The Rani of Jhansi Regiment was the Women's Regiment of the Indian National Army, with the aim of overthrowing the British Raj in colonial India. It was one of the all-female combat regiments of the Second World War. Led by Lakshmi Sahgal), the unit was raised in July 1943 with volunteers from the expatriate Indian population in South East Asia. The unit was named the Rani of Jhansi Regiment after Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose announced the formation of the Regiment on 12 July 1943.Most of the women were teenage volunteers of Indian descent from Malayan rubber estates; very few had ever been to India. The initial nucleus of the force was established with its training camp in Singaporewith approximately a hundred and seventy cadets. The cadets were given ranks of non-commissioned officer or sepoy (private) according to their education. Later, camps were established inRangoon and Bangkok and by November 1943, the unit had more than three hundred cadets.
Training in Singapore began on 23 October 1943.The recruits were divided into sections and platoons and were accorded ranks of Non-Commissioned Officers and Sepoys according to their educational qualifications. These cadets underwent military and combat training with drills, route marches as well as weapons training in rifles, hand grenades, and bayonet charges. Later, a number of the cadets were chosen for more advanced training in jungle warfare in Burma. The Regiment had its first passing out parade at the Singapore training camp of five hundred troops on 30 March 1944.
Some 200 of the cadets were also chosen for nursing training, forming the Chand Bibi Nursing Corps.
During the INA's Imphal campaign, an initial contingent of nearly a hundred of the Rani of Jhansi troops moved to Maymyo, part of which was intended to form a vanguard unit to enter the Gangetic plains of Bengal after the expected fall of Imphal. A part of the unit also formed the nursing corps at the INA hospital at Maymyo. Following the failure of the siege of Imphal and the INA's disastrous retreat, the Rani troops were tasked with coordinating the relief and care of the INA troops who arrived at Monywa and to Maymyo and were not used in combat.
After the fall of Rangoon and the withdrawal of the Azad Hind government and Subhas Chandra Bose from the city and through Burma, the troops originally from Burma were allowed to disband, while the remainder of the regiment retreated along with the retreating Japanese forces on foot and, when available, on mechanised transport. During the retreat it suffered some attacks both, from Allied air attacks, as well the Burmese resistance forces. The total number of casualties suffered is not known. The unit later disbanded.
Rani Jhansi Regiment and Azad Hind of INA (1943-45)
The Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army (INA) was raised and trained in Japanese-occupied Malaya and Singapore in 1943-45. It saw action against the Allies in Burma during 1944-45. This is the first history of the remarkable Regiment made up of young Indian women from towns and rubber plantations. Many had left comfortable lives to take part in this liberation struggle. The girls who had never seen India yet, were eager to enlist to liberate India from colonial bondage. It was one of the very few all-female combat regiments of the Second World War on any side. Led by Caption Lakshmi Swaminathan [popularly known as caption Lakshmi Sehgal] the unit was named the Rani of Jhansi Regiment after Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi.