Links to Micro-national and Fantasy coins: Listings A4

Links To Micro-National and Fantasy Coins: Listings A4

GRAND DUCHY OF AVRAM (one of several self-declared Australian micro-nations; based in Tasmania and founded on October 1, 1980 by Prince John, the Grand Duke of Avram): Prince John, formerly John Charlton Rudge, is an eminently well-rounded, keenly intellectual aristocrat (to borrow some of the terminology employed by Kit Kiefer in the April 1, 1986 issue of World Coin News). He has traced his family/forebears back to the 12th century. In his youth, he had been tutored/trained by a Bishop with the goal of becoming one; he later received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1978 and a Doctorate of Divinity in 1982. That same year, he was appointed the Cardinal, Archbishop of the Royal See of the Continent of Australia. He has also excelled in several secular fields, is highly educated and has extensive academic qualifications. He was a scientist, employed as a Managing Director of laboratories for the Mary-Ellen Mines Pty Ltd. (named after his first child) from 1969-86. His 1981 doctoral thesis for Business Administration and Civil Law was entitled How to Form and Operate Your Own Bank in Australia, which he implemented when he opened the Royal Bank of Avram (which offers all the bona-fide conventional banking services, and whose shop is very popular with tourists). The Australian government became furious with this venture, because they claimed he had broken their banking laws. They took legal action, which was instituted by the Treasurer and authorized in writing by the Cabinet. In March of 1985 the Federal Police, armed with warrants, raided his house (they broke down the door while he was showering!) and a branch office, seizing his privately printed banknotes and coins. They tried to close down the entire operation, but in December of 1986 the Court eventually dismissed all 6 cases (the government also lost when they appealed those decisions) at a cost of approximately 22 million to the taxpayers (compared to the Grand Duke's total cost of $175, and apart from the damage it caused to his reputation with the local population). They ruled that Avram's coins were not illegal in the Commonwealth. It was pointed out (in a December-January 2000/01 article in the Australian Coin Review and in the February 2001 issue of Coin News) that ironically, the Royal Bank of Avram “abbreviates to ‘R.B.A.’ — the same as that of the Reserve Bank of Australia.” Those expositions also claim that the Royal Bank, which has its own charter and directors, is not (and never was) owned by the Grand Duke. It is also important to emphasize that according to the Grand Duke, a bank is not necessarily “a building, but a group of people who hold a belief.” The Grand Duchy is also a Qabalistic Order, established “in antiquity”, and Chivalric Orders/Decorations are offered to worthy Knights (supporters of the Royal House) who are “genuine and sincere seekers of The Truth.” It is the Grand Duke's conviction that the sacred self-transformation and evolution of one's nature/conduct/personality is meditatively possible, and that a person can ennoble oneself with the assistance of chivalry (one's knowledge of his/her own arms/emblem/blazon/shield/ensign/totem). To him, heraldry is the recognition of one's particularity; the attainment of one's true, higher self. In 1982, he purchased the remarkable Ormiston House in Strahan (he sold the historic mansion in 1995). In 1989, Prince John was elected as a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, representing the seat of Lyons. He was also Deputy Mayor of Sorell. He is currently a serving councilor for the Sorell Council. All of his incomparably gorgeous coins can be viewed at:
Additional images can be viewed at the site of Mr. Chaim Dov Shiboleth's private collection:
I purchased the 1985 7, 30, 75 Ducals directly from their source; I later acquired the 2000 set from the Grand Duke as well, in exchange for my 2003 Zilchstadt and 2004 Héliopolis coins.

AXARQUÍA: This slender portion of southern Spain’s magnificent Costa del Sol is situated in the Province of Málaga, which in turn sits in the ancient region of Andalucía. The capital city of the Comarca de la Axarquía is Vélez-Málaga, an attractive and historic town. According to the official official Mancomunidad de Municipios de La Costa del Sol Axarquía Web-site, “The Axarquía preserves its name as a legacy of its Arabic past. East of Málaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol, begins a warm coastal zone and an interior waits to be discovered that extends to the mountain ranges that separate it from the lands of Granada. In only a few kilometres the visitor can find such a variety of scenery, climate and situations that that he may feel like he has travelled across several countries. Its physical and human variety have been enriched by a generous history that has left not only magnificent cultural evidence but has also configured a human-influenced landscape that achieves still greater magnificence by fitting into the natural landscape. For all these reasons this strip that stretches from Rincón del la Victoria to Nerja comprises one of the regions of the most distinctive identity and tradition in Andalusia. Both on the coast and in the interior, there is a succession of highly characteristic Andalusian communities that breathe the nostalgia of a splendid past. All along its coast are important tourist centres such as Rincón de la Victoria, Almayate or Torre del Mar, the coastal zone of Vélez-Málaga, capital of the Axarquía.”
