SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

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Note: My article "Bank Notes of the Free India Movement" was awarded an achievement certificate in 2001 from the International Bank Note Society. Some parts of that article are incorporated in this article. The Italian website "Dal Volturno a Cassino" (“From a Volturno Cassino” ) has requested and received permission to use images from this article that are connected to Indian forces fighting at Monte Cassino. The founder and editor of the website Great Game India, a quarterly magazine on geopolitics and international affairs has requested and received permission to use Images and text from this article inthe October-December 2015 issue of his magazine. In 2016, AIM Television requested and received permission to use material from this article for "The Bose Mystery" for telecast on the Discovery Channel. In 2016, author and historian Soumya Basu received permission to use text and images from this article for a book on Subhas Chandra Bose. A PhD candidate using this article for research said in 2016, "The British propaganda as well as the German propaganda in India is highly under-researched still. Your site is a pioneering work for foray into this area." Some images from this article have appeared on the Hindi YouTube Channel SOCH. Soch's aim is to empower Indians with fact-led information on issues that matter to their society, but are either ignored or accepted with little questioning. The title of the 9-minute feature is “Why did the Japanese army airdrop this poster over Assam in 1944?” India Today magazine printed a special issue on Mahatma Gandhi (to mark his 150th birth anniversary on 2 October 2019). They used some of our images for a story titled "The Collected words. In 2020, Graham Shaw used this article as a reference in his article: A LITTLE-KNOWN DIMENSION OF INDIAN FREEDOM MOVEMENT ICONOGRAPHY: Indian-language leaflets printed by the Japanese during the Second World War. In 2020 the website "Resources for Indian Exhibiting" requested the use of images from this article.

In late 1990 as a United States Army Master Sergeant I was assigned the task of researching and giving a briefing on the military power of India. Like many Americans, I assumed it was a third-world nation with a limited military. How wrong I was. India is a first-class power with a large well-trained army and air force and a surprisingly modern navy with a number of aircraft carriers. I did my briefing and have watched the growth of the Indian military ever since.

In my Internet article about Japanese wartime propaganda I depict a number of leaflets that were prepared and disseminated by the Japanese in an attempt to drive a wedge between the United Kingdom and the troops of her largest colony fighting in Asia. At the same time, German psychological warfare personnel were also preparing propaganda leaflets targeting Indian troops fighting in Europe. By coincidence I had begun writing about philatelic and numismatic propaganda of the Free Indian Movement as early as December 1971 when I wrote about the “Free India” stamps for the Society of Philatelic Americans Journal. In 1972, I published a booklet entitled Azad Hind and Chalo Delhi Stamps along with Jal Cooper in Bombay. More recently, in 2001, I wrote about the “Free India Movement Banknotes” for the International Banknote Society Journal. Although this is just one area I have studied, I can probably claim to be an “old India hand.”

To make it even more interesting, the Psywar Society asked me to review Dr. Arunkumar Bhatt’s book, Psychological Warfare and India, Lancer Publishers, New Delhi, India, 2006. The book was originally Dr. Bhatt’s PhD thesis. The book has limited information about psychological warfare by and against India in WWII, but there was enough to whet a taste for more research. Dr. Bhatt was also very willing to translate leaflets from my archives. So after looking at all the data and the various leaflets I had accumulated it occurred to me that we had enough data for a short story. This obviously is not the official history of Psychological Operations (PSYOP) against India; hopefully that will be written in a second book by Dr. Bhatt. This is meant to be simply an introduction to the “divide and conquer” propaganda against Great Britain and India by the Axis powers. I should also point out that in general Dr. Bhatt translated the leaflets literally in a very formal and classic way. I have changed the text into “American” for ease of reading and to try and capture the message that I believe the propagandists were trying to disseminate. Some minor changes were made to the literal text.

I should point out that the leaflets to the Indians were in a variety of languages. For instance, Burma and East Asia (Malaya, Singapore, etc.) had majority of Tamil population among Indians. They wholeheartedly donated to Indian National Army so many of the leaflets are written in Tamil. Similarly, Bangla was major language in eastern/north-eastern India so leaflets in that language were apparently dropped over Northeast India including the current Bangladesh. We don’t know much about dissemination, but we have seen leaflets written in Urdu, Hindi, Bangla, Hindustani, Nepali (similar to Hindi), and Tamil. I should also tell the reader that there will be some duplication, some difference in opinions and numbers. This article was written from both British and Japanese references, and as you might imagine, they sometimes differ greatly on exactly what happened.


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Azad Hind Flag

Britain had controlled the Indian subcontinent since the late 18th century. There had been numerous uprisings and agitation as the Indians attempted to free themselves from the British yoke. In WWI, India supplied great quantities of war materials and soldiers to the British cause. Indian regiments were mobilized and shipped off to fight in Europe and Africa. Bhatt says:

The Psychological Branch of Military Intelligence in the War Office, MI 7 (b) had established a sub-division specializing in conducting press propaganda to colonies and dominions. The branch studied a list of 200 papers supplied by the Royal Colonial Institute, and distributed the matter “thought suitable for each.” Despite the selectivity, born out of psywar needs, it was found that each article could be used in about ten newspapers in different parts of the Dominions…The sister sub-division, MI 7 (b) (2)…composed a series of pamphlets on the role of the Indian regiments.

I mention this because although this article is on propaganda against India by enemy forces, we should remember that the occupying British also constantly propagandized the Indian people to keep the nation in a tranquil captive state.

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India Springs to Action

An example is this British leaflet coded “C” depicting an Indian tiger and the flags of the Allied nations. The back has a propaganda message in Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese and English. The text is:

India springs to action, and side by side with Britain, America, Russia and China will trample underfoot the tyranny of Germany and Japan.

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Britain Delivers the Goods…

Other propaganda was in the form of three patriotic cards in red, brown and blue that depicted British naval convoys on the front, each in a different color with the text:


There are apparently several different texts on the back. One card coded 31-8244 has a BBC World Radio information message on the back. It lists most of the areas of the world including Pacific, North America, South America, Africa and the Near and Far East. The times and wavelengths of the broadcasts are listed, and of course we find one set of broadcasts to India, Burma, Malaya and Australia.

Another of the cards has a short propaganda text in twelve languages; including Hindu, Urdu, Burmese, French, Arabic, English and others. Researcher Jyotirmay Bareria told me:

German U-boats intercepted and sunk cargo ships and eventually the ships had to be protected by the British Navy. The navy warships formed convoys to protect the shipping and were quite successful. Sometime in mid 1940, a textile firm in Bradford came out with idea of stenciling the slogan “Britain Delivers the Goods,” surmounted by a Union Jack. Soon, similar stencils were sent to thousands of exporting firms. The slogan became so popular that variety of labels and cards were printed to encourage patriotic feelings among the people under Allied protection.

The text in all languages is:

Britain delivers the goods – thanks to the British Navy

A second and third card depict a convoy of cargo ships with armed escorts and aircraft flying overhead. The titles are:



The same message appears in twelve languages on the back of both cards.

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British “Keep Quiet” stamps for India

When a nation is at war it constantly tells its people to be quiet; not to spread rumors or talk about any wartime operations they might be aware of. One famous quote in the United States was “Loose lips sink ships,” often printed on posters showing an Allied ship slipping beneath the waves from a German torpedo or a sailor drowning at sea. Here we depict part of a sheet of wartime stamps prepared in India to be placed on envelopes and such to remind the people to be careful about what they say. There is a brief statement in pencil at the top of the sheet that says:

India 1942/43. Two removed by Indian authorities.

The sheet was mounted on a page that had a comment:

Japanese flag and dagger labels. Note manuscript on top margin – which is said to be in the hand of Francis J. Field.

Most Americans will never have heard of Field, but he was a British researcher and expert on stamps and leaflets who wrote the book: Aerial Propaganda Leaflets, a book I have in my bookcase.

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The front and back of envelopes mailed in India bearing anti-Japanese warnings against idle talk. From my friend Jyotirmay Bareria.

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Join the Indian Air Force

It was not just the Navy that the British bragged about. Here is an advertisement offering Indians the opportunity to fly with the Indian Air Force. Curiously, the bomber overhead seems to show British roundels on the wings.

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L397- 26-1-43

There seems to have been an entire series of British leaflets to India that bear the code “L” with a number and a date. They do not appear in the Psywar Society’s Guide to Series Codes used on Air-dropped Propaganda Leaflets during World War Two, so I suspect these were handed out rather than air dropped. We depict the leaflet “Think it Over” which tells of the Japanese lies of freedom and independence to native people while they kill Indians for various reasons. The codes I have seen imply that this leaflet-letter was possibly issued daily. Some of the titles are: “War at sea and in the air”; “Can bombing win the war”; and “He who attacks America will die.”

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British National War Front

There are a number of different British news sheets or “talking points” that were prepared and disseminated among the Indians as part of the war effort. I have seen many different and never add them because they are long on words and short on images. However this 1942 series of National War Front leaflets is interesting because in this one, they admit that they are a “foreign ruler” and argue that they are a better foreign ruler than the Japanese would be. An interesting argument! This series is explained by a series of covering letters which say in part:

The ideas given below include some which have been or are being adopted in many Indian states…War Front ideas will be circulated periodically during the initial stages of the campaign…All village headmen etc., to be called to the state capital to receive a personal address from the ruler…Exhibition coaches to run on narrow meter railways fitted with photographs, posters, diagrams, maps literature, loud speakers, lecturer, magic lantern or cinema….

Prepare mailing lists of all persons, official and non-official, who have influence…Such persons to receive suitable reading material regularly.

Posters are issued in English, Marathi, Kanarese, Tamil, Telegu, Malaylam, Hindi, Urdu, Gurmukhi, Sindhi, Ooriya, and Bengali. They will also be printed in Pushtu and Assamese when the demand warrants it.

The British also sent out radio talking points to be used in broadcasts to the Indians. One dated 28 November 1942 and printed in 5525 copies mentions the Japanese and Pearl Harbor. It recommends that some of the following be rebroadcast:

The Tokyo propagandists wish the world and the Japanese to believe that it was America that forced the patient, long-suffering Japanese Government into war…

Japan is so anxious to prove her so-called innocence to the world simply because the Japanese are realizing that their quick and cheap early successes did not lead them anywhere and that the war is going to be a costlier proposition than the Jap War Lords had reckoned with…

This is how Mr. Cordell Hull described Japan’s last hypocritical note to America on December 7 1941: “crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions on a scale so huge that I have never imagined until today that any government was capable of uttering them.”

During the course of the war, as the enemy dropped thousands of leaflets upon the Indians fighting for the British, they retaliated with propaganda leaflets and radio programs for those Indians who had joined the Germans and Japanese as part of their fight for liberation. This is mentioned in some depth by Y. M. Streatfield in the Major Developments in Political Warfare throughout the War 1938-1945. Some of his comments are:

Our major success was with the Indian National Army which proved a most receptive target, the vast majority of its members surrendering when they found themselves in a position to do so and a particularly good result occurring in Burma in the autumn of 1944 when 3 out of 4 who surrendered said this was the result of British leaflets. Less spectacular but no less useful was our anti-Japanese propaganda in Burma which removed the last doubts from the minds of the already wavering population.

The Psychological Warfare Division at Southeast Asia Command was not actually set up until 6 June 1944. But in the meantime and until July 1944 front-line propaganda was carried out by 5 units raised by the British Special Operations Executive (S.O.E), two in Arakan and three at Imphal...During this period the target was the battle area and lines of communication in Burma and propaganda was based on London directives and, when it was drawn up, on the joint Allied plan. Leaflet dissemination rose from 250,000 to one and one-half million a month and a most fruitful target was found in the Indian National Army whose reaction to our “surrender” campaign was enormous.

British researcher Lee Richards added more on this subject when he reported on the use of political/psychological warfare field units by the British Army in South East Asia. He said in part:

On the British side, the five Indian Field Broadcasting Units established by the Special Operations Executive beginning in 1943 was one of the more noteworthy endeavors in the region. The first IFBU was active during the Abakan campaign. It was the brainchild of George Steer, a pre-war Times war correspondent that made his name reporting on the Italian atrocities during the invasion of Abyssinia and later reporting on the Spanish Civil War.

Numbering about 60 all ranks per unit, they were tasked “to carry out frontline propaganda against the enemy, and also behind the enemy lines” with this to be accomplished “by loudspeaker apparatus, by distribution of leaflets, cartoons and other printed material by hand and by mortar, and by patrols whose ostensible purpose was to sell trade goods to local inhabitants.” The trading with local inhabitants behind the lines was found to be an excellent way of securing both intelligence about the Japanese enemy and to foster goodwill amongst the local population. Sugar and salt proved to be particularly valuable trading goods as they were in such short supply.

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See the Dawn of Great Asia

We depict a Japanese postcard above. Here is a Japanese propaganda postcard that depicts Turbaned Indians being freed of slavery while an American airplane has crashed in the background and Allied flags lie on the ground. Some of the text is:

See the terrible history of one thousand years of slavery. The day of judgement has come to America and Britain for their greed

See the dawn of great Asia. Hear the delight of the people. The Newly born great Asia in the surging waves of the Southern Seas.

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The anti-British movement in India has exploded

This anti-British Japanese postcard to the Indians depicts the large head of Winston Churchill with tongues reaching out like an octopus to steal Indians and their products, and contains the following propaganda messages on the front:

The anti-British movement in India has exploded. India is desperately calling for Japan’s help.

British and Jewish conglomerates are making money by weapon manufacturing in India.

Britain has prohibited the anti-British movement and encouraged the war against the Axis powers.

Britain at its last breathe is seeking the life-blood on India.

On the address side in Japanese we find:


Copyright reserved by the Imperial Rule Assistance Association

Published by the Imperial Rule Assistance Association


Hugh Toye adds in The Springing Tiger:

But the effects of climate and hunger, and ofmalaria, against which the INA had none of the protection which so signally benefited the Indian Army in 1944, reduced the regiment by June 15 to less than a thousand men. The second-in-command of the regiment, who had been in hospital at Chamol, deserted almost immediately upon return to the front. Before long, “safe conduct passes” and leaflets signed by him urging members of the INA to return without fear to the Indian Army as he had done, were scattered by aircraft over INA areas...The Punjabi Muslims, of whom there was a proportion in each battalion, began to desert in such numbers that 80 of them had to be disarmed and sent to the rear.

On 2 March 1944 five staff officers from the 2nd Division Headquarters at Mount Popa deserted and surrender leaflets signed by them were dropped on INA positions.

An example of a British leaflet to Indian troops is:

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A very interesting Allied aerial leaflet to Indian soldiers gives both sides of the argument for the Indians joining the Japanese to fight Britain. This is very strange propaganda because it actually makes an argument for joining the Japanese, though certainly a weaker one than for refusing to join with them. The front depicts an Indian (Subhas Bose) riding a Japanese bomb that is about to fall on an Indian family. The image implies that following Bose’s philosophy of collaborating with the Japanese leads directly to dead Indian civilians killed by the Japanese.

The same message appears on the front and the back in four languages:


Read what they say, and think!


I have no desire whatsoever to woo any power to help India in her endeavor to free herself from the foreign yoke.

There can be no question of my approval of Subhash Babu’s policy.

I want to resist with all my might the charge of inviting Japan to India.


Harijan, June 21, 1942


Without outside help the Indian Revolution would not be successful. In the history of the world, it is not a new thing to get assistance from other nations for winning freedom for one’s country.

Speech July 6, 1943

I see no reason why I should have any doubt or mistrust with regard to Japan’s intentions.

Speech July 4, 1943

The code BNS is not recorded anywhere in military archives and since it was just handwritten on the leaflet it may be incorrect. We are not sure what it represents.

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Quisling – Son of India

Another uncoded Allied leaflet to the Indians using the exact same Gandhi quote attacks Bose and calls him a “Quisling.” Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian army officer and politician who was pro-Nazi and appointed Minister President after the German invasion of Norway. He ruled German-occupied Norway from February 1942 to the end of WWII. After the war he was tried for high treason and executed by firing squad. To be called a Quisling is to be called a traitor and collaborationist. The front of the leaflet depicts Bose holding India in chains and passing them to a caricatured Japanese officer holding a bloody sword. The text is:


The back is all text and says in three languages:


Mahatma Gandhi
Harijan, 21 June 1943

Devanshi Shah says in his research paper Propaganda Art in the Colonial Freedom Movement:

Here we see Subhas Chandra Bose putting the subcontinent, represented by Bharat Maa (Mother India), in binds and handing her over to the Japanese Army. There is a symbol of the rising sun behind the Japanese character equating the single protagonist to the entire Army.

Some of the known British codes for leaflets targeting Indian troops are “SH / (numerical)" for leaflets and “HH / (numerical)” for news sheets. It is believed that no more than 33 of the "SH" leaflets were produced.  The last leaflet, SH/33, is entitled "Japan Surrenders." The "HH" product was called Hamara Hindustan, a small four-page weekly newspaper with war maps and stories of the progress of the war both in Asia and in Europe. The last issue is HH/86 entitled "Japanese Surrender Notice."

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HH/84 – First and Last Page

The British propaganda newspaper Hamara Hindustan was printed in Urdu. The first three pages were news, the fourth page, photographs. I selected issue HH84, dated 20 August 1945 because the photographs on the last page were so interesting. Notice that they feature the “Big Three;” Truman, Churchill and Stalin. In addition, the paper depicts Lord Mountbatten, Chiang Kai-shek and General Douglas MacArthur.

We know a lot about this British propaganda newspaper because many were archived in Lord Louis Mountbatten’s personal papers that were donated to the University of Southampton after his death. Much of Mountbatten’s papers dealt with propaganda in the Indian language directed against Indians in Japanese-occupied territories. Rod Auckland wrote about this in the Falling Leaf, Journal of the Psywar Society, in issue 135, winter 1991. He says that in November 1944, the newspaper was edited by the staff of general Auchinleck in Calcutta and distributed by the forward base of the Psychological Warfare Division (PWD), South East Asia Command (SEAC).

Hamara Hindustan was a large (15” x 10”) 4-page newssheet probably first produced and printed as early as January 1944 by General Headquarters, India. It bore no code serial number or date…The title banner was graphically different for nearly every issue…In the late summer it was reduced to 9” x 6 1/2.” At that time the title, date of issue and code number were added as a footnote. The new, reduced size first appeared in August and was coded “SHN” (SEAC Hamara Newssheet). The code was altered to “HH” in September.

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SHN/1 dated 4 August 1944 has three pages of news. Some of the stories are:

Tojo is finished: Hitler is hunted
Indians chase the Japs.
Sepoy gets Victoria Cross from King.
Guerilla hit Japanese supply lines.
War in the Pacific – lack of supplies kills thousands.
Russians invading Germany.
Punjab gives food grain.

The photographs on page four depict Japanese supply ships being sunk, German soldiers captured or surrendering in Europe receiving good treatment and food, and Allied aircraft that are coming in their thousands to defeat Japan. A small calendar has also been added at the lower left.

