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H017075 AZAD HIND MEDAL OF MERIT IN BRONZE WITH SWORDS.

BACKGROUND: As far back as WWI there had been calls by different groups for an armed revolution in India against British rule in order to establish a freely independent Indian state. During WWI the Indianís, with German assistance, (Indo-German Pact), planned a rebellion within the British run Indian army but after the Indian army elements in Hong Kong rebelled the British dismantled any further rebellion plans. Although the majority of the Indian population supported the fight against fascism at the outbreak of WWII they were upset that the British rule had declared India to be in an official state of war against the Axis powers without any prior consultation. This, along with other factors, resulted in assorted different elements within India, to start a mobilization campaign to raise an independent Indian army in order to stage a rebellion to evict the British and gain independence while Britain was preoccupied with the war in Europe. One of the more influential, anti-British, Indian leaders was Subhash Chandra Bose. Bose made numerous attempts with different nations to establish an independent Indian army to fight the British. Between September 1941 and January 1942 Bose attempted to mobilize Indian nationals who had served in the British army and been captured by the Axis in North Africa. These Indians which were being held in Italy resulted in the formation of the Battaglione Hazad Hindoustan, (Free India Battalion). The experiment failed however as the Indianís refused to serve under the Italian leadership and the battalion was disbanded. Bose also traveled to Russia, Japan and Germany in an attempt to forge an alliance against the British. Shortly after the fall of British held Singapore in February 1942, another Indian national, Mohan Singh, established the anti-British, Azad Hind Fauj, (Indian National Army), in South-East Asia with Japanese assistance. This also failed by December 1942. In early 1943 Bose, now heading the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind, (Provisional Government of Free India), reformed the Azad Hind Fauj, with Japanese political and monetary support. Further recruitment efforts in conjunction with the Germans resulted in the formation of the Indische Infanterie-Regiment 950 (Indian Infantry Regiment 950), which was established in April 1943 as a volunteer unit of the German army. In August 1944 the Indische Infanterie-Regiment 950 was transferred to the Waffen-SS and reorganized as the Indische Freiwilligen-Legion der Waffen-SS, (Indian Volunteer Legion of the Armed-SS). The Azad Hind series of awards was allegedly instituted in 1942 by Bose in conjunction with the German sponsored, Centrale Freies Indien, (Central Committee for Free India). The Azad Hind series of awards included the Grand Star, neck award, known as the Tiger of India, (Sher-e-Hind), the 1ST Class Star, known as the Leader in Battle, (Sardar-e-Jang), the 2ND class Star, known as the, Hero of India, (Vir-e-Hind), and the Medal of Merit in bronze, silver and gold, known as the Martyr of the Fatherland, (Shahid-e-Bharat). All the awards were bestowed, with swords for bravery and without swords for merit although the exact criteria for bestowal of one of the awards is unknown. The awards were rendered to all eligible personnel, including Germans. It is believed that the Rudolf Souval firm of Vienna was the primary if not the sole manufacturer of the Azad Hind series of awards.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Roughly 36mm, gilt washed, zinc production example with swords. Block Latin script, "Azad Hind", (Indian Independence). Complete with piece of original ribbon. Scarce.

GRADE ****                             PRICE $328.00

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