The Indians (and Brits) who fought on Hitler’s side

By now you know all about the heroic (?) deeds of the INA in East Asia. But you would not know about the Indians who fought in Hitler’s SS. The SS was not really racist-it had units from much of the Commonwealth, even a British unit as well as numerous non-Aryans from all over.

The main reference is:

though I am summarizing the main points below:

India: 2,500 in the
Indisches Freiwilligen Infanterie Regiment 950 or “Tiger Legion” This is described in some detail (including Netaji’s role) here:

Stranger still was the story of the Britischer Freikorps in the SS (which had a peak strength of 27, not enough for a platoon).

This was indeed so obscure that few people in Britain had heard about it until the publication of the popular novel “The Eagle Has Landed” in the mid-70s. It does not seem to figure in the movie.

The British government did, indeed, execute a few individuals such as William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) and John Amery for participating in broadcasts for Germany’s Ministry of Propaganda (headed by Herr Goebbels); as we know, Goebbels Jayanthi will be celebrated on a large scale in India on October 29 🙂 . But the irrelevance of the British Free Corps meant that nothing much happened to them.

Also see:



Obscure byways of Pakistan cricket

Everyone knows about Bradman’s 99.94 and most cricket fans know about A.G. Ganteaume’s freak average of 112.00 .

But have you wondered who scored the most runs in his Test career without ever being dismissed? The answer is Pakistan’s Afaq Hussain of the 1960s, whom most Pakistani cricket fans may not have heard of:

Cricinfo does not have a picture for him.

Here is a list of those who scored the most runs in Tests without ever being dismissed:


But Afaq played in only 2 Tests and 4 innings. Whom do you you think played the most Tests and innings without ever being dismissed? The answer is another Pakistani player, who is somewhat better known but is not likely to play Tests again:

Here is the list of those who played the most Tests and innings without being dismissed;


Note that this list includes Niaz Ahmed who has been mentioned as the only East Pakistani to have played for Pakistan. He was born in Varanasi, so this may or may not be true.

There have been only three instances of 4 wickets in 5 balls, and Pakistan has been involved in two of them:

4 in 5

Scorecards of these matches:

Here Pakistan went from 125/6 to 126/9, with Wasim Bari, Iqbal Qasim and Sikander Bakht being out first ball.

Here Akram dismissed tailenders Ambrose and Walsh first ball.

And finally, the lesser known Pervez Sajjad held the record of best Test return for 4 wickets from 1965 to 2013:

He was the the first to reach 4 wickets for 5 runs in 1964-65. This was equalled by England’s Ken Higgs soon afterwards but was not beaten until Zimbabwe’s A.C. Cremer took 4-4 in 2013.

A blast from the past-Francis Gary Powers

The name of Francis Gary Powers may not mean much to the present generation. But in early 1960 he was one of the most well-known (if not infamous) people in the world.

I remembered him while reading this report of the latest atrocity in Pakistan:

This mentions an attack on the Bedber air force base on the outskirts of Peshawar. While this is not the main airport in Peshawar, it was a centre of CIA surveillance on the USSR in the 50s and 60s.

That was at a time when satellite surveillance was in its infancy, so the next best tool available was the U-2 aircraft which was supposed to fly so high that no Soviet weapon could hit it. Francis Gary Powers was among the American pilots who made regular flights from Peshawar into the Soviet Union. He had started off in the USAF and later became a specialist U-2 spy pilot for the CIA.

Also see:

As you can see from the map, it was an ambitious mission stretching all the way from the erstwhile Tadjik Soviet Socialist Republic to Murmansk on the Arctic ocean before it was to land at Bodo in Norway.

He took off from Peshawar on May 1, 1960 while his flight was monitored at the CIA facility at Bedber. His luck ran out at a height of 65,000 feet near Sverdlovsk when a salvo of missiles brought down his plane (besides a Soviet fighter whose pilot was killed). He baled out and was promptly captured. Perhaps he forgot to swallow his suicide pill.

As the US took some time to figure out what exactly happened, the wily Soviet Premier Khruschev had a nice time pulling President Eisenhower’s leg. However Powers did not have to spend much time in prison and was released in February 1962 in a spy exchange.

Ultimately he returned to civilian life and died piloting a helicopter in 1977 while working for a TV news channel in the Los Angeles area.

Travels in the deep South

Today we have a longish account of a series of train trips (mainly Tamil Nadu and Kerala) in 2006. Includes the now-vanished Sengottai-Punalur MG line, the jinxed bridge at Ariyalur and much more. For instance, why would Harry Potter feel at home at Tirunelveli Jn? Why should a North Indian not take punga at Park station in Chennai? Why do internet users dislike the small station of Senji-Panambakkam near Chennai? And who are Kerala’s notorious Gang of Four? All these important questions are answered below: Trip Report_ Southern Odyss..

Wish him happy birthday on Sep 17

As you know, several famous Indians were born on September 17. Some are fortunate to have Mallika Sherawat singing birthday greetings for them. Here we look at one who is not a politician but is famous in his own right as

  1. India’s best Test all-rounder, surpassing Kapil
  2. The second-best spinning all-rounder in all Tests, ahead of bigger names like Mankad and Benaud.

In these tables we are considering a cutoff of 1000 runs, 100 wickets, batting average above 15.00, bowling average below 45.00. Ranking is by (Batting average-Bowling average).

Indian all-rounders:


Spinning all-rounders from all countries.

Note that Statsguru does not seem to consider Sobers and Greig to be spinners, since they bowled medium-pace as well.


Tail piece: he is also India’s leading opening bowler of the 2010s (ie bowling at no 1 or 2)-far ahead of regular opening bowlers such as Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma:


Brian Close R.I.P.

Much has been written about Brian Close, a name which may not be remembered by the present generation of cricket fans. Admittedly his individual performances were not that impressive-no centuries or fivers in Tests. But he did provide effective leadership as captain in 1966-67 when the morale of England’s Test team was quite low. His captaincy record was 6 wins and a draw out of 7 Tests, probably surpassed only by one-offs like Ravi Shastri who won the only Test he captained. More than his statistical record, it was his typical Yorkshire doggedness which he is remembered for.

He remains the only England player to make his Test debut before his 19th birthday, being 18 year and 149 days old in his debut against New Zealand in 1949. He played his last Test 27 years later, in a career spanning four decades.

A little more about the circumstances in which he became captain. In 1966 the all-conquering West Indies team captained by Gary Sobers had won 3 of the first 4 Tests (two by an innings, another by over a hundred runs). When Close was pulled out of near-oblivion as captain, the 5th Test started predictably.

In reply to WI’s 268, England got to 166/7 with Close run out for single figures. Then followed one of the greatest tail-end recoveries in all Tests:

Graveney and JT Murray put on 217 for the 8th wicket, while the no 10 and 11 (K Higgs and JA Snow) scored fifties apiece in a stand for 128 for the 10th wicket, bringing the total up to 527. Stung by this unexpected resistance, West Indies made 225 and lost by an innings and 34 runs.

In 1967, he oversaw a 3-0 sweep of India which had its moments in the first Test, remembered by Boycott being dropped for an over-cautious double century and Pataudi’s fightback of 64 and 148. India collapsed abjectly in the next two Tests. The only blemish of the summer was a draw against Pakistan, which Pakistan saved with some difficulty thanks mainly to Hanif Mohammed’s 187 not out.

It was equally typical of Close that he got into a quarrel with a spectator in a county match later in the season. This led to him losing the England captaincy as well as his exit from the team. It was thought that was the last international cricket had seen of him, until he was recalled to play 3 Tests against Clive Lloyd’s team of 1976. Here is a typical picture of that series (when helmets were not in common use).;dir=next

Cricket odds and ends-symmetrical careers

Symmetry in wins, losses and draws:

So far we have seen lists of Test players with “unsymmetrical” careers-either the dominance or absence of wins, losses and draws. But there are a few cases where the players ended their career with exactly the same number of wins, draws and losses:

TBA May (Aus):      8 wins, 8 losses and 8 draws.

Akram Raza (Pak): 3, 3 and 3.

JM Wiener (Aus):    2, 2 and 2.

