WWII: These Women Were the First to Enlist in British Indian Army 

It was only in 1942 that Indian women were allowed to sign up in the British Indian Army for the first time. 

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WWII: These Women Were the First to Enlist in British Indian Army 
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While there was no presence of Indian women in World War I, the British run-Indian Army recruited female volunteers to form the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India) for the second world war in May 1942.

Though they were confined to clerical or domestic duties, this was the first and only time, until 1992, women served the Indian Army in non-medical roles.

Members of the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India) in service dress. (Photo Courtesy: National Army Museum)

Initially, women recruits had to be of 18 years. By December 1942, the minimum age was reduced to 17 years and 11,500 Indian women were enlisted by the end of the war.

As compared to over two million men serving in the Indian Army, 11,500 women may seem quite less. But Indian women during those times did not mix socially or at work with men and a large part of the corps was formed from the Anglo–Asian community.

The Quetta Platoon, Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India), in civilian dress, 1942. (Photo Courtesy: National Army Museum)

Women in the British Indian Army did not have the privilege of fighting in a combat unlike their European and American counterparts who served in both world wars.

They either worked as typists, drivers, switchboard operators and would travel with the soldiers working behind the front lines.

In addition to serving in the Corps, civilian women had also served as nurses who travelled around the world with the British-Indian Army, who fought in World War II.

Hundreds of Indian Army nurses have volunteered and are seeing active service alongside Indian doctors in the Middle East. (Photo Courtesy: Library of Congress)

The Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India) was disbanded in 1947 after India got independence. 

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