Auckland points out that the distribution of the paper became a war of words between groups that thought the Indian National Army was a threat and those who thought it was a very weak organization that should have a low priority for psychological operations. This fight apparently continued to the end of the war.

One of the documents in the Mountbatten files is a invoice for leaflets to be dropped. The document, dated 7 March 1945 includes:

HH/62 Hindustan Newssheet, 10,000 copies, 100 pounds. To be dropped over the Andaman Islands and over Rangoon or Moulmain.

2 M.P.S./H/1.

There is also a very short series of about seven leaflets produced right at the end of the war by the British 2nd Mobile Printing Shop. They are written in different languages and coded starting with "2 M.P.S./H."¯ and ending with a single leaflet number like "1"¯ or "2".¯ The text on H1 is in Hindustani on one side and in Urdu on the other side.


We have heard that you have made a wise decision and you want to join us.

Your relatives who thought you were dead due to Japanese deceit will be relieved after hearing this news.

Don't be worried. Your terrible times are over. If you can't come in a group, then come one-by-one along with your ammunition.

Many of you have joined us and already and returned to their friends and family.

The Japanese say that if you surrender then you will be executed. That is a lie. Be assured; just surrender your arms to our forces. You will be well treated.

2 M.P.S./H2.

The Text is in Hindustani on one side and in Urdu on the other side.

To the Soldiers of Indian National Army

You are well aware of how you are treated by the Japanese. You all had to walk from Malaya while the Japanese travelled by rail and motor vehicle. This is how they treat you. When you all reached here, they didn't allow you to rest, instead pushed you in the front lines of the battle.

You have been bearing these difficulties living outside India for almost three years. We are well aware that you have such difficulty. If you join us, then you can meet your friends and soon you will be in India.

Decide quickly and act on it. If you don't do that then as the Japanese retreat they will force you to go back and do menial work. You should remember when you were arrested earlier and you were forced to stay hungry and do menial work. These are the same Japanese.

This is the opportunity for you. Don't lose it. Come join us now. You have the opportunity to inflict wounds on your enemy. Stop mingling with them, burn their supplies, destroy their arms and ammunition and then come join us. We promise that you will be back in India shortly.

Leaflet 2 M.P.S./H.3.

The text is in Hindustani on one side and in Urdu on the other side. It depicts the insignia of the 2nd Indian Division.

In the name of 1/2-2/3-3/2 Infantry Regiment officers and soldiers

All of the officers and soldiers of 1/2 Infantry know me well because I was their commander until July 1944. The rest of them also know me well because I have been second in command of the regiment. I know it very well that now you want to return to India. Now, I will tell you how you can make it happen.

I know why you haven't switched sides yet. That's because you fear the Japanese. Why do you fear the Japanese? When I could easily join the 2nd Division Headquarters along with four other officers and soldiers then it is also easy for you all to join us since you are in the front line.

I and my officers have been treated very well. And I have come to know that such treatment is given to every Indian soldier who has returned. Everyone is aware here under what circumstances you are with tyranny and the wicked Japanese. So, what is there to fear?

Come back to our side and in a few days, you will be in India.

March from PoPa to Shamal and you will find our patrols.

Major Mohd. Sarwar.

Leaflet 2 M.P.S./H/4.


The Japanese Armies in Burma have been smashed

Mandalay has fallen to the victorious British and Indian forces. Soon - very soon - not a single JAPANESE soldier will be left in all BURMA.

With threats and false promises the JAPANESE forced you to fight alongside them. You know only too well haw they treated you. They treated you like dogs.

In their headlong flight out of BURMA they will drag you with them. Every step you take now leads you further from your beloved Motherland.

But there is still hope for you. We know you are not in the front lines now. To come over to us is easy. This is how you should do it. Set off from your camp and move north. Avoid all the main roads. Use only the jungle paths. Soon you will meet up with our advancing troops.

To every soldier who takes this brave step we give the promise: YOU WILL BE IN INDIA WITHIN A FEW DAYS.

Every day now is vital. Every day you delay lessens your chance of ever seeing India again.


2 M.P.S./H5.

H5 is quite different from the other leaflets. This one is in English with orange-brown text, and Tamil on the other side with green text. In this case I will show the English side and save some typing.

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Leaflet H7 above would seem to be the final leaflet of this series and is all text, written in Urdu and English. The text is:

A Government of India Communiqu says:

The Government is aware that many Indian prisoners of war have volunteered to co-operate with the enemy, because of the hardships and tortures to which they were subjected by the Japanese, and in the hope of being able to return to India, and that many of them have succeeded in escaping this way.

The majority of these men has reported to the military or civil authorities on arrival in India, and has given the authorities much information about conditions in Jap-occupied territories.

The Government wishes to make it clear that those who voluntarily give themselves up and tell our officers the full story truthfully, and whose only offense was that they became volunteers, will be in no kind of danger, and will be allowed to go to their homes and meet their families as soon as possible.

On the other hand, those who in attempting to carry out promises made to the enemy have engaged or do engage in espionage and subversive activities will be tracked down and punished with the greatest severity.

Now is the time for you to come over to us. Seize this opportunity. You need not bring this paper with you, but you may do so if you wish. Please tell your friends that they can come over to us with or without a copy of this paper.

This man is to be given a meal and take to an officer.

Seize your chance!

The reader should note that this propaganda message is a two-edged sword. It tells the Indians that they may desert from the Japanese freely with no fear of punishment. It implies to the Japanese that the Indians are a “Fifth Column” within their own forces that might at any time defect to the British and give information about Japanese tactics, plans and morale. It must have made the Japanese uneasy about giving their Indian allies military information and trust.



This leaflet is a safe conduct pass written in Urdu.  The front depicts the family of an Indian soldier back at home. The image on the back shows the soldier's wife and child looking into the distance and wondering where their loved one is. My translator does not read Urdu,  so if anyone cares to send a translation it will be appreciated.  The short safe conduct message is written in English so any British soldier could understand that the holder of the leaflet was surrendering.


The text is in Hindustani on one side and in Urdu on the other side.


Indian Soldiers! We have news for you from airplanes so that you are aware of the misery that is about to happen to you.

We have learned that the Japanese can't withstand the British Indian Soldiers' fighting spirit, so they are fearfully retreating outside of Hindwin.

Do you know what that means for you?

The Japanese will force you to retreat along with them. They will forcefully ask you to work as a coolie. In fact, your life will be worse than a coolie. Your honor and respect will be destroyed.

You have only one choice left. You should immediately join British Indian forces. This is the last opportunity to escape from your current situation.

Don't be afraid. Just come to our side quietly. Throw away this paper after reading.

If you meet any of our soldiers, then ask them to take you to the nearest headquarters. Tell your story to officers. You will be treated well. This is our promise.



The text is in Hindustani on one side and in Urdu on the other side.



A while back I was also with you all and now, I am home in my country along with my army friends and my relatives. You are also aware of how Japanese had ill-treated us in Malaya and how they are treating us now.

I couldn't share my thoughts in Burma because the result would have been either death or even worse, a Japanese military police cell. You know some of your brothers who dared to raise their voices are dying in military police cells.

The Japanese used to tell us how the British forces would ill-treat us if we ever switched sides. I didn't worry about the consequences and now I am happy that I returned to British Government forces. Whatever the Japanese told us was a lie. They will never tell us the truth. Even now, when they are running away from Kohima and Ukhrul, they are telling only lies to you.

I never ever imagined that I would be treated as well as I have been. Now, you have the opportunity. Don't let it get away, otherwise you will regret it. You will be honored. Your well-wishers, relatives and family will celebrate.

Lieutenant B.S. Grewal


Brown Side

This leaflet was prepared with a brown image on one side, and a blue image on the other side. The text on both sides is in Hindustani and Urdu. The brown side depicts an Indian working as a coolie, and then lying dead on the ground. The text says in part:


Japan gives you two options: work as a Coolie or death! They ask you to choose one of the options

They had promised you that they would send you to your country India, but they very cleverly pushed you into the front line of fighting where they hide behind you.

Now, the Japanese are running towards the Chindwin River due to hunger and fear. They have no ammunition to fight with.

The Kohima-Imphal road has been open for quite some time and our Indo-British and Gurkha forces have been using this road. There are no Japanese in or around Imphal.

Indian forces have destroyed the arms and ammunition of the Japanese forces and have marched ahead a few miles from Tammu.

Blue Image

The blue side depicts an Indian soldier sitting at home among his friends in a time of peace. The text is:

As the Japanese retreat they also force you to retreat. You are moving far away from your family and country.

If you escaped from our forces, then the Japanese would force you to join manual labor units where they don't pay you for your work. Your life will be even worse than a regular coolie.

But, there is a way to escape from this. When hundreds of your soldier comrades realized that the Japanese have made fools out of, and, betrayed them, they came to our side. They realized that our forces always keep their promises and treat every soldier with respect and honor.

You will also be welcomed. You just must tell your real story to any of our officers. You will be treated well.

You should come to our side as soon as possible and you should do it secretly, so no one knows your true side. You will find yourself among friends when you join us.



British leaflet SH-16 is all text in Hindustani. The text on front is:

These things are ready for you.


Brave Indian Soldiers! Japanese plans have been destroyed because of which misery has fallen on you.

Due to lack of food supply you are dying. You have no ammunition left. You don't even have a bandage to put on your wounds. You don't even have aircraft that can defend you. You don't have rifles or Howitzers.

The text on the back is:

Now even your supply lines have stopped. We have captured Tamu and that supply line has also been broken which could have been used to get you supply.

Now the time has come that you join your old British Brothers.

They have food for you. They have medicines for you and even there is an arrangement of doctors who will treat you well.

Now the time has come for you to get rid of Japanese. British forces have been given instructions to treat you well.

If you tell your true story to any officer, then you will be treated well. This is our promise.



The text is in Hindustani on one side and in Urdu on the other side. The text is:


At the beginning of this year, many Indian soldiers came to Manipur along with the Japanese army (due to Subhas Chandra Bose). They were close to their Indian forces' brothers in that area. Incidentally, there were a few lucky people who switched sides and joined their Indian forces brothers. They are fortunate because now they are living happily in their house and are safe. Their other soldier brothers who couldn't make decisions instantly are now forced to retreat along with the Japanese as they are running away on the other side of Chindwin or towards Tiddim. Some of those have already died due to hunger while others are either hiding or have lost their way trying to save themselves from the Allied forces bombing.


Indian Brothers of Arakan, you are close to our forces. Be brave and grab this opportunity. If you join your brothers of the British Indian Army then you can easily return to your homes safely.

If you continue to help the Japanese, then you will never be able to return to your homes.

So, what do you wish! Decide quickly - now! Remember your other brothers who are in bad situations, those who couldn't take decisions quickly in Manipur.


This British leaflet is all text. Some of the text is:


The hour for the final liberation of Burma has come. Now is your chance to rid yourself of Japanese domination.

First, pounce upon all the Japanese in your area and kill them.

Then take up positions covering all the entrances to Rangoon from Prome and Bassoin.

Further orders will be issued later.

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The exact same message as 2MPS/H/7 above was placed on a second British leaflet coded SH/29. The leaflet is written in Urdu, Roman Urdu and English. This leaflet was stamped 14 May 1945 and that could be when it was disseminated or when it was filed by the British.

We mention SEAC above. A great number of leaflets were prepared by the Southeast Asia Command. This command covered Burma, Ceylon, India, Thailand, Indochina, Malaya and Singapore.

The leaflets had various codes. The four page newsletter Lay-Nat-Thah (Spirit of the Air) was coded SBN. SBN/1, Dated 23 September 1944, mentions that British troops chasing the defeated Japanese have occupied Sittaung. The newsletter was prepared by Forward Base, Psychological Warfare Division, SEAC. The highest number I have seen for this newsletter is SBN/53 dated 15 September 1945. This newsletter seems to have been aimed mostly at Burma, though it was filled with news about India.

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Leaflet SA-1

This leaflet was clearly dropped on numerous countries to declare the defeat of the Japanese. Notice that it has been printed in ten languages, including Hindustani

In addition, some Indian troops who escaped the Japanese were formed by British Force 136 in late 1943 into five platoons called the Indian Field Broadcasting Units (IFBU). They were assigned the task of propaganda patrols and raising the morale of civilians while attacking the Japanese with loudspeakers and small 2-inch by 3-inch leaflets fired from 2-inch mortars. A typical leaflet might say in four languages:

Safe Conduct Pass

Notice to Allied Forces: The man who brings this is to be well treated in accordance with normal practice.

South East Asia Command

The loudspeakers played Japanese music and gave reports of Japanese defeats, laced with exhortations to desert. Force 136 was the cover name for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and operated in South-East Asia from 1941 to 1945. Curiously, the current British 15 (UK) PSYOP Group has adopted as an insignia the stag's head first worn by the IFBU. According to their website, "the deer's antlers symbolize both the combat support function of PSYOPS and the antennae associated with a major means of dissemination of psychological warfare messages."

According to SOE in the Far East, Charles Cruickshank, Oxford University Press, 1983; the British used rumors and innuendos to help demoralize the Indians aligned with the Japanese. Some examples are:

As soon as the Japanese troops reached the frontier of India they were struck down by cholera as if by the Gods.

The Japanese are enrolling Burmese women in Battalions of Comfort and Cultural Relaxation [Forced prostitution]

Japanese soldiers that were reprimanded by a Malayan Imam for entering his mosque wearing boots had tortured him to death.

The Burma dream is over. 50,000 of your comrades rot in these hills.

He also mentions the Indian National Army:

The line taken with the Indian National Army serving with the Japanese was that those who willingly surrendered would come to no harm…The sooner they surrendered the better, since they would be driven further and further away from home, and end up as Japanese slaves. “Which do you choose? Coolie labor or death?” This sometimes had spectacular results. On one occasion 250 members of the Nehru Brigade surrendered in a body.

When war between Britain and Germany broke out on 3 September 1939, the British viceroy in India unilaterally declared India to be a belligerent. The move infuriated the Indian people and eventually the Indian Congress adopted a resolution on 8 August 1942 demanding freedom from Britain as a condition for Indian participation in the war. The British rejected this resolution, which led to widespread public disorder. The British then jailed members of the Indian Congress and this helped to create a leadership vacuum and provided an impetus for the ascendancy of Subhash Chandra Bose as a leader of the militant opposition.

Bhatt continues:

Being the most important colony of the British Empire, India was a very attractive target for the Japanese, and Churchill’s war cabinet had feared a Japanese invasion of India. Both the Axis powers – German and Japan – were establishing contacts with the Indian leadership…The Axis powers, particularly, Germany, had already made India a target of their psychological warfare.

The British responded with launching an Indian Section in the Eastern Service of the BBC in London, broadcasting in English and Hindustani…

Paul M. A. Linebarger discusses the Japanese propaganda system in Psychological Warfare, Washington Infantry Journal Press, 1948:

The Japanese developed a close-knit system (the Joho Kyuku) which combined public relations of both army and navy, all domestic government publishing, complete control of book publishing, magazines, press, radio, and film, propaganda intelligence and over-all psychological warfare.

The Japanese moved into the western colonial areas of the Far East between 1940 and 1942…They organized the following “independent” governments…Azad Hind (Free Indian government-in-exile) and the Azad Hind Army….

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Major Fujiwara Iwaichi

Joyce C. Lebra tells us that the Japanese had very early eyes on subverting Indian troops in Jungle Alliance – Japan and the Indian National Army, Asia Pacific Press, Singapore, 1971. As early as 1 October 1941 they sent Major Fujiwara Iwaichi to Thailand to make contact with anti-British dissidents. The Japanese knew the war was coming and already had the date of the Pearl Harbor attack, and wanted to have a pro-Indian independence organization in place. Iwaichi met with Pritan Singh, leader of the Indian Independence League. Lebra says:

The Sikh and his cohorts were already were already distributing propaganda leaflets among Indian officers and men in the British-India Army in the border states of Malaya…Pritan Singh suggested anti-British broadcasts beamed to India from Tokyo…

On New Year’s Eve, 1941, Iwaichi met Captain Mohan Singh, an Indian officer who had defected from the British Army. A decision was made to create an Indian National Army. Six points were agreed upon:

The Indians would organize an Indian National Army (INA).
The Japanese would give it whole-hearted aid.
The Indian National Army and the Japanese Army would cooperate for the time being.
The Japanese would recognize Mohan Singh as the leader of the captive Indians.
The Japanese would treat Indian captives as friends and allow them to join the INA.
The Indian National Army would be considered an Ally by the Japanese.

For the first time the name of Subhas Chandra Bose was brought up as a possible eventual leader of this army. After the start of the war and the early victories of the Japanese, the Indian propagandists moved forward with the Japanese Army:

Mohan Singh personally chose volunteers for his propaganda unit. The men wore regular uniforms and Fujiwara Kikan passes and “F” insignia to get through Japanese lines…With a hand-printing press and Hindi and Urdu movable type, they worked day and night printing the first propaganda leaflets…As fighting spread through Malaya and the battle lines fell under Japanese assault, increasing numbers of Indians were brought into Ipoh headquarters by the Propaganda teams.

Lebra says one of the main reasons for the failure of the INA to become a major fighting force was that the Japanese had never planned to add India as a part of their “Greater Prosperity Sphere.” They came across various anti-British factions and were willing to use them for propaganda purposes against the British, but they did not want to train and arm them fully, both as a possible future opponent and for the simple reason that it would be expensive at a time that the war was starting to turn against them.

In the first days of the Japanese invasion of Malaya they held about 2,500 Indian prisoners. This early group was formed into five battalions. Some INA propaganda troops broadcast from Saigon and Penang, and another detachment was sent to help with propaganda operations in Burma. Two companies of the INA accompanied the Japanese on the attack against Singapore. However, the refusal of the Japanese to allow the INA to grow into a formidable fighting force caused many officers and men to resign their positions and the unit was reorganized in 15 February 1943. At this stage the only thing that could revive the morale and fighting spirit of the INA was the arrival of Subhas Chandra Bose. >

Anthony Rhodes talks about the Japanese plans for India in Propaganda, Wellfleet Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1987.

India was regarded as potentially part of Japan’s Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. A “Free India” radio station was installed in Saigon, which encouraged the natives of the subcontinent to rise against their aggressors while the British were weak and fully occupied elsewhere. “Indian Independence” transmitters were also set up in Bangkok and Singapore, as was an “Indian Muslim Station.” The Japanese formed the Indian National Army with Subhas Chandra Bose as its leader. Numerous leaflets were dropped on British Indian troops calling on them to join the Japanese and help liberate their mother country. One gaudy leaflet showed two Indians chasing a caricature of a British soldier surrounded by his shattered equipment and tattered flag. Another anti-British leaflet declared that the Japanese Army had “exterminated the diabolical British power from all parts of East Asia” and it was now time to free India for the Indians.