And there were some who ended up with almost similar numbers of wins, losses and draws:

NJ Astle (NZ):          81 (27 wins, 28 losses, 26 draws)

EH Hendren (Eng):  51 (16, 18, 17)

FMM Worrell (WI):   51 (18, 17, 16)

ED Weekes (WI):     48 (16, 15, 17)

N Kulashekara (SL): 21 (7,6,8)

Symmetry and asymmetry in centuries in particular innings

You would expect that all leading batsmen (say with 20 or more centuries) would have scored centuries in all 4 innings. But there are some exceptions:

SR Waugh (Aus):      32 (No 4th)

M. Yousuf (Pak):       24 (No 4th)

V Sehwag (Ind):        23 (No 4th)

IR Bell (Eng):            22 (No 4th)

MC Cowdrey (Eng):  22 (No 4th)

DC Boon (Aus):        21 (No 4th)

G Kirsten (SA):         21 (No 4th)

DC Boon (Aus):        21 (No 4th)

Some other odd cases:

H Masakadza (Zim) and A Melville (SA) each scored 4 centuries, with one in each innings.

Melville was the first to score 4 Test centuries in consecutive innings-though World War 2 came in between the first and second century.

AF Rae (WI) and Wasim Raja (Pak) each scored all their 4 centuries in the 1st innings

MJ Horne (NZ) and RT Simpson (Eng) each scored all their 4 centuries in the 2nd innings

The anomalous diesel locomotives of the Indian Railways

There appears to be a general impression that diesel locomotives with hydraulic transmission are preferred up to 700 hp, and diesel-electrics for anything above that. Thus you will not see any DH and few DHMUs with a rating of above 700 hp.  The first main-line diesel locos on IR were indeed DH with 700 hp rating-first the YDM-1s introduced in the drought-prone Saurashtra in 1954, and the similar YDM-2s built by Chittaranjan in the late 80s which spent much of their time on suburban services around Secunderabad and later on SR.

Here is a YDM2 at SC in 1997:

YDM2 001

and a re-engined YDM-1R which can be seen at the NRM. Note the historical points:

YDM-1R 001

They did whatever was possible with their 700 hp until the more powerful diesel-electrics YDM-3,4,4A and 5 came along.

But there was one attempt to run a DH BG loco with a  2500 hp rating – which was the short-lived Henschel WDM-3 of SR in the 1970s, not to be confused with several later varieties with similar names. There were only 8 of them which were based at Gooty and could be sometimes be seen near Madras. Later changes included the WDM-2C becoming WDM-3A, the double cabbed WDP-2 becoming WDP-3A and  WDG-2 becoming WDG-3A. These were all diesel-electrics.

YDM2 001

They do not seem to have been very successful and none appear to have been preserved. Yet they were the largest diesel-hydraulic locomotives to be seen in India.

More unusual Indian steam locomotives

The history of steam locomotives of the Indian Railways is a vast subject which perhaps may not be of interest to most younger people interested in the railways as a whole. And some unusual locos of the past have been scrapped without leaving any specimen. Fortunately the history has been well documented by writers such as Hugh Hughes, though his books may now be out of print. Here I have referred to his “Indian Locomotives Part 1-Broad Gauge 1851-1940”.

Today we pick up a set of pictures from “Couplings to the Khyber” by P. S. A. Berridge which has some pictures of not-so-common steam locos which were used on the pre-partition NWR.

NWR Locos

We are familiar with the Garratts used on the BNR (later SER) until about 1980, besides the MG Garratts on the ABR (later NFR). There was only one other example of a Garratt used on BG in India, which is pictured here. This is No 480 of GAS class built by Beyer Peacock (Manchester) in 1925.It had the arrangement 2-6-2 + 2-6-2.  It, like the Mallet in the lowest panel, was purchased as a trial for the Sibi-Quetta section with its fearsome 1:25 gradients. It was found that the regular HG/S  2-8-0 performed better than both of them. So no further Garretts  or Mallets were tried on the NWR.

This may be of interest:

Traditionally, the expresses going up the Bolan Pass had HG/Ss at the back and front. Today, they have diesels at both end. Mach station was the equivalent of Karjat with the banking locomotives.

The 2-6-6-2 Mallet shown here is No 460 of MAS class which was built by Baldwin (Philadelphia) in 1923. It may be the only Mallet which  ran anywhere on the Indian Railways. Both the Garratt and the Mallet did well on the less steeply graded section between Lala Musa and Rawalpindi and ran until the late 1930s.

