radical, anti-colonial, broadly Marxist South Asian activists based in London to articulate their critique of Indo-British relations, alongside their own views on politics and culture, which would have been seen as extremist at the time.

The first issue of Indian Writing was written in 1940 with war ‘an immediate reality’ and the possibility of anti-colonial ‘revolutions’ imminent. Contributions to Indian Writing charted the Cripps mission to India, alongside a critique of the BBC’s Allied War Propaganda. Editors Iqbal Singh and Ahmed Ali forcefully voiced their objection to the use of Indian soldiers as ‘cannon fodder’ and to ‘the spectacle of innocent nations and peoples being dragged into the homicidal delirium of rival imperialist powers’ in the Second World War (Indian Writing 1.2 (1940), p. 68). In this way the magazine revealed the tensions between nationalism, anti-fascism and anti-imperialism of this period. The Book Review section of the Indian Writing magazine, served as a key space for South Asian writers like Ahmed Ali and Mulk Raj Anand to comment on each other’s novels as well as on other books on South Asia. This coverage was particularly important in the context of a broader, insular reviewing culture notably the resistance these South Asian fictional texts met from the more conservative, parochial elements of the British literary establishment, regarding their politics and use of Indian English.

Secondary works: 

Ranasinha, Ruvani, South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain: Culture in Translation (Oxford: Clarendon, 2007)


Indian Writing 1.1 (1940), p. 3

Date began: 
01 Apr 1940

As Gorky observed: 'Culture is more necessary in storm than in peace.' it is more necessary because it is precisely in the stormy periods of transition that it becomes imperative to maintain some sense of the continuity of human thought and endeavour, and even more, to understand the processes which lead to new cultural integrations.

In launching Indian Writing we take Gorky’s view. And for good reason. It does not seem altogether fantastic to suggest that we are witnessing today a significant shift of the bases of culture, that initiative in cultural matters is passing to those vast masses of humanity who have so far served only as pawns for the profit of Western Imperialism. In this respect, the awakening of India is one of the most important facts of contemporary history. No single magazine could possibly claim to represent this great movement in all its complex aspects. We only hope to interpret its specifically cultural implications. […] We are interested primarily in publishing imaginative literature which is alive with the realities of to-day.

Precise date began unknown: 
Key Individuals' Details: 

Editors: Ahmed Ali, Krishnarao Shelvankar, Iqbal Singh, Alagu Subramaniam.

Roland Hardless (business manager)


The magazine reflects the Indian Writing editors’ perceived need to literally create their own space in the form of a literary magazine, to articulate their own views on politics and culture. The magazine demonstrates London’s role as a global centre and facilitator for anti-imperialism and diasporic nationalism.


Contributors: K. Ahmed Abbas, Mulk Raj Anand, Peter Blackman, Jack Chen, Ismat Chughtai, Cedric Dover, Attia Habibullah, Sher Jung, Pieter Keuneman, Enver Kureishi, Krishna Menon, Saadat Hussain Manto, R. K. Narayan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Clemens Palme Dutt, Raja Rao, S. Raja Ratnam, Bharati Sarabhai, Rabindranath Tagore, Suresh Vaidya.

Date ended: 
01 Jul 1942
Precise date ended unknown: 
Books Reviewed Include: 

Ali, Ahmed, Twilight in Delhi. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Anand, Mulk Raj, Across the Black Waters. Reviewed by Iqbal Singh.

Barns, Margarita, The Indian Press. Reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Bromfield, Louise, Night in Bombay. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Chintamani, C. Y., Indian Politics since the Mutiny. Reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Coatman, John, India: The Road to Self-Government. Reviewed by Krishna Menon.

Hemingway, Ernest, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Indian Progressive Writers Association, Naya Adab: Anthology of Progressive Literature. Reviewed by Ahmed Ali.

Koestler, Arthur, Scum of the Earth. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Montagu, Ivor, The Traitor Class. Reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Nehru, Jawaharlal, the Unity of India. Reviewed by Clemens Palme Dutt.

Palme Dutt, Rajani, India to-day. Reviewed by Iqbal Singh.

Rao, P. Kodanda, East versus West: A denial of contrasts, reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Rilke, R. M., Selected Poems, reviewed by Iqbal Singh.

Shelvankar, Krishnarao, The Problem of India. Reviewed by Iqbal Singh.

Singh, Anup, Nehru: The Rising Star of India. Reviewed by Krishnarao Shelvankar.

Smith, Nicol, Burma Road, reviewed by Pieter Keuneman.

Spender, Stephen, The Backward Son. Reviewed by MulkRaj Anand.

Thompson, Edward, Enlist India for Freedom. Reviewed by Cedric Dover.

Zaheer, Sajjad, One Night in London. Reviewed by Mulk Raj Anand.

Zoshchenko, Michael, The Woman who could not Read. Reviewed by Iqbal Singh.


16 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN
United Kingdom

Mahinder Singh Pujji


Mahinder Singh Pujji, was a Royal Air Force pilot and an Indian Air Force officer during the Second World War. He served with RAF Squadron 43 and 258 in Britain between 1940-1.

Mahinder Singh Pujji first arrived in the UK in August 1940, responding to an advertisement in Indian newspapers to join the RAF. He was seconded to RAF depot Uxbridge on 8 October 1940, until he completed his military flying training. He was awarded his RAF Wings on 16 April 1941. He joined RAF Squadron 43, before transferring to Squadron 258 at Kenley (South of London), flying Hurricanes in sorties over the English Channel. He was part of a group of twenty four Indian RAF pilots who were selected to train in England. Of the twenty four, eighteen successfully passed their training course. Six, Pujji among them, became fighter pilots, the rest bomber pilots. He asked for permission to fly with his turban, a request which his RAF superiors granted, designing a special cap that would fit over his turban so that he could still use his headphones and oxygen mask. While in London, he was a member of the India League.