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Subhas Chandra Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945) had been a fervent nationalist since his youth. For a time he was a follower of Gandhi, but he soon became disillusioned with the philosophy of non-violence. His book, The Indian Struggle, was published in 1934 and advocated a dictatorship form of government for India. Between 1920 and 1941, Bose was arrested eleven times for fomenting agitation. In 1939 he visited Berlin where he attempted to enlist Nazi support for his independence movement. Back in India, He was placed under close house arrest in 1940, but managed to deceive the British and escape, and after a historic overland trek to Kabul made his way back to Berlin in 1941. While in Germany he made broadcasts advocating freedom for India.

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The Indian Legion

He supported the elite special unit (Sonderkommando B) and the Indian Legion numbering about 3000 men that the Germans formed from Indian prisoners of war in North Africa. On 26 January 1942, Bose founded his Azad Hind (Free India) organization in the Kaiserhof Hotel in Berlin. The Axis powers immediately recognized and granted diplomatic representation to the new organization. Bose then gave anti-British speeches there that were broadcast by the Japanese in Thailand to India. The Indian Legion was to lead the German advance through Asia Minor and Afghanistan and into Northern India. Its members were recruited from among the prisoners-of-war captured in North Africa and later in Italy. 200 Indian Legion troops were parachuted into Iran under Operation Bajadere to undertake in sabotage operations. Three companies would be sent to Italy and see front line combat duty, the remainder of the Legion would be assigned to France guarding the Atlantic Wall, participating in anti-partisan operations and escorting supply convoys. In April 1943 the Legion’s three battalions were deployed to Holland, Then to France. In early 1944 the Legion was declared part of the Indian National Army. After D-Day they retreated with the German Army and disbanded in April 1945.

When the war ended most were captured and sent back to India to stand trial for treason against the British Empire. But civilian uproar caused by the very thought of trials to condemn fellow countrymen which had served with the Axis against their British overlords, caused the trials to be abandoned.

The Italians also recruited an Indian force from prisoners of war, known as the Centro Militare India. It existed from April 1942 to November 1942, when it was disbanded after a mutiny.

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A Japanese Propaganda leaflet Honoring Bose

This leaflet depicts Bose, backed up by Japanese tanks, cutting the head off a British lion that was feasting on Indian bones. The text in Hindi, Bengali and Urdu is:

Subhas Bose has beheaded British Lion

Hail! Subhas Bose Hail!

Bose was disappointed with his Fascist allies. The Germans refused to come out in favor of Indian independence. The Italians were even worse and unsure of what to do with Bose, kept him in virtual house arrest. He returned to Germany and broadcast Azad Hind (Free India) from Berlin and also published a propaganda magazine with the same title. Propaganda Minister Goebbels said in his diary:

March 1 – We have succeeded in prevailing upon the Indian Nationalist leader, Bose, to issue an imposing a declaration of War against England. It will be published most prominently in the German press and commented upon. In that way we shall now start our official fight on behalf of India, although we don’t as yet admit it publicly.

In May, Goebbels says that Mussolini wanted Bose to establish an Indian Government-in-exile but Berlin had not approved. He also notes that Japan was eager for a liberated Indian government.

According to Lebra writing from Japanese archives:

In August, when Bose assumed command of the renamed Azad Hind Fauj he reorganized it. Though he became commander, he refrained from assuming any personal military rank…

The Provisional Government of Free India came into being at an inaugural meeting on 21 October 1943 in the Cathay cinema building…Bose read a proclamation of Independence on behalf of the cabinet of the new government…The Japanese Government on 23 October announced its recognition. It was followed immediately by Germany, Italy, Croatia, Manchukuo, Nanking, the Philippines, Thailand and Burma.

Some of the recruiting of Indian troops is mentioned by Gurbachan Singh Mangat in Indian National Army, Gagan Publishers, New Delhi, 1991. He says that a party of 27 men under command of a Lieutenant Jamil Ahmed Khan was sent to Italy to interview Indian POWs captured by the Axis. The group also produced loudspeaker messages and propaganda leaflets to drop over Indian troops fighting with the British forces. Leaflets were also fired to the Indian troops by mortar and rocket (propagandawerfer).

In 2009, author Martin Bamber sent me a letter asking permission to use some of the images in this article and sending some further data on Jamil Ahmad Khan:

The rocket used was most likely the 7.3-centimeter PgGr41 rocket that could carry .5 kilogram of paper leaflets. Another squad led by Feldwebel Banta Singh used the 8.1-centimeter rocket. One of these leaflets was later recovered by an Italian farmer in the town of Faenza, near where the British 8th Indian Division operated in early 1945. On one side it pictured Indian soldiers (quoting their names, ranks, service numbers and former Indian Army units) receiving exemplary hospital care. The back had a Hindustani propaganda message:


What do you think? Do you still believe the English Propaganda that Germans kill their prisoners?


Overleaf are photographs of some of your comrades who were wounded in battle. They have been sent to a hospital and are receiving excellent care.


And they know how to act in a humane way.


Prisoners of war can spend their time in camps in comfort and will return home after the war is ended.


For the second edition where we will publish photographs of your friends who have been captured recently.

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March towards Delhi!

I love this Japanese leaflet because it depicts Bose at the head of his army, astride a horse and beating war drums. The text is in Hindi, Urdu and Bengali. It says:

March towards Delhi!

No power can stop Azad Hind Fauz [Indian National Army] marching towards Delhi.

Meanwhile, on 3 February 1943 Bose began a voyage aboard German submarine U-180 to the coast of Madagascar where he was met by Japanese submarine I-29. He reached Sabang on 1 May. He was immediately flown to Tokyo. He met with and impressed Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, and was sent to Singapore where he assumed the presidency of the Indian Independence League and command of the reconstituted Indian National Army (INA). On 21 October 1943, a Provisional Government of Azad Hind was formed with Bose as its first president. The Provisional Government of Azad Hind immediately declared war against Great Britain and the United States of America. By now Bose was well known throughout India and was called Netaji (“Revered Leader”).

Mohan Singe began the formation of the Indian National Army in Singapore. Once Bose arrived from Europe he assumed command to the INA. Three divisions were ultimately formed. The first division disintegrated in August 1944 after the disastrous attack on Imphal. 6,000 Indians marched into the jungle, 2,600 disabled and ill troops marched out. The second division fought in Burma against the British in early 1945, but by May 1945 the troops threw down their arms in Rangoon. At its peak the INA numbered over 35,000 men, with about 17,000 in Burma and 14,000 in Malaya, the rest in recruiting and training camp.

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The Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi

It is worth noting that the very forward-thinking Bose wanted women fighters. When he took command of the Indian National Army in June 1943, he announced that he wanted women to join the freedom fight. Many women enrolled in the INA’s all-female Rani of Jhansi Regiment. The Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi died in battle in 1858 defending her state and was beloved as a brave warrior and patriot. She had once said in regard to the British:

We fight for independence. In the words of Lord Krishna, we will if we are victorious, enjoy the fruits of victory; if defeated and killed on the field of battle, we shall surely earn eternal glory and salvation.

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Captain Lakshmi Swaminathan

Also known as Lakshmi Sahgal; was an officer of the Indian National Army tasked with founding the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, and the Minister of Women's Affairs in the Azad Hind government. She is commonly referred to as “Captain Lakshmi,” a reference to her rank when taken prisoner in Burma during the Second World War. Above, she appears on a patriotic fund-raising commemorative banknote.

Bose with the all-female Rani of Jhansi guerilla corps in Singapore, 1943.
Wikimedia Commons

Inspecting the troops

Mr. A. K. Sengupta prepared a four-page booklet honoring Subhas Chandra Bose on what would have been his 67th birthday had he survived the war. In the image above, Bose is depicted inspecting a unit of the Jhansi Rani Regiment in Rangoon, 1944. Other pages show various Azad Hind and Commemorative stamps.

Sengupta - commemorative booklet

On his 67th birthday, 23 January 1964, India issued two commemorative stamps, honoring Bose, so Mr. Sengupta came up with a brochure showing Azad Hind stamps on one side and commemorative stamps on the other side. Both were postmarked with the same cancellation: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose - 23-1-64 - Netaji Bhawan. The Last Word Bhawan means "Big House,"¯ and was placed on the stamps because Bose's home was made a museum. The last page is a picture of Bose and his slogan "Unity, Faith and Sacrifice."¯


Asha/Asako, was born in Kobe, Japan in 1928 from Indian parents. She was still attending the Showa Girls' High School when she first met Indian nationalist, Subhas Chandra Bose who had arrived in Japan to rally support for the Indian National Army. Inspired by Bose, she rallied the cause of the Indian independence movement and joined the Azad Hind Fauj. Asha Sahay became a part of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, one of the very few all-female combat regiments of the Second World War on any side. Japanese diplomat Ryohei Kasai, wrote about her in "Asako, India's Freedom Patriot,"¯ 2016.

A contingent of combat-trained Ranis was deployed to Burma in May 1944. They never took part in combat operations and were returned to Bangkok due to British battlefield advances. Two of the females were killed in enemy attacks.

Bhatt says:

It can be said that India’s real involvement in modern psychological warfare began when Subhas Bose and his Indian National Army waged it. The Azad Hind radio stated its regular broadcasts from January 1942, in most of the prominent Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Pashto and also English. To recruit from the Indian community in South East Asia, the INA ran a sustained campaign, with leaflets printed in Hindi in both Devnagari and Roman scripts on various themes like: independence, ills of the British rule, exploitation, discrimination etc.

Author Roger E. Tidy tells us more about the various Indian propaganda radio stations:

“Free India Radio” (Azad Hind Radio) was the main propaganda station for India set up by the exiled Subhas Chandra Bose with German assistance.  Bose’s Provisional Indian Government in Berlin also had two other radio stations, namely “National Congress Radio” and “Free Moslem Radio.” (“National Congress Radio,” by the way, had nothing to do with the short-lived “Congress Radio,” which was a clandestine station operated by Gandhi supports on British soil). Moreover, there was an Italian-sponsored Indian station known as “Radio Himalaya,” run by the exiled Indian Moslem Iqbal Shedai. In addition to these stations, there was a German station manned by Indians called “The Brothers” (BBC Monitoring Service translation), to which the men in the leaflet *399/11 44 below are listening.

After the fall of Singapore in early 1942 the Japanese captured 40,000 Indian soldiers. Some volunteers were organized into an Indian National Army, better known as Azad Hind Fauz. This unit saw no action, and was torn by dissention among its high officers and with the Japanese. It was not an effective fighting force until the arrival of Netaji Bose in Singapore. In 1944, while under the command of Bose, the INA fought alongside the Japanese on the Burma front in an attempt to advance into India. The drive toward Imphal stalled. The Japanese retreated, and there was a horrendous loss of life among the troops of the INA. It became clear to Bose that his dream of a free India was ended. It would only be realized after the war by political rather than military means. Bose moved from Rangoon to Bangkok to Saigon. Two days after the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945, he attempted to preserve his political movement by flying to Manchuria where he hoped to gain asylum with the advancing Soviet forces. (Or, according to British Agent 1189, a spy in the INA high command, Bose was flying to Yunnan to set up a provisional government with the assistance of Communist Chinese forces). Lebra says that he was flying to the USSR to try and convince the Russians to free India from the north. A third published report stated that he was flying to the Japanese home islands.

Wherever he was going, Bose was killed on 18 August in an aborted takeoff after a refueling stop at Taihaku airport on Taiwan. Many Indians did not believe that Bose was killed in this crash and there were rumors that he had taken three bags full of gold and jewelry belonging to the Azad Hind Bank. Some thought that he was in hiding and would reappear again when the time was right. Lebra says the airport was Taihoku and local Indians donated two strong boxes full of Treasure for Bose’s use. Apparently there was a problem with the left engine and it was tested on the ground. Once the plane was airborne the left engine fell off the wing and the plane came down. Bose is said to have escaped from the plane, but fully on fire. He died soon afterward of third degree burns.

Tatsuo Hayashida, the Japanese officer who brought Bose’s ashes and treasure from Taipei to Japan tells us more about the death in Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose – His Great Struggle and Martyrdom, Allied Publishers, Bombay, 1970:

The plane was carrying thirteen passengers as against the maximum limit of nine, thus allowing the total load to reach about two tons against the maximum load limit of one ton…The entrance door was blocked and jammed by luggage…Netaji had to go through the fire…Netaji’s clothes were on fire. His trousers had caught fire and burnt to his body. He was wearing khaki drill clothes….

The “treasure,” many of the pieces melted, burned and scorched was placed in a wooden box and brought to Japanese headquarters. It was later handed over to Azad Hind authorities to be used as they saw fit. They were kept hidden from the occupation authorities until 1951 when they were placed in the National Museum at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

There were three separate official investigations into his death. The front page of the Calcutta Weekly from January of 1965 reads “Netaji is alive, American sources confirm.” There is a photo of Bose and the comment, “Netaji!! The nation pays homage to you.” After Indian independence in 1947, Subhash Chandra Bose was proclaimed a national hero. 

A brief comment about Subhas Chandra Bose. To the British he was a collaborator and traitor like Quisling of Norway who went over to the enemy at a time when Britain was fighting for its life and empire. Given a chance, they would have tried, convicted and hung Bose and all of his officers and government officials after the war, just as had been done to so many Germans at Nurnberg.

To some Indians at the start of the war, and I suspect most Indians at the end of the war, he was a patriot. Like George Washington or any liberator, he had taken the fight to the enemy in an attempt to free his country from foreign domination.

Was Bose a collaborator? Technically we have to say “yes” because he had to work with the Japanese to get training for his men as well as arms and transportation. Was he a traitor? I think we can say “no,” since he never was subservient to the Japanese and considered himself and his government their equal. The most telling aspect of his attitude about the price of freedom is that when the Japanese marched on India they wanted the Indians far to the rear, thinking them more trouble than they were worth. However, Bose wanted the Indian National Army to lead the attack and asked that the first foot on Indian soil be Indian and the first blood shed on Indian soil be Indian. Those are not the words of a collaborator and traitor.

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India honors Bose with Postage Stamps

Although the British, their allies and many Indians considered Bose a traitor because of his collaboration with both the Germans and the Japanese, there were many Indians that considered him a patriot who had sacrificed his career and life for the freedom of India. On his 67th birthday on 23 January 1964, India commemorated Bose with a pair of postage stamps. The commemorative booklet printed by the Indian Post and Telegraphs Department depicts the stamps and quotes Gandhi:

Netaji was like a son to me. I came to know him as a lieutenant full of promise…He preferred selfless service to selfish ambition…

Netaji’s name is one to compare with. His patriotism is second to none. His bravery shines through all his actions.

Shortly before his reported death, Bose had laid the foundation for an Indian National Army memorial in Singapore. One of the first actions of the British on their return to Singapore was to demolish the memorial.

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Bose: The Forgotten Hero

In 2005 Subhas Chandra Bose was recognized in Shyam Benegal’s motion picture biography: Bose: The Forgotten Hero. The movie depicts the last five years of the life of the Indian independence leader, from his resignation as the president of the Indian National Congress to the final radio announcement of his death.The film won two National Film Awards, the most prominent film awards in India.

A Japanese Leaflet for the Philippines that mentions India


Heavy industries in England

Before we leave the Area of Japanese leaflets, I think we should show this one that was prepared to be disseminated in the Philippines, but mentioned Great Britain, India, and the V1 Rocket. It depicts Indian factories and if you were to only see one side you would think it was for India. At the top of the leaflet German V1 missiles are blasting England, while below Japanese aircraft are bombing factories in India. One Indian worker smacks Prime Minister Churchill as he quickly leaves his workplace. The text is


Heavy industries in England are being threatened to be smashed by German V1s

Munition factories in India will be shortly reduced to ashes by the powerful Japanese air units

Fellow countrymen! Keep away from all the military objectives!

The other side of this leaflet is for U.S. and Filipino troops in the Philippines and depicts American President Roosevelt standing in formal dress and top hat, surrounded by sinking American warships with the Philippine island of Leyte in the background. This is a late leaflet, but since it mentions a 4th term, clearly Roosevelt is still alive. The text is:


For my reelection for the 4th term, I have no time to be thinking of tens of thousands of American youths who have been sacrificed in the battles off Formosa and off the Philippines.

German Leaflets

The Germans prepared a number of leaflets against the Indian troops of the British Army reminding them of their persecution at home and telling them of the Indian troops who had come over to the Axis in an attempt to win their independence. The leaflets are not particularly colorful although some have attractive images. Many are simply text in the various languages of the Indian subcontinent. We will depict several to give the reader a general idea of the type of propaganda leaflets prepared by Germany.

It is interesting to note that as always the Germans were playing both sides of the street. That is, at the same time that they were telling the Indians that they were their friends and wanted to help them escape the domination by the evil British, they attacked them in other propaganda. For instance, Pradeep Kanthan told me that his father was part of the British 8th Army in Italy in from 1943 to 1945. He added:

As a sapper he had to stay behind to remove the mines he had laid. He spoke Italian fluently by the time he came back to India. He told me about German propaganda when I was a kid. The Germans had spread leaflets to the Italian population saying that Indians were barbarians and would pillage and rape at will. It was very hard for Indians to get close to locals or get any support from them for this reason. My father found this out when he tried to employ locals in clearing minefields.

He said that in the East the Japanese spread similar propaganda. The Japanese pretended to be pro-Indian, but after the recapture of Burma and Singapore the Korean comfort women who were assigned to the Japanese forces wanted to surrender to American troops and not to Indian troops who they believed were barbarians.

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delta.gif (1104 bytes)161/9 44 "Free Excursion to London

This German leaflet depicts three Indian troops looking at three scantily-dressed dancing girls. The propaganda text is very interesting. The Germans claim that after the war the British intend to give any Indians who had been held prisoner, a tour of London. They then suggest that rather than being killed on the battlefield, wouldn't it be better to allow yourself to be taken prisoner so that you can take part in the free tour. The text is:

Tour of London! Free!

All India Radio Delhi has said in its evening news bulletin of 25 September 1944 that the British government has decided recently that those prisoners of war who would be in Germany would be sent to London after the war. Beautiful girls having magical eyes are waiting even from now itself for those Indians who had jumped into the flames of war for the victory of England but fortunately did not meet the death. After this pleasure trip (of London) they will be sent home.

But What Will Become of You Who Are Still on Battlefields?

Be victims of the chilly winds of the Alps
Be frozen in the freezing cold of Italy
Face the adversary's platoons and weapons
And finally, be targets of bullets!

Go to permanent sleep with the desire to go home!

If the war is going to end soon as the British propaganda says, then is it justified for you to lose your life in the terminal stage?

One stone two birds!

Protect your life!                  Tour of London via Germany!

And then home!

The back depicts the same three Indian soldiers enjoying a cruise on a ship named "London." The text is the same as on the front.

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delta.gif (1104 bytes)156/9/44

Another very busy "delta" leaflet depicts "Death" holding a British flag at the top and starving Indians below. The back has a long text message and depicts Churchill holding a bag of money. The text is very long and written in Urdu Roman letters and Urdu script. The text talks about the British and German radio broadcasts, the British causing strife between the Hindus and the Moslems, and the British looting of Indian foodstuffs and industrial items. It says in part:

Question from BBC London

On Thursday, 21st September 1944, BBC London had a question for our fighting soldiers on its morning program for Indians.

