Indian National Army's further encounters with British in Burma, the Retreat
Mount Popa, courtesy: The Forgotten Army
In a great rally in Rangoon's city Hall, Netaji had asked for "Blood, blood, blood and blood." Bidders pledged princely sums for the garlands worn by him. On the same day British had crossed the Iravati river north of Mandalay. As per The Forgotten Army, "Subhas Brigade, or what was left of it, had spent the early autumn at Budalin, south of Yeu. The Azad had been billeted at Chaungu, still further south, the Gandhi (reduced to one battalion) at Mandalay. In November all three were ordered to Pyinmana, 150 miles below Mandalay on the main road and rail line to Rangoon. There, in a camp much closer to the freedom army’s chief source of supply, these skeleton regiments would, it was hoped, recover something like their former strength. They went by rail, a difficult and dangerous business requiring weeks, for by this time British tactical aircraft from airstrips in the Manipur basin and the Kabaw Valley were hitting bridges and rolling stock as far south as Meiktila. Nothing moved by day. At first light troop trains stopped, if possible in cuttings; the precious engines were run into pens made of woven bamboo filled with rocks; the men scattered and slept. The 4th (Nehru) Regiment did not accompany the other three. It had been brought as far as Mandalay, but too late to take part in the Imphal campaign. Now it moved southwest, to Myingyan, where the Chindwin joins the Irrawaddy." Lt. Col. Thakur Singh, who was the second in command of the 1st regiment under Major Shah Nawaz Khan, was selected for commanding a new regiment formed from the remnants of the first division. Col. R. M Arshad was put in charge of the remaining person of the 1st division. Netaji took Maj. Gen M.Z Kiani to Rangoon where he was appointed as the secretary of the war council. Commanders were to certify as to the spiritual fitness of their men before taking them into an operational area. This was needed to protect the army from the infiltrators and the traitors. Although most of the INA men were staunch loyalists, there were a few like Prabhudayal and Garewahl who had inflicted enough damage to the prospects. Yet desertions from INA were surprisingly low. Writes Peter Fay, "But surrenders were never the flood the British assumed they would be. “In spite of Japanese reversals on the Arakan front,” observed an intelligence summing up in the autumn of 1944, “our expectations that large numbers of the I.N.A. would desert were not realized.” It was the same about the Manipur basin. In late July, intelligence reported that of the original 1,900 or so men in the Gandhi Brigade only 650 were still present for duty. But that was not because the rest had deserted. “Up to 30 June only 116 had surrendered or been captured.” The rest were sick, and sickness was not confined to the Gandhi. In one battalion of the Azad Brigade, this July report went on, “a daily strength return at the end of June showed that of approximately 600 men hardly more than 300 were present; 250 were sick in the back areas; 12 had deserted; 3 had committed suicide; and 3 were casualties.” Of course it wasn’t all that easy to surrender. It couldn’t be done at all unless you were reasonably close to a British position, and there was always the chance you’d be shot by mistake. But whatever the reason, mass desertion did not occur. “Only some 700 of the I.N.A. have come into our hands since the end of February,” the autumn summing up continued. And of these 700 how many, one wonders, were men who deliberately set out to surrender and how many were men who, exhausted, wounded, straggling, or lost, saw that they were going to fall into the hands of the British anyway, and decided to act as if it had always been their dearest wish?" Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon was given the charge of countering the advancing British forces at the Iravati river. He had under him many Tamil recruits from Malaya who had once revolted in their training camps because of language problems and treatment meted out to them by their superiors from the North. At the time of Imphal campaign, Dhillon was serving with the 5th guerrilla regiment which was under training at Ipoh. He later was with the 1st Infantry which was the oldest regiment of the INA, and had the heaviest weapons. It had started for the front in May 1944 and was transferring the heavy weapons by the sea. The ship by which these weapons were carried were torpedoed and the weapons were all lost. The regiment was unfit to proceed further. Dhillon wanted to be in the field and Aziz Ahmed, who commanded the second division, sent him to Netaji who had private conversations with him. Dhillon was put in charge of the Nehru regiment. He and his troops were in Myingyan, with the task of making it defensible. Prem Sahgal, who was also in the staff as military secretary to the Supreme Commander, took over the 5th guerrilla regiment and was sent to Mount Popa. Mehboob Ahmed or Boobie, took over as the new military secretary. The second division was supposed to be led by Maj. Gen Aziz Ahmed Khan, but he was critically injured.
Allied bombers were reigning the skies of the Burma. On February 10, 1945, five waves of American B 29s dropped conventional and incendiary bombs on the INA hospital in Myang and razed it to the ground. Hospital was clearly written and the Red Cross sign was prominent, but the democratic and human rights activist Americans, who thought it was their moral duty to police half the world, did not spare even the sick. Many patients were killed and the survivors had to be rushed to the general hospital in Rangoon. Maj. Gen. Aziz Ahmed received a head injury and was out of action. Netaji rushed to the site, despite his severe back pain, and personally supervised the rescue operation. He visited daily the burnt victims in the hospital and ensured best possible medical care for them. S.A Ayer said, "I am still hoping that one day the Americans will tell the world the real reason for their blasting and burning the I.N.A hospital in Myang (Rangoon), on Saturday, 10th February, 1945."
The enemy forces, in the meanwhile, had launched a surprise attack by crossing Iravati near Myingyan with a mechanized force. The force had proceeded towards Meitkila. Enemy planes bombed several aerodromes in Meitkila. On February 18, Netaji departed for the battlefront to the north. He reviewed the defense in Pyinmana. No. 1 Division was there, while no. 2 was in Kyaukpadang and Popa. Netaji asked Shah Nawaz to take over the command of the no. 2 division in Popa. With Netaji and Mehboob Ahmed, Shah Nawaz went to Meiktila. On 20th February the group reached a village Indaw. They received the news that British had advanced from Nyaunggu by breaking through the INA defence. Mandalay had fallen to the allied forces and the enemy troops were advancing along Mandalay-Meiktila-Rangoon road. The Supreme Commander of the INA was almost within the reach of the enemy forces. To bring more information Shah Nawaz and Mehboob Ahmed proceeded to Mount Popa. Netaji did an inspection of the INA hospitals at Kalaw and Taunggyi and made sure that the hospitals were removed to Ziyawaddy near Rangoon. Netaji wanted to go to Popa but was prevented from doing so by Shah Nawaz and Rawat, his adjutant, who ensured a tactical delay to prevent Netaji from setting off at night. Netaji had a firm belief that he was divinely protected and he had said so to Shah Nawaz when the latter had rebuked him for trying to put his (Netaji's own) valuable life at risk. They started early in the morning by car. Netaji and his companions managed to evade the heavy aerial bombing and the machine guns of the enemy aircraft, in a daring journey with a loaded Tommy gun, couple of hand grenades and a loaded Bren gun. They reached the village called Indaw without any incident. The enemy aircrafts came and started heavy bombing and machine gun firing. The villages were full of British spies and hence Netaji and his companions decided to stay in a forested area. The enemy aeroplanes could not find him despite making continuous sorties. Shah Nawaz went to Meiktila to get the men out and Netaji reached Pyinmina on February 27. William Slim of the allied forces had aspired to capture Meiktila and had sent Frank Messervy for the task. General Heitaro Kimura, who had replaced Kawabe as the commander in Burma, had launched a major onslaught, hoping to hold the British till the onset of the monsoon, and had encircled the British 17th division in Meiktila. On March 2, Bose returned to Rangoon and received the news that four senior officers of the second division had deserted to the British at Popa. He gave Shah Nawaz, who was commanding the second division, a free hand in choosing the best men as staff officers, and Shah Nawaz selected majors Ram Swarup, Meher Das Sardar-e-Jung, Ajaib Singh and B.S Rawat, and proceeded towards Popa on March 7. On 12th March they reached Mount Popa.
The second division had been fighting a tough battle near Iravati. It had about 1500 men. The enemy had crossed Iravati and was nearing Mandalay. One division was in Sagaing and set up bases in Minbu. Another division had crossed Kalemyo, Gangaw valley and were trying to cross Iravati near Nyangu and Pagan. Dhillon entrusted Lt. Hariram to guard Nyangu with no. 7 battalion, and put Lt. Chandrabhan in charge of no. 9 battalion to guard Pagan. No. 8 battalion was kept as reserved. On the night of 12th February the enemy reached the Pagan. The enemy, under heavy artillery cover, wanted to cross over in motor boats. Lt. Chandrabhan and his men fought a determined battle. Repeated attacks of the enemy were repulsed with machine gun fires that continued throughout the night. Col. Toye in his book The Springing Tiger had admitted, "Many of the boats were soon out of control and drifting downstream past the I.N.A trenches for which they made perfect targets. There were many casualties, although some of the craft returned to the western bank and many men escaped by swimming." The next day they had sent their airforces to drop incendiary bombs and carry out machine gun attacks on the INA positions. Then they started heavy artillery attack and captured a Japanese post, thus setting their foot on the east bank of Iravati. By this time the ammunition of the Azad Hind forces were almost over. In the meanwhile Hariram had crossed over to the British side thus causing irreparable damage to the INA positions. By 14th February, the entire enemy division had crossed Iravati. Chandrabhan had still kept his guard. Dhillon, seeing the impossibility of battle situation, decided to send his men to Popa and Kaukpadang. Major Jageer Singh, Dhillon's second in command, came to Kaukpadang and organized his troops and supply base. When Subhas heard about the desertion of Hariram, he issued a stern command - "Every member of the INA officer, NCO or Sepoy, will in future be entitled to arrest any other member of the INA, no matter what his rank may be, if he behaves in a cowardly manner, or to shoot him, if he acts in a treacherous manner." Subhas also asked Dhillon to ensure that his men should be able to compensate for the treachery of Hariram. According to Hugh Toye in The Springing Tiger, he wrote to Dhillon on 21st February a message that was hand delivered by Shah Nawaz, "I have heard with grief, pain and shame of the treachery shown by Lt. Hariram and others. I hope that the men of the 4th Regiment will wash away the blot on the INA with their blood." Bose had given an instruction to the INA police in Mandalay to arrest any deserter and send down to Rangoon under escort or shoot them at sight if arrest cannot be made (Hugh Toye).
As per the plan of Shah Nawaz Khan, the no. 2 infantry division under P.K Sahgal would be prepared to face the enemy in Popa and the no. 4 regiment of Dhillon would conduct guerrilla warfare on the enemy from Taungzin area, on the Kaukpadang-Nyangu road. On 11th March Dhillon and his men attacked Nyangu. There was no messaging system, no wireless communication, only "runners" and despatch riders used to send all communication for INA. Netaji wrote to G.S Dhillon on 12th March - "I have been following the work of your Regiment and of yourself with the closest interest and I want to congratulate you on the manner in which you have stood up to face bravely the situation that is difficult. I want to express my complete confidence in you and in all those who are standing by you in the present crisis. Whatever happens to us individually in the course of this historic struggle, there is no power on earth that can keep India enslaved any longer. Whether we live and work, or whether we die fighting, we must under all circumstances, have complete confidence that the cause for which we are striving is bound to triumph."
Azad Hind Fauj, despite the great difficulties, despite lack of arms and ammunition and supply, despite the smaller number of army men, still had hidden some tough fights in its sleeves. On 16th March Captain Khan Mohammad led the attack on the enemy camps at Sade hills. Many of his men did not even have boots and yet they had not given up on their sacred duty to fight and die. His party of men crawled over boulders and rocks along an extremely steep side and despite heavy enemy firings, engaged in a hand to hand combat with the enemy. The enemy meanwhile had got reinforcements and had encircled Khan Mohammad and his men. The sick and infirm soldiers that Khan Mohammad had kept as reserve in the base of the hill, started firing on the enemy, who soon had to give up and escape. This gave the INA strategic advantage of a position. Atleast 500 people of the enemy were killed whereas the casualty on INA side was 17 only. Khan Mohammad returned to the HQ after conquering Sade hills. This was one of the toughest battles and best win of the INA. This had forced the British commander to launch a massive attack on INA. On 17th March, the 'A' Company of INA under Lt. Kartar Singh and 'B' Company under Gian Singh Bisht, had put up a defensive position near Taungzin. The enemy launched a vicious attack with tanks and infantry. About 15 tanks, 11 armoured vehicles and 10 trucks of the enemy started heavy artillery firing on the INA positions. Second Lt. Gian Singh's army had only rifles and about 100 odd men. Still they held to their grounds. When the enemy had come nearby, Gian Singh realized that battling from trench would not help. He therefore asked his men to charge against the advancing enemy with shouts like Inqilab Zindabad, Netaji Ki Jai, Azad Hindustan Zindabad, and carried out a hand to hand assault. After intense fighting for almost two hours the enemy had to escape, but Gain Singh sacrificed his life. The other part of the enemy that had launched on attack on the 'A' company, also had to beat a hasty retreat when their tanks were immobilized by fire. Taungzin remained with INA. Sub officer Abdullah Khan attacked a mechanized enemy patrol near the village of Daungle and dispersed the enemy.
