Osprey Elite 075 - The Indian Army 1914-1947

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Mar 09, Martin rated it really liked it. All those beautiful colourful units! Wargamers and military enthusiasts will find it a simple yet effective book- and the colour plates are really useful. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Ian Sumner. Ian Sumner. Other books in the series.

Osprey Elite 1 - 10 of books. Books by Ian Sumner. Trivia About The Indian Army No trivia or quizzes yet. Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. There was no shortage of manpower to call upon, but the army did suffer from a shortage of skilled technical personnel. The conversion of the cavalry force into a mechanised tank force had only just begun and was hampered by the inability to supply adequate numbers of tanks and armoured vehicles.

In , British officials had no plan for expansion and training of Indian forces, which comprised about , men in addition, there were 44, men in British units in India in Their mission was internal security and defence against a possible Russian threat through Afghanistan. As the war progressed, the size and role of the Indian Army expanded dramatically, and troops were sent to battle fronts as soon as possible. The most serious problem was lack of equipment. The Indian Army of was different from the Indian Army during World War I , it had been reformed in , moving away from single battalion regiments to multi-battalion regiments.

There were twenty two regular regiments of cavalry, which supplied armoured and armoured car units. Seven more were raised during the war. There were twenty regular Indian regiments of infantry including the Burma Rifles and ten Gurkha regiments. Before the war, all the Indian regiments had at least two battalions, and most had more.

The Gurkha regiments had two battalions each. During the war, the Gurkha regiments raised a further two battalions each, while the Indian regiments raised up to fifteen each. Two further regiments the Assam Regiment and the Burma Regiment were created during the war. In May , agreement was reached between the British and Indian governments over the formation of another five infantry and one armoured divisions, which became the 6th , 7th , 8th , 9th , 10th infantry and the 31st Indian Armoured Divisions.

In March , the Indian government revised the defence plan for India.

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Concerned with what the Japanese were planning and the requirement to replace the divisions sent overseas, seven new armoured regiments and 50 new infantry battalions were needed for five new infantry divisions that were formed: the 14th , 17th , 19th , 20th , 34th and the two armoured formations 32nd Indian Armoured Division and 50th Indian Tank Brigade. With the fall of Singapore in , about 40, Indian soldiers were captured. They were given a choice; 30, joined the Indian National Army.

With the previously formed divisions mostly committed overseas in , the army formed another four infantry divisions 23rd , 25th , 28th, 36th and the 43rd Indian Armoured Division. The 36th Division uniquely, was created as a British Indian Army formation, but was formed from British brigades that had reached India from the Madagascar campaign and from Britain. The final division formed in was the 26th Indian Infantry Division , which was hastily formed from the various units in training or stationed near Calcutta.

After the perceived poor performance in battles in Malaya and Burma in , it was decided that the existing infantry divisions were over—mechanised. To counter this, the 17th and 39th divisions were selected to become light divisions, of only two brigades which would rely more on animal and four-wheel-drive transport. By December , agreement was reached that India should become the base for offensive operations. Support should be in place for 34 divisions, which would include two British, one West African, one East African and eleven Indian divisions, and what was left of the Burma Army.

The plans for included the formation of another infantry division, an airborne division and a heavy armoured brigade. Only the 44th Indian Armoured Division was formed, by amalgamating the 32nd and 43rd Armoured divisions.

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A committee was set up in to report on the readiness of the army and suggest improvements. Its recommendations were:. To assist in the jungle training of the infantry from July , the 14th and 39th divisions were converted to training divisions. An infantry battalion would spend from four to six months with the brigade, before being sent to the front to replace a tired battalion in one of the fighting divisions. The planned 44th Indian Airborne Division was finally formed from the 44th Armoured Division, leaving the 31st Armoured as the only armoured division in the army.

The success of the th Brigade in training for jungle warfare was recognised. From May , th Brigade trained units destined for the Fourteenth Army and th Brigade , which was converted from the Risalpur Training Brigade, trained units destined for the Southern Army. Infantry divisions consisted of three infantry brigades, of three infantry battalions. Usually, one battalion in each brigade was British and two were Indian or Gurkha.

Four brigades were raised consisting entirely of Gurkha battalions. Later in the war, as British infantry reinforcements became more scarce, particularly in the South East Asian Theatre, British battalions in brigades fighting in Burma were replaced by Indian units. In a division with a standard MT Mechanical Transport establishment, the divisional units were a reconnaissance unit provided by a mechanised cavalry regiment, and a heavy machine gun battalion armed with thirty-six Vickers machine guns.