"Do you ever wonder why India is so poor? If you think about answering this question with all your new experiences and ideas you can figure out what can you do for betterment of India once the war is over."

We know that many of our brothers have never heard our [German radio] program, and very few of those who have heard our program believe what we say. However, we can answer the question about why India is so poor.

It is because of the unfortunate presence of Britain in India!

Why is that?

The British government's policy has been to cause confusion among Indians since the beginning. This confusion started during the reigns of the Muslim rulers and Hindu kings in India. Can anyone give any proof quoting facts that there was any such communal fighting before the British came to India?

No! There was not! Never!

India never had shortage of workers and farmers producing products and crops. But, who now gets all the wealth produced in India?

It is all sent to the British Empire and not used for the betterment of India!

Britain has ruled India for 200 years but the Indian poor are still dying because of hunger.

Why is that?

Because, all the food produced in India is sent to the hungry and starving British people. Besides a lot of potatoes and ice, the British produce nothing else.

Because of the British, there is also a weakening of the educational and industrial systems of 163-944

And this is the reason why India is so poor!

What did you see and learn in other countries?

The country has to be free and independent to be prosperous!

Think! Are you doing any good for your country helping the British?

india079.jpg (34818 bytes)

delta.gif (1104 bytes)163-944

The above leaflet depicts Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi weaving cloth. The leaflet is coded delta.gif (1104 bytes) 163-944 which indicates that it was disseminated in 1944 over Allied troops fighting in Italy by the Propaganda-Einsatz Fuehrer organization.  Text on the front is:

Boycott foreign goods!

The back is all text in several Indian languages:

The Mahatma’s life is full of sorrow, with many problems and sacrifices.

His thousands of companions also had to face the hardships of being a political prisoner. This is all for love of their country! They are doing all this for their country, for their Indian brothers, for you.

Yes for you! And your children too!

They should not have to join the army to fulfill their hunger and earn a living, and they shouldn’t have to give up their life for free for another country and race. Like you! And if you lose your life for this army all of the sacrifices of the Mahatmas will go to waste.

Be alive!

Don’t let the sacrifices be in vain! Take advantage of that whatever you do!

Think really hard before doing anything!

[Note] There are a number of German leaflets in the delta.gif (1104 bytes) series addressed to Indians. Some examples are delta.gif (1104 bytes) 131/8 44 "Happy Tidings", delta.gif (1104 bytes)146/8 44 "V1 India", delta.gif (1104 bytes) 156/9 44 "London's BBC Equivalent", and delta.gif (1104 bytes) 161/9 44 "Free Excursion to London."

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement. In India, he is recognized as the Father of the Nation. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha, the resistance of tyranny through mass civil disobedience. Gandhi is commonly known in India and across the world as Mahatma Gandhi. “Mahatma” can be translated as “Great Soul.” Non-cooperation and peaceful resistance were Gandhi's "weapons" in the fight against injustice. In December 1921, Gandhi was invested with executive authority on behalf of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi expanded his non-violence platform to include the boycott of foreign-made goods, especially British goods. Linked to this was his advocacy that homespun cloth be worn by all Indians instead of British-made textiles. Gandhi exhorted Indian men and women, rich or poor, to spend time each day spinning cloth in support of the independence movement. Gandhi was arrested on 10 March 1922, tried for sedition, and sentenced to six years imprisonment. In March 1931, the British Government agreed to set all political prisoners free in return for the suspension of the civil disobedience movement.

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British “Hand Spinning” Propaganda Leaflet

We should mention here that British propaganda attempted to refute Gandhi’s charges and produced propaganda leaflets such as the above where they claimed that the British laws had actually improved the Indian weaver’s lot, rather than harmed them.

With the onset of WWII, Gandhi declared that India could not be party to a war ostensibly being fought for democratic freedom, while that freedom was denied in India herself. As the war progressed, Gandhi increased his demands for independence, drafting a resolution calling for the British to Quit India. Gandhi and the entire Congress Working Committee were arrested in by the British on 9 August 1942. Gandhi was held for two years. After the end of WWII Gandhi continued to work for a peaceful independent India with Hindus and Muslims living together in peace. On 30 January 1948 on his way to a prayer meeting, Gandhi was shot and killed by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu radical who held Gandhi responsible for weakening India by insisting upon equitable treatment for the area now known as Pakistan.

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delta.gif (1104 bytes)121 A / 6 44

A second German leaflet depicts the Indian nationalist Netaji (Leader) Subhas Chandra Bose. He had earlier escaped the watchful eyes of the British in India and made his way to Germany. Later in a remarkable feat, he was taken by German and Japanese submarine to Japan in May 1943. The front of the leaflet bears an autographed photograph of Bose in Indian National Army uniform. The back is all text and says in part:

Most of you may be familiar with this face.  If not, then listen. He is known as the National leader, and he is famous by his name. This man is ever ready to lay down his life for his country and for you.   And now he is calling for you to join in his fight for freedom.

The propaganda by the British about prisoners of war being put to death are all lies.

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delta.gif (1104 bytes)147 / 8 44

A third German leaflet apparently uses an old Indian fable as its theme. It depicts an elephant with a mouse controlling it. The mouse’s tail flies the Union Jack. The back is all text in two of the Indian languages and says in part:

A mouse is the leader of the Elephant

Once upon a time when an elephant was sleeping, a mouse came up to him and saw him sleeping so soundly that he tied the elephant with a chain. Even since the elephant has remained a slave of the mouse.  One day a cat came by and wanted to eat the mouse. The mouse ran to the elephant and asked for help. He promised the elephant that if he helped the mouse would set him free. The innocent elephant helped the mouse against the cat and then asked him to release the chains. The mouse laughed at the elephant and replied, “You don’t deserve to be set free; you are not fit for it.” After a few days the same cat came again and attacked the mouse. The mouse once again went to the elephant for help.  The elephant replied, “You are dishonest; a traitor and deceiver! I won’t help you. I’ll try to break my chains by myself. It is good for the cat to eat you.” And that is exactly what happened, the cat ate the mouse and the elephant applied a bit of strength to break his own chains and was free.

This is your state! A big country like India is a slave to a small country like Britain. The Indian soldiers should be fighting for their freedom which can only be achieved if England is destroyed. You are only fighting to remain enslaved.

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delta.gif (1104 bytes)146/8 44

This leaflet is interesting because it is another in a long line of German propaganda leaflets that use the vengeance weapon V-1 as the theme. In the background London is burning, struck by the incessant V-1 flying bombs. In the foreground, a sweating Winston Churchill is escaping the bombing with a rickety wagon apparently holding India’s wealth. Some of the text on the back in Hindi and Urdu is:

Our India, Better than the Whole World!

We hear this famous line of Dr. Iqbal on BBC London radio. There is no doubt that India is one of the most beautiful, prosperous, fertile and brave countries of the world.  But this entire wealth and priceless Indian blood is being used by the British Empire that rules India by force. Ask the hearts of the Londoners what devastation the German secret V-1 weapon has rained on England. But Churchill is unperturbed for if India remains in the hands of the British, then after the war not one but ten such Londons could be built. Hence, Churchill is against giving independence to India. On the other hand, real patriotic Indians are sacrificing their lives for the achievement of freedom. For just a little money, you people are giving up your lives in foreign lands for the benefit of foreign nations. Aren't you ashamed of how long you have been slaves? If you cannot fight for the freedom of India, at least refuse to fight and die for the British. Remember, India belongs to the Indians and not to the English. They were born to loot your country. If you are thoughtful you will think about what you should do. Save your life for the future!   

[Note: The title “Our India, better than the whole World!” is the title of a famous patriotic poem by the noted Urdu poet Mohammad Iqbal. In his youth he was pro-independence. Later, he supported the creation of a separate Pakistan].

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LwP. 116 / AI. 115.3.44

A fourth German leaflet is all text and very wordy. The message is:

God does not change the state of any civilization unless and until the civilization thinks of changing the state itself!


Do you know what is happening in the world? Every civilization is trying its hardest to fight for its freedom. In India everything possible is being done in order to achieve this freedom. Japanese and German representatives have already promised Subhash Chandra Bose that they will help India in its war for freedom!


Under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose the Japanese Army has entered India through Burma and at this moment the free Indian flag is waving inside Manipur. This army will fight until the British Army is completely destroyed. Thousands of Indian soldiers among the British troops are leaving and joining the Indian National Army to fight for their freedom from the British. On one side the Indians soldiers are leaving to fight for their own freedom, and yet you are still fighting for those who have enslaved you. You are helping those who have kept you in slavery for over 200 years! You are fighting for the British Army against yourselves! And why is this death your fate? Because you are still slaves of the British! Fighting for England strengthens the chains of your slavery. Dying with dignity is better than a life without respect! Right now foreign armies rule India and have no respect for the Indian people!


What should you be doing now?

Everyone. Listen every day to the Hindustani news from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. on both 449.1 medium wave and 28.3 and 39.6 shortwave.

[Note] The code LwP usually signifies German propaganda to Allies and Italians in 1944. The meaning of the code is unknown but we do know that starting in 1944 all German propaganda for the enemy was under the command of SS Standarte Kurt Eggers. The operations in Italy were called Sudstern. Subdivisions under this command issued different series of leaflets at different locations using different codes. It has been suggested that LwP could represent “Luftwaffe Propaganda.” We note that many of the leaflets also bear the "AI" code. There are a great number of "LwP" leaflets to the Indians. Some examples are: "Soldiers of the Indian Division", "Janubi Italy en Hindustani sipahio" and "Beware Indian Soldiers". The various subdivisions apparently cooperated well with each other and in Italy many of the leaflets have two codes. For example, “LwP 112 AI 111-3-44” and LWP 119 AI 120-4-44.”

The "AI" in the code indicates the German organization propaganda-Abschnitts Offizer Italien and the date indicates April 1944. There are a great number of "AI|" leaflets to the Indians. Some examples are: AI 115-3-44 "Oh Indians," AI 120-4-44  "Beware Indians," and AI 121a-4-44 "Soldiers of the 4th Indian Division."

JPIndiaMonte01.jpg (41780 bytes)

LwP. 112a AI 111a 3 44

This is a tactical leaflet targeting the Indian 4th Division fighting beneath the monastery of Monte Cassino. The battle of Monte Cassino has been well documented. At the Allies moved northward on the Italian peninsula they were stopped near the ancient abbey by very accurate German artillery. Allied reconnaissance aircraft erronessly reported seeing German troops inside the monastery. In fact, the Germans had scrupulosly avoided entering the monastery. American, British, New Zealand, Polish and Indian forces were all beaten back from Germans entrenched on the slopes below the monastery. On 11 February 1944, the acting commander of 4th Indian Division, Brigadier H. W. Dimoline requested the bombing of the abbey of Monte Cassino. On 15 February 1944, 142 B-17 Flying Fortresses, 47 B-25 Mitchell and 40 B-26 Marauder medium bombers dropped 493 tons of bombs on Monte Cassino. The Germans then occupied it and made use of the rubble to build defensive positions. Twenty-five years later in 1969 the American government admitted after years of review that “the abbey was actually unoccupied by German troops.”

The Germans produced a number of divide and Conquer leaflets targeting Allied forces during the battle for Monte Cassino. Among the various minorities that they claim were being forced to fight and die for the Americans and British were those from New Zealand, India and Poland. The leaflet above targets the Indian 4th Division. The language is Urdu and the script is Arabic-Persian (the standard script of the Urdu) and Roman so all Indians could read it. The Indian soldier depicted on the front being pushed forward by Churchill is most likely a Sikh or a Muslim. The text in part is: 


You have seen in the last attack on Cassino how many Indian soldiers have gone to permanent sleep. Looking at these miserable deaths, every human cries. This is the same place where the American forces earlier attacked and got a bloody nose.



Where the American and British forces fail, the voiceless Indians are put in the front to be cannon fodder. Think a bit, what business have you got in Italy? Why are you unnecessarily making thousands of Indian children orphans and Indian women widows?


Take advantage of the chance to quickly cross over to the German side. Spend your time in a prisoner-or-war camp and at the end of the war go home safely. Your brothers are present here in the thousands.  

Note: You can cross over to the Germans safely by showing this paper.

There is a German language message at the bottom to explain to the sentry what the Indian with the leaflet expects. It tells the German soldier that the Indian soldier who approaches the German lines with the leaflet is to be treated with respect and returned home after the end of the war.

JPIndia4thID.jpg (39708 bytes)

LwP 120a./AI.121a4 44

Another leaflet of the “LwP” series is more tactical and actually aimed at the Indian Fourth Division. It urges the Indians to desert the British and come over to the German side where they will be able to join Subhas Bose and fight for India’s freedom. Some of the text is:


…The Indians are led by Subhas Chandra Bose, who has organized Indian troops and formed an army in Germany to fight against the British…

IndiaTroopwLeaflet.jpg (88184 bytes)

Indian troops serving with the British in Egypt seem to be 
amused by divisive German propaganda leaflets dropped by the Luftwaffe.

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Life in a German Prisoner-of-War Camp

This is the first page of a German newspaper leaflet that depicts 23 happy and healthy Indian captives in a prisoner of war camp. The languages are Hindi, Hindi (Romani) and Urdu scripts. There is a also mixture of Hindi and Urdu that was once called Hindustani. The text is:

Life in a German Prisoner-of-War Camp

Many Indian sepoys (privates) are living comfortably in the German prisoner-of-war camps. This newspaper depicts photographs of the prisoners’ life in those camps. There is excellent schedule of prisoners’ meals, sports, the reading of books, dance and skits for entertainment. The camps have temples for the Hindus, mosques for the Muslims and ‘gurudwaras’ for the Sikhs.

Now guess who among them has won? It seems that only those who are smiling have won. But actually all of them (seen in the picture) have won because they have saved their lives and are living happily in the prisoner-of war camps.

JPIndiaDYKA.jpg (35132 bytes) 


Another well illustrated German leaflet bears no code and depicts ten photographs of Indians receiving good medical care from German doctors and nurses on the front and back. Some of the Indian troops and their regiments are named to make the leaflet seem more truthful and trustworthy. For instance, one patient is identified as number 111206, Dhan Bahadur of the Gurkha Rifles. The text is in part:


These are your comrades who have been wounded.
But why were they wounded?
They were wounded because of their own foolishness.
They could have surrendered to the Germans.
Germans never kill and prisoners of war and they treat the wounded very well.
The names of each Indian soldier are given.

india10FLeaf.jpg (60505 bytes)


This German leaflet depicts an Indian family thinking of their husband far away fighting the war. The title “Milap” can be translated as “union,” “meeting,” or “being together.”The text on the front is:


After bidding farewell to you, we kept on looking for you on the horizon. We even looked for you in the direction where we were not supposed to.

The text on the back is:

Indian Brothers! If you have a look at your situation, you will notice that your reunion (with your dear ones) is not just very difficult, but impossible. Thousands die everyday on the battlefield. Is it necessary that you also be one of them?

No, certainly not! Why not to cross over to the German side whenever the opportunity arises? Thousands of your Indian brothers are leading a comfortable life in prisoner-of-war camps. The war is over for them. At the end of the war, they will certainly return to their relatives and be happy.  

[Note] The message is a poetic couplet and it is in the “gazal” form. Urdu is famous for this form of poetry which it borrowed from the Persian. It abundantly uses similes, exaggeration and sharp contrasts for expression. The second line “looked for you in the direction where we were not supposed to” ...sounds strange in English, but can be explained as: We have been so desperate that we know where you have gone and watch the way you are supposed to return home. But, not only in that direction; we look all around hoping that you might return from any direction.

india9FLeafXL.jpg (325004 bytes)

*1912/2 45

This German leaflet depicts an Indian woman praying for the safety of her husband and presenting a lotus blossom to a God. The back is in Hindi (in Roman script—known in India as Romani Hindi) and Urdu:


I humbly beg you with folded hands and by placing flowers on your idol. Please do me the great favor of saving my husband’s life in the war. Please do not let a hot flame come anywhere near the support of my life.

These are the prayers of a faithful wife, seeking blessings for her spouse, Subedar (Warrant Officer) Ram Saroop Singh of the First Punjab Regiment while he was breathing his last on a battlefield after being wounded for the sake of the British. How could this innocent and sweet woman know that the branch bearing her desires has been chopped off and that darkness is spread all over her world of aspirations. She does not know that the bud of love in her heart has died before blossoming.


Because Subedar Ram Saroop Singh was uncaring and lost his life. Had he laid down his arms, his wife's desires would have all been fulfilled.


want to expose your mothers, sisters and wives to such misery? NO! Then why are you prepared to fight against the Germans and die for the benefit of the British? It is better that in this difficult final phase of war you cross over to the German side and live comfortably in our camps till the end of the war and then happily go home.


When I asked Arunkumar Bhatt if he recognized the God he said that it did not seem to be among the Hindu pantheon. He thought it was more likely that the representation was of Buddha. He also pointed out that the scenario did not look Indian. For instance, it is not a Hindu practice to place flowers on the palm of God. The flowers are placed either at the feet or on the head. The posture of the god was also unfamiliar. One wonders if the Germans erred, or purposely chose a non-Hindu representation for this leaflet.  

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Leaflet * 376 / 12 /44

This leaflet was printed in December 1944 for use against the Indians in Italy. The “*” indicates the Sudstern “Southern Star” section of the Skorpion propaganda organization thought to be attached to the German 10th Army. We note that this same leaflet was produced in English (*374/12/44) and in Polish (*373/12/44). The text says in part:

May God bless you with a happy New Year

Think about it – during the New Year – uniforms, shining shoes, and turbans, etc. Going back home in good spirits. But all of this has become a dream, and now you dance on a rope, and a little slip can bring you down right over the sharp bayonets. Then you will become a statistic of the dead. But is it possible to go home in good cheer by taking this leaflet to the Germans without any fear?

If you want to know more about this offer than listen to the radio at 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on medium wave 449.1 or on short wave 476.

[Note] There were a number of Sudstern leaflets to the Indians. Examples are; *376/12 44 "Happy New Year 1945", and *378/12 44 "Our Indian Friends". There is an entire *1900 series consisting of only Indian-language leaflets.  There appears to be 29, ending in * 1929.4.45.

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* 1907 – 1 – 45

A similar leaflet from the same Skorpion organization is coded * 1907 – 1 – 45, which indicates production in January 1945. This leaflet uses the Po River as its major theme. The Germans produced a number of leaflets with the same concept, showing Allied soldiers drowning beneath the dark waters and titles such as “Death in the Po” or “The Po is Waiting for You.” There are five paragraphs in the leaflet. Some of the text is:


Have you forgotten your comrades who died fighting?

What is the Po? It is a river 208 yards wide and 1040 yards at its maximum width. It is 7 to 20 feet deep and the banks are 18 to 30 feet high. It flows at 20 miles an hour.

Why do you play with death?

