Even though it’s not often included in history classwork, the India military played a small role WWII. However, they did not join the war until 1939. Due to a combination of policial opinion and economic challenges, India’s Army strength had been rather disporportionate since WWI. At the time, India was majorly nationalist and opposed to increasing the value of their defense until a government who knew what they were doing with it came into power. As a result, it gave the British the open door to extend their authority over them.

The other reason that the Indian military had been at such a disadvantage until WWII was that their systems were based exclusively on voluntary recruitment. This was mostly the affect of the political atmosphere between India and Britain at the time. As a result, recruitment was pushed aside to small communities and areas only. This stubborness was what resulted in the end of their Army expenditure. By the latter half of 1940, it had expanded to only about 35 new infantry battalions.

By the end of 1941, it had expanded to about 10 more infantry and one more armour division. This helped to increase the troop numbers to approximately 900,000. By the end of 1942, slightly over 1,500,000 were serving in both India and in the war overseas. It was at about that same time that more equipment, including anti-tanks, artillery, medical and transport units increased as well. A specialized force called the Long Range Penetration Group was formed as well. Their hand-picked troops were specially trained to operate wells behind the Japanese lines in Burma. In doing so, they performed many fantastically noble and brave feats. However, many experienced commanders considered the prices to be unnecessarily high.

There were a lot of difficulties raised by Punjabi instructors for training recruits from the southern province in India. However, this was gradually alleviated and abated. Thanks to the British occupation, the India Army strength had increased to a total of slightly over 2,600,000. However, that was also partly thanks to the fact that all Indian classes and terroritories contributed during the war years. This also increased the Indian military strength to a total of close to 2,590,000.

The avenues that had been feeding into the Indian military with British officers eventually shut down due to the British Army needing more of their own officers. As a result, the extended recruitment in India led to their own officers moving up in the ranks. In 1939, they had started with barely 1,500 of their own officers. WWII and the such down of British officers increased the number to close to 15,000 by the end of the war in 1945. By then, the Indian armed forces were serving in various regions.Their largest casualty count was in Malaya in which the total came close to 175,000.

Although WWII did increase the financial situation in India generally and increased employment. However, it did not help their lower middle classes and beyond very much. Some of their resulting social changes also weren’t very healthy and it led to long-term consequences of old industries dwindling.


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