FEPOW Memorial Church



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Indian Forces

The treatment of Indian POWs was somewhat different due to the political forces that had been operating in India for some time. In 1939, although India was still a major part of the British Empire, strong nationalist sentiments had been building up. The Congress Party, guided by Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru, was leading the movement for full independence from Britain. This instability was to continue until Indian Independence in 1947.

A major element of the Japanese strategy to exploit this against the British involved the setting up by the Japanese of the Indian National Army. (According to Dr P Stanley, of the Australian War Memorial, it is possible that as many as 40,000 of the 60,000 Indians captured by the Japanese in SE Asia eventually joined the INA and fought the British.)

Information available on Indian POWs is limited although an excellent overview by Dr P Stanley of the Australian War Memorial can be found on the website


It is likely that Indian death rates were even higher than among British and Australian Forces although final figures are difficult to find. It is clear that their treatment was as bad as that of British and Australian POWs and that their lot was made considerably worse by the number of different religious observances that were required but not possible under conditions of captivity.