What can you do? Pretend to be sick and go to the hospital and in this way you can avoid fighting.

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Leaflet *339/11 44

Leaflet *339/11 44 is a radio leaflet produced an attempt to get Indian soldiers to listen to the German propaganda radio. It depicts two Indians listening to the radio on the front. The text is:

Whoever listens to the radio always remains connected and up to date.

The back is all text and gives the wavelengths of various propaganda stations in various languages. The text is:

You can listen daily in the evening.

Between 5:30 PM to 6:00 PM: MW 449.1 and SW 47.6
Between 8:30 PM to 9:00 PM: SW 47.6

The Voice of Bhai [Brother] Band Radio.

Broadcasts correct news from all over the world, plays Indian music and news for the betterment of Indian soldiers.

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Leaflet 1926.4.45

This leaflet is the usual German divide-and-conquer aimed at driving a wedge between the Indians and their British officers. The front of the leaflets depicts an officer talking to a girl in a peaceful Indian city. The text is:

Entry to the city is strictly prohibited

But who watches the officers?

The back of the leaflet depicts an Indian soldier dying in combat. The meaning is clear. Indians are being sacrificed by their officer corps. The text is:

Who commands this company?
Company Commander Major Sarbuland.

Where are all the officers?
Can it be that they are strictly forbidden to serve on the front lines?

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Uncoded Leaflet

There is a small all-text series of leaflets that appear to be news sheets. I generally do not show leaflets that have no images or illustrations, but since the Germans went to the trouble of producing more than one (I have a second almost identical leaflet) we should depict at least one of the series. The text is written in Arabic

In the Name of God most Merciful

Our brave Arab brothers: The Colonial enemy promised you the independence of your countries in the last war, showing sympathy, love and care until he drove you to war, made your youth Cannon-fodder, and tens of thousands died and the rest came home handicapped and unable to work and make a living. And, when the war ended they did not honor their promises, but started torturing you and ignoring the handicapped and martyrs’ families who fought for them. The colonial powers were the cause of their suffering

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The Only good Indian…

This German divide and conquer leaflet targeted the Indians fighting alongside the British. Nothing is known about the producers of this leaflet except for a small quote stating, “The code-letter A can be found on many German leaflets dropped in Northwest Europe 1944-1945.” As usual, the Germans point out that the Indians are doing the fighting for the British, and add that Montgomery has given his men seven days leave while the Indians die on the front lines. We can date this leaflet to some extent because it mentions Arnhem and that airborne assault on Holland took place in September 1944. This leaflet seems to have been prepared in October 1944 or shortly afterwards. What is particularly interesting about the heading from the historical point is that it had nothing to do with India. The comment, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” is a bastardization of a statement allegedly uttered by U.S. General Philip Sheridan in 1869. Sheridan repeatedly denied ever making such a statement, but several eye witnesses agree that he said it. Sheridan was well known as a bigot and Indian hater and few that knew him doubted his agreement with the statement. The original quote is thought to be “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” The Germans cleverly worked an American verbal slur against its own native people into a British attack on its Indian colonial troops.

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Long Live Independent India
Courtesy of Rod Oakland

All of the German leaflets depicted above were dropped on Indians fighting for the British in Northwest Europe and Italy late in the war. The next leaflet we show was dropped on Indian troops fighting in North Africa. Notice at the bottom of the leaflet there is a brief message in German for Afrika Korps troops and their Italian Allies. The leaflet is coded 434 J VIII./VIII.42. This probably indicates that it was disseminated in August 1942. At the center is the spinning wheel, the symbol of Mahatma Gandhi's movement calling for use of hand spun and woven cotton clothes in preference to the mill-made cloth of Britain. The spinning wheel is also in the flag of Indian National Congress. The text around the symbol is:

Long Live Independent India

The back is all text:

Liberty Pass

Whoever shows this surrender pass will be accepted as a friend of the Axis forces. His personal freedom and liberty to follow his own religious practices are fully guaranteed. Just bring this surrender pass with you.

India, Death to England.

All Indian enlisted men and officers who come over with this surrender pass will be freed.

At the bottom of the leaflet in both German and Italian:

Safe conduct pass for Indian officers and soldiers.

There is a report of a North Africa leaflet coded 348 J.V. in Hindu with a circular symbol. It was dropped on the Indian 4th Division resting north of Haifa. The leaflet above could be this item, or this could be a second leaflet using the same symbol.

Another leaflet dropped on the British during the North African campaign bears a cartoon of an Indian chained to England with Urdu text. No more in known about this leaflet.

Grey Propaganda Using India as a Theme

During WWII, both the Allied and Axis powers tried to influence neutral countries through propaganda leaflets, radio, mail and posters. In this small section we will discuss just one such operation. The nation of Portugal was neutral during the war and both Great Britain and Germany printed a number of propaganda items that mentioned India in an attempt to sway the Portuguese people. Below we will depict three British and three German items. None have any indication to show where they were produced, although the German items sometime claim to originate from Feiheitverlag Switzerland, which is almost certainly a lie since the Swiss were very strict about their neutrality. All the cards are printed in Portuguese and while the British attempts to convince the neutrals that the Indians are loyal British subjects,  the Germans do just the opposite. These Grey propaganda items with different themes are also found in the German, English, French, Italian, Greek and Serbo-Croat languages.

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In Freedom – Strength – India

This British “Grey” Ministry of Information card coded “RE” claims that India is peaceful under British rule and establishing the fundamentals of a new prosperity. India joins Britain in the fight against Nazi tyranny. India produced 63,000 tons of steel in 1914, and produced 977,000 tons of steel in 1936.

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In Freedom – Strength - India

This British “Grey” Ministry of Information card coded “RH” claims that India is taking an energetic part in the struggle against Germany. It points out that India had 2,874 factories in 1914 but had 9,323 factories in 1936.


Another British card for the neutral Portuguese depicts a group of military members of the British Empire marching to war. There appears to be Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and some dark-skinned troops from the colonies and South Africa. In the back is a Sikh soldier wearing a turban. The card is coded 'J.S.'¯ At the top of the card a smug-looking Hitler says:

It seems that different parts of the British empire are putting their own independence above their loyalty to England.

The text in the center of the card is:


The enormous war effort of the Empire and the British Community, on land, sea, and air, constitute an epic of united resistance to Nazi aggression.

At the bottom of the card worried and sweaty Hitler adds:

Germany perfectly recognizes the energy and resilience of Great Britain and the loyalty of the Empire to the Motherland.

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Mourning India

This alleged Swiss product, probably printed by the German Propaganda Ministry, depicts an Indian woman standing near a tombstone. It implies that the Indians are against the British and may soon rise us against their colonial rulers. The text is:

India in Mourning

Years of lost opportunities.

Here lies the hope of settling the Indian question.

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The Voice of India

The German card depicts a British man approaching an Indian with flowers outstretched, but what may be a weapon behind his back. The text is:

The Voice of India

John Bull, you have been unmasked.

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American Peace

The final German card alleged to have been printed in Switzerland depicts American President Roosevelt holding a peace pipe to a tethered group that he apparently intends to enslave. The first captive is British Prime Minister Churchill, then a South or Central American, an Arab, a native of the Far East or China, and finally an Indian. The text is:

Pax Americana

Participation of all the nations for the benefit of the world

Email000110a.jpg (22932 bytes)

This strange uncoded German leaflet is all text and appears to be a rare example of the Germans using a fatwa of jihad against the Allies. The language is Urdu, and the script is Devnagari which is used by the Hindus and not by the Muslims who are the apparent targets of the leaflet. It is likely that the target group is not the Muslim but the Hindu and Sikh troops of the British Indian Army. In that case, the aim could be a “divide and conquer” attempt to drive a wedge between the Hindu and Muslim troops in the Allied ranks. The text is:



Sheik-ul-Islam [The High Priest of Islam, in later years assumed the title of President of Religious Affairs] in Holy Mecca has on the occasion of the Id Festival issued an edict to you [all the Muslims] that declares “jihad” against the English, Russian and French people.


Sulan-e-rum [The King of Turkey…actually the Sultanate of Rum, a Turkish sultanate that controlled much of Anatolia. “Rum” implies “Rome” since much of the territory had once been Roman]has gone to war against the barbaric English, French and Russian nations and his allies are the Afghan people.

This is a very mysterious leaflet because it mentions Turkey as a German ally when Turkey was actually on the side of the Western powers. It also mentions a Turkish king, a position that did not exist during WWII. The Emir of Turkey did join the Central Powers during WWI. So, at first look, this appears to be a WWI leaflet.

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The Grand Mufti Meets Adolf Hitler

The leader of the German people Adolf Hitler and the great Mufti Mr. Amin Al-Husseini during their meeting in Berlin.

The proof would seem to be overwhelming, except that the leaflet was a gift of a German Luftwaffe pilot stationed in North Africa during WWII. And, we know that the Grand Mufti met with Hitler on at least one occasion to offer support. So, although I strongly suspect that this is a WWI leaflet to British Indian colonial troops, we depict it just in case it is some strange sort of German black WWII propaganda. In 1942, Jerusalem's Grand Mufti, Amin al-Husseini, took to the airwaves and broadcast in Arabic from Berlin. At that time he already was "prime minister" of a pan-Arab government formed in the German capital. Could it be that the German propaganda postcard above shows the man that the Indian-language leaflet calls “The High Priest.”

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German “Azad Hind” Propaganda Postage Stamp

My original 1972 description of the above 1 rupee plus 2 rupees stamp is “A turbaned soldier carrying the Azad Hind flag with two companions in German-style field caps, the design flanked by two ceremonial swords.” This stamp is one of a set produced in Germany for propaganda purposes and meant to be used at some future time in territories controlled by the Free Indian Army. Twelve million stamps were printed and gummed by the Reichsdruckerei in Berlin. The failure of the Free Indian Army to achieve any military success left the stamps without a reason for use, and the entire issue was still in storage in Europe at the end of the war. None of the stamps was ever placed in use. Postwar forgeries exist, printed offset rather than photogravure, with a washed-out and somewhat unclear appearance.

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A Postwar Envelope bearing the genuine “Azad Hind” Stamps

Although the stamps were never used postally, many patriotic Indians and philatelic specialists placed them on various philatelic covers for show. This 1964 envelope, designed in honor of the Indian National Army’s Martyrs Memorial bears the five low value designs. They are; a nurse comforting a wounded soldier, a map of the Indian subcontinent with a broken chain across it, a turbaned soldier wearing the springing tiger insignia of the Indian Legion and aiming a German MG 34 machine gun, an Indian girl working at a spinning wheel, and a plough framing a rice field with a farmer working on it. The stamps are cancelled with a special stamp reading “NETAJI SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE – CALCUTTA. One can clearly see that the Germans took great care in selecting the images on these propaganda stamps.

There is no proof that the Free Indian Movement ever produced any banknotes. However, former members of the INA that I interviewed told me that there were plans for such currency by the new Independent Indian Government. Joyce Lebra mentions the banknotes twice in his book. The first was at a meeting between Bose and Tojo:

Bose mentioned the issue of abandoned Indian property and the desire of the Free Independent Provisional Government to issue its own banknotes. To the latter, Tojo did not object.

10 Rupee note (1943)
Courtesy of

100 Rupee note (1943)
Courtesy of

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Alleged Bank of Azad Hind Banknotes depicting Bose.
Commemorative issues made to collect funds 

In March 1944 Bose demanded the establishment of a National Bank of Azad Hind. In another meeting he demanded that when the Japanese and Indians invade India:

Special currency issued by the Free India provisional Government should be used rather than Japanese military currency.

There is a rumor that the Germans printed banknotes for Bose about the same time they printed the stamps, but allegedly they were lost when the ship they were sent in was torpedoed on its way to Japan. We do know that to serve the financial needs of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind, an Azad Hind Bank was established. The bank was created on 5 April 1944 and capitalized at several million rupees.

Photograph Weekly
From the bureau of information. Feb 26. Issue no. 309. 10-sen

The Japanese showed Bose off quite often as an Indian patriot doing all to free his occupied Country. Here he appears in a 1943 Japanese magazine.

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A Receipt for a “Voluntary” Contribution to Indian Independence.

The bank quickly became the preferred bank of the Indian community in Burma. It held a sizeable amount of gold from ornaments and valuables donated by Indian women. The bank paid all the expenses of the Provisional Government and the INA, and even repaid some loans given by the Japanese government. It is my understanding that the bank applied great pressure on wealthy Indians to donate to the cause. They send out polite requests for donations but it was understood that beneath the friendly request was the iron hand of Japan.

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A “Friendly” request for an Additional Donation

In the above form letter, an Indian who has donated to the Azad Hind movement is informed that a further donation is expected. In this case, the donor sent $7,000 as an initial contribution and has been “requested” to send an additional $18,824.

In 1944, when the British reclaimed Burma from the Japanese, the war department seized the Azad Hind Bank’s assets. After many debates, the British turned over the assets to the newly formed Reserve Bank of India in Calcutta. Distributions were made to verifiable account holders, although it appears that in some cases the Bank held back funds. One published report tells of an individual named Ramalinga Nadar who had deposited 423 million rupees and 16,105 gold coins in the bank and who was refused repayment. This might be due to the fact that he supplied workers to the Japanese during the war.

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The Bank of Independent Commemorative Bose-Hitler note

This 1000 (no currency unit) note depicts Bose at left shaking the hand of Adolf Hitler. The note is almost impossible to copy because of its strange vertical rainbow color printing, starting with red at the left, yellow in the center and green at the right.

There are no known Azad Hind banknotes, but at the end of the war, in order to raise funds for Indian National Army veterans and other causes, a number of commemorative propaganda banknotes were prepared bearing the image of Subhas Bose or other Indian patriots. One actually depicted Bose with Adolf Hitler. These banknotes were sold with the profits going to various charities.

I first mentioned the banknotes in an article entitled “The Almost Stamps of Free India” published in the Journal of the Society of Philatelic Americans of December 1971. I stated in the story that I had received a letter from Biren Roy, a member of the Indian Parliament in 1968. Biren Roy said:

I have spoken to Colonel Prem Sahgal of the Indian National Army who was Netaji’s private aide-de-camp in the Far East. He stated that stamps were printed under the orders of Netaji Bose in Germany. He states that currency notes were also printed, but lost when the ship in which they were carried was sunk.

Pukhraj J. Surana, In “I.N.A. Currency” Numismatics Digest, June 1981, volume 5, part 1 (Bombay), page 68, states:

The bank had issued notes in the denomination of 5, 10, and 100 rupees.

A more recent report is found in The Forgotten Army, Peter Ward Fay, The University of Michigan Press, 1995, page 307. The author says about Bose:

He [Bose] must prepare the ground for the freedom army’s triumph, prepare it in every detail (already the details included freshly printed Azad Hind rupee notes and Azad Hind stamps). 

The commemorative fund-raising banknotes were issued by the following “banks”:

The Azad Hind Bank, the Bank of Independent, the Bank of Independent Chalo Delhi, the Bank of Independent Jai Hind, the Bank of Independence, the Bank of good Luck, the Jai Hind Bank of Independent, Our Own Bank, Our Own Bank Jai Hind, and the Jai Hind bank.

My buddy Howard Daniel was studying these in 2020 for one of his reference books on Burma and he added:

There were never ever any Azad Hind bank notes printed for the Azad Hind Bank in Rangoon because the Japanese would not allow them to be printed. The Japanese instead gave them Japanese Burma Military Certificates (known as JIM) to be issued from their bank. Indians from all over Southeast Asia did send pre-war currencies to the bank and even gold, silver, gems, etc. The Azad Hind movement was very popular in Southeast Asian among the ethnic Indians, but it had its limits placed on it by the Japanese.

In correspondence with Howard Nitin Rohatgi added:

The INA or Bose himself would never have permitted Gandhi on one of the notes. In addition to Gandhi, there are images of Nehru on some, MA Jinnah, an architect of the partition of India for a separate section for Muslims - Pakistan, and even a photo of Bose shaking hands with the Fuhrer.

Readers wanting to know more about this subject should see my article “Free India Movement Banknotes” in The International Banknote Society Journal, Vol. 40, No. 3, 2001.

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The Azad Hind Commemorative coin

The commemorative Indian coin above depicts Subhas Bose on the obverse and the leaping tiger of the Free India movement on the reverse. Text on the front with Bose's portrait is:

Unity - Faith -Sacrifice

23rd January 1897

Text on the back in Hindi is:

Provisional Government of Azad Hind

Victory to India

1 Rupee

There also exists an Indian rupee coin of King George VI dated 1942 counterstruck on the obverse over the crown: “P.G.A.H. 1943.” Although it is not known when this coin was defaced or who did it, the letters would seem to indicate “Provisional Government of Azad Hind

Japanese Leaflets

Caveat Emptor! In this section I will depict many genuine Japanese leaflets dropped on Indian troops. In the past several years I have seen many leaflets that appear to be reproductions offered to collectors. I feel the need to warn collectors to be very careful of what they buy and to be sure of its provenience. In a recent search of EBay, I found 17 of the full-color leaflets I depict in this article offered at an average price of $9.99. An actual WWII Japanese leaflet for India is surely worth a minimum of $20, and perhaps more. The dealer does not call these leaflets reproductions, but at the bottom of his listing is a single line: “We treat it as Vintage Reprint Collectibles.” I think that says it all.

The Japanese propaganda leaflets to the Indians were quite different from the German leaflets. Whereas the German leaflets tended to be monochromatic and sometime wordy on the back, the Japanese leaflets were very bright and full-colored, sometimes very “busy” with numerous images piled one upon another, and with minimal text. They also made great use of political satire and cartoons attacking Allied leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek, and also the various nations opposed to Japan.

As I reread my comments in this article written about three decades ago, I realized that Graham Shaw wrote very similar comments about these leaflets. Back about 2020 I worked with an author named Graham Shaw on his research into the Japanese leaflets supporting the Free India movement. I gave him the complete use of all my leaflet images for his study, A Little-known Dimension of Indian Freedom Movement Iconography: Indian-language leaflets printed by the Japanese during the Second World War. I thought I might add some of Graham’s comments to this article because he went into more depth than I did (edited for brevity):  

The Japanese Leaflets are very striking polychromatic leaflets with Indian-language slogans produced by the Japanese in support of the Indian Independence League in East Asia (IIL) and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) for whose troops the British coined the derogatory acronym 'IFs' – 'Japanese-Inspired Fifth Columnists' or 'Japanese–Inspired Fascists'. These leaflets were the product of the fierce propaganda war waged between the Allies and the Japanese to win the hearts and minds of Indians not only in India itself but also in mainland Southeast Asia during the later years of the Second World War.

The Second World War also saw the internationalization of Japanese propaganda. Aimed at several different national audiences, leaflets were produced in many languages including Chinese, Vietnamese, Bahasa (for both Malaya and Indonesia), Thai, Burmese, Shan, Tamil, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, and even New Guinea Pidgin English (Tok Pisin) as well as English itself. The themes deployed in the leaflets were skillfully tailored to the circumstances and fears of each audience.