He was stationed subsequently with the RAF in North Africa in September 1941 before being transferred to the Indian Air Force, flying in operations in the North West Frontier Province between 1942-3. In December 1943 he was posted to No. 6 Squadron on the Arakan Coast in the Burma theatre, where he flew tactical reconnaissance missions. In 1944, he transferred from No. 6 Squadron to No. 4 Squadron. He was a squadron leader with the Indian Air Force in Burma 1944-5, making him one of the few Indian pilots to have served in all three theatres of war. For his outstanding leadership and courage, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He settled in the UK in the 1970s.

Date of birth: 
14 Aug 1914

Krishna Menon (through the India League), Jawaharlal Nehru, Lord Slim.

Royal Air Force, Indian Air Force.

Secondary works: 

Somerville, Christopher, Our War: How the British Commonwealth Fought the Second World War (London: Cassell Military, 2005)

Bance, Peter, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud: Sutton, 2007)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Visram, Rozina, 'Pujji, Mahinder Singh (1918–2010)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2014) []

Visram, Rozina, The History of the Asian Community in Britain (London: Wayland, 2007)

Archive source: 

Sound Archive, Imperial War Museum, London

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Mohinder Singh Pujji

Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Aug 1940
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1940-1; 1973-present


Liverpool, London, Drem (Scotland), Newham, Gravesend.

Tags for Making Britain: 

The Listener


The Listener was a weekly magazine, established in 1929 under the chairmanship of Lord Reith. It was designed to complement the BBC’s educational output and covered a wide range of topics. It drew extensively from the BBC’s broadcasting output, often reprinting talks programmes or supplementing them with further illustrations and information. The magazine was a controversial move by the BBC. Other magazine proprietors criticised the corporation for encroaching on territory beyond its remit. As a compromise, the magazine was only allowed to commission ten per cent original content and could only feature a limited amount of advertisements.

The magazine built its reputation on its intellectual and artistic output with its focus on broadcasting matters, the arts, intellectual life and politics. By 1948 it attracted a readership of 153,000. It featured contributions from a wide range of artists scientists and intellectuals, such as E. M. Forster, George Orwell, Laurence Binyon, Herbert Read, William Rothenstein and Mulk Raj Anand. In the 1940s it published many items originally broadcast to India by the BBC's Indian Section of the Eastern Service. It featured reviews of Indian authors and also provided comprehensive survey pieces on Indian art, history, and religion.

The magazine covered extensively the constitutional crises from the Round Table Conference to Indian independence with a view of providing a balanced overview of the issues. Politicians and activists from all sides were given a voice, either as part of round table discussions or articles. During the Second World War, the magazine became a useful propaganda tool, reporting extensively on the Indian contribution to the war effort.

After heavy losses the BBC decided to close down the publication in January 1991.


Watson, Francis, ‘The Case of Jamini Roy’, The Listener (9 May 1946), p. 620


Francis Watson’s article coincided with an exhibition of Roy’s work at the Arcade Gallery in 1946. He traces here the late success of the artist and discusses his artistic merit in the face of his newly-found commercial success. This orginally commissioned article (rather than a reprinted broadcast) is an example of the variety of reporting in a main-stream magazine like The Listener.

Date began: 
16 Jan 1929

He certainly abandoned the academic European traditions as unsatisfactory and irrelevant; but the other road - the road that starts with a dogmatic ‘Indianisation’ of theme and concentration on line rather than form, and ends in so many cases in meretricious insipidity – this road Jamini Roy declined to take; or rather, having followed it a little way and seen where it led, he turned back and found his own way.
He had to return only to his point of departure. When you first see a Jamini Roy painting (and you can do so in London now, for an Exhibition of his work was opened by E. M. Forster at the Arcade Gallery on 25 April), though you recognise what is loosely called the ‘primitive’ appeal, you are unlikely to think immediately of a particular example of Bengal folk-art, since it is a fairly safe assumption that you have not come across any. But, if having seen a Jamini Roy exhibition or visited his house, you should find your way to the folk-art rooms in the Ashutosh Museum at Calcutta, you will see drawings and paintings that almost bear his signature, and you will find that they have been collected from remote villages by the industrious curator...That is where he got it from; from his own people, and they got it from their fathers and from their grandfathers unto many generations.

I am not sure which I like best about Jamini Roy, the way he has created a market or his cheerful readiness to blow the bottom out of it.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Publisher: British Broadcasting Corporation

Editors: Richard S. Lambert (1929-39), Alan Thomas (until 1959),  J. R. Ackerley (Literary editor 1935-1959)


Contributors: Mulk Raj Anand, W. G. Archer, C. F. Andrews, Laurence Binyon, Edmund Blunden, H. N. Brailsford, Robert Bridges, Agatha Christie, Indira Devi of Kapurthala, Bonamy Dobree, George Dunbar, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Eric Gill, Robert Graves, Desmond Hawkins, Laurence Housman, Aldous Huxley, Julian Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, C. L. R. James, J. M. Keynes, The Aga Khan, George Lansbury, Harold Laski, John Lehmann, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Moore, Edwin Muir, Ruby Navalkar, Firoz Khan Noon, George Orwell, Herbert Read, William Rothenstein, Bertrand Russell, V. Sackville-West, George Bernard Shaw, Edith Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Stephen Spender, Cornelia Sorabji, Dylan Thomas, Edward Thompson, H. G. Wells, Rebecca West, Leonard Woolf.

