Gandhi and the shirts

Whatever the British rulers of India may have felt about Mahatma Gandhi, he had captured the imagination of the general public around the world. His shirt (or rather the lack of one) was a recurring theme. Here are a few examples.

A cartoonist from New Zealand created a cartoon described below:

Gandhi shirt

The only unfamiliar name may be Leon Blum, one of the main leaders of France in the 1930s.

In the 1930s, Hitler and his brown shirts as well as Mussolini and his black shirts were well known in Europe.

A less profiteering form of Gandhigiri explained his popularity among English liberals and prompted a verse in that Bible of the fashionable left, the New Statesman and Nation, that C.F. Andrews cited,

Hitler with his Brown Shirts, riding for a fall,

Mussolini with his Black Shirts, back against the wall,

De Valera with his Green Shirts, caring not at all,

Three cheers for Mahatma Gandhi, with no shirt at all.

By the time World War II came around, British soldiers had modified it to:

Mussolini with his Black Shirts, backs against the wall,
Hitler with his Brown Shirts, heading for a fall,
Churchill in his dress shirt dominates them all,
Three Cheers for Gandhi – no Shirt at ALL !!!!!!!!

This did show some affection for him-as the British working class were good at creating sarcastic songs about their enemies. Hitler and his associates would have been well aware of that:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/category/colonel-bogey/

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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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Waffen-SS_foreign_volunteers_and_conscripts#British_Commonwealth

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Legion

Stranger still was the story of the Britischer Freikorps in the SS (which had a peak strength of 27, not enough for a platoon).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Free_Corps

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.

Colonel Bogey and his successors

Most adults in Commonwealth countries have heard this tune, possibly through military bands which still play it. It dates back to 1914, but the words came later during World War 2. It became famous worldwide with the film “Bridge on the River Kwai” which was released in 1957, but was still making the rounds of cinemas in India in the 1970s.

Here is the “official version” by a British army band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxguy0BYNzE

You are more likely to have seen this version from the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k4NEAIk3PU

Although most of the film was shot in Sri Lanka, the actual bridge still stands in Thailand and is a popular tourist destination: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nYT79oxzBI

It is not very close to Bangkok, but many conducted tours will take you there and back in a day.

The tune became so ingrained in popular culture that: “Since the film portrayed prisoners of war held under inhumane conditions by the Japanese, there was a diplomatic row in May 1980, when a military band played “Colonel Bogey” during a visit to Canada by Japanese prime minister Masayoshi Ōhira”

As to the lyrics, Wikipedia goes into them in great detail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler_Has_Only_Got_One_Ball   Most versions had only the first four lines, though longer versions exist. Variations in the second line mention local prominent buildings such as the Albert Hall in London and the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Also, as General Rommel was one of the few German military leaders who was respected by soldiers on the other side, the second line sometimes became “Rommel has three but small”. The more obscure variations (particularly on the second verse) are here:

http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Hitler_Has_Only_Got_One_Ball

Indian schoolboys made up other variations such as:

Hitler, he had but one big ball,

Rommel, he had three but small,

Nehru, he went to Peru,

And poor Gandhi, he had none at all.