© Hendrik Meersschaert 2017
WORLD WAR II ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES
During WW2 India was still part of the British Commonwealth and as such British awards were available to its servicemen. In this context, two further awards were specifically related to India's participation in the war : the Service Medal 1939-1945 and the Recruiting Badge. Furthermore, a number of Indian states also saw fit to provide medals for their inhabitants for service abroad.
However, at the time there also existed a movement for Indian independence, lead by Subhas Chandra Bose. With the assistance of Nazi Germany and Japan, he raised the Provisional Government of Azad Hind (Free India) which declared war on Great Britain and the United States on 24 October 1943. A number of troops were raised, largely from Indian POW's and the Order of Azad Hind was created by the Provisional Government for award to members of the "Indian Legion" in Europe or the "Indian National Army" in Southeast Asia.
More information on the Indian Legion can be found at http://www.feldgrau.com/azadhind.html .
The India Service Medal 1939-45
This medal, instituted on 6 June 1946, was awarded for three years of non-operational service in the Indian Forces between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945 excluding those that were entitled to the British Defence Medal. Its ribbon colours represent those of the Order of the Star of India (light blue) and the Order of the Indian Empire (dark blue). Some 222,000 medals were awarded.
The Indian Recruiting Badge 1939-45
This medal, created in 1940, was awarded to fulltime members of the Indian Recruiting Organisation but also to fathers and mothers having at least 3 children in the armed forces and to wives having a husband an at least 2 children serving in the defence forces.
The reverse is blank but for a serial number.
LOCAL INDIAN STATES' AWARDS
Bahawalpur (now in Pakistan)
The Bahawalpur 1939-45 Overseas Service Medal
It was apparently mainly awarded for service in the Middle Eastern theatre of war but it has also been awarded for active service in Malaya (1st Bahawalpur Infantry Battalion).
The Victory Star 1939-45
This decoration has a blank reverse.
It is believed two bravery decorations were created.
The Hyderabad 1945 Victory Medal
Some 3,200 of this silver(ed ?) medal were struck.
Although a 50 mm non-wearable medal seems to have been struck, it would appear that no soldier of the Jodhpur contingent ever received one. The medal pictured was awarded to a British soldier.
The Victory Medal
The Tripura 1939-45 War Service Medal
Some 500 medals of this cupro-nickel medal are believed to have been struck for award to the small contingent that served first in India and then in Burma with 15 Corps. Its ribbon is possibly yellow with red edges and a central band of red-white-red.
The World War II Victory Medal
A limited number of this 38 mm medal were awarded in three classes : gold (25), silver (74) and bronze (1,987)
I'm deeply indebted to Mr. Emmanuel Halleux for his information and pictures on the Indian States awards.
THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF FREE INDIA
The Order of Azad Hind
Believed to be instituted in 1942. Three classes of the order and three medals were created and could be awarded either with or without swords. Nominal awards will most likely have been made but it is doubtful that actual awarding ceremonies did take place before the order petered out into discontinuity in late 1944.
The various classes and medals are :
Sher-i-Hind (Lion of India) : neck badge with swords for exceptional bravery, without swords for exceptional distinguished services towards the Indian Legion/Indian National Army.
Sardar-i-Jang (War Lord) : breast star with swords for great personal bravery against the enemy, without swords for distinguished service towards the Indian Legion/Indian National Army.
Vir-i-Hind (Hero of India) : breast badge with swords for personal bravery against the enemy, without swords for special services towards the Indian Legion/Indian National Army.
Thamga-e-Bahaduro (Soldier's Medal) : bronze gilt medal with swords for bravery, without swords for service towards the Indian Legion/Indian National Army.
Thamga-e-Azadi (Freedom Medal) : I have found a mention that this silvered bronze medal "with swords" was awarded for a minimum of 1.5 years of service in the Indian Legion/Indian National Army.
Shahid-i-Bharat (Martyr of India) : this bronze medal "with swords" was destined for posthumous award to the next-of-kin of those that gave their lives for India's freedom. It is highly unlikely that a medal without swords was created.
Beware : originals of these awards are unlikely to be found, copies on the other hand are very much in existence.