Date ended: 
30 Jan 1991
Archive source: 

Biritish Library Newspapers, Colindale, London

Books Reviewed Include: 

Ali, Ahmed, Twilight in Delhi. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Anand, Mulk Raj, The Hindu View of Art. Reviewed by Herbert Read.

Anand, Mulk Raj, The Sword and the Sickle. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Anand, Mulk Raj, and  Fingh, I. (eds), Indian Short Stories. Reviewed by Sean O'Faolain.

Andrews, C. F., Mahatma Gandhi: His Own Story. Reviewed by S.K. Ratcliffe.

Menen, Aubrey, The Prevalence of Witches. Reviewed by Francis King.

Narayan, R. K., An Astrologer's Day. Reviewed by P.H. Newby.

Narayan, R. K., The Bachelor of Arts. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Narayan, R. K., The English Teacher. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Rolland, Romain, Prophets of the New India. Reviewed by S. K. Ratcliffe.


Savoy Hill
London, WC2R 0BP
United Kingdom

Indian National Army Defence Committee


The formation of the Indian National Army Defence Committee was announced at a Subhas Chandra Bose memorial meeting held by the Indian Independence Union on 22nd September 1945 at Caxton Hall  (the same location where Udham Singh assassinated Michael O'Dwyer in 1940). It was set up to help raise money for a 'Subhas Memorial Fund' to assist families and members of the Indian National Army awaiting trial in India. The Fund was opened with donations of £300.00, which had been largely raised amongst the committee. The committee was in contact with the Indian National Congress and members of the Defence Committee in India and asked for the cooperation of all Indian organizations in the UK and abroad.

The Indian National Army Defence Committee also wanted to raise awareness of the Indian National Army and their part in India's independence struggle. It held a meeting at the Indian Workers' Association in Birmingham in November 1945. The Cambridge Majlis also set up an Indian National Army Defence Council. Its president was Subrata Roy Chaudhury.

The committees sought to raise funds so that the prisoners could secure the best possible defence team in their trial. In their appeals to the Indian community in Britain the committee described the former INA members as 'true patriots who had done what they thought best in the interests of India'.

Date began: 
22 Sep 1945
Key Individuals' Details: 

Subrata Roy Chaudhury (president), D. P. Choudhury (hon. treasurer), Dr D. N. Dutt (President). Dr M. D. Thakore (hon. secretary)


Swami Avyaktananda, Mrs Radha Rani Borkar, Karan Singh Chima, Mrs May Dutt, N. Ghose, Fazal Hossain, Akbar Ali Khan (IWA), Dr K. D. Kumria (Swaraj House), Mohan Lall, Ali Mohamed, Chai Jan Mohamed, Nianat Ali Nur, Dr K.M. Pardhy, Dr D. R. Prem, Maini Jagdish Rai, Dr Diwan Singh, D. V. Thamankar, Dr C. B. Vakil, Dr Sorab B. Warden.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/770, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras


46 Museum Street
London, WC1A 1JL
United Kingdom

Claude Auchinleck


Claude John Eyre Auchinleck was born into a military family in 1884. He attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and passed with marks just high enough for a career in the Indian Army. In 1904, he joined the 62nd Punjabis. Auchinleck was renowned for his rapport with Indian soldiers and showed an aptitude for learning Indian languages which made him very popular among ordinary Indian soldiers. During the First World War, Auchinleck served as a captain in Egypt, defending the Suez Canal, before being stationed in Mesopotamia, where he was subsequently promoted to the rank of Brigade Major. After the end of the war, his career stalled. He attended the Imperial Defence College in 1927, and was an instructor at the Staff College in Quetta from 1930 to 1932. In 1933, he became Commander of the Peshawar Brigade, and in 1936 Deputy Chief of the General Staff in India.

Auchinleck was heavily involved in the modernization of the Indian Army and very much in favour of Indianisation, replacing British Officers with Indian officers. He was sent to England in 1940 to help with the preparation of the 4th corps, which was poasted to France, before moving to Norway. Here his fraught relationship with Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, emerged, with Auchinleck insisting on more supplies, artillery and air cover. Auchinleck’s insistence was correct as the under-equipment and mismanagement of the campaign led to the defeat of Norway. On his return, Auchinleck was instructed with the formation of the 5th corps for the defence of the south of England in case of a German invasion. In July 1940, he was promoted to the rank of general officer. His antagonistic relationship with Montgomery, who served under him then, dates back to his time at southern command. In November 1940, Auchinleck was promoted to the rank of General and appointed Commander in Chief of the Indian Army as India’s strategic importance in the war effort increased. Churchill later decided to appoint Auchinleck as Commander in Chief of the Middle East to relieve Wavell, swapping their roles in June 1941 after the failure of Operation ‘Battleaxe’. Churchill was impatient for a successful campaign in North Africa, however Auchinleck forewarned him that the inadequate equipment and training of the soldiers would make the success of such an operation doubtful. Auchinleck’s perseverance led to the successful operation at Tobruk in November 1941. However, a series of misjudgments on his part resulted in a crushing defeat in June 1942, with the British Army being pushed back to El Alamein. This led to Churchill’s decision to remove him from his post, replacing him with Montgomery.

