Indian POWs in Europe

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Rumdoodle, Jan 20, 2022.

  1. Rumdoodle

    Rumdoodle Member

    I’m a historian writing a book about the stories of Indian Prisoners of War in German hands during the Second World War.

    These stories - of hardship and endurance, of escape and collaboration – are almost completely unknown. But these are stories that *should* be known. There were around 15,000 Indian POWs held in Germany and France during the war, in camps that included Colditz, Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf, and Oflag 79 Braunschweig.

    There were also many Indians who were POWs in Italy who were transferred to Germany in September 43.

    I’m interested in stories of escape, but also stories of ordinary life – work, food, sports, entertainment.

    And also of course I’m interested in those Indians who joined the German army – the 950 regiment, Legion Freies Indien, Aza Hind Fauj. They were mostly recruited via Stalag IV D/Z Annaburg

    I’ve looked at quite a few documents in the National Archives in the UK and the German Bundesarchiv. I’m sure there are other documents that would be useful, and books.

    I’m especially looking for personal stories to make it more interesting.

    All ideas and pointers welcome!

    Thanks in advance…
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  2. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    A small number of 5 Field Bakery Section, Indian Army Service Corps personnel were captured by ELAS (Greek Resistance) during the troubles in Athens on 14 December 1944. On the same day, a small number Indian Army soldiers from 3/12th Frontier Force Regiment were captured when ELAS attacked the garrison at Krioneri. All complained of appalling treatment whilst POWs. At least 5 who needed medical attention were shot .

    Unfortunately a lot of war diaries were burned prior to their capture so I don't have a lot of supporting documentation.

    I do have a detailed CSDIC report on the terrible treatment of POWs who were interviewed on their release at the end of January 1945.

    If you are interested start a conversation with the inbox at the top and I will send you what I have.

    Hope this helps

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2022
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  3. Rumdoodle

    Rumdoodle Member

    Thanks Gus -that's really interesting. Do you have a ref for the CSDIC report at all? Is it at the National Archives?
  4. Andreas

    Andreas Working on two books

    You may also want to check the WO311 series which holds investigations of war crimes.

    Until December 1941, Indian POWs were the responsibility of the Italian forces in North Africa. The Germans then requested for them to be turned over, as they started with the Legion.

    All the best

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  5. Rumdoodle

    Rumdoodle Member

    Thanks Andreas - I'll take a look at TNA catalogue
  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Will list them shortly - I have the complete list.
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  7. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    The POW list for Indian Prisoners held in Germany can be found in WO 344/360
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  8. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    War Crimes files involving Indians oin Italy: The National Archives

    WO 311/312 Camp PG 41 Montalbo Italy: killing and ill-treatment of POWs
    WO 309/1985 Shooting of Private Kahn at working camp PG 41 Montalbo Italy 27 August 1941

    WO 311/1217 Shooting of Sepoy J Ghulan at Caserta Hospital Italy 27 September 1942
    TS 26/707 Caserta Hospital: murder of an Indian Soldier

    Harbhajan Singh

    WO 311/340 San Michele Verona Italy: killing of British officer and an Indian soldier POWs
    WO 310/70 Verona Italy: killing of British and Indian POWs
    TS 26/797 San Michele: murder of two prisoners
    TS 26/627 San Michele: murder of a British officer

    Kartah Singh
    TS 26/770 Porto Guarre: murder of an Indian

    Mani Lal Gurung
    WO 310/50 Santa Iona Italy: killing of Indian POW

    Munsif Dar
    WO 310/60 Solagne and Bassano, Italy: shooting of allied POWs

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  9. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    The National Archives do not have all the investigation files opened by Judge Advocate General, Adjutant General, or Treasury Solicitor (the latter in the capacity of "British National Office" in connection with the United Nations War Crimes Commission.) About seventeen Far East cases actually prosecuted before a British minor war crimes tribunal and now in WO235 refer to Indians as POW or civilians in the charges, ( note that Australian Military Tribunals in the Far East only also dealt with cases involving Indians as victims ). I only know of one Indian POW case prosecuted in Europe. The proceedings are in file WO235/95 at Kew. The ICC website has some details of the case from their "Legal Tools" website here ( a 1.8 MB download ):
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2022
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  10. Rumdoodle

    Rumdoodle Member

    Thanks Horsapassenger. I have a copy of that list. I've often wondered exactly when and how that list was compiled. When it says that a certain POW was at Oflag 79, for example, he had probably been at many other camps. So when was that data?
  11. Rumdoodle

    Rumdoodle Member

    That's very useful thanks Vitellino. I assume there are similar files for POWs in Germany. I've seen WO 311/41, I'm sure there are others. Is there a paper catalogue or list at TNA? I'll be there next week
  12. Rumdoodle

    Rumdoodle Member

    Very interesting. Thanks papiermache. I'll take a look at that!
  13. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    There is no list, but there are cards, usually viewed in the Invigilation Room at Kew, which provide a "source" for the Former File References of files opened ( many of which files are not at Kew ). These TNA series notes provide an explanation. By the way, "FS" stands for "File Series." See also series notes for cards in WO 354 and WO 355. These are the Kew notes for WO 353.