No. 2 division of Col. Sahgal was ordered to attack Pyinbin on 30th March. Intense battle followed in which Sahgal's jeep was attacked. He won the battle but lost important and vital documents to the enemy, who came to know of all the INA positions. There were other heroic feats too. Capt. Bagri, on 30th March, saved a Japanese company from being annihilated by a numerically much superior enemy force. Kanwal singh and his men distinguished themselves in the battle of Legyi in early April. But inspite of these determined and desperate acts of bravery, position of INA was growing precarious. The enemy had now moved deep inside Burma. They had occupied Meiktila and was advancing along Mandalay Rangoon road. Kyaukpadang, Taundwingyi and Taungtha fell to the enemy, which had advanced till Prome. The enemy had vastly superior numbers, mechanized forces and airpower and INA had none to fight with. Mount Popa had to be abandoned and Col. Sahgal's men had to be split into two columns while retreating. On 10th April, British had bombed the INA field hospital at Kyaukpadang, killing many. On April 20, Captain Bagri's battalion faced a formidable challenge near Taundwingyi. An entire division of tanks and armoured vehicles had been advancing against them and they had only rifles hand grenades to fight. Capt. Bagri and his men gave up their lives by fighting with hand grenades against tanks, instead of surrendering. General Gracey, leading the attack on them, was stunned by the dare devilry.
The war situation in general had become extremely unfavourable for Japan. United States Army, led by General Douglas MacArthur had landed in Leyte in October 1944. The Allied forces led by US had neutralized many of Japan's strategic bases on the Pacific through bombardments and submarine attacks. By early 1945 United States defeated Japan in the battle of Iwo Jima. America also undertook intense bombing campaign using its air force and dropped incendiary bombs on the Japanese cities. Between March 9 and 10, Tokyo was raided, that led to the death of one hundred thousand civilians (source: Wikipedia). Another half a million people perished by the bombings in other Japanese cities.
In Burma the Burmese Defence Army under Aung San had revolted. The Japanese had not treated the Burmese army well. Burma was suffering under a severe inflation and lack of essentials. Burma Defence Army was rechristened as Burma National Army after independence. Japan had equipped them and they were mostly under Japanese military leadership. Burma Defence Army was composed entirely of the ethnic Burmese who had no prior military experience. No Indians were enlisted there. They wore Japanese uniform, carried Japanese rifle, went to Japan's military school and Japanese treated them harshly. The treatment was widely resented. For over a year Aung San and his army lived and worked side by side with the Indian National Army and Subhas Bose with a common purpose. However it revolted in the nick of the time when the Japanese most needed them in Burma. Writes Peter Fay, " Because of this volte-face, shrewdly timed and artfully executed, made Aung San the hero of his country's independence movement." He continues, "while Bose and his people have always laboured under the reputation of being opportunists" to the British, "this behavior left no mark upon Aung San's reputation."
Ba Maw was inept in handling the resentment among the rank and files. He was too close to the Japanese. Major Gen. Aung San, who had given indications of his change of stance to Netaji, revolted, defected on 27th March, and killed all the Japanese officers attached to them. However, the relationship between Burmese National army and Indian National Army remained friendly, largely on account of mutual understanding between Netaji and Aung San. Supply system of the Japanese broke down because of the activities of the Burmese National Army, which led to the collapse of the Japanese forces after losing Meiktilla. Writes John Thivy in his book, The Struggle in East Asia, "A part of the Burmese National Army revolted against the Burmese Government and fought against their own troops, the Japanese and generally indulged in armed dacoity. It may be mentioned here that wherever units of the Indian National Army camped on their way to the fighting fronts, or established bases, the villagers would, if they had previously gone into hiding in the jungles, returned to the villages, secure in the knowledge that they will be protected."