Auchinleck returned to the post of Commander in Chief of the Indian Army on Wavell’s appointment as Viceroy of India in June 1943. Auchinleck organized the expansion of the Indian Army as well as the provision of bases, troops and supplies for the campaign in Burma to counter the Japanese attacks. In 1946, Auchinleck was promoted to Field Marshall. Auchinleck remained in India until 1947 and was in charge of preparing the Indian army for the handover of power. Auchinleck was committed to the idea of a united India and had hoped that the Indian Army would remain undivided; however, he quickly became aware that partition and the division of the army were inevitable. Auchinleck needed to ensure that the command structures remained intact once all British officers returned to the UK after independence. His efforts were hampered by Mountbatten’s decision to bring the date of independence and partition forward from 1 June 1948 to August 1947. The division of the Indian Army as well as religious conflict within the army itself rendered it ineffectual to counter the partition violence and to restore law and order. Auchinleck stayed on as Supreme Commander of the Indian and Pakistan forces after independence. As his relationship with Mountbatten grew increasingly hostile, he was asked to resign in September 1947. He left India in December 1947. In 1968, he retired to Marrakesh where he died in 1981.

Published works: 

Operations in the Middle East from 1 November 1941 to 15 August 1942 (London: H.M.S.O., 1948)


Auchinleck, Claude, 'Preface', in J. G. Elliott, A Roll of Honour: The Story of the Indian Army, 1939-1945 (London: Cassell, 1965) 

Date of birth: 
21 Jun 1884

Leopold Amery, Aga Khan, Clement Attlee, Ayub Khan, Ernest Bevin, Winston Churchill, Stafford Cripps, Lord Curzon, M. K. Gandhi, Firoz Khan Noon, Louis Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, Francis Younghusband, Lord Zetland.


For many years now I have wished that the story of the old Indian Army in the Second World War might be written, so that the people of this country could learn what they owe to those soldiers who fought for them against the Germans, the Italians and the Japanese. Without their aid, the war could not have been won.


The differences between the various races and classes which made up the Army of the British Raj were marked indeed, but after a life-long association with them in war and peace, I am of the opnion that, given good officers, there is little to choose between them. When well led, they have proven themselves the equal of any soldiers in the world: well led they always were.


It is well that we should remember our debt to them and try to retain that mutual affection and esteem which was so steadily built up through two centuries of service in many parts of the world.

Secondary works: 

Cornell, John, Auchinleck: A Biography of Field-Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck (London: Cassell, 1959) 

Elliott, J. G., A Roll of Honour: The Story of the Indian Army, 1939-1945 (London: Cassell, 1965) 

Greenwood, A. A., Field-Marshal Auchinleck (Durham: Pentland Press, 1990)

Parkinson, Roger, The Auck: Achinleck, the Victor at Alamein (London: Hart-Davies Mac Gibbon, 1977) 

Warner, Philip, Auchinleck: The Lonely Soldier (London: Sphere, 1982)

Archive source: 

Private papers, University of Manchester

Correspondence with Sir Thomas Riddell-Webster, Imperial War Museum, London

 Mss Eur D 1196, Letters to R. A. Newman, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras


Involved in events: 

First World War

Second World War

Indian Army Campaigns in North Africa, Middle East, Burma

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
23 Mar 1981
Location of death: 
Marrakesh, Morocco

Cripps Mission

22 Mar 1942
Event location: 

Delhi, India


From 22 March to 11 April 1942, Stafford Cripps, a member of the War Cabinet, was dispatched to India to discuss the British Government’s Draft Declaration on the Constitution of India with representative Indian leaders from all parties. The Cripps Mission failed and the issue of India’s constitution was postponed until the end of the war.

By early 1942, Japan had made advances in South-East Asia and they were on the border of India. The British Government was keen to secure the full cooperation of India in the effort against the Japanese. China and the United States, who had entered the war at this point, were also keen on India’s full participation in the war. Mounting pressure from China and the United States, as well as from the Labour Party in Britain, led Prime Minister Winston Churchill to send Stafford Cripps to India to discuss the Draft Declaration, as settled by the War Cabinet and its Committee between 28 February to 9 March 1942, containing proposals to resolve the Indian question of a new constitution and self-government.

Cripps arrived in Delhi on 22 March 1942 where he first met with Viceroy Linlithgow and later discussed the Draft Declaration with a great number of Indian leaders. Whether Cripps was there to negotiate the Declaration or to persuade the Indian leaders to accept it is unclear and, in fact, a reflection of the different attitudes between Cripps and Clement Attlee on the one side and Viceroy Linlithgow, Winston Churchill and Lord Amery on the other.

According to the preamble of the Draft Declaration, the object was ‘the creation of a new Indian Union which shall constitute a Dominion associated with the United Kingdom and other Dominions by a common allegiance to the Crown but equal to them in every respect, in no way subordinate in any aspects of its domestic and external affairs’. The Declaration also stated that any province not willing to accept the constitution would be given ‘the same full status as the Indian Union’, designed to appeased the Muslim League’s call for Pakistan. The Indian National Congress, however, was not satisfied with the fact that its demand for immediate complete independence had been rejected. Furthermore, Congress did not accept the provision that ‘His Majesty’s Government must inevitably bear the responsibility for and retain the control and direction of the Defence of India as part of their world war effort’. The Congress Working Committee rejected the Declaration on 7 April 1942. On 9 April, Cripps made one last effort to persuade the Indian leaders to accept the Declaration, but once again Congress declined. United States President Roosevelt tried to persuade Cripps to renew his efforts, but Cripps had already left India.

The failure of the Cripps Mission is generally attributed to a variety of factors, especially  the constraints within which Cripps had to operate. Some analysts see the Mission merely as an appeasement of Chinese and American concerns with British imperialism. Gandhi seized upon the failure of the Mission and called for voluntary British withdrawal from India. It resulted in the 'Quit India' Movement.