    "War Office: Judge Advocate General's Office, Military Deputy's Department: War Crimes, Europe, Card Indexes, Second World War
    Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.
    Keyword search
    Date range
    From (yyyy): To (yyyy):

    Reference: WO 353
    Title: War Office: Judge Advocate General's Office, Military Deputy's Department: War Crimes, Europe, Card Indexes, Second World War
    This series consists of card indexes of the Judge Advocate General's Office, Military Deputy's Department relating to war crimes in Europe during Second World War. The indexes were compiled c1944 to 1948.
    The series comprises six card indexes:
    an accused index (alphabetical);
    a witness index (alphabetical);
    a dead victims index (alphabetical);
    a placenames index (alphabetical);
    a numerical index of camps; and
    a numerical index to the Judge Advocate General, Military Deputy FS files.
    All the indexes carry FS references (with or without prefix) which refer to files in WO 311. The numerical index in pieces 23 and 24 contains those cards from which the Director of Army Legal Services (DALS) compiled its MD/JAG inventory, on which, in turn, the WO 311 list is based.
    Some index cards in pieces 23 and 24 constitute partial indexes to TS 26/174-802 and WO 309. These cards are marked with the following information which is valuable for cross-reference:
    (1) Many cards in pieces 23 and 24 bear UK G/B number references, which are Charge Numbers quoted in TS 26 cases;
    (2) A block of cards under reference FS 76 in piece 24 bear BAOR 15228/C numbers (and exceptionally other BAOR references) which relate to files in WO 309.
    Date: 1944-1948
    Related material:
    For related files (details above) see WO 311
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Language: English
    War Office, Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Forces, Military Deputys Dept, 1935-1948
    Physical description: 24 card(s)"
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2022
  14. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Extract from "Offences against Allied Troops and others by Greek Resistance Organisations (WO 204-8904)"

    5 Indian soldiers executed were:

    KHAN Firoz Havildar SR/771317 4th Indian Infantry Division 5th Indian Infantry Brigade 5th Field Bakery Section
    ALI Hashim Washerman MTN/774766 4th Indian Infantry Division 5th Indian Infantry Brigade 5th Field Bakery Section
    GANESH CHAUBEY - Sepoy SR/211231 4th Indian Infantry Division 5th Indian Infantry Brigade 5th Field Bakery Section
    GIRDHARI LAL - Washerman F/752351 4th Indian Infantry Division 5th Indian Infantry Brigade 5th Field Bakery Section

    BINDU - Sweeper MTN/261106 4th Indian Infantry Division 16th Motor Ambulance Section

    It was believed they were killed by EP Policeman in retaliation for the RAF destroying an ELAS Officers car that day.

    Only other POW from unit I know is

    Jemadar SABHERWA O.P. Indian Army Royal Indian Army Service Corps 5 FIELD BAKERY SEC

    Pictures taken still blocked from release by TNA.

    Extracted from "Treatment and Recovery of British POWs held by ELAS troops in Greece (WO 32-14549)"


    According to the report 80 members of 5th Indian Field Bakery Section were taken POW.

    3/12 FFR POWs at Krioneri

    Naik SINGH Jokunda Indian Army FRONTIER FORCE REGIMENT 3/12th Battalion
    L/Naik BUKS Mohamed Indian Army FRONTIER FORCE REGIMENT 3/12th Battalion
    Sepoy KHAN Kalas Indian Army FRONTIER FORCE REGIMENT 3/12th Battalion
    Sepoy SINGH Ratan Indian Army FRONTIER FORCE REGIMENT 3/12th Battalion
    Sepoy SINGH Main Indian Army FRONTIER FORCE REGIMENT 3/12th Battalion

    If I spot any more I will post it here.

    Hope this helps


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2022
  15. Rumdoodle

    Rumdoodle Member

    Thanks Papiermache - very useful
  16. Rumdoodle

    Rumdoodle Member

    Brilliant! Thanks so much, Gus!
  17. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    JAG files at Kew which refer to Indians as listed in WO 353 "Dead Victims" cards I have seen ( obviously these cards do not include files concerning mistreatment or maltreatment not leading to death ) seem to be all there and are:

    AHMED Gulan Sepoy PW No. 72770 T.SOL - 3/6 GB146 { TNA ref: TS 26/134 }

    GHULAN J. ( see JALANI, Ghulan ) 42/48 Murder of at Caserta Hospital Sep. 42 by Italian Sentry
    { TNA ref: WO 311/1217 }

    JALANI Ghulan 42/48 Murder of a/m at Caserta Hospital Sept 42 by Italian sentry { TNA ref: WO 311/1217 }

    JHUTAR MAL, SUBEDAR 3/9 JAT REGT. PW 7072/ IVDZW FS/21/3 - shooting of at Oflag 79 on 31 Aug 44
    { TNA ref: WO 311/138 }

    KAHN, Pte FS/41/6 Shooting of by Italian sentries at PG41, Sep. 41 { TNA ref: WO 311/312 }

    KHOTE Laksham Sepoy PW No 4671 T/Sol 3/6 GB146 { TNA ref: TS 26/134 }

    MAL JHUTAR Subedor 3/9 JAT REGT PW7072/ IVDZW FS/21/3 shooting of at Oflag 79 on 31 Aug '44
    { TNA ref: WO 311/138 }

    SINGH Suchet Sepoy PW No. 74158 T.SOL - 3/6 GB146 { TNA ref: TS 26/134 }

    An example of a "Dead Victim" card. I believe the "3/6" is short for 3/6/1946: the cards show when a letter has been sent from JAG to Treasury Solicitor in this case.

    P1370487 ed.jpg
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  18. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member

    Extracted from "POW Returns by ELAS 1944-45 (WO 361-751)"


    Says 4 Indian Offs and 102 Indian ORs were taken POW.

    Section four suggests their hardship was so bad they should be repatriated to India.

    Hope this helps


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