The INA troops from Shan states and from Pyinmana tried to proceed to Moulmein. The ones from Pyinmana largely succeeded on account of the leadership of Col. Thakur Singh and Lt. Col Pritam Singh. Troops from Kalaw and Taungyi, a large part of whom were sick and weak, fell into the hands of the enemy. In Kalaw, Yellappa, Minister of Transport, was badly wounded in his legs by an allied bombing in a marketplace on 2nd March. Col. Dr. Lakshmi Swaminathan stayed with him to take care of him and brought him near Inle lake. On 6th of April a medical officer named Bawa appeared with a truck and medical supplies. Informed of Yellappa’s plight, he had come up by way of Mawchi to bring them out. At Taunggyi, which was full of Japanese troops hurrying south, they joined a truck convoy, Lakshmi was attacked by a group of stragglers but escaped unhurt. They decided to stay in Mawch in a Gurkha village. While traversing through the hills Lakshmi surrendered to a Col. Peacock. Yellappa was killed by a hand grenade thrown on his hut by the Karen soldiers of the British army. Prem Sahgal with his men marched during night to reach Allanmyo to continue to Prome. On 26 April he had reached Iravati near Allanmyo and discovered that the British were already there. There was an approaching Gurkha garrison and Prem and his six hundred men had to surrender or fight to death. Because of the request of the villagers to spare their village from the fight, they decided to surrender on 28th of April. Major General Douglas Gracey of the 20th Indian division told Prem when he met the latter, “ What did you mean, you people, by going on fighting? We had armor, artillery. You chaps had nothing. But instead of surrendering, you fought. It was madness."
As per The Forgotten Army, On May 3, Shah Nawaz and Dhillon moved out of Magwe with couple of hundred men, when British arrived, and crossed the river and were heading from Rangoon when they heard that the Azad Hind Fauj men including Netaji have left for Moulmein. They pushed towards Pegu Yoma. There were dissent among the ranks and one of the Dhillon’s men shot at him. Shah Nawaz had given permission to his men to turn themselves in if they wished. Majority did and they pushed on with a handful. By May 17 they were caught by the 5th Indian division near Pegu. Bose had said to Shah Nawaz in March, "We have to continue fighting to uphold the honour of India."
On 20th April, Kimura advised Netaji of his intention of withdrawing from Rangoon. His army had been overrun by the 14th division of the British Indian Army at Toungoo, 100 miles north of Pegu. Netaji at first flatly rejected the idea of withdrawal. He wanted to fight till his last men. Two suicide companies, each two hundred and fifty strong, formed from the 1st battalion of the Subhas regiment, were sent to Moulmein. On April 23rd Bose was told about Japanese withdrawal and the escape of Ba Maw along with the Japanese. At first it was considered necessary to send the Rani of Jhansi regiment away from Rangoon. Netaji decided that every member who had come from Mandalay or Bangkok or other parts of South East Asia, should be given two months notice with full pay and sent away. The first batch of the Ranis left by the end of March. It was hard to convince them to move as they had left their homes to either gain independence or to die. Nevertheless Debnath Das was asked to leave with the first batch of RJR to Bangkok and keep them in a safe place and also find a safe road from Rangoon to Bangkok. About 150 RJR women accompanied Debnath Das, under the leadership of Lt. Pratima Pal and about hundred men under Captain Rawat. They had a miraculous escape from machine gun fires of the mercenaries. However two women soldiers were killed - Havildar Josephine and Havildar Stella. Havildar Kamala was grievously injured and her left arm had to be amputated. Netaji also tried to secure the gradual evacuation of two to three thousand unfit men from Ziwawaddy and Rangoon to Siam.
