This film is part of Free

British News No. 53

Indian soldiers in Singapore, while their compatriots are trained in the manufacture of war munitions

Non-Fiction 1941 15 mins


This newsreel shows two different aspects of the Indian experience in World War II. The first, in the item titled 'Wings Over Singapore', highlights the Indian involvement in the defence of Malaya and Singapore, months before the Japanese invasion in December 1941. The second item, 'Indian Trainees in Britain', shows Indians being trained to act as instructors of the technical skills necessary for the manufacture of war munitions in India under the direction of Ernest Bevin's (British) Ministry of Labour.

The two India items share a common theme of Britain's Empire in India being mobilised under British instruction and tutelage. It was the zenith of British Imperial aspirations of how Empire could and should be mobilised but also the last time that such sentiments could be so confidently expressed. The soldiers shown (from the 4/19th Hyderabadis) fought with the Japanese for the liberation of India following the fall of Singapore in February 1942. The managed expansion of Indian industry was also abandoned following the imminent threat of Japanese invasion from 1942. Only 640 men were ever trained under the Bevin Training Scheme.