Research on the German Armed Forces 1918-1945
The Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS was formed on August 8th, 1944
when the Legion Freies Indien/Infanterie-Regiment 950 (indische) was
tranfered to the control of the Waffen-SS from the Heer.
The Legion Freies Indien had been deployed in France on coastal defense duties in the area of Lacanau near Bordeaux when it was transfered to the Waffen-SS, and it remained there until over two months after the Allied Invasion of Normandy. However, following the Allied breakout from the Normandy bridgehead and with the growing threat of Allied landings on the Mediterranean coast of France, the Indian Legion was at risk of being cut off and so on 15th August 1944 (the same day that the feared Allied landings actually took place on the French Riviera) the Legion left Lacanau to move back to Germany. The first part of their journey was by rail to Poitiers where they were attacked by French FFI (Forces Franšaises de l'Interieur) "Maquis" forces and a number of men were wounded. The French Resistance continued to harass the Legion when at the end of August it moved again to Allier via Chatrou, this time moving by road. The town of Dun on the Berry Canal was reached by the beginning of September and here the Indian Legion was opposed by French regular forces. In the resulting street fighting the Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen SS suffered its first death in combat: Leutnant Ali Khan, later to be interred with full military honors at Sancoin cemetery. The Legion continued its withdrawal through Luzy marching at night but took more casualties in ambushes including Unteroffizier Kalu Ram and Gefreiter Mela Ram. The Loire was crossed and the Indians headed for Dijon. A short engagement was fought against Allied armor at Nuits St. Georges.
After several days halt for rest the Indians continued on to Remisemont, then, marching via Colmar in Alsace, they arrived at Oberhofen near the garrison town of Hagenau in Germany. During Christmas 1944 the Legion was billeted in the private houses of German civilians then moved in bitterly cold weather to the vacant Truppenübungsplatz at Heuberg. One company is said to have been transferred to Italy, if this is so, its fate is unknown.
The Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen SS remained at Tr.Üb.Platz Heuberg until the end of March 1945, then, with the defeat of the Third Reich imminent the Indians sought sanctuary in neutral Switzerland and undertook a desperate march along the shores of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) in an attempt to enter Switzerland via one of the alpine passes. However, this was unsuccessful and eventually the Legion was captured by United States and French forces. Before their delivery into the custody of British and Indian forces it is alleged that a number of Indian soldiers were shot by French troops.
SS-Oberführer Heinz Bertling
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