Sir Richard Stafford Cripps
People involved: 

Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyar, Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Leopold S. Amery (Secretary of State for India), Madav Shrihari Aney, Clement Attlee, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Allah Bakhsh, Winston Churchill, Stafford Cripps, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Fazlul Huq, Dr. Mukund Ramrao Jayakar, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Colonel Louis Johnson (US representative in India), Narayan Malhar Joshi, Dr. Khan Sahib, Bal Gangadhar Kher, V. T. Krishnamachari, Viceroy Linlithgow, Jamnadas Mehta, Sir Homi Peroshaw Mody, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerji, Ramaswami Mudaliar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Khwaja Nazimuddin, Firoz Khan Noon, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Rao Bahadur M. C. Rajah, Chakravrti Rajagopalachari, Theodore Roosevelt, Manabendra Nath Roy, Syed Mohammad Saadullah, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Nalini Ranjan Sarkar, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Sir Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad, ChiangKai-Shek.

Published works: 

India Office, Great Britain, and The Right Hon. Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, India-Lord Privy Seal's (Sir Stafford Cripps') Mission: Statement and Draft Declaration by His Majesty's Government with Correspondence and Resolutions Connected Therewith, Etc. [Parliamentary Papers, Session 1941-42, vol. 8] (London, 1942)

Secondary works: 

Bakshi, S. R., Congress and Quit India Movement (New Delhi: Criterion Publications, 1986)

Baume, Eric, India! We Call on the People of Britain!! (London: India League, 1942)

Bryant, Christopher, The First Modern Chancellor (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997)

Burgess, Simon, Stafford Cripps: A Political Life (London: Gollancz, 1999)

Chakravarty, Shachi, Quit India Movement: A Study (Delhi: New Century Publications, 2002)

Chatterji, Prashanto K., The Cripps Mission, 22 March-11 April 1942: An In-Depth Study (Kolkata: Minerva Associates (Publications), 2004) 

Clarke, Peter, The Cripps Version: The Life of Sir Stafford Cripps (London: Allen Lane, 2002)

Coupland, Reginald, Sir, The Cripps Mission (London: Oxford University Press, 1942)

Goyal, P. K., Battle of India's Freedom Movement (Delhi: Vista International Publishing House, 2005)

Harrison, Agatha, and Bailey, Gerald, India, 1939-1942: A Summary of Events Leading Up To and Including the Cripps Mission (London: National Peace Council, 1942)

India League Executive Committee, India and the British Proposals (London: India League, 1942)

Mansergh, Nicholas, and Lumly, E. W. R., The Transfer of Power, 1942-7: Constitutional Relations between Britain and India (London: H. M. S. O., 1970)

Mishra, B. K., The Cripps Mission: A Reappraisal (New Delhi: Concept, 1982)

Nehru, Jawaharlal, Jawaharlal Nehru on the Cripps Mission: An Authoritative Statement on the Breakdown of the Negotiations at New Delhi (London: India League, 1942)

Panigrahi, D. N., Quit India and the Struggle for Freedom (New Delhi: Vikas, 1984)

Patel, Harbans, Cripps Mission: The Whole Truth (New Delhi: Indus Pub. Co., 1990)

Patil, V. T., Jawaharlal Nehru and the Cripps Mission (Delhi: BR Pub. Corp., 1984)

Singh, Bhim Sen, The Cripps Mission: A Handiwork of British Imperialism (New Delhi: Usha, 1979)

Subrahmanyam, M., Why Cripps Failed, 2nd ed. edn (New Delhi: Hindustan Times Press, 1943)

Weigold, Auriol, Churchill, Roosevelt, and India: Propaganda during World War II (London: Routledge, 2008)

Wolpert, Stanley A., Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India (New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Tags for Making Britain: 

Indian Comforts Fund


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.

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.

Date began: 
01 Dec 1939

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.

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).

Date ended: 
01 Dec 1945
Archive source: 

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


India House
London, WC2B 1NA
United Kingdom
Involved in events details: 

1942 Quit India Movement

08 Aug 1942
Event location: 

Gowalia Tank Maidan, Bombay, India


On 8 August 1942 at the All-India Congress Committee session in Bombay, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched the 'Quit India' movement. The next day, Gandhi, Nehru and many other leaders of the Indian National Congress were arrested by the British Government. Disorderly and non-violent demonstrations took place throughout the country in the following days.

By the middle of 1942, Japanese troops were approaching the borders of India. Pressure was mounting from China, the United States and  Britain to solve the issue of  the future status of India before the end of the war. In March 1942, the Prime Minister dispatched Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the War Cabinet, to India to discuss the British Government's Draft Declaration. The draft granted India Dominion status after the war but otherwise conceded few changes to the British Government Act of 1935. The draft was unacceptable to the Congress Working Committee who rejected it. The failure of the Cripps Mission further estranged the Congress and the British Government.

Gandhi seized upon the failure of the Cripps Mission, the advances of the Japanese in South-East Asia and the general frustration with the British in India. He called for a voluntary British withdrawal from India. From 29 April to 1 May 1942, the All India Congress Committee assembled in Allahabad to discuss the resolution of the Working Committee. Although Gandhi was absent from the meeting, many of his points were admitted into the resolution: the most significant of them being the commitment to non-violence. On 14 July 1942, the Congress Working Committee met again at Wardha and resolved that it would authorise Gandhi to take charge of the non-violent mass movement. The Resolution, generally referred to as the 'Quit India' resolution, was to be approved by the All India Congress Committee meeting in Bombay in August.

