From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : World History: India's contribution in two World Wars
During his four-day visit to the UK and Italy, the Indian Army Chief will inaugurate the Indian Army Memorial at Cassino in Italy, about 140 km away from Rome.
What is the memorial about?
- The memorial commemorates over 3,100 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the effort to liberate Italy in World War II.
- Apart from this, 900 Indian soldiers were also commemorated on this memorial.
What was happening in Italy in WWII?
- Under Benito Mussolini, Italy had joined Nazi Germany in 1936 and in 1940 it entered WWII (1939-1945) against the Allies.
- But in 1943, Mussolini was overthrown and instead, Italy declared war on Germany.
- The invasion of Italy by the Allies coincided with an armistice that was made with the Italians.
- Even so, the UK’s National Army Museum notes that for two years during WWII, Italy became one of the war’s most “exhausting campaigns” because they were facing a skilled and resolute enemy.
What was India’s involvement in World War II?
- In the first half of the 1940s, India was still under British rule and the Indian Army fought in both the world wars.
- It comprised both Indian and European soldiers.
- Apart from this, there was the East India Company Army that also recruited both Indian and European soldiers and the British Army, which was also present in India.
India the largest volunteer
- Indian Army was the largest volunteer force during WWII, with over 2.5 million (more than 20 lakh) Indians participating.
- These troops fought the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) as part of the Allies.
- By 1945, the Allies had won, Italy had been liberated, Adolf Hitler was dead and India was barely a couple of years short of independence.
- However, while millions of Indians participated, their efforts are not always recognized.