The images produced by the Japanese in support of the IIL and INA seem to have been almost totally ignored, despite their presence in major public collections such as the Imperial War Museum and the National Army Museum, both in London. These leaflets deserve to be better known as they add a new dimension to the iconography of the Indian Freedom Movement. What a contrast the dynamic Japanese images made from their Indian counterparts.

The posters in support of the Freedom Movement printed in India itself were completely different in look and feel to these Japanese examples. Often, they were black-and-white, with color coming into more widespread use only in the later 1940s in posters produced just after Independence. The India-printed examples were static icon-like images, creating a mood that was prevailingly somber and suffused with a powerful patriotic piety. They often referenced Hindu mythology. Other posters paid homage to those who had already made the ultimate sacrifice to liberate Mother India. The leaders of the Freedom Movement were often portrayed reverentially. Rarely was a more satirical, humorous tone deployed, but one or two instances can be found.

Since Indian propaganda was most aimed at Britain, it often showed a fat Caucasian individual performing some cruel act. In many cases it looks like Winston Churchill; in other cases it does not. In those cases, it will usually be a caricature of John Bull, the national personification of Great Britain in general and England in particular. He is usually depicted as a stout, middle-aged man, often wearing a Union Flag waistcoat.

The Japanese attitude toward psychological warfare against Indian troops is mentioned by Lieutenant Colonel Mahmood Khan Durrani in The Sixth Column, Cassell and Company, 1955. Durrani was a prisoner of the Japanese and quotes a lecture given by a Japanese officer on how leaflets should be prepared for use against the Indians fighting for the British. He says in part:

Propaganda leaflets dropped for troops must be easily noticed and yet at the same time easily concealable on the person of the soldier so that he might hide them from his officers and read them at his leisure.

The handbill should be of an attractive color so that it might not escape the notice of all soldiers.

The leaflet should have, if possible, the picture of a beautiful woman, after the method used by the Germans in the First World War. This device would insure that the soldier would be attracted and would be unable to resist looking at the picture over and over again. This would rouse his passion, and his heart would be inclined for love and to hate fighting.

The text of the posters must remind soldiers of their wives and children in trouble, thanks to their serving as mercenaries in the hands of foreigners who had selfish motives. This would have the effect of striking the most tender chords. 

The poster should give a photograph of or mention the gardens and fruits of the country the soldiers belonged to, so that it might remind them of the happy and bubbling life of their countrymen in contrast to their own wretched lives as soldier and the deadly destruction of war in store for them. Thus the soldier would have a craving to go back to the peaceful and happy life he had once lived, and he would be likely to desert at the first opportunity.

The handbill should include a definite promise that it would serve as a ticket for entry into their fold as a friend to whoever should desert their ranks of his army and come to their side with it. And as such a friend, he would be given a long holiday and sent to his country to meet his parents, wife, children and friends.

Graham Shaw adds:

Evidently the Japanese leaflets' images and captions together often proved highly effective:

Although they had been trained to ignore axis propaganda, some of the propaganda reaching the Indian troops was extremely unnerving... It was directed at the weakest spots in the psychological armory of the sepoys. It played on their homesickness, on their anxieties about hunger at home and on their desire for the war to end ...Officers use men as cannon fodder, so the storyline went: why would Indians fight for an imperial master?

The degree to which the Japanese were able to fine-tune their propaganda messages to strike home at the Indian soldier's mental state was remarkable, as Captain Mohan Singh himself testified in his memoirs:

The Japanese were dropping many leaflets, expressing their war aims in pithy slogans, assuring the colored races of their immediate liberation and beseeching them to join hands in that mighty undertaking. They were appealing to the honor, dignity, and self-respect of all Asians in general, and Indians in particular: 'Asia for the Asians'; 'Kick out the white devils from the East'; and 'India for the Indians', were some of the propaganda professions. In a normal situation, no one would have given any serious heed to the shibboleths of the invading hordes, but at that moment their effect on me was tremendous. I felt as if they were voicing my feelings.

Yasmin Khan says in The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War:

Although the troops had been trained to ignore Axis propaganda, some of it reaching the Indian troops was extremely was directed at the weakest spots in the psychological armory of the Sepoys. It played on their homesickness, anxieties about hunger and home and on their desire for the war to end.

One of the earliest reported attempts to propagandize the Indians occurred in January 1942 in Singapore. Japanese aircraft dropped small yellow leaflets printed in black:

Terrible riots in Singapore! Secret evacuation of British Troops!

A terrible riot has broken out in Singapore! British and Australian soldiers are being secretly evacuated from Singapore! Malayan and Indian soldiers! Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and cooperate with the Nippon Army.

British and Australian soldiers! Return to your homes at once by hook or by crook. You may never get another chance to see your beloved ones in England or Australia.

The concept of the British leaving the Indians behind will be found below in a leaflet we call “No Room in the Truck.”

Another leaflet depicted Chinese, Malay and Indian soldiers welcoming the Japanese troops with John Bull and Uncle Sam running away.

So, how did the Japanese print their leaflets. Shaw tells us about their printing projects:

Steps to produce Indian-language leaflets were first taken when the Fujiwara Kikan moved to Ipoh near the island of Penang on New Year’s Day 1942. The main impetus for their creation was the desire to demoralize British Indian troops stationed in the Malayan peninsula and encourage them to desert and come over to the INA side. Their production was especially urgent as a major assault by the Japanese Army on the British defensive line along the Slim River was imminent. Since the Kikan had no printing equipment of its own, there was no alternative but to commandeer materials from presses owned by the local Indian community. As Fujiwara recalled in his war-service memoir:

"Pritam [Singh] solicited the cooperation of Indian residents of the city to round up printing type in Hindi, as he planned to drop propaganda leaflets from the air … By 3 January the Ipoh I. I. L. office had managed to acquire sets of type in Hindi and Urdu plus a hand-operated printing press, though in poor condition. The battle of Slim was approaching moment by moment. It would be impossible for I. I. L. and I. N. A. propaganda units to cover the entire front before fighting commenced. In response to a request by Pritam and Capt. Mohan, I decided to drop leaflets from the air – an idea I had had in mind for some time. Capt. Mohan prepared 'Letter to Fellow Indian Soldiers' appealing to them to desert and join the I. N. A. In this letter we outlined the purpose of the I. N. A. and included the guidelines for surrender that we had given to I. N. A. agents. The I. I. L. also produced handbills stating its political objectives and urging participation in the movement. We had these leaflets printed in forty-eight hours."

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Your demand for Independence

One Japanese leaflet depicts the Allied leaders Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek trying to push or pull an Indian into the fight against the Japanese. I first described this leaflet in my 1972 booklet. The text in Hindi and Bengali is:

The defeated countries, whose destruction is inevitable, are casting greedy eyes on India. Do not pay attention to their sweet talk.

Churchill holds a whip with a flag attached and the text:

We accept your demand for independence.

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Towards Freedom

Several leaflets show Indians on horseback charging. Similar leaflets are found in both horizontal and vertical format. This leaflet curiously calls Japan's occupation of Burma and the Philippines “freedom!” and calls for the Indians to revolt against British rule. The flag shown is that of the Indian National Congress (the political party spearheading the freedom movement). The people are shown holding farm implements and sticks as weapons to underscore the point that they can even revolt without firearms! The Japanese leaflet is bilingual, Hindu and Bengali, the language that dominates eastern India and the present Bangla Desh. The Japanese believed that their invading army would first occupy the east during its march into India from Burma. The text is:

Burma and the Philippines have attained freedom. Oh India! You must also awaken and rise.

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All the Asians…

Another leaflet that implies that the Japanese are leading all Asians toward freedom from the Europeans depicts John Bull holding the Asian people in chains while an Indian fighter swings a sledge hammer at his head. In the background The people of Asia chase American and British troops. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:

All the Asians are marching towards victory.

Forward. We shall also break the chains of slavery and fight for our independence.

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The British Barbarism

In the above leaflet, a caricature of Churchill is about to chop off the fingers of a bound Indian worker in a textile shop. Other fingers litter the floor and in the background the British have set the shop ablaze. The leaflet is written in Hindi and Bengali. The text is:

To save Manchester, the British rulers shed the blood of Indians and in return gave them hunger and poverty


Another image of an Indian with his hands in jeopardy is depicted in this leaflet where a knife clearly marked with a British flag cuts off the fingers of an Indian cloth weaver. The text is:


Destruction of Dacca Textile Industry

Remember, fingers were cut off to save Manchester

The theme of this leaflet is British cruelty and the way that they destroyed the Indian economy. The British are shown destroying the Indian economy while making great profits for the British textile industry.

The theme of this leaflet is British cruelty and the way that they destroyed the Indian economy. It addresses the total destruction of the Indian industrial economy with a view to making profits for the British textile industry. The theme would be well-understood throughout India because Mahatma Gandhi had based his non-violent struggle on svadeshi (the use of Indian goods and boycott of British factory products). He and his supporters wore khadi (hand spun and hand-loomed woven cloth. I don’t quite understand the mix-up in coding, but this is one of two Japanese leaflets I have seen coded C.168. This leaflet seems to exist in some different variations, A second version has text in Hindi and Bangla. The text on the back is:

The Devil British-Americans are the enemy of India. They are oppressing the whole world. Kick the British-Americans out of your country and liberate your motherland. The Indian National Army has paved the way to march towards your motherland. Our nationalist vision and flag has reached the India-Burma border for liberty or death in this war. It will soon reach Delhi via Chhatgaon [now Bangladesh] and Calcutta.

Indian friend – awake – arise! We will unite and take revenge for all this oppression from the British-Americans by striking them.

The Supreme Commander of Provincial Government of Azad Hind

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The Axe

The leaflet above depicts an axe and calls the British “Demons.” This leaflet uses the same general themes. This is an interesting leaflet that shows Churchill holding a rope tied to the leg of an Indian. The Indian has an axe labeled “Freedom” and is about to chop the rope, freeing him from the British weight. Chiang Kai-shek is in the background, seeming confused. Off to the right are a number of bundles the probably had been carried by the Indian; the first two labeled “Bound for England,” the last bundle says “British Atrocities; Indian goods.” The text is:

This axe is way to liberate us from the British Demon!

We Indians have had a bad experience. There is no way to save fellow Indians other than to use the axe for freedom. We will end 300 years of murder and atrocity-filled history by using the freedom axe. We will end the life of the British Demon that rules over 350 million Indians from Asia and from the world. This is the time for it.

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The Japanese seemed to love to insult Chiang Kai-shek. In this leaflet, an injured Churchill and a bandaged Chiang look at India and are not happy to see it protected by Indian soldiers. On the map of India it says “Indian Subcontinent.” The text is in in Hindi and Bengali. It says:

Look, they all want our soldiers and materials and resources.

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A Second Japanese leaflet coded C.168

The second Japanese leaflet coded C.168 depicts John Bull forcing an Indian soldier into the front lines. The text on the Front is:

Kill all the British - I don't want to die for British!

The text on the back is the same as the other C.168 above.

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"Boycott British Goods" label

The above label with the text “Boycott British Goods” features Jawaharlal Nehru. It was issued by Dholera Satyagraha Samiti of Ranpur during India's struggle for freedom. Additional text asked the Indian people to boycott all British products and asks the people of Gujarat to use these Boycott labels on every letter that they post.

Because of the industrial revolution the British could mass-produce goods. That required raw materials and huge markets for the finished products, particularly cotton textiles. To secure both, the British destroyed the decentralized traditional Indian textile industry. They imposed heavy taxes on Indian textiles made in great part by hand-looms so that the inferior cloth of the British textile mills located mostly in Manchester could continue to profit.

Indian artisans; spinners, weavers and processors, were among the best in the world. The legend is that the superfine variety of cloth called malamal produced by the weavers of Dacca (now the capital of Bangladesh) was so thin that a 20-yard long piece could be folded and packed in a present-day match box! Because of the British actions it became difficult for the artisans to sell their produce and buy raw cotton. QAs a result, both the textile workers and all the other economic activities depending on the textiles were impoverished. It was so severe that the desperate weavers of Dacca chopped of their own fingers in protest.

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Beat the devil…

Another Japanese leaflet that has the theme of British barbarism depicts an English officer stabbing a chained Indian in the back while John Bull enjoys a nice piece of bloody meat which seems to be vaguely in the shape of India. In the background is an Indian patriot with a stick. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:

Beat the devil with sticks and save India!

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What Purpose…?

This caricature almost appears to have been drawn by the same artist as the leaflet above. Look at the bloated evil face of the British soldier and compare it to that of Churchill in the previous leaflet. This leaflet depicts Churchill making a chained and blindfolded Indian advance against the Japanese by whipping him. He advances over destroyed British aircraft and ships. He approaches a heroic Japanese soldier standing before his national flag. The implication is that the Indian soldiers gain nothing by fighting the Japanese. They are slaves of the British and should fight their masters and not the Japanese. The text is:

What purpose of yours is served by fighting the Japanese army?

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Ideal India

This leaflet coded P-160 is very busy. Among the numerous images crowded into the full-color leaflet are an Indian warrior, a school child, a woman, an elephant, Indian aristocracy and buildings in the background. The text is:

Ideal India

Look at this nation and her natural beauty and resources. This India is being exploited by the atrocities of the Englishmen. An ideal India can only be built when Indians themselves protect it after gaining independence.

[Note] The writing on the blackboard is, "Peaceful haven." The leaflet uses several symbols of Indian culture and resources. Strangely, the woman does not look Indian. A typical Indian woman does not wear short hair even today.   

The text on the back is Hindustani and Nepali. It is a letter signed by Subhas Chandra Bose that says:

Gurkha Soldiers: Think properly and participate in the real work. Don't you ever think about how the British-Americans are ruling you by cheating and setting traps?

Without an independent India, Nepal will continue to be treated like a small state and will not have any say in the world. An independent India will mean an independent and progressive Nepal.

Let’s work together; let’s be united and let’s stop fighting amongst us brothers from now onwards.

The Supreme Commander of Provincial Government of Azad Hind

Subhas Chandra Bose

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Destroy the Brutal British

This leaflet depicts a British woman walking on the sidewalk while an armed British sentry looks down at two Indians in the gutter. The British had banned Indians from walking on the sidewalks of their neighborhood. In Punjab, the Indians had to crawl off the road if a British person passed by.

The text is:

Destroy the Brutal British

Remember the Punjab event of 1919? We Indians were forbidden from walking on the sidewalks of our own motherland. The British did this to us.

[Note] On the afternoon of 13 April 1919, some 10,000 or more unarmed men, women, and children gathered in Amritsar's public square to attend a protest meeting, despite a ban on public assemblies. The British positioned men at the narrow passageway of the square. Without warning, 50 soldiers fired 1,650 rounds of ammunition into the gathering. Nearly 400 civilians were killed, and another 1,200 were left wounded without medical attention. The British Brigadier Reginald E.H Dyer later stated that the firing would have continued if he had more ammunition.

In 1943, an Independence League poster asked Indian troops to desert. Some of the text is:

Don't be a traitor to India! Join us to strike the Satanic British.

Another Independence League in East Asia leaflet depicts Mahatma Gandhi and several other Indians and the text:

GOD and Nippon to help India drive out the British devil.

Japan is sworn to aid India fight.

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Who is responsible?

The dark and bony Indian man shows what the British-induced hunger and misery has reduced him to. To the western eye the Japanese were not complimentary in this drawing. It is very reminiscent of Eduardo Ciannelli, the evil leader of the Thugee cult, devoted to Kali, the goddess of death and destruction in the 1939 pro-British propaganda movie Gunga Din. The Indian man points toward the reader of the leaflet. There are the bones of the dead scattered all around him. Some of the Indians who studied this picture said, “It is surely a dead person who died of hunger.” The text in Hindi, Urdu and Bengali is:

Indians are being killed in large numbers. The British are trampling their dead bodies while looting India of its food. Who is responsible for the Indians' death?

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Glorious Freedom

This leaflet uses almost the same image of an angry, starving Indian. The background is all in red, and gives the impression of a bloodbath. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:

1765: Torture in Dhaka
1857: 1st war of Indian Independence

Glorious Freedom. Revenge for our blood-bathed history.

The so called most educated, prodigal and well-wishers of India have only produced a system of bribery, murder and suppression for last 300 years. The time has come for us to realize our long-sought wish of independence. India has got the opportunity to take revenge for our blood-bathed history and get glorious freedom. Shall we lose such an opportunity by staying still and not doing anything?

1918: Sacrifice in First World War
1919: The Jallianwala Bagh episode of Amritsar

This leaflet reminds the Indians of the oppression they have tolerated for the last 300 years. Indians sacrificed themselves for the British in World War one and received nothing in return. It tells the Indians that now is the time to take revenge. We mention the 1919 Amritsar massacre, also known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre elsewhere in this article.

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Burma is ready…

On the subject of starvation, this leaflets features well-fed and healthy British soldiers with bayonets at the Burma border keeping food from entering India. At the left a starving Indian is depicted. The text is:

Burma is ready to send rice to Indians who are dying of starvation, but the British are putting up obstacles in this supply.

Note: Rakhi Chakraborty wrote on 15 August 2014 that the British had a ruthless economic agenda when it came to operating in India and that did not include empathy for native citizens. Under the British Raj, India suffered countless famines…The British had issued widespread orders for cash crops to be cultivated. These were intended to be exported. Thus, farmers who were used to growing paddy and vegetables were now being forced to cultivate indigo, poppy and other such items that yielded a high market value for them but could be of no relief to a population starved of food. There was no backup of edible crops in case of a famine. Winston Churchill is alleged to have said:

I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits

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Now is not the time for infighting

This leaflet attacks Winston Churchill and depicts him as a demon. He is in the background and holds two Indians in his hands. The Indian on the left is identified as a member of the Muslim League and the one on the right is a member of the Indian National Congress. The text at the top is:

Now is not the time for infighting

The text at the bottom is:

The British policy of divide and rule

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Churchill – the Spider

The Japanese often vilified Winston Churchill by caricaturing him as a beast or a monster. In this leaflet he appears as a spider at the center of a web holding a pot of gold, surely stolen from India. Around him, trapped in the British web of deceit (with a “Union Jack” in the background) are various categories and castes of Indians. The text is:

The time has come to make India free. Rise up and shatter the British fetters.

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Top of the World

A group of Asian men sit on top of the world toasting their freedom from Great Britain while Churchill, with his stolen Indian loot falls away. It is written in the Hindi and Bengali language. The text on the poster is:

This is just the right time to kick British out of Asia

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The Elephant

In this leaflet a character who could be Churchill, but looks more like the British symbol “John Bull” is held in the trunk of an Indian elephant. The elephant is marked with the flag of the Indian National Congress. It has broken the chains that held it fettered to England, and stomps on the British flag. At the right a bright red sun shines down, and this very likely represents Japan whose flag bears a single red sun (called a “meatball” by the Americans during WWII). The text in Hindi and Bengali is:

Oh sleeping Elephant! Wake up and stand up.

At this opportune time, break the English chain and be free.