On 7 to 8 August 1942, the All India Congress Committee met in Bombay and ratified the 'Quit India' resolution. Gandhi called for 'Do or Die'. The next day, on 9 August 1942, Gandhi, members of the Congress Working Committee and other Congress leaders were arrested by the British Government under the Defence of India Rules. The Working Committee, the All India Congress Committee and the four Provincial Congress Committees were declared unlawful associations under the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908. The assembly of public meetings were prohibited under rule 56 of the Defence of India Rules. The arrest of Gandhi and the Congress leaders led to mass demonstrations  throughout India. Thousands were killed and injured in the wake of the 'Quit India' movement. Strikes were called in many places. The British swiftly suppressed many of these demonstrations by mass detentions; more than 100,000 people were imprisoned.

The 'Quit India' movement, more than anything, united the Indian people against British rule. Although most demonstrations had been suppressed by 1944, upon his release in 1944 Gandhi continued his resistance and went on a 21-day fast. By the end of the Second World War, Britain's place in the world had changed dramatically and the demand for independence could no longer be ignored.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
People involved: 

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Subhas Chandra Bose, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Asoka Mehta, Jaya Prakas Narayan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Chakravarti Rajgopalachari.

Published works: 

Gandhi, Mahatma, Quit India, ed. by R. K. Prabhu and U. R. Rao (Bombay: Padma Publications, 1942)

Secondary works: 

Bakshi, Rakesh Ranjan, Quit India Movement in U. P.: Sabotage, Bomb, and Conspiracy Cases (Sitapur: NP Publishers, 1992) 

Bakshi, S. R., Congress and Quit India Movement (New Delhi: Criterion Publications, 1986)

Basavapunnaiah, M., Quit India Call and the Role of the Communists: A Reply to Arun Shourie (New Delhi: National Book Centre, 1984)

Bhaskaran, Krishna, Quit India Movement: A People's Revolt in Maharashtra (Mumbai: Himalaya Publishing House, 1999)

Bhuyan, Arun Chandra, The Quit India Movement: The Second World War and Indian Nationalism (New Delhi: Manas Publications, 1975)

Chakrabarty, Bidyut, Local Politics and Indian Nationalism: Midnapur, 1919-1944 (New Delhi: Manohar, 1997)

Chakravarty, Shachi, Quit India Movement: A Study (Delhi: New Century Publications, 2002)

Chaudhari, K. K., Quit India Revolution: The Ethos of Its Central Direction (Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1996)

Chopra, P. N., Historic Judgement On Quit India Movement: Justice Wickenden's Report (Delhi: Konark Publishers, 1989)

Chopra, P. N., Quit India Movement: British Secret Report (Faridabad: Thomson Press, 1976)

Congress Responisibility for the Disturbances, 1942-43 (Delhi: Manager of Publications, 1943)

Desai, Sanjiv P., Calendar of the 'Quit India' Movement in the Bombay Presidency (Bombay: Department of Archives, Government of Maharashtra, 1995)

Dwivedi, Surendranath, Untold Story of August Revolution (Delhi: Ajanta Publications, 1993)

Goyal, P. K., Battle of India's Freedom Movement (Delhi: Vista International Publishing House, 2005)

Hutchins, Francis G., India's Revolution: Gandhi and the Quit India Movement (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973)

Hutchins, Francis G., Spontaneous Revolution: The Quit India Movement (Delhi: Manohar Book Service, 1971)

Jana, Anil Kumar, Quit India Movement in Bengal: A Study of Contai Subdivision (Delhi: Indian Publishers' Distributors, 1996)

Kamath, Suryanath U., Quit India Movement in Karnataka (Bangalore: Lipi Prakashana, 1988)

Kamtekar, Indivar, What Caused the 'Quit India' Movement? (Calcutta: Indian Institute of Management, 1990)

Kumar, Ravindra, Champaran to Quit India Movement (New Delhi: Mittal, 2002)

Limaye, Madhu, The August Struggle: An Appraisal of Quit India Movement (Bombay: Sindhu Publications, 1993)

Limaye, Sirubhau, Nau Ogasta (Pune: Manasanmana Prakasana, 1996)

Maity, Pradyot Kumar, Quit India Movement in Bengal and the Tamralipta Jatiya Sarkar (Tumluk, Purba Medinipur: Purvadri Prakasani, 2002)

Malhotra, S. L., From Civil Disobedience to Quit India: Gandhi and the Freedom Movement in Punjab and Haryana, 1932-1942 (Chandigarh: Punjab University Publication Bureau, 1979)

Mathur, Y. B., Quit India Movement (Delhi: Pragati Publications, 1979)

Mehta, Chitra P., I Fought for My Country's Freedom: Being an Inspiring and Instructive Story of the Part Played by a Young Non-Violent Soldier in the Historic Indian Struggle for Freedom of 1942-44 (Bombay: Hamara Hindoostan Publications, 1946)

Naidu, C. M., Mahatma Gandhi's Leadership and Quit India Movement in Coastal India (Visakhapatnam: C. M. Naidu, 1996)

Nimbkar, Krishnabai, Pages from a Quit India Freedom Fighter's Diary (1944-45) (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1996)

Pandey, Gyanendra, The Indian Nation in 1942 (Calcutta: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta & K. P. Bagchi, 1988)

Panigrahi, D. N., Quit India and the Struggle for Freedom (New Delhi: Vikas, 1984)

Pati, Biswamoy, Turbulent Times, India, 1940-44 (Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1998)

Patil, V. T., Gandhi, Nehru and the Quit India Movement (Delhi: B. R. Pub. Corp., 1984)

Pattanayaka, Jagannatha, Landmarks of Quit India Movement in Orissa (Cuttack: Orissa State Freedom Fighters' Samity, 1992)

Ramu, P. S., Gandhi-Subhas and 'Quit India' (Delhi: S. S. Publishers, 1995)

Ramu, P. S., Prelude to 'Quit India': Home Rule to Satyagraha (Delhi: S. S. Publishers, 1996)