According to the numismatic information present at the abovementioned site (, “The Axarquía has had its own currency, the axarco, since 1988, the year in which Antonio Gámez Burgos decided to create a unifying link between all the inhabitants of the region. Gámez' initiative was inspired by Andalusia's Arabic era, when ‘from 1480 to 1490 the Zagal allowed the Region its own currency’. This native of Vélez, holder of a degree in chemistry, is a lover of literature and history of Andalusia. From his desire to build a unified region, he decided to create the axarco. The first stages of the axarco survive in Benamocarra, Gámez left there the entire cultural legacy, the documentation and the beginnings of the creation of the currency.” The coinage of La Axarquía exists in 3 different denominations: 1 Axarco, 2 Axarquillos, and 5 Axarquillos. “The coins are of silver and the monetary value of each is determined by its weight in silver.” There is another Axárquican Web-site (, which contains much of the same information as does the one mentioned above. It states that the idea for the coinage occurred to Gámez while he was a “diputado” (delegate/representative; Member of Congress?), whereupon he started to investigate more deeply the rich Arabian heritage of his native comarca (region). The site claims that at the present time, the coinage Gámez produced is still valid in the towns of La Axarquía: “Currently, it is common to see posters at establishments, as is the case of La Peña, in which it is specified that the use of the axárquican coinage is accepted, although it is for certain ‘that it is used much more in the interior’. The Granadan city of Motril is the cradle where the coin is minted, since, ‘for me there are two Andalucías, the one of Granada, Almería and Málaga and the rest’, because the ties of the creator [Gámez] to the autonomous community, are centered, fundamentally in the three provinces.” La Axarquía also has 5 types of banknotes. “In spite of Gámez’ desire for the axarco to become the most widely used currency in the Region, since in his opinion, ‘there does not exist a country or kingdom without its own currency’, the amount of axarcos that are coined usually is reasonable, ‘so that it does not lose its charm because if we do too many, it loses that touch of mystery which surrounds it’. This is true to such an extent, that it is only possible to obtain it in the Banco Atlántico or the Caixa, branches that receive numerous demands to obtain it…In addition, interest in the axarcos ‘has crossed borders, since we have received requests for the axárquican banknotes from cities like Barcelona or Valencia’. In this respect, employees of the Banco Atlántico, commented that ‘for a long time the axarcos have been dormant, but recently there has been a resurgence’. And these [solicitations] have been made with great vigor, since the branch has commented that ‘there have been months in which the requests have surpassed all predictions’. Nevertheless, according to Gámez, almost no banknotes are printed anymore ‘and only a few of them are seen in circulation, since most people keep them for their collection and prefer to use the coins’.” I purchased a 5 Axarquillos piece from Mr. Jorge Fernández Vidal.
Almost as an afterthought, I decided to inquire a bit deeper in regards to Gámez’ role as a “diputado”. According to Mrs. Isabel Negrete Bueno (of the Mancomunidad de Municipios de La Costa del Sol Axarquía site), “I had no knowledge of any political activity on the part of Mr. Gámez Burgos, only of his professional career, he was a chemistry professor at an Institute in Vélez-Málaga. I have asked people I know who are connected to politics and also to friends of mine and they have stated the same.” I then asked Mr. Vidal for his input into the matter: he confirmed that a “diputado” does indeed signify a delegate/representative, “But in Spain, a deputy is not just a Member of Congress. It could be a delegate or representative of the Regional Congress (of Andalucia in this case), or even a representative of a Local Congress or even a Professional Congress (like a congress of teachers, or a staff meeting). It doesn’t make any sense. As far as I’m aware, Mr. Gamez has never been a Member of Congress, neither a member of the Spanish Congress, nor a Member of the Andalucian Congress. So maybe here he just means a deputy of other kind of institution (perhaps a educational or cultural one).”

PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF AZAD HIND: India became a modern, unified nation-state in 1947, after a 100-year struggle for independence marked by widespread use of nonviolent resistance as a means of social protest (its Muslim-majority areas which were carved out into a separate sovereign territory of Pakistan). But prior to this, during the latter part of World War II, the government of Azad Hind (Free India) had been formed by Indian nationalists-in-exile. These freedom-fighters, who’d had a lengthy history of fighting against Great Britain, remained underground in many parts of the Far East, actively waiting for an opportune time to rekindle the conflict. Then, after the Japanese declared war against the Allied Forces, they began emerging in order to openly prepare a strategy for achieving India’s freedom.