[Note] The elephant is a great symbol in Indian culture; it is considered very auspicious, divine, powerful, magnificent and friendly. It symbolizes both India’s culture and its mammoth size. 

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This is the opportunity

This leaflet seems a bit cruder than most of the Japanese leaflets. It seems more in a “comic book” style. It depicts a John Bull almost pushed out of India and we see German bombers in the background and flames that might imply a burning Britain. At the right, Japanese bombers shoot down British aircraft and sink British ships. An Indian soldier is seen standing on Indian soil with his foot held high as if he were kicking the British out. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:

This is the opportunity. Get up and move forward by initiating fight for independence!

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The chain of slavery…

Another crude drawing depicts John Bull under the foot of an Indian whose chains have been broken. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:

The chain of slavery has been broken now.

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A Mountain of Skulls

This Japanese leaflet depicts a mountain of the skulls of Indian dead, overlooked by a fort bristling with cannon and the Union Jack. Vultures fly high overhead. The fort is a symbol of colonial power. As for the pile of skulls, it is said that Timur piled up human skulls after sacking Delhi. He killed at least 100,000 before the city fell, and anywhere from hundreds of thousands to a million after the destruction of Delhi. The leaflet compares that atrocity with British colonial rule.  

The text is in the Urdu, Hindi and Bengali languages and says:

The English are prepared to feed hundreds of Indians to the cannons to save their empire.

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Cannon Fodder

This leaflet has a very interesting image. It depicts finely dressed British soldiers about to blow a cannon ball through an Indian prisoner. This atrocity propaganda was often used by the British, so it is interesting to see it used against them. It alludes to the accusations that the British unleashed a reign of terror to suppress the “Mutiny” of 1857. Allegedly, they would blow people apart with cannons and hang them from tree branches. This leaflet reminds the target audience of such acts and exhorts them to take revenge. The text is: 

When will you get an opportunity to take revenge, if not now? Do not forget the British practice of blowing apart Indians after tying them to mouth of a cannon's barrel.

[Note] The Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the First War of Indian Independence was a prolonged period of armed uprisings in different parts of India against the British occupation. The insurrection was triggered in part when the British introduced new rifle cartridges rumored to be greased with oil made from the fat of animals. The fat of cows was taboo to Hindus while Muslims were repelled by pig fat. In fact, this was just the most recent in a number of Indian protests against British rule. By May 1857 the rebellion turned into what was considered a full-fledged war in the affected regions. A peace treaty was signed on 8 July 1858. The victorious British then allegedly adopted the old Mughal punishment for mutiny and sentenced rebels were tied to the mouth of cannons and blown to pieces.

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Hanging Men

As mentioned in the previous leaflet, the British were accused of blowing Indians apart by cannon or hanging them from trees after the armed revolt of 1857. In this leaflet we see the caricature of John Bull, the symbol of Great Britain walking down a tree-shaded lane. For as far as the eye can see Indians hang from trees, and in several cases their grieving widows cry at their feet. It is reminiscent of the Gladiators revolt led by Spartacus, when the Romans crucified thousands of mutineers along the road to Rome.

Never forget 1857. 100,000 Indian patriots were victims of the British barbarism

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War Material

This leaflet has some very strange symbolism. It depicts a caricature of Chinese leader Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek riding a horse. Chiang holds a whip tied to a giant bundle of war materials that is atop an Indian. A hand holding scissors comes from above (certainly representing Japan) and is cutting the rope holding the bundle to the horse. At the lower right, Burmese natives carrying a peacock flag attack British troops and have them on the run. The Japanese created a puppet state in Burma on 1 August 1943 and the flag is the Independence Party flag, carried by their “Liberation Army.” This would seem to be a polite Japanese jibe at the Indians: “If the Burmese can throw out the British, why not you?”

The text is:

His (Chiang Kai-shek's) purpose of visiting India is only to get India's (war) material. End relations with Chiang Kai-shek whose end has come and be free.

[Note] Chiang Kai-shek visited India from 9 February 1942 to 21 February 1942. He conferred with the British and urged Indian nationalist leaders—particularly Jawaharlal Nehru—to put aside political differences and join the fight against Japan. In his farewell message to the people of India, Chiang Kai-shek called for whole-hearted support in the war and indicated that Britain would certainly grant India freedom in the near future.

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Chiang Kai-shek is no God

This Japanese leaflet once again attempts to destroy any friendship between the Chinese and Indian peoples. In the foreground Chiang Kai-shek walks with a rifle-bearing Indian who does not realize that he is about to step into a bear trap labeled "Privations of War." In the background, hiding behind a boulder, are Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, both badly bruised, apparently from earlier beatings by the Japanese. Churchill holds a chain leading to the trap and he is about to spring it shut on the Indian soldier’s leg. The text in Hindi and Bengali is:


Do not fall for the British carrot of total self-rule. Chiang Kai-shek is no God. Nor is Sir Stafford Cripps an Angel. All those men who lure India into war are India's enemies and agents of Churchill. Only Indians can save India.

Chiang holds a blue banner that reads:

Conspiracy to acquire Indian manpower and resources.

[Note] The leaflet reinforces the nationalist Indian desire to stay out of WWII. Sir Stafford Cripps was sent to India on what is known as the Cripps Mission to attempt to negotiate an agreement with the nationalist leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah that would keep India loyal to the British war effort in exchange for a promise of full self-government after the war. Mahatma Gandhi described the offer as “A post-dated check drawn on a crashing bank!”   

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Indian Nation

This leaflet has interesting symbolism. At the left is a peaceful Indian standing in a fertile countryside with outstretched arms. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and President Franklin D. Roosevelt stand at the right in flames with broken cannon and bent sword, their arms also outstretched, but their hands drip blood. The Japanese apparently think that Roosevelt is about to be thrown out of office because he holds a paper that reads, “Proposal for Resignation.” The text in Hindi and Bengali is:

Indian Nation! Do not get bogged down in the mud of war.

The flames at the bottom are labeled:

Privations of war.

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A Dance of Death

This leaflet shows Churchill or John Bull as a fight promoter encouraging two Indians (a Hindu and a Muslim) to fight to the death. There are at least six dead Indians on the ground of the enclosure where the fight takes place. The Japanese are pointing out how the British have set Indian against Indian to weaken them and make them easier to subjugate. By the time the WW II broke out the Muslims League led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah had already launched its campaign for a separate Muslim Pakistan and the British following their policy of “divide and conquer” were encouraging him. The Muslim League officially passed a resolution for the creation of Pakistan in 1940. The British were encouraging the division of Indian society.  The enclosure is marked "India" in both Hindu and Bengali. The text is:

Stop dancing to the English tune and come together forgetting religious differences for the sake of independence.  

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No Room on the Truck

This leaflet depicts the British piling onto the back of a truck in an attempt to escape the victorious Japanese military forces. A Japanese bomber is in the background. Some Indian colonial troops try to get into the truck along with the British, but they are kicked aside and knocked to the ground. One lies dead beneath the rear wheels. This clearly shows the regard the British have for their Indian colonial troops. The text in Hindi is:

Residents of India! The Englishmen are just not bothered about you. You will see this scene wherever you look.

Raghu Karnad may be talking about this leaflet in his book Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War:

After the fall of the city of Rangoon to the Japanese, the air was filled with “thousands of fluttering leaflets. These were propaganda cartoons...depicting starving Indians ground under the heels of fat imperialists or turbaned jawans being kicked out of evacuation lorries by blond-haired Tommies.

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Slaves or Independence

This leaflet depicts two scenes on India. In the first the Indians have gone to war for the British and the scene is of death and desolation with dead Indians on the ground and vultures overhead. In the second scene, the Indians have not been pulled into the war by the British and a couple share a pleasant meal surrounded by trees, children and farm yard animals.

The Japanese designers of this leaflet appear to have little knowledge about actual Indian lifestyle and habits. At the time, except for a few westernized urbanites, most Indians did not use formal chairs and dining tables. The text is:

As slaves of the British - Hunger and death rule.

After independence - Happiness and peace rule.

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Oh leader of slaves…

We don’t know much about this leaflet. But, like the one above it is blank on the back and consists of cartoons at the left and right. I suspect this was made by the same people that made the “Slaves or Independence” leaflet above. At the left the leaflet depicts a coin with a British pound sign and a skull as indicated in the second line where they talk about the cost of WWI and death. At the right they depict an Indian citizen and another coin with the face of Churchill, as indicated in the third line where they talk about the future loss of life and cost of the WWII. The leaflet is written in Hindi and Bengali. The text is:

Oh Leader of Slaves, Do you still want to fight for the British?

In the last European War, India lost 3,977,000,000 Rupees and the lives of 280,000 soldiers.

In the current war, the British are asking India to offer all of its wealth and the lives of 366,000,000 citizens [The entire Indian population].

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Indian servants

This Japanese leaflet depicts Winston Churchill being waited on and served by Indians. One brings him drinks while a second polishes his boots. Another Indian has pulled back a curtain and points to Burmese nationalists attacking and beating British troops into submission. The clear intent is to shame those Indians who have collaborated with the British occupiers. The text is:

All of the British colonies are up in arms. We Indians need not continue to be subjugated under the British boots any more. Come on, let us also arise and do not let this good opportunity slip away from our hands.  

This leaflet is mentioned by Stephen C. Mercado the Shadow Warriors of Nakano: A History of the Japanese Army Elite Intelligence School. He also adds a bit of background about the Japanese propaganda campaign in India (edited for Brevity):

The Japanese Army in 1942, unprepared to conquer India, chose to foment rebellion. The man chosen was Colonel Iwakuro Hideo. Iwakuro opened an agency on 25 March 1943 in Saigon. His agency was to develop propaganda for Indians resident throughout Asia, train Indian commandos and infiltrate them into India, maintain covert contact with Indian nationalists, and organize the Indian National Army. Colonel Saito Juro took charge of propaganda. Eventually, the agency would grow to more than 500 members stationed in Bangkok, Singapore, Rangoon, Saigon, and Hong Kong.

Singapore was the base for the agency broadcasts in English, Hindi, Bengali, and other reginal languages. Iwakuro produced pamphlets and leaflets deriding Indian rule and urging Indians to revolt. One leaflet showed an Indian pushing aside a curtain to reveal to a shocked Churchill two Burmese in native dress chasing out of Burma a British soldier in a tattered uniform. Most leaflets put their message across by using cartoons that depicted such scenes as the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, when a senior British officer in Punjab ordered his troops to fire into an unarmed crowd of demonstrators. The Iwakuro agency would use the Indian National Army men for radio broadcasts, agent infiltration and other covert activities. Photographs of INA soldiers on parade would serve the purpose as propaganda.

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Hide the Crops

The next two Japanese leaflets seem to be from the same series and both show the British destroying Indian crops to keep them in bondage and servitude without a viable economy. In the leaflet above, the British attack peaceful farmers and actually bayonet one in the foreground. In the background, Indians try to escape with their crops while the British shoot at them. The text in Hindi, Urdu and Bengali is:

Farmers: hide your food grains and provisions before the British come to loot your stock.

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Burn the Cotton

In this leaflet the British are burning the cotton fields of a poor Indian farmer who is depicted without any fingers on his hands. In addition, they have destroyed the equipment the family uses to make cotton cloth for their clothing. This certainly is to remind the Indians once again how the British destroyed the Indian cotton industry to force them to buy cheap British products. The text in Hindi and Bengali is:

A Sample of the British Atrocities

Just to save their economy, the British committed this barbarian atrocity.

Indian workers had to chop off their own fingers and lose their livelihood.

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At Homes…At Front

We are not sure exactly where the Japanese disseminated this leaflet but it shows Allied troops drinking and carousing with women at the top and the text:

At Homes

The image at the bottom of the leaflet depicts Indian troops charging forward through heavy fire and some falling to the ground. The text is:

At Front

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See how the British eat… 

The top of this uncoded leaflet depicts a British family at a bountiful table, and a maid feeding the dog a thick slice of meat. At the bottom, dead and starving Indians lie on the ground while the birds come to feast on their bones. The text in Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali is:

See how British eat lavishly and waste food items while Indians are dying because of hunger and lack of food items. 

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Kill all the British…

Another leaflet uses the same general theme; British families feast while Indians starve. This leaflet depicts a husband and wife sitting before a table with plates overflowing with food while on the floor beneath their feet are several dead Indians. The text in Hindi and Bangla is:

Kill all the British who are sucking Indian blood.

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Those Indians that don’t get angry… 

This leaflet depicts an Indian woman holding her man in a sea of dead bodies, while in the background the Indian National Army is seen chasing fleeing British troops. The text in Hindi and Bangla is: 

Those Indians that don’t get angry remembering the Amritsar incident are not true Indians. 

Now the time has come for you to take revenge. 

Note: On 19 April 1919, British Brigadier-General Reginald General Dyer killed hundreds of Indians in peaceful prayer at a religious festival in what is known as the Amritsar Massacre. Fifty British Indian Army soldiers opened fire at an unarmed gathering of men, women and children without warning. The shooting lasted for ten to fifteen minutes, until ammunition ran out. Dyer ordered soldiers to reload their rifles several times and they were ordered to shoot to kill. The casualty estimates ranged from about 1,400 to 2,500, depending on who was counting. 

Devanshi Shah says about this leaflet:

The hooded woman is slightly larger than the dead men, not a soldier, she is cradling, which is why it could be Bharat Maa (Mother India) as opposed to a common woman. The Azad Hind flag can be seen in the background with farmers driving the British troops away, indicating this image was circulated after Bose took over the I.N.A. The focus here is not on taking up arms, but showing the anguish the incident created.

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Use your weapons against… 

This is one of the most striking images on any Japanese leaflet. It depicts an angry Indian soldier bayoneting his British ally in the back. The text Hindi, Bangla and Urdu is: 

Use your weapons against the tyrannical Englishmen! 

The Indian National Army is coming, join them and march towards New Delhi! 

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British tyrannical Satan...

In this leaflet we see Allied leaders trying to hold the door closed against Japanese armor. A British general, Churchill, Roosevelt and Chiang Kai-shek are all trying to hold back the Japanese. And Indian patriot who was with them has seen the light and is suddenly using his fist and a knife in an attempt to help the Japanese enter and free his people. Some of the text in Hindi and Urdu is:

There is no need now for India to submit itself into the hands of the British tyrannical Satan. Times have now changed.

Due to tyranny and deceit by the satanic British, India has allowed herself to be terrorized, murdered, bled and looted by them. Whatever proposal the British may put in front of us, we should not go on enduring the suffering that these conspiring deceivers heap on us. The time has come for us to fight for our pride and independence.

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The Chain of Slavery…

This leaflet has a simple image and text. In the foreground an Indian is released from bondage by his chain being symbolically broken while in the background Japanese armor chases fleeing British troops. The text in Hindi and Bangla is: 

The chain of slavery have been broken 

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Indian Brothers, our countrymen… 

This leaflet depicts a unit of British Indian troops being led forward by Winston Churchill or John Bull; often the representation of the British individual could be either one, and that might be exactly what they wanted to depict. The text in Hindi, Bangla and Urdu is: 

Indian Brothers, our countrymen are dying because of the tyranny of the British. After seeing all this, you are still following the orders of the British? Remember, killing the British is your first duty.

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Move Forward

Since we show Churchill leading the troops in the leaflet above in this Japanese leaflet we see Bose leading his Indian troops. He wields a sword in front of his flag and moves forward. The text is in Hindi, and Urdu. “Babu” is an Indian term for “Sir.” It says:

Move forward. March towards Delhi. Let us join together under the flag of freedom and the in leadership of Subhas Babu. Freedom and liberty is near you now.

A Japanese Divide and Conquer Leaflet

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Advice to Mohammedans

The Japanese made great use of “Divide and conquer” messages. They wanted to separate the Indians from their British masters, and at the same time they wrote specific leaflets for the Gurkhas and other groups that were aligned with the Indian troops allied to the British Army. An example of trying to separate the Nepalese troops from the British cause is found later on in this article coded B.1515. The leaflet above attempts to cause antagonism between the British and the Muslim troops under British command. The use of the term “Tantalus” is interesting because he was a mythical being who was first favored by the Gods, but then sent to the Underworld, where he was “tantalized” with hunger and thirst. The Japanese imply that the British will make promises and offer gifts to the Muslims, but will never fulfill their promises. Note also the term “abominable Jews.” The Japanese seem to have followed the lead of their German allies.

The Japanese-Indian handwritten Letter Leaflets

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A Japanese “hand-written” message

You are being encircled by powerful Japanese force. Any more resistance means nothing but death! Stop fighting! Throw away your arms! Come out with your arms holding up, and you will be treated as war prisoners.

The officer Commanding Japanese Army.

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An Indian “hand-written” message

It is difficult to read the Indian text because the writing is faded in some places and the name of the soldier and the places where he was captured is not always clear. I will try to copy what I think the soldier is saying:

Hello my friends!

I am E. Tomikins. I was captivated by Japanese on 2nd inst. at Mytson. Japanese are very kind to me. They treat me exactly as ruled in the Inter-national Law. I can send a letter to my home too. Well, before going back to the prisoner’s camp in the rear, I wish you will fight with hope. Never lose your valuable life in the hopeless fighting.

Good be with you.

There are a number of very interesting hand-written propaganda letters, all in English, with text on one side from the “Officer Commanding the Japanese Army,” and from by an Indian who has happily joined the Japanese on the other side. I have seen five such letters with varying messages so far. The other letter-leaflets have such titles on the front and back as: “Hello Comrade”; “To British and Indian Soldier”; “Surrender”; and “Indians”  

A Handwritten Letter by Subhas Chandra Bose

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A Handwritten Letter by Subhas Chandra Bose

Besides the handwritten letters from Indian defectors and the Japanese commander, there is at least one leaflet hand-written by Bose himself. This letter was written in those heady early days of the war when the Japanese were pushing the British out of Burma and seemed unstoppable on the way to the Indian border. Of course, they were stopped, and Bose and his Indian National Army never marched into India. We should mention that the way this letter is written, it could cause the British to believe that there was an armed underground awaiting Bose in India and that could lead to harsh repression again any Indian patriot that sought independence, and British troops kept back to watch the local population. Thus, the leaflet works on two levels. It says:

Friends! Countrymen!

Today I have the unique privilege of sending you my heartiest greetings from the soil of independent Burma. Let the example of liberated Burma inspire us all to commence our last attack on British Imperialism.

The Indian National Army - the Azad Hind Fauj - is ready to commence the last onslaught. Even our sisters in East Asia are now drilling with rifles and bayonets. We shall soon be coming to you. We shall soon be setting up the "second front," which will help you to pull down the British Raj, once for all. Tell our comrades in prison to be of good cheer. The day of their liberation is not far off. Meanwhile, complete all your preparations, and wait for the "zero hour" when we shall appear on the Indian frontier.

Then, rise as one many and kick out the accursed British from our holy land.  And, get out countrymen in the British Army of occupation to join you and me in the sacred struggle for India's freedom, when the signal is given. Behold the dawn of India's liberty!

