With 2.5 million men, the Indian Army of the Second World War was the largest volunteer army in history. Indians served in theatres of war across the world: India and Burma; Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong; the Middle East and North Africa; Greece and Italy. They served at sea and in the air, as well as contributing to support and medical care.

Indians took part in the struggle between Allied and Axis forces in the deserts of North Africa, including the crucial Battle of El Alamein in October 1942, followed by the pursuit of enemy forces into Libya and Tunisia in early 1943. They also fought in East Africa, including the actions around Keren in Eritrea.

Men of the 6th Duke of Connaught's Own Lancers, Indian Armoured Corps, chat with youngsters in San Felice, Italy. c. 1943. IWM (NA 8592)

Three Indian Army divisions fought in Italy between 1943 and 1945, forming around half of the Commonwealth force. They led the assault on the German defensive lines, including the Battle of Monte Cassino and the pursuit of German forces northwards.

When Japanese forces invaded the Malay Peninsula in December 1941, Indian troops had already been sent to reinforce the local defences. After the fall of Singapore in February 1942, some 65,000 Indian soldiers were taken prisoner of war. The Indian Army would later play a vital role in halting the Japanese advance at the iconic battles of Kohima and Imphal in the north-east of India in 1944.

 

Indian Infantry and armour advance during street fighting in Mandalay, Burma. 9-10 March 1945. IWM (SE 3271)

The CWGC commemorates more than 87,000 people who lost their lives while serving with Indian forces during the Second World War.

Related Cemeteries & Memorials

Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar (Burma), is the final resting place of more than 6,380 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including more than 1,820 of the Indian Army. Within the cemetery is the Rangoon Memorial which commemorates more than 26,850 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen, including more than 19,640 of the Indian Army, who have no known grave.

Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore, is the final resting place of more than 4,460 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including nearly 670 of the Indian Army. Within the cemetery is the Singapore Memorial which commemorates more than 24,300 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including nearly 12,100 of the Indian Army, who have no known grave. Also within the cemetery is the Singapore Cremation Memorial which commemorates nearly 790 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including more than 780 of the Indian Army.

Cassino War Cemetery, Italy, is the final resting place of more than 4,270 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen including more than 430 of the Indian Army. Within the cemetery is the Cassino Memorial which commemorates more than 4,040 Second World War Commonwealth servicemen, including nearly 1,440 of the Indian Army, who have no known grave.