Rath, Bijay Chandra, Quit India Movement in Orissa (Cuttack: Arya Prakashan, 1994)

Roy, Pankaj Kumar, The Quit India Movement in Bihar: The Special Reference to the Old Division of Bhagalpur (Delhi: Capital Publishing House, 1991)

Sarkar, Kalyan Kumar, The 'Quit India' Movement in the District of Nadia (Calcutta: Barnali, 1988)

Sengupta, Syamalendu, and Gautam Chatterjee, Secret Congress Broadcasts and Storming Railway Tracks during Quit India Movement (New Delhi: Navrang, 1988) 

Sharma, Alka, History of Modern India: The Quit India Movement (Delhi: H. K. Publications, 1992)

Shourie, Arun, 'The Only Fatherland': Communists, 'Quit India', and the Sovjet Union (New Delhi: ASA Publications, 1991)

Shukla, Vivekananda, Rebellion of 1942: Quit India Movement (Delhi: H. K. Publishers and Dsitributors, 1989)

Thomas, Anthony, Mahatma Gandhi and the Communal Problem: From the Khalifat Movement to Quit India (New Delhi: Indian Social Institute, 1983)

The Transfer of Power, 1942-7 (London: H. M. S. O., 1971)

Venkataramani, M. S., Quit India: The American Reponse to the 1942 Struggle  (New Delhi: Vikas, 1979)

Wolpert, Stanley, Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India (New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Zaidi, A. M., Defying a Distant King: A Study of the Quit India Movement (New Delhi: Publications Department, Indian Institute of Applied Political Research, 1986)

Zaidi, A. M., The Way Out to Freedom: An Enquiry Into the Quit India Movement Conducted by Participants (New Delhi: Orientalia, 1973)

Second World War (1939-1945)

01 Sep 1939
End date: 
15 Aug 1945
Event location: 

Italy, Greece, Sicily, France, Britain, Germany, Middle East, North Africa, Burma, Malaya, India, Far East, Pacific


As in the First World War, Indian soldiers were called upon by Britain to help in the war effort. Despite the constitutional fall-out from Britain’s declaration of war on behalf of India, without prior consultation of Indian representatives, Britain could nevertheless rely on India’s support. The massive involvement of men and women from India in Britain's war effort and her allies has remained a marginalized story of the Second World War. Indian soldiers provided manpower, equipment and auxiliary support in theatres of war throughout the world. Their contribution was vital to keep the supply lines to Britain open and to defend her borders at home and in the empire.

An Indian contingent provided vital backup to the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940 and these mule transport companies were evacuated at Dunkirk and received praise from British officers for their discipline and exemplary conduct in the midst of chaos. They were stationed in Britain until 1943 to provide vital back-up on the home front. South Asians in Britain such as Cedric Dover and Sudhindra Nath Ghose worked as ARP Wardens in Civil Defence. Indian pilots such as Mahinder Singh Pujji, one of seven fighter pilots chosen to join the RAF, flew Hurricanes, engaging German aircraft in dogfights over the English Channel. He was one of 24 Indian Air Force pilots sent to Britain in September 1940 to fly with the RAF (including four other Sikh pilots: Shivdev Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Tirlochan Singh and Manmohan Singh). Tirlochan Singh and Air Marshal Shivdev Singh flew bombers, the latter making twenty-two operational flights over Germany and later commanding an Indian Air Force squadron in Burma. The Royal Air Force needed to make up a shortage in pilots by actively recruiting personnel from across the Commonwealth. It dispensed with the colour bar of the armed forces that stipulated that only ‘British subjects of pure European descent’ could join. After October 1939 people from across the Commonwealth, regardless of nationality or race became eligible to join the RAF. By the end of the Second World War, over 17,500 such men and women had been recruited, serving in a variety of roles. A further 25,000 served in the Royal Indian Air Force.

In addition to meeting her own requirements, India’s new factories maintained a regular supply of vital war materials to her Allies. Textiles were sent to 15 countries. India would supply 37,000 of the 50,000 different textile articles required by the United Nations in the war. India was the third largest consignor of supplies to Australia for the Pacific war. Russia and China also received much war material from India.

South Asian merchant seamen living around the ports of London, Cardiff, Liverpool and South Shields also played a significant role. These sailors helped to ensure that the supply lines to Britain remained open and provided vital manpower often working under atrocious conditions for less pay than their white counterparts.

The Indian Army played a major part in the operations in Italy, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, East Africa and the Far East. The Fourteenth Army in Burma was the largest single army in the world. Its battle front of 700 miles was approximately as long as the Russian front against Germany. Of the total force of 1,000,000 men employed in Burma ( S.E.A.C.), 700,000 were Indians. By the end of the war, the Indian Army won 31 Victoria Crosses. In all, 4,028 awards for gallantry were made. In WWII the Indian Army suffered 24,338 killed, 64,354 wounded and 11,754 missing.

Secondary works: 

Bance, Peter, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud: Sutton, 2007)

Menezes, S. L., Fidelity and Honour: The Indian Army from the Seventeenth to the Twenty-first Century, rev. ed. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Prasad, Bisheshwar (general ed.), Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War (Combined Inter-Services Historical Section (India & Pakistan))

Somerville, Christopher, Our War: How the British Commonwealth Fought the Second World War (London: Cassell Military, 2005)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)


Oral Archives No. 2/6, British Library, St Pancras


This recording from the British Library oral archive contains an interview with General Auchinleck, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, 1943-5. He also commanded Indian troops during the campaign in North Africa.


I think the English never cared; the English who lived in England, the politicians especially, I think they never took any interest in India at all. I think they used it…They couldn’t have come through both wars if the hadn’t had the Indian Army...I think they never really understood it.