Long Live Revolution! Long Live Free India!

                                                                                Subhas Chandra Bose

1 August 1943

The Japanese “C” leaflets to Indian Troops

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Leaflet C-215

There are a number of Japanese leaflets that mention Imphal. This was to be the great victory when the Japanese and their Indian collaborators marched into India and started their victorious advance across the sub-continent. Imphal was held by the Indian IV Corps, part of the British 14th Army. They were spread thin and seemed ripe for the taking. The Japanese plan was called U-Go, or “Operation C.” The attack started on 8 March 1944. The Japanese made some early advances but by April the battle stalled and became a stalemate. On 1 May the British counterattacked. By June the Japanese realized they had no hope of victory, but continued to fight and in some cases attack the British forces. By July the battle was over and the sick and starving Japanese began the long walk back to their bases in Burma.

The back of the leaflet also has a long propaganda text. We quote a small part of it:

To You the English Soldiers!

You are like fishes caught in a net, without an outlet. The only faith left for you is death alone.  When we think and give consideration about your loving wives, parents and brothers we could never carry on inhuman-like actions. Therefore stop your useless resistance….

The bottom of the leaflet bears a short message in Japanese:

Any person carrying this leaflet will be accepted as a prisoner of war and will be given protection accordingly.

Japanese Imperial Army

Fall of Imphal

An Indian Independence League leaflet from The Philippines talks about the British losses. It says in part:


Way to Whole India Now Open!

Imphal has fallen! The Indian National Army in conjunction with the Japanese Imperial Forces has at last captured Imphal – the strongest defense line of the enemy and a key to the whole of India. The fall of Imphal not only means rejoicings for the whole peoples of India and Greater East Asia, but spells also the beginning of the doom of nearly a century of British imperialism in India.

The Japanese were a wee bit premature in this announcement. Imphal never fell and the entire advance became a disaster for the Japanese and Indian forces. The defeat was the greatest to that date in Japanese history. They had suffered 55,000 casualties, including 13,500 dead. Most of these losses were the result of starvation, disease and exhaustion.

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Leaflet C.162

This leaflet depicts Subhas Chandra Bose giving a speech and quotes his comments:

It is impossible to re-capture Burma

It has been 2 years since the British began dreaming about re-capturing Burma. During every monsoon season, the British repeat their commitment. It is actually a comedy that instead of moving forward towards Burma they are standing still. Those of you who have spent some time in the front line really know whether we are telling the truth or not. You can very well guess the situation from the news. This proves that the British have lost all of their strength, arms and ammunition against the Japanese Forces. With the help of the Japanese Army, we Azad Hind are marching towards New Delhi. There is major difference the between Indian National Army and the British Army. We never force anyone to join and fight. Every soldier in our army is ready to fight our enemies just because of his/her passion and patriotism. This is a golden opportunity for you to make the best of this situation by joining us and kicking Englishmen out of our country.

Subhas Chandra Bose

Subhas Bose was not the Japanese first choice for command of the INA. After other Indians had failed and been dismissed by the Japanese, Bose was selected. Mercado tells us more about him (edited for brevity):

Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo turned to Adolf Hitler for a solution. In Berlin was the leading Indian nationalist in exile, Subhas Chandra Bose. The rounded face, glasses, and features hid a fierce character. Bose from early in his career leaned toward armed resistance. Bose interest in Japan was already well established. He was of two minds regarding Japan. He was impressed that Japan had withstood western colonialism and defeated a European power, Russia, in war. On the other hand, the activities of Japan in China disturbed him. On 16 February 1942, the day after Singapore surrendered, Bose requested that the Japanese send him to Asia. The German dictator, perhaps thinking Bose would do more harm to the British Empire from Asia, agreed to let Bose go.

Leaflet C. 228.

This leaflet is not really for the Indians. The text is in Chinese and Japanese. Normally I would list it under Japanese leaflets for China but the picture and the caption at the bottom depicts an Indian fighter and mentions the Indian National Army so we will list it here. This was from a series of four leaflets to the Chinese which all followed the same pattern. They all bear long propaganda messages, sometimes four paragraphs, sometimes five paragraphs, parts in Chinese and parts in Japanese. The first paragraph mentions Sun Yat-sen, and states that the Japanese want to be friends and help China and have no interest in taking any of their land. The second paragraph warns of President Roosevelt and says he looks down on colored people and tells the Chinese not to be American "running dogs."¯ The third paragraph uses the "Asia for the Asians" argument and asks the Chinese people to follow the correct path. The fourth paragraph is a standard safe conduct message to the Japanese telling them that anyone holding this leaflet is to be treated well as a citizen who wants to be part of the new China. The fifth paragraph explains the way to allegiance in the New China, explains how to surrender, and is signed by "Commander, Japanese Army."¯ 

The image on this leaflet shows an Indian National Army member holding his rifle with bayonet affixed. The caption of the image says:

Advance and attack victoriously, Indian National Army!

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C 1117

Apparently, the British did more than just torture and murder Indians by hanging or blowing them up with cannons. In this leaflet the Japanese show Indians being burned at the stake by the British. The text is in Hindi, English and Urdu. It says:

You can’t forget this

I thought this might be an exaggeration but when I asked an Indian researcher he said:

There were many such incidents where such atrocities were done. It was common practice to hang people (dissidents) from trees, burn them or kill them by using cannons. There are other leaflets that show similar actions. Some of them clearly state that they are related to events like the 1857 First Independence Struggle or the Jalianwala Bagh incident. There are so many that it is difficult to access which one this leaflet is specifically pointing to.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place on 13 April 1919 when a crowd of nonviolent protesters were fired upon by troops of the British Army. Official British sources gave a figure of 379 dead, with approximately 1,100 wounded. The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500, with approximately 1,000 dead. This brutality stunned the entire Indian nation resulting in a loss of faith of the general public in the intentions of Britain.

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This Indian Independence League leaflet in English and Urdu depicts British soldiers beating children that refused to bow to the British flag. The text is:

Drive out the British Devils

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This leaflet has depicts Mahatma Gandhi, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress Abul Kalam Azad, and Jawaharlal Nehru who would become the first Prime Minister of India, and the text:

GOD bid Nippon to help India drive out the British Devil

Japan is sworn to help India fight

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C 1123


This leaflet depicts patriot Indians demanding freedom and holding military and farm utensils, ready to fight the British. Some of the text is:

Strike the British Devil

Last Opportunity for Indian Independence

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C 1125

This leaflet depicts British troops being bombed and knocked down at the left and victorious Indian troops at the right. It test is the same in Bengali, Udru, English and Tamil. The text is:

British enemy our only target

I have seen three Japanese leaflets to Indian troops bearing a “C” code. Others in this group are C.168 (The Devil British-Americans are the enemy of India), and C.189 (Train with the Japanese Army, Let's unite and fight against the British).

There are also “C” leaflets in the code 1000 numbers, all these are all from the Indian Independence League in East Asia. Others that I have seen are C1110 that depicts Roosevelt and Churchill on a sinking boat; C1124 that depicts Japanese bombs falling on India and the text “Axis victory is certain;” C1127 that depicts Mahatma Gandhi and the words “Liberate Gandhi, father of Indian Independence;” and C1128 that depict Indian National Army troops with Churchill’s head on a bayonet.

The Japanese “M” leaflets to Indian Troops

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Leaflet M 9054

A series of Japanese leaflets are coded with the letter “M.” M 9054 is written in Hindustani/Hindi using Roman Letters and English and entitled “Enlistment Card.”

Leaflet 9051 is entitled “Now is the time for independence.” Leaflet M 9053 is on a bright pink paper with text in English and Bangla and entitled “The Japanese Army Promises you.”

The Japanese “N” leaflets to Indian Troops

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Leaflet N 1010

I have only seen one Japanese “N” leaflet to Indian troops. It has a very interesting message and lists all the victories that the Japanese have won over the Allies. It offered the Indians the opportunity to join the Japanese and drive the British out of India. The leaflet is signed by “The Japanese Army.”

“Editorial cartoons” of the Indian Independence League in East Asia 

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There are several uncoded Japanese cartoon leaflets that look like those you see in the editorial section of a newspaper. They are very detailed and appear on a brownish paper. I have seen two that seen to be drawn by the same cartoonist. This cartoon depicts Churchill riding on the back of an Indian soldier who is killing his own people and walking on the fallen body of Mahatma Gandhi while Roosevelt stands in the background on a pile of skulls and takes money. The text in Hindustani is: 

All the wealth of the British is yours - which has been stolen from you. Snatch all of your money and wealth from the British. The British are looting India using Indians. 

You are slave of the British just for sake of some petty money. Your life is precious. This is very bad thing. 

Support us. We take responsibility for your defense. Let's join together and destroy all the British. 

The entry of Americans in India is bad omen - Statement by Gandhi 

Indian Independence League in East Asia. 

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The second uncoded cartoon leaflet depicts Churchill and Roosevelt trying to nail Mahatma Gandhi into a wooden box. The text in Hindustani is: 

Why do you fight for the tyrannical British? Why do you become a scapegoat for British?

Turn the direction of your weapons towards the British. Snatch your lost wealth from the British. 

Indian Soldiers, instead of becoming slaves of the British, make then your slaves. Get out of the slave mentality now. Make India Free! 

Support us. We take complete responsibility for your life, household and all the wealth. 

We have to kick British out of India - statement by Gandhi.

Indian Independence League in East Asia.

Devanshi Shah says about this leaflet:

Here, John Bull and Uncle Sam, who are a very active part of WWII, are replaced by Churchill and the British flag, along with Roosevelt, though there is no flag. The red sun in the upper right corner, a widely held symbol used to illustrate the Japanese Army, shows two of the rays with bombs headed directly at the enemy. Using very subtle indicators of equivalence, by representing them in a common color, the Sun, along with Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and the Azad Hind flag, contained in a box, and the banner of Indian Independence League of East Asia, are portrayed as allies. While no direct mention is made of Japanese involvement the Indo-Japan alliance is clearly already in effect.

Numbered Leaflets of the Indian Independence League in East Asia

There are numerous different sets of leaflets produced to encourage Indians to join the Independence movement and fight the British. Leaflets from this series have four numeric digits and no alpha characters. We depict a sampling of these leaflets:

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Leaflet 5508
Courtesy of Rod Oakland

This Japanese leaflet is on a low-grade pulp paper and is probably a very early leaflet. The text is English on the front, Urdu, the language of North India and the national language of Pakistan on the back. It asks that the Indians continue the fight to drive out the British. The text is:


Crafty Britain will set traps all around you. Beware of these death traps. Have nothing to do with Britain or her talks of compromise. Go on with the fight and abandon all thoughts of settlement with Britain.

Remember that compromise with Britain means the betrayal of India. It will also mean untold suffering for India’s millions and centuries of foreign exploitation.



Indian Independence League in East Asia

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Leaflet 5512

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Leaflet 5517

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Leaflet 5519

Other leaflets in this series that I chose not to show were 5509 (A Warning and an Advice), 5510 (To India’s Crusaders), 5513 (India’s Youth Plunge into Struggle), and 5514 (Boycott British War Efforts.

Letter “A” Coded Leaflets of the Indian Independence League in East Asia

I have seen six leaflets that start with the code “A.” Surely many more exist. Once again I depict a brief sampling of them.

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Leaflet A7518

Note the use of the term Inquilab Zindabad. This is a Hindi phrase which translates to “Long Live Revolution.” It was a common phrase used by revolutionaries during the British rule over India. It was popularized by revolutionaries such as Subhas Chandra Bose. We will see this phrase often as we read Indian independence propaganda.

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Leaflet A7521

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Leaflet A7525

Other leaflets in this series are A7519 (British use Indian Soldiers as Hired Mules),A7520 (Awake Indian Soldiers Fight for Honour and Glory), and A7522 (Red Letter Day in India’s History when Indian Soldiers reunite on Indian Soil).

Letter “B” Leaflets of the Indian National Army

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Leaflet B.-1507

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Leaflet B.-1514

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Leaflet B.-1515

The Indian National Army produced a number of propaganda leaflets in the Indian and English languages. I have seen seven such leaflets and depict three of them above. Additional leaflets in this set are: B1501 (The Way to liberate India), B1502 (The Cry of Indian Saint Mahatma Gandhi), B1503 (Take Revenge from the Britishers!), and B1518 (The Provincial Government of Azad Hind has been established).

Letter “C” Coded Leaflets of the Indian Independence League in East Asia

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Leaflet C-1121

We only know of one “C” coded leaflet from the Indian Independence League in East Asia. This Indian Independence league of East Asia leaflet depicts Indian women crawling on the ground while British troops ridicule and beat them. The text is:

Avenge this British Outrage

Crawl along

Come on, crawl along.

Other “C’ Leaflets believed to be from the Independence League are C 1122 (God bid Nippon to help India drive out the British Devil) and C 1125 (British Enemy, our Only Target).

Letter “P” Coded Leaflets of the Indian Independence League in East Asia

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Leaflet P-3002

<>I have seen just three of the leaflets coded with the letter P. The leaflet coded P-3002 show Indian troops moving forward on tanks. The text is:

The Indian National Army is ready.
Support us
We take responsibility to defend you.
Indian Independence League In East Asia.

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Leaflet P-3003

Leaflet P-3003 says:

To liberate India, the Indian National Army is ready.
Support us.
Kill the British and Americans.
Indian Independence League In East Asia.

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Leaflet P-3005

Leaflet P-3005 shows enthusiastic Indians marching with rifles held high. The text is:

The Indian National Army is ready.
Support us.
Don't be afraid.
Indian Independence League In East Asia.

Letter “S” Coded Leaflets of the Indian Independence League in East Asia

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Leaflet S2502

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Leaflet S2504

The Indian Independence League in East Asia prepared a set of brightly colored leaflets bearing the letter “S.” I have seen five leaflets in this series and depict two above. Additional leaflets are S2506 (Britain is India’s Aggressor), S2510 (Freedom or Death), and S2511 (Do not Fear, Do not Doubt, Come over and Join Us).

Letter “Sh” Coded Leaflets of the Indian Independence League in East Asia

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This leaflet depicts the British general on his way to formally surrender Singapore to the Japanese. This same image was also used on a Japanese postcard to commemorate their victory. The same exact message is in Bengali, Hindi and English. The Text is:

How Glorious Retreat Ends

The Fall of Singapore. The British Commander-in-Chief off to sign the surrender. (Feb. 15, 1942).

The Fall of Malaya Postcard

I depicted the postcard I mention above in an article on Malaya. I said in that article that Malaya was a hotbed of psychological operations during WWII. Both the Allies and the Japanese produced leaflets, posters, and newspapers to win the hearts and minds of the populace. To give an idea of the Allied campaign, leaflets were prepared that were coded CMA, SJM (Southeast Asia Command leaflets to Japanese troops in Malaya), SMA (SEAC appeals to citizens of Malaya to rescue pilots, etc.), and SMN (SEAC newspaper Victory Herald to citizens of Malaya). There were many other general codes for the Japanese troops in all the countries of Southeast Asia, but those we mention were specific for Malaya.

At the same time the Japanese were printing anti-British leaflets and posters to attack and humiliate the white colonialists. My favorite is an image of the surrender of Singapore that was produced both as a color postcard and as an aerial leaflet. The illustration was from a painting by Miyamoto Saburo. The Japanese postcard description from the illustrated brochure that it came in says:

The fall of Singapore - The East Asian fortress under the intrusion of the British for more than a century - fell on Showa 15th year, the 2nd month, on the 17th day at 6:40 p.m. In a single file, bearing white flags, the British officers of the Malayan Command approached our mighty army to surrender. From the right: Commanding Officer Malaya, Lieutenant General Percival; Chief of the General Staff, Brigadier General Torrance; Staff officer, Colonel Sugita; Interpreter, Ling-zhuan; Chief Administrator of the British High Command, Malaya, Major General Newbiggen, who is holding the Union Jack; and Captain Wylde who serves as interpreter.

Graham Shaw adds:

During the climactic battle for Singapore, leaflets again had an impact on British military morale. As one prominent journalist George William Seabridge, Editor of The Straits Times, remembered:

Here the Japanese propagandists were at their most brilliant. By means of radio and pamphlets dropped by aircraft, they flogged the point that they were fighting only the white man: that the British were putting Asiatic troops in the front line as cannon fodder, while the white soldiers remained skulking in the background. They promised that any Asiatic soldier who gave himself up would go unharmed, and there is evidence the promise was kept, at least in the first instance … Singapore fell so rapidly because the fight for it was less than half-hearted.

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Stop - Join us to Stop the British

This leaflet shows Mahatma Gandhi telling the British Indian soldiers not to fight against those Indians fighting for a free India.

Uncoded Leaflets of the Indian Independence League in East Asia

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Singapore Fell into Japanese Hands…

Uncoded Leaflets of the Azad Hindostan League

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Dear Friends…

This Japanese leaflet to India is written in Hindustani. It was prepared by the group,"Azad Hindostan League" that even my Indian friends do not recognize. The text is:

Dear Friends!

Burma is going to get freedom in current year. For your progress and India's liberation, join us. Friends, don't have any doubts about Japan. They deliver their promise without hesitation. Because Japan is fully sure of Burma now, it is going to get freedom soon. Kick the Anglo-Americans out of Hindustan [India] quickly so that they can't loot priceless and precious items of Great East Asia.

Consider that Hindustan is for the Hindustani! Join forces with us and kick out your Anglo-American enemy.

Because there was an "Indian Independence League," and "Azad" means "Independence" and "Hindostan" means India, this might just be another way of saying the same thing.

The author does not claim to be an expert on propaganda against India and this article would have been impossible without the cooperation of Dr. Arunkumar Bhatt. He kindly volunteered his time to translate a great number of leaflets. I also received a great deal of help from the Indian researcher Jyotirmay Bareria who very generously shared his personal collection with me in 2011.

World War One

Although not part of this article, it is worth noting that the British dragged the Indians into WWI too. Here is a leaflet from the German forces dated 22 October 1914. Some of the text is:

ToTheIndianArmyOct221914.jpg (86050 bytes)


Do you know what is happening in your native country? Do you know that England (the betrayer of your country and the whole of civilization) has brought your troops here because she wished to be rid of you and feared the uprisings that have meanwhile broken out in your country.

Readers who wish to comment on this article are encouraged to write the author at

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In Memoriam

With deep regret I inform the readers of this article that the man who inspired it, Dr. Arunkumar Bhatt, Senior Assistant Editor and Deputy Chief of Bureau, The Hindu, Mumbai, passed away on Tuesday, 29 July 2008 of a massive cardiac arrest. He was 53 years old. A keen student of defense studies, Dr. Bhatt held a doctorate from the University of Pune, and an MA in Defense Studies from the University of Madras.


In 2020, a College student from Stonybrook University asked to use images from this article in a collage to show how the British have affected India as a subcontinent. She used four of the propaganda leaflets. They support the theme of how the Imperial British colonial rule of India eventually led to the division into three countries; India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.