A soldier of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment in training, c 1940s.

With the opening of the camp, another 150 women were recruited. They came from all walks of life; the majority worked as plantation workers, while some came from business families. Many joined despite their families’ disapproval. Even though they had never stepped on Indian soil, they were inspired by Bose’s fervour and wanted to fight for India’s Independence. By November 1943, the camp had more than 300 cadets.

The recruits were divided into sections and platoons and were accorded ranks of Non-Commissioned Officers and Sepoys according to their educational qualifications. In the camp, strict military discipline was instilled. The women had to endure long route marches, carrying sacks and rifles. In less than four months, on 30 March 1944, the Rani of Jhansi Regiment held its first passing out parade which was 500 strong.

Following the opening of the camp in Singapore, camps were also set up in Rangoon and Bangkok. Advanced training in jungle warfare was conducted in Burma to prepare the women to fight at the Indo-Burma front.

The women’s role in the Regiment was not confined to combat operations only. About 50 recruits were selected by Dr Lakshmi to be trained as nurses. In addition, the women organised fundraising activities to support the war effort.

The Rani of Jhansi Regiment, c. 1940s.

 

 
     
 

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