Auchinleck's remarks sum up the British attitude towards the Indian contributions during the war. While there was much propaganda material available during the war, explaining and highlighting the Indian contributions to the allied war effort, their contributions were soon forgotten after the war and the myth that 'England stood alone' was perpetuated in historical accounts of the Second World War.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/8 series, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras:

L/PJ/8/503-536 India and the War, constitutional crisis arising from Governor General’s declaration, 17 October 1939

L/PJ/8/639 Subhas Chandra Bose disappearance and Death

L/PJ/12 series, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras:

L/PJ/12/630 Indian seamen, reports of unrest, welfare and union activities, November 1939 - January 1945

L/PJ/12/643 Indian industrial trainees under the Bevin scheme at Letchworth, Herefordshire, political influence by activists in UK, May 1941 - August 1943

L/PJ/12/659 Indian civilians and prisoners of war suspected of collaboration with Nazis; treatment and welfare, January 1944-1945

L/PJ/12/762 Indian prisoners of war in Europe, 1942-1943

L/PJ/12/763 Indian prisoners of war in Europe, January - December 1945

L/PJ/12/764 Treatment of Indian collaborators, October 1945 - April 1947

L/PJ/12/765 Collaborators in Germany: arrangements for repatriation and passport facilities, August - December 1946

L/PJ/12/766 Collaborators in Germany: arrangements for repatriation and passport facilities, January 1947 - January 1949

L/PJ/12/ 768 Indian collaborators: passport facilities for the UK, March 1947 - January 1948

L/PJ/12/769 Reports of interrogations of Indian prisoners of war and civilians captured in Europe and Far East, August 1945 - April 1946

L/PJ/12/770 Formation and activities of Indian National Army Defence Committee in the UK, October - November 1945

L/PJ/12/771 DIB report and proposal on treatment of members of Indian National Army, November - December 1945

L/I/1 series, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras:

L/I/1/1142 War history prepared by Bureau of Public Information

L/I/1/1122 Treatment of Indian news by the BBC 1942

L/I/1/1075 India’s representatives at the imperial war cabinet and pacific war council

L/I/1/1047 Prime Minister’s message to the Viceroy on the 4th Indian division and visit of a contingent to the UK, 1943-44

L/I/1/1048 Imperial War Graves Commission; publication of important announcements

L/I/1/1039 Broadcasting by Indian Army Officers: arrangements for liaison with War Office, 1944

L/I/1/1034 Honours, 1941-44

L/I/1/1035 Indian Army 1939-47

L/I/1/1036 Formation of Indian Army medical corps, 1943

L/I/1/1005 Suggestion that Mrs K. Bhatia visit UK to speak to women’s organizations

L/I/1/990 Question of bringing an Indian officer from Tunis to UK to lecture, 1943

L/I/1/1000 Proposal to bring Indian speakers to the UK, 1942-44

L/I/1/1001 Press cuttings on Indian speakers in UK, 1943-44

L/I/1/978 Bevin Trainee Scheme

L/I/1/48 Indian societies in the UK, 1933-46

L/I/1/50 India League, 1932-39

L/I/1/122Teaching of Indian history in British schools, 1941-45

L/I/1/124 Education about India in England

L/I/1/198 military (general and misc), 1938-41

L/I/1/540 Royal Indian Navy, 1934-39

L/I/1/542 Bibliography relating to India, 1942-48

L/I/1/836 India’s War Effort, 1941-42

L/I/1/837 India’s War effort, 1943-46

L/I/1/840 Indian Seamen, 1941-45

L/I/1/842 national war front 1943-46

L/I/1/843 Pamphlets, 1940-43

L/I/1/854 India and the war, 1945-47

L/I/1/857 MOI illustrated pamphlet on India’s war effort, 1943-48

L/I/1/858 Military pamphlets,1944-45

L/I/1/877 Muslim attitude to the war, 1940-41

L/I/1/903 Illustrated booklet ‘India at War’, 1941-42

L/I/1/904 France and the war, 1940-48

L/I/1/905 photographs (general), 1939-48

L/I/1/907-911 War Publicity in India by Photography

L/Mil series, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras:

L/Mil/17/5/4247-4285 India and WWII

L/Mil/17/5/4263 (Microfilm Misc 742) Pamphlet: India and the War 1939-1945, The Facts

L/Mil/17/5/4267 info on demobilisation of the Indian Army after WWII

L/Mil/17/5/4272 Pamphlet: Defence head quarters

Battle for and Evacuation of Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo)

26 May 1940
End date: 
04 Jun 1940
Event location: 

Beaches and harbour of Dunkirk


Four contingents of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps were sent to support the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940. There was a need for animal transport companies to help with the supply of troops, as the British Army had disbanded its animal transport companies after the First World War. The British, French and Canadian Forces were cut off by advancing German troops in their push towards the Channel. The soldiers retreated to the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk from where 338,226 were evacuated, among them three contingents of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps, while one contingent was taken prisoner by German forces.

The Indian troops were subsequently stationed in various locations in the UK and received press and publicity coverage. They stayed in the UK until the end of 1943 to help on the home front. Their presence is not well documented in historical writing, however newspaper coverage and photographic evidence held at the Imperial War Museum attests to their presence. Their conduct is invariably praised, especially their bravery and discipline amidst the chaos at Dunkirk. In many ways, the Indian Army Service Corps contribution marks the beginning of India’s significant contribution to the Second World War and precedes the arrival of twenty-four Indian pilots who would train at RAF Cranwell in September 1940 to join the RAF.

Archive source: 

Imperial War Museum


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