Indian Army

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by barbarasson, Jul 28, 2005.

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  1. Having got through a lot of reading on the Burma campaign, I'd like to read more about 'the greatest volunteer army ever', the Indian Army in world War Two. Although there are a few Officer biographies about, which are generally good, are there any biographies written by VCOs or Indians who became KCOS? Also what is the best scholarly overview of the subject. All hints more than welcome.
  2. It depends on what period you to focus on.

    For an over view you could try The Sepoy and the Raj: Politics of the Indian Army 1860-1940 by David Omissi. The book looks at the origins of the army, its politics and is interesting in the fact that it explores the motives of of the Indians who joined the army.

    A more narrative account would be Soldiers of the Raj: Indian Army, 1600-1947 editor Alan Guy. Which is more short biographies of British and Indian soldiers.

    There is also Fidelity and Honour: The Indian Army from the Seventeenth to Twenty-first Century by S.L. Menezes a grand traditional account of the history of the Indian army.

    Reference wise I would probably say go for the The Campaigns and Medals of the Honourable East India Company and the Indian Army by Chris Kempton. It's a great reference book lists all award recipients, campaigns fought and has a good bibliography. I think Kempton updated the old Stone original.

    On the two WW - I don't know if you read the Daniel Marston's book Phoenix from the Ashes: The Indian Army in the Burma Campaign.

    There is also new series by Chris Kempton series Loyalty and Honour - which looks at all aspects of the Indian Army and its campaigns through 1937-1947. It uses new primary sources which have been uncovered.

    Indian officer Biographies that's a little harder - one was published about Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw M.C - Soldiering with Dignity. Not very military per say but an excellent insight into a man who climbed the ranks in both armies and a rather glorious troublemaker to boot. I think he got his MC in Burma.

    Forgot to say that the Indian Army has its own website - site has brief histories on the battles that it has fought. The Army also publishes it's own histories and there is a bookshop on ithe website.

    Indian Army.
  3. John Masters auto-biographies are without peer.
  4. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    "Armies Of The Raj" by Byron Farwell is superlative. Covers the 'States Forces', Frontier Militias, Indian Amy and British Army in India from John Company through to the birth of India and Pakistan.
  5. Unfortunately I haven't found any books or memoirs written by Sepoys or VCOs of the British Indian army. I don't think literacy was a prerequisite back then, pity as it would be interesting to read of their attitude towards the Raj, their officers, and conditions of service.

    Memoirs written by Indian KCOs, someone mentioned Sam Mannekshaw MC., (I believe the Field Marshall went to Sandhurst) would give an entirely different perspective from that sought by barbarasson as KCOs were recruited from the officer class (as, judging by various Indian Army websites, they continue to do). Present day Indian army retains the system of VCOs (though I don't know what they are called now) and regular officers much the same as the rank structure extant in the British army Gurkha regiment. Not sure if the Pakistani army does.

    I believe the Indian army carried over their old traditions and standards following independence, as someone wrote "They're more British than the British!"
  6. The Manekshaw was the only one I could think off at the time which may have given an Indian perspective. He was an ICO as he went to the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun but your right I am yet to find a a biography from the ranks in English. Another biography in the Manekshaw vein if you are intreseted could be Lt General Premendra Singh Bhagat V.C's by Lt Gen Mathew Thomas and Jasjit Mansingh. Bhagat was a KCO if memory serves me right.

    I think both armies have maintainted pretty much the old imperial rank structures with a few tweaks here and there. The Pakistani Army was pretty much the creation of British officers who were brought in after partition.
  7. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    The descendent of the old KCO ranks are termed Junior Commissioned Officers in both the Indian and Pakistani Armies. The individual ranks retain their original names of Jemandar, Suberdar and Suberdar-Major. As for a KCO autobiography; wait out. There was a widely published one in the mid-19 Century, though its authenticity was never verified. It is refered to in the book that I've detailed above and I will dig the title out for you.
  8. I plan on taking a trip to India next year and being a fan of John Masters' books 'Bugles And A Tiger', 'The Road Past Mandalay' etc., would like to visit Bakloh (old 4GR training centre) and possibly Subathu now home to 4GR and 1GR Does any one have contacts in that area or advice on obtaining permission to visit those establishments?
  9. Busterdog, check in with Jagan Pillarisetti, who is the owner of the Warbirds of India forum.
    He has a lot of contacts in the Indian Military , and he should see you right ;)
  10. PTP. Thanks.
  11. Rayc

    Rayc RIP

    I found Philip Mason's 'Matter of Honour' a very detailed and exhaustive commentary on the Indian Army right from the East India Company days to the time the book was written.