Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bangalore played a significant role in both the World Wars

War connection

Bangalore played a significant role in both the World Wars
The Hindu

What could have been Bangalore's role in the two World Wars? Hard as it may be to believe, the repercussions of the war were felt by the citizens of Bangalore because the princely Mysore State, which had accepted the supremacy of Britain, made significant contribution both in the First and Second World War.

On October 13, 1914, the Imperial Service Lancers, under the command of Chamaraj Urs Bahadur, left Bangalore and took part in three engagements with the enemy in the Suez Canal zone. In November 1915, the regiment saw action in Gaza in Palestine. A sum of Rs. 2 crore was contributed towards the war by the people and the Government of Mysore.

The celebrations

At the end of the First World War, a peace celebration was held in the city for four days from December 13, 1919, on which Rs. 10,000 was spent. The programmes included feeding and distribution of clothes to the poor, religious services in all places of worship, organising of Bhajans and Harikathas in select localities, march past by the troops, music, distribution of sweets to school children and organising of sports events for them, along with exhibitions and public meetings. Public buildings were illuminated and crackers were burst.

The Second World War broke out in September 1939, and once again, Mysore State contributed a big sum for the war. This, however, generated a lot of dissent. When the Cantonment Municipality passed a resolution that people should invest a lakh of rupees in the Government of India interest free bonds and contribute Rs. 2,000 towards war funds, the leader of Congress Municipal Party, S. Sundaram Iyer, opposed it. In protest, the Congress members of the Cantonment Municipality resigned in March 1941.

The Mysore Squadron of the Royal Air Force, Jaya, took part in the historic Battle of Britain. In 1940, the Hindustan Aircraft Ltd. was founded with an authorised capital of Rs. four crore. Bomber and transport aircraft came here for overhaul. In February 1941, about 2,200 Italian prisoners of war arrived in Bangalore by a special train and marched to internment camps at Byramangala, 20 miles from Bangalore city.

As Bangalore city was situated next to the British Cantonment, several air raid precaution measures were taken, such as construction of baffle walls, digging up of wells, organising blackouts etc. The municipal councillors of the city considered the undertaking of the above measures as sheer waste of money and wanted the Government to make arrangements for shifting the troops to a far off place, as their presence would expose the civil population of Bangalore to aerial attacks. Also, the stationing of military in the neighbourhood of Bangalore had led to an abnormal rise in the cost of foodstuffs, vegetables, and a whole lot of other goods. The movement of military personnel in the city limits, especially in Malleswaram, caused a scare among the people. The public complained of their high-handed behaviour and uncivil ways in public spaces. They crowed cinema halls and misbehaved there too. The municipal councillors decided to bring this to the notice of the authorities concerned to prevent such happenings in the future. A welfare club for the members of the Indian Air force, perhaps the first of its kind in India, started in Bangalore in April 1944. It was a centre for recreation and amusement to the members of the Air Force. Coffee was distributed free by the canteens managed by the Indian Coffee Cess committee to the troops arriving at Bangalore City and Cantonment Railway station. The Mysore War Fund had employed one Kannada and one Urdu translator for providing facilities for translation and dispatching letters from families to soldiers on active service.

In 1945 (May 14), the Diwan of Mysore presided over a public meeting in Bangalore, to celebrate the defeat of Germany. The city municipality organised mass feeding of the poor on the day. S. SRINIVAS


Post a Comment

<< Home