When it became evident that Japanese intended to leave Rangoon and no further resistance to the allied forces was possible, Netaji called a cabinet meeting to have a discussion regarding the further strategy. Netaji said that he had decided to stay back in Rangoon and fight till the last and if needed die in the process. Cabinet rejected this and had the opinion that struggle should not be given up as yet. The third division under Col. G.R Nagar was still there in Malaya and more recruitment could happen if the Japanese supplied arms. It was possible to reorganize the army in Siam. Also it was possible to continue the battle of liberation from China or Russia. Netaji had to eventually give in to the proposal. Maj. Gen. Loganadhan who volunteered to stay back, was to preside over the INA surrender in Rangoon and was to make sure that Indians were not harassed. He was put in charge of the troops (about six thousand strong) and R.M Arshad became his chief of staff. The troops were provided with the supplies and the money they required from the Azad Hind Bank. Maj. Gen Loganadhan also ensured maintenance of law and order in Rangoon until the arrival of the British troops. A sum of five lakhs of rupees was donated to the provisional Government of Burma who had sought help. Writes Hugh Toye, "14th Division of the British Indian Army's drive southwards reached Pegu on April 28th, where in the nick of the time, the Japanese had concentrated two makeshift brigade groups to cover the end of their withdrawal from Rangoon. The battle was ending on May 1st, when, two weeks early, the monsoon broke and halted the 14th Army's drive south. The last Japanese left Rangoon on 30th April." He continues, "Loganadhan's authority, which had perhaps helped preserve the order in the city, lasted until May 4th when the first assault craft reached the quay. On May 3rd, the senior British prisoner in Rangoon Gaol had already ordered the disarming and concentration of the INA and this was in progress when 26th division arrived. The British army had curbed all INA slogans under threats but could not disarm the Bal Senas - both boys and girls, who would enthusiastically shout Jai Hind and would escape. There the estranged brothers met - like Col. K.S Thimayya of British Indian Force meeting his own brother K.P Thimayya of INA, who had joined the Reinforcement Group, who would put up a formal proposal for surrendering with dignity. Thus peacefully did the Indian independence movement in Burma came to an end, its leaders behaving with dignity and giving what assistance they could to the British commanders. Seven hundred and fifty of the ex Indian Army officers and men were shipped to India for investigation in May. They were followed, as the months passed, by many thousands more from Rangoon, from Malaya and Bangkok." Japanese forces continued to fight further north in the Pegu Yomas and prevented the British forces from pushing towards the Sittang Moulmein railway. The only way for Netaji to retreat was to go via Sittang to Moulmein and thereafter to Bangkok. A handpicked unit, about 500 strong, under Major Surajmal, were chosen to proceed by foot to Moulmein. They reached Pegu, crossed the Sittang river and reached Moulmein. About forty picked men of Azad Hind Dal and Azad Hind Fauj also marched along and reached Moulmein.
Bose, along with Major Swami, S.A Ayer, A.C Chatterjee, J.K Bhonsle, M.Z Kiani, and the last batch of about 100 Ranis, started on April 24. He had asked for transportation for all his women fighters. At first they were supposed to be transported in a train, but they did not get an accommodation. Netaji was furious. After discussions with Isoda, the Japanese decided to provide a convoy of trucks for Ranis. About 4 cars and 12 trucks were provided, 3 of the trucks exclusively for the Ranis. Netaji risked a long and strenuous journey along with his men. Head of Hikari Kikan, Lt. Gen. Isoda and Ambassador Hachiya went with him. Before leaving he delivered his final message to the Indians in Burma, to the Burmese Provisional Government, and to the Azad Hind Fauj. He thanked the Burmese Provisional Government and the people of Burma, for helping and supporting the Provisional Government of free India to carry on its struggles. To the Indian community he said, "I am leaving Burma with a very heavy heart. We have lost the first round of our fight for independence. But we have lost only the first round. There are many more rounds to be fought. Inspite of our losing the first round I see no reason for losing heart. You, my country men in Burma, have done your duty to your motherland in a way that has evoked the admiration of the world." He continued, "I have the fullest confidence that spirit can never be crushed." He assured them, " When the history of India's last war of independence comes to be written, Indians in Burma will have an honourable place in that history." He said, "I do not leave Burma of my own free will. I would have preferred to stay on here and share with you the sorrow of the temporary defeat. But on pressing advice of my ministers and high ranking officers, I have to leave Burma to continue the struggle for Indian's liberation.Being a born optimist, my unshakable faith in India's early emancipation remains unimpaired and I appeal to you to cherish the same optimism. I have always said that the darkest hours precedes the dawn. We are now passing through the darkest hour, therefore the dawn is not far off. India shall be free." To Azad Hind Fauj his message was, "Brave officers and men of Azad Hind Fauj. It is with a heavy heart that I am leaving Burma, the scene of many heroic battles that you have fought since February, 1944 and are still fighting. In Imphal and Burma we have lost the first round in our fight for independence, but it is only the first round. I am a born optimist and I shall not admit defeat under any circumstances. Your brave deeds in the battles against the enemy on the planes of Imphal, the hills and the jungles of Arakan and the outfield area and other localities in Burma, will live in the history of our struggle for independence for all time. He continued, "At this critical hour I have only one word of command to give you, and that is that if you have to go down temporarily, then go down fighting with the national tri colour held aloft; go down as heroes; go down upholding the highest code of honour and discipline." Hi final words to them were, "My unshakable faith in India's liberation remains unimpaired...Indian shall be free and before long. May God bless you. Inqilab Zindabad, Azad Hind Zindabad, Jai Hind."