Indian forces in North Africa during World War II. Imperial War Museums © IWM (E 5330)
During the Allied invasion of Italy in early September 1943, an Indian lieutenant wrote a letter to his beloved.
Here I am penning this to you in the middle of one of the biggest nights in the history of this war. Love, I am sure by the time you receive this letter you will guess correctly as to where I am. I bet you, you wouldn’t like to stay here a single minute… Oh! it is terrible. Yet in the midst of this commotion, I sit here, on my own kit-bag and scribble these few lines to my love for I do not really know when I will get the next opportunity to write to you.
The lieutenant formed part of the largest volunteer army in the world, 2.5m men from undivided India – what is today India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – who served the British during World War II. They were fighting for Britain at a time when the struggle for India’s freedom from British rule was at its most incendiary.