Showing posts from October, 2015

First Indian to Win the Victoria Cross: Khudadad Khan


First Indian to Win the Victoria Cross: Khudadad Khan During the First Battle of Ypres on the 31st October 1914, Khudadad Khan became both the first Indian and the first Muslim to win the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest decoration for gallantry.  Khan was a sepoy (private) of the 129th Duke of Connaught's OwnBaluchis a regiment of the British Indian Army raised in the Punjab Province of British India, present-day Pakistan.  A photograph of the still recovering Khudadad Khan in a January 1915 edition of the Daily Mirror (source) Khan was part of the first Indian Force to reach Europe in autumn 1914, on the 31st October his battalion was in action near the Belgian village of Hollebeke, just south of Ypres.  His medal citation describes Khan’sact of bravery in the face of a dogged German attack: “On 31 October 1914, at Hollebeke in Belgium, the British officer in charge of the …

Firearms of INA / Azad Hind Fauj

The INA’s impact on the war and on British India after the war has been analysed in detail. The INA’s role in military terms is considered to be relatively insignificant, given its small numerical strength, lack of heavy weapons (it utilised captured British and Dutch arms initially), relative dependence on Japanese logistics and planning as well as its lack of independent planning.

A soldier of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment in training. Circa1940s. 

Indian troops man a Bren gun on an anti-aircraft tripod, Western Desert April 1941

The 1st Division was lightly armed. Each battalion was composed of five Companies of infantry. The individual companies were armed with six antitank rifles, six Bren guns and six Vickers machine guns. Some NCOs carried hand grenades, while men going forward on duty were issued British stocks of hand grenades by senior officer of the Bahadur groups attached to each unit. Mortars were available, but Fay points out these were not available at battalion level. 

A Vic…