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December 30, 2012 2:12 PM   Subscribe

"Bobby grew up in Calicut on the Malabar Coast, part of its tiny community of Parsis, or Indian Zoroastrians. I knew that he had trained to be an engineer, and in 1942 had taken a commission in the British Indian Army. He had gone to war with the Bengal Sappers’ 2nd Field Company. Two years later, he had evidently run out of luck near Imphal."

Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize runner-up, by Raghu Karnad. (Frankly, I thought it better than the winner, which is behind a paywall.)

World War Two buffs will probably recognize the Battle of Kohima, essentially the Gettysburg of Japan in Asia. It will take more of a specialist to recognize the name of General Iwaichi Fujiwara. Or even of Subhas Chandra Bose and the pro-Japanese Indian National Army. Mr Karnad's essay, however, is probably the only thing written about Yangmasho Shishak, and even if for no other reason deserves attention.

RIP Godrej Khodadad Mugaseth.
posted by BWA (5 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Fascinating, thank-you. I just finished a biography of Auchinleck by Philip Warner, the British Field Marshal in command of the Indian Army during this stage of the Second World War (but not the campaign against the Japanese) and the last commander of the Indian Army, for which he had great affection. He had great hopes that it would be a bastion against the chaos and murder that accompanied partition, but this came to naught.

Indian Army soldiers fought in the Boer war, and on the Western Front in the First World War. The Indian Army was a different organisation from the British Army, which (unfairly) looked down on it - race of course played a part, as well as a different culture and relationship with the UK. White British officers and Indian men, generally, though this was changing throughout the last years of the Empire.

I think it's fair to say that it was when India decided it no longer wanted us around and threw us out that the end of the Empire was certain.
posted by alasdair at 2:40 PM on December 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

I felt a pang for the solitary East African, a black man buried amid brown men who fought yellow men at the orders of white men

We are so in love with war that we are scared anyone will miss out on the fun. Good article, thanks.
posted by arcticseal at 4:39 PM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The various conspiracies and controversies around Subhas Chandra Bose's death, today a more popular national figure than Nehru.
posted by BinGregory at 8:54 PM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

What an amazing story! Thanks.
posted by mdonley at 1:36 AM on December 31, 2012

Great post and unusually useful supporting links; bravo and thanks!
posted by languagehat at 7:46 AM on December 31, 2012

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