Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS
|The Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS was formed on August 8th, 1944when the Legion Freies Indien/Infanterie-Regiment 950 (indische) wastranfered to the control of the Waffen-SS from the Heer.|
The Legion Freies Indien had been deployed in France on coastal defenseduties in the area of Lacanau near Bordeaux when it was transfered to theWaffen-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 theMediterranean coast of France, the Indian Legion was at risk of being cut off and so on 15th August 1944 (thesame day that the feared Allied landings actually took place on the French Riviera) the Legion left Lacanau tomove back to Germany. The first part of their journey was by rail to Poitiers where they were attacked by FrenchFFI (Forces Françaises de l’Interieur) “Maquis” forces and a number of men were wounded. The FrenchResistance continued to harass the Legion when at the end of August it moved again to Allier via Chatrou, thistime moving by road. The town of Dun on the Berry Canal was reached by the beginning of September and herethe Indian Legion was opposed by French regular forces. In the resulting street fighting the Indische FreiwilligenLegion der Waffen SS suffered its first death in combat: Leutnant Ali Khan, later to be interred with full militaryhonors at Sancoin cemetery. The Legion continued its withdrawal through Luzy marching at night but took morecasualties in ambushes including Unteroffizier Kalu Ram and Gefreiter Mela Ram. The Loire was crossed and theIndians 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, theyarrived at Oberhofen near the garrison town of Hagenau in Germany. During Christmas 1944 the Legion wasbilleted in the private houses of German civilians then moved in bitterly cold weather to the vacantTruppenübungsplatz at Heuberg. One company is said to have been transferred to Italy, if this is so, its fate isunknown.
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 andundertook a desperate march along the shores of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) in an attempt to enterSwitzerland via one of the alpine passes. However, this was unsuccessful and eventually the Legion was capturedby United States and French forces. Before their delivery into the custody of British and Indian forces it is allegedthat a number of Indian soldiers were shot by French troops.
|SS-Oberführer Heinz Bertling|