British Empire in India not only utilized abundant natural resources of this sub-continent, but It also made optimal utilization of gallant human resources of this Nation to its best possible extent in World War-1 and World War-2. As per the online sources, British Indian Army was biggest volunteer army with 2.5 million soldiers serving during Second World War. The gallantry of Indian soldiers during World War-2 had no parallel, 31 Victoria Cross awardees – (Highest British award for the sacrifice of Warriors) of World War-2 were Indians substantiates the same. British Indian Army had fought in frontiers at Burma, East Africa, Malaya, Tunisian and Italy campaigns and the sacrifice of these Indian soldiers is impeccable by any standards. Even Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army during 1942, has asserted the same in his statements.
One such brave and ferocious fighter of British Indian Army is Naik Fazal Din, who led 10th Baluchi Regiment as Corporal and was instrumental in defeating Japanese army at Burma Campaign during World War 2. Fazal Din’s inspired fight at Burma Campaign against Japan troops is stupendous, and his heroics can be easily featured in action packed adrenaline pumping movies. Fazal Din gave the necessary momentum for British Army before dying on War Field. As a result, the company troops could drive away Japanese from Burma.
Fazal Din was born on July 1, 1921, at Hoshiarpur in Punjab province currently situated between borders of India and Pakistan. Though Information about his parents is not documented, he was born in a poor agricultural Muslim family. Fazal joined British Indian armed forces as was very enthusiastic about serving in the army. His was a short life span as he had to sacrifice himself at an early age of 23 fighting the Japanese invasions of Burma during World War 2.
The Burma Campaign and World War -2
Burmese and many Indians were of the opinion that Japan could work as true savior Nation for liberating them from the clutches of British. Indian National Army (INA) founded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was one among such organizations. But Burmese soon realized Japanese are not true saviors but were on expansion spree of their kingdom.
Though Burma was initially liberated from British in 1942 by Japanese Army, INA, and Thailand, Japan utilized Burma as the platform to launch its expansion to British India through an operation called ‘U-Go.’ But they failed miserably as British, Chinese and American troops hit back at Japanese troops and they attacked Burmese territory in November 1944. It was at this juncture Fazal Din was appointed as Naik of 10th Baluchi Regiment and his troops were deployed to fight Japan in Burmese territory.
“The Fight” by Fazal Din
There was a strong anti-Japanese sentiment growing in Burma. British troops utilized the same to its advantage. The motive of British Indian army was to lay seizure of Meiktila (a place in Burma), which was the inventory house for food and ammunitions of the Japanese forces. British army played a trick by dispatching 33rd Indian Corps to Mandalay thus misleading Japanese troops. While Japanese force concentrated frontiers of Mandalay, Indian 17th Division troops took control of airfield around Meiktila ensuring Japanese out of skies. The Japanese contingent comprised of 168th Regiment and nearly 4000 soldiers were discharging their duty.
The entire strength was not available at Meiktila. Many of them were hiding in bunkers and other forms of war field nests like anti-tank positions, machine-gun dugouts. The Japanese soldiers were ready to die for their ruler. But they never expected a ‘typhoon’ called Fazal Din that was in the store to dash on.
The Strom, Hurricane, Tsunami aka Fazal Din and his 10th Baluchi Regiment entered the scene aggressively with buoyancy adrenaline pumped fighters and were immediately encountered with three bunkers and a house of Japanese troops.
Fazal Din with the expertise of handling grenades and large-calibre bolt-action rifles destroyed the first bunker in their fight. Further his troop moved towards other bunkers. Two of the bunkers were silent as they had exhausted ammunitions. At this juncture, samurai troops of eight members lead by two officers rushed towards Allied troops. One officer was immediately crushed to death by Fazal’s team with the help of a Bren light machine gun. Unfortunately for British Indian troop, light machine gun went out of ammo, and one of Fazal’s mates was attacked by sword swirling samurai officer. Fazal rushed to his aide, and in this fierce combat with samurai fighter, Fazal was pierced in the chest. The sword went deep inside to peek out at his back. The troops in combat were stunned at this incidence. The samurai officer with a feel of relief pulled out the sword, but for his shock, Fazal had not succumbed with this wound, instead, like a phoenix stroked back by snatching the sword from his enemies fists and with a ‘blow of terror,’ Japanese officer was torn into pieces.
For bewilderment of everyone, Fazal Din, in spite of a deep hole in the chest and profusely bleeding was not done! He moved to the aid of another soldier and eliminated one more enemy from earth. Fazal Din had scored three successive blows before moving nearly 25 yards to reach Regiment post for filing a report. He continuously encouraged his troops to march forward before collapsing to the ground. Thus only after completing his assigned responsibilities, Fazal took his last breath. Fazal’s commitment charged the allied forces to launch the attack with greater vigor and made Japanese troop flee away from the war field.
Without any second thought, highest bravery award of British Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously to Fazal Din on May 24, 1945.
Though India obtained its Independence through Non-Violence Struggle against British Empire, thousands of Indian Soldiers have sacrificed their lives to help British Rulers of India to retain their territory; this is the paradox which we all have accepted.