In the middle we see one of the N1 class 2-10-0 which started their working life on the GIPR’s ghat sections, 30 of them being built by North British (Glasgow) in 1920. They may be the only 10-coupled locos which worked on mainline services on the Indian Railways. (There were some 10-coupled tank engines used in shunting). Once the ghat sections of the GIPR were electrified in the mid-1920s, these were moved to the NWR and did well on the moderately graded systems. An interesting point is that they were originally oil-fired. Due to wartime shortages of oil, they were converted to coal-firing in 1942. (On the other hand, practically all steam locos running in Pakistan were converted to oil-firing soon after partition as the supply of coal became limited).

Finally, here is one of the HG/S 2-8-0s which handled the Bolan Pass and ran whatever little traffic there was on the Khyber line up to the 1980s. This picture shows it in the desert between Jacobabad and Sibi:


My friend Dr MSM Saifullah adds that “one can see a mosque, the outline of which are arranged using rocks. It clearly shows the entrance (with rocks absent) and the mihrab. Mihrab is a semicircular niche in a mosque that indicates the direction one faces for the prayer (called qibla). Mosques of these type are common in deserts and areas with little vegetation.”

And here is another one on the Khyber line in 1968. Note how the loco’s appearance has changed from the British days.  Diesel locos could not be used on this route due to axle load limitations. SGS 0-6-0s have also been used on tourist trains on this route.

HG-S Khyber

More odd Indian locomotives

Many of you would have visited the National Rail Museum at Delhi at some time. While there are a lot of things to see there, there are some particularly peculiar locomotives whose unusual nature you may not notice if you are in a hurry to see all the exhibits.

Like this one:

Ramgotty 001

Apart from its odd name, it is a survivor of the only 4-ft gauge line in India though it soon got itself converted to BG. And it must be one of the very few non-British locomotives purchased in the earlier days.

Another non-standard line was the one from Chingleput to Conjeevaram which started off as 3 ft 6 inch but, as in the above case, was soon absorbed by a larger system and converted to metre gauge. None of the locos from there have survived. In recent years this line has been converted to BG as well as electrified, and sees numerous EMUs from Chennai besides a few long-distance trains.

An odd example of industrial locomotive is seen here:

Fireless 001

One of the numerous methods used to try to eliminate sparks and flames in volatile atmospheres. Obviously it needed to be “recharged” frequently and was perhaps not convenient for shunting BG wagons.

Odd Indian locomotives-battery electric locomotives

Small electric locomotives run on batteries have been used in mines and similar environments for a long time. As batteries are heavy, you would not find them on a full-sized locomotive unless there was a good reason for it. One example would be for running maintenance trains in underground railways when power is switched off.

Thus we have the battery tender attached to the YCG-1 metre gauge locomotives which ran between Madras Beach and Tambaram from the 1930s. As some of the stations had unwired turnouts, the locomotives had a battery tender to run on if the overhead wires were absent.


By the mid-1960s this section was converted to 25 KV AC and electrification was extended to Villupuram (which remained the only electrified metre gauge section in India). These DC locos were retired and a fleet of AC locos took over. The top half of the picture below shows one at the NRM in Delhi, minus the battery tender.

There were also two battery DC locos (this time on broad gauge) delivered to the old BBCI in 1927. They were to be used for shunting where steam locos were considered undesirable for some reason. There is a picture of it hauling a goods train in Carnac Bunder (under the Bombay Port Trust lines) in an old annual report of IR.

Old elec locos 001

In this case (in the lower picture) the batteries appear to be inside the main body of the loco. In the upper picture we see a YCG1 which is preserved at the National Rail Museum in Delhi.

Stranger is the case of the NBM-1 narrow gauge (2-foot) locos, 3 of which were built by BHEL in 1987 for the Gwalior branch lines. No pictures of these seem to be available. But one wonders what purpose they served. Perhaps there was an urgent requirement for replacement of steam locos when no suitable diesels were available. However, these routes have been served by the NDM-5 class diesels which were also built at the same time. But I wonder if there is any example anywhere else in the world where battery locos were used for regular service where there was no electrified line to start with.