The Infanterie-Regiment 950 (indische), or Legion Freies Indien, was formed on 26 August 1942 from Indian volunteers fighting in the British 3rd (Indian) Motorised Brigade and other units captured in North Africa. It should also be noted that not all were volunteers, many were also pressured to join the unit. The Indians were recruited with the help of Subhas Chandra Bose, ex-president of the Indian National Congress, who had escaped India despite British surveillance.

In April 1943 it was transferred to Beverloo, Belgium, were it was attached to 16. Luftwaffen-Feld-Division. A large number of men of the 3rd company, 1st battalion, refused to follow orders and go to the Netherlands, this ended with 47 of them being court-martialled and sent back to the POW-camps.
In August 1943 it was sent to Bordeaux, France, and was attached to 344. Infanterie-Division. When that division was sent to northern France, the Indians remained and was attached to 159. Infanterie-Division.

On 21 January 1943 it was made part of the Japanese sponsored Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army), an "army" that would grow to include 3 divisions with a total of 33.000 men. Bose had left Germany in February 1943 on U-180 from Kiel and met up with the Japanese submarine I-29 near Madagascar, reaching Japan occupied Sumatra on 6 May. He then travelled to Tokyo were he got involved with Japanese plans. He did of the wounds he suffered in a airplane crash after take-off from Taipei, Formosa (Taiwan), 18 August 1945.

The 9th company, the one most reliable one, was sent to Italy in the spring of 1944 where it saw action against the British 5th Corps and the Polish 2nd Corps before it was withdrawn from the front to be used in anti-partisan operations. It surrendered to the Allied forces in April 1945, still in Italy.

Following the Allied landings in Normandy the activities of the partisans, Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur (FFI), began to increase and as the Allies advanced the Indians withdrew, loosing men both through combat and desertions.
It was transferred to the Waffen-SS in August 1944 and was redesignated Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS.


Italy also recruited Indians for their forces, they served in Battaglione Azad Hindostan of the Raggruppamento Centri Militari.

Area of operations

Germany (Aug 1942 - Apr 1943)
Holland (Apr 1943 - Sep 1943)
France (Sep 1943 - Aug 1944)

Order of battle

I. Bataillon
II. Bataillon
III. Bataillon
13. Infanteriegeschütz Kompanie
14. Panzerjäger Kompanie
15. Pionier Kompanie
Sonderkompanie

Militaria

The Order of Azad Hind was awarded by the Free India Movement.


Flag of Legion Freies Indien
flag-azad-hind
Illustration courtesy of Flags Of The World

Soldiers of Legion Freies Indien, note the sleeve badge with the indian colors, a tiger and the text "Freies Indien"
freiesindien-color
(Courtesy of Jörgen)

Soldier of Legion Freies Indien with an MG 34
freiesindien-mg34
(Courtesy of PJ)

Soldier of Legion Freies Indien
freies-indien
(Courtesy of PJ)

Legion Freies Indien stamp (1943)
stamps-mil-india
(Courtesy of PJ Caliguire)

Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel visits the Indische Legion during an inspection of the Atlantikwall 10 February 1944
rommel-indische
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Soldiers of the Legion Freies Indien during a ceremony in Berlin in November 1943
legion-indien-berlin-1943
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3 0 Germany)

 

Sources used

Christopher Ailsby - Hitler's Renegades: Foreign nationals in the service of the Third Reich
David Littlejohn - The Indian Legion (in The Military Advisor, Vol 6 No 3)
David Littlejohn - Foreign Legions of the Third Reich, vol 4
Antonio J. Munoz - The East came West: Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist Volunteers in the German Armed Forces 1941-1945
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945

Reference material on this unit

Massimiliano Afiero - Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen SS
Martin Bamber - For Free India: Indian soldiers in Germany and Italy during the Second World War
Rudolf Hartog - The Sign of the Tiger: Subhas Chandra Bose And His Indian Legion in Germany, 1941-45
Antonio J. Munoz - The East came West: Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist Volunteers in the German Armed Forces 1941-1945

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