Each regiment of the Indian Army raised a machine gun battalion in addition to its infantry battalions. The divisional artillery consisted of three field artillery regiments with twenty-four pounder guns each, one anti-tank regiment with forty-eight anti-tank guns and one light anti-aircraft regiment with up to fifty-four light anti-aircraft guns. There were three engineer field companies and one engineer field park company, plus signals, medical and transport units.

There were variations on the infantry formation, depending on role. The light divisions 14th, 17th and 39th as formed in had only two brigades and lacked much heavy equipment. Transport was provided by six mule and four Jeep companies. This type of division was later dropped. The anti-tank and light anti-aircraft regiments were replaced by a single regiment, with two batteries each of anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns.

The divisional reconnaissance unit was replaced by a lightly equipped infantry battalion. Another standard infantry battalion provided the HQ Defence unit.

It was intended to form an armoured division in the plans for , and However, the Indian armoured formations suffered from a lack of equipment. The shortage of tanks in was reflected in the organisation of 31st Armoured Division, which first had one armoured and two motor brigades.

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At the end of , this was changed to two armoured and one motor brigade. In June , the division's establishment was fixed as one armoured and one infantry brigade. The surplus armoured brigades 50th , th , th and the th became independent brigades and served in the Burma campaign.

The 50th Independent Indian Parachute Brigade was formed on 29 October , with the British st Parachute Battalion , nd Indian Parachute Battalion and rd Gurkha Parachute Battalion, a medium machine gun company and a medium mortar detachment. The st Battalion was later renumbered as the th Battalion and returned to Britain and another Gurkha battalion th was formed, but had not joined the brigade when it was heavily involved in the Battle of Sangshak in March The headquarters of the 44th Indian Armoured Division was converted in April , to 9th Indian Airborne Division , which was renamed the 44th Airborne Division a few weeks later.

It absorbed the 50th Parachute Brigade, and later two brigades from the disbanding Chindit force [32] The division now consisted of the 50th, 77th Parachute Brigades and 14th Airlanding Brigade , two field artillery regiments, two anti-aircraft regiments and a joint anti-aircraft and anti-tank regiment. The Royal Artillery still provided some of the artillery required for Indian Army formations, but the Indian Regiment of Artillery had been formed in , initially consisting of four horse—drawn batteries.

Three anti—aircraft brigades were formed from the four heavy anti—aircraft artillery regiments and five light anti—aircraft artillery regiments created. The Indian Engineers were a part of every division in the army. The engineers corps started the war with two army troops companies, 11 Field Companies and one field park company.


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Expansion during the war took the totals of engineers to; five army troops companies, 67 Field companies, six independent field squadrons, 20 field park companies and two independent field park squadrons. The Women's Auxiliary Corps India was formed in May ; recruits had to be a minimum age of 18 years and their duties were clerical or domestic.

In December , the minimum age was reduced to 17 years and 11, women had enlisted by the end of the war. Those on General service could be sent to serve anywhere in India. Indian women at the time did not mix socially or at work with men and a large part of the corps was formed from the mixed-race Anglo—Indian community. In the earlier part of the war there was likewise a Naval Wing, but with the very localised environment of naval base and the very distinct ethos of the wartime naval services, British and Indian, this department was formally hived-off, in , to become: the Women's Royal Indian Naval Service WRINS , with its own uniform, similar to WRNS.

The armies of the Indian States or Princely states provided a further , men during the war. The Chindits named after a mythical beast, statues of which guarded Burmese temples were the brainchild of Brigadier Orde Wingate , who intended that long-range penetration raids behind enemy lines would become the main effort against the Japanese in Burma. In , they staged a much larger operation which involved disbanding the 70th British Infantry Division , its three brigades together with three more brigades were grouped as Special Force and referred to for cover purposes as 3rd Indian Infantry Division.

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Chindits were in fact ordinary infantry units arbitrarily selected for the mission on the basis of their availability. There was no commando, airborne or other selection procedure, [43] although there was some "weeding out" of less fit personnel during training for operations. The Chindits were disbanded in February It controlled British and Commonwealth land forces stationed in the eastern Mediterranean. The Fourteenth Army was a multinational force comprising units from Commonwealth countries, many of its units were from the Indian Army as well as British units and there were also significant contributions from 81st , 82nd and 11th African divisions.

It was often referred to as the "Forgotten Army" because its ongoing operations in the Burma Campaign were largely overlooked by the contemporary press, as the War in Europe drew to a close and even after Victory in Europe VE , when people took the view the war was over everywhere. It still remained more obscure than those of the corresponding formations in Europe long after the war. Item is complete unless noted.

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Osprey Elite The Indian Army 1914-1947 (ELI Nr. 75)

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