To some extent, the origins of the looming Azad Hind movement can be traced to February 17, 1942, two days after the fall of Singapore. In an impressive ceremony held at Farrar Park, some 45,000 Indian troops were handed over to the victorious Japanese as prisoners-of-war by their commanding officer, Colonel Hunt. The POWs initially feared that they’d be mistreated by their captors, but the Japanese apparently welcomed them and pledged their support for India's independence. Captain Mohan Singh, who was selected by Major Fujiwara to command the men, then addressed the erstwhile POWs and expressed his intention of transforming them into an organized and disciplined “Army of Liberation” to assist in driving the British from Indian soil. No less than 25,000 soldiers came forward and showed an immediate willingness to join this force, which would later become the Indian National Army (INA). Then, in early March, he held a preliminary discussion with some prominent Indians in Singapore. The meeting was attended by a well-known freedom-fighter named Rashbehari Bose, who had settled in Japan, but continued to work for the liberation of his motherland. Later that month, in Tokyo, Bose held a representative convention of Indian expatriates from across East and Southeast Asia. The delegates, now fully aligned with the Empire of Japan, decided to form the Indian Independence League (IIL). At this gathering, Japanese advisors proposed that the INA (comprised of Indian POWs, Indian soldiers of the colonial Indian Army who had renounced their allegiance to the British after their capture by the Japanese, and civilian residents) become the military arm of the IIL, with Rashbehari Bose as the leader of the entire organization. This was formally announced at a second conference, held three months later in Bangkok and also presided over by Rashbehari Bose. By the close of the nine-day affair, a resolution was unanimously adopted setting forth the policies of the independence movement. It was decided that Japanese-occupied Singapore would be the headquarters of the IIL. Mohan Singh, who was also in attendance, was made Commander-in-chief of the INA. Rashbehari Bose was elected president of the Council of Action. Unfortunately, the Council could not work in a concerted manner and failed to make any headway in the mobilization of men, money and material. The Indian National Army was officially inaugurated in September 1942. By the end of the year, divisions appeared as the Indian troops increasingly felt as pawns in the hands of the Japanese, who were exploiting the Indians for their own ends. During this period of crisis, mistrust of Bose’s directorship grew. Some thought that he was just the protégé of the Japanese, and that he’d been associated with them for so long that gave precedence to the Japanese interests over Indian interests. Such resentment finally resulted in a revolt of a group of leaders within the INA headed by Mohan Singh in November 1942. As a consequence, he and his associate, Colonel Gill, were both arrested by the Japanese and the Indian National Army was disbanded. Mohan Singh was exiled to Pulau Ubin. On 15 February 1943, the INA was tenuously reorganized and former ranks and badges revived. The aging Rashbehari Bose struggled to keep the League organized and failed to secure resources for the upkeep of the INA. Thousands of INA soldiers returned to the status of POWs again and most of the IIL leaders resigned. The movement was seen to be doomed to failure. In a series of meetings between the INA leaders and the Japanese Government in 1943, it was decided to cede the leadership of the IIL and the INA to another seminal figure, one who had been elected President of the Indian National Congress twice, in 1937 and 1939: Subhash Chandra Bose (no relation to Rashbehari Bose). In all of the nationalists’ previous conferences, the need for his guidance had been emphasized by the delegates. Mohan Singh had mentioned Subhash Bose’s name to General Fujiwara as early as 1941.
The uncompromising radicalism of Subhash (also spelled Subhas) Bose had, for quite some time, seriously worried Great Britain. Before the war, over a span of 20 years, Bose had been incarcerated eleven times by the British. In January of 1941, while under both house arrest and strict British surveillance, he escaped. After an arduous trek through the rugged terrains of several countries, with an Italian passport under the assumed name of Orlando Mazzota (he was aided by underground revolutionaries and foreign diplomatic agents), Bose appeared in Berlin, via Moscow, on March 28th. When the British learned that Bose had sought the support of the Axis Powers, they even ordered their agents to intercept and kill Bose before he reached Germany (a recently declassified intelligence document refers to a top-secret instruction to the Special Operations Executive of British intelligence to murder Bose). His anti-British activities in that country, in co-operation with the German government, culminated in the formation of an army of Legionaries (specially trained and equipped for the task of liberating an India held in bondage by the British). This marks perhaps the most significant event in the annals of India's fight for independence. This event not only can be regarded as a historical link-up with what Bose himself chose to describe as “The Great Revolution of 1857”, and which (in his words) “has been incorrectly called by English historians ‘the Sepoy Mutiny,’ but which is regarded by the Indian people as the First War of Independence.” While his compatriots in India remained totally wedded to the ideological creed of non-violence (ahimsa), Bose was disillusioned with Gandhi’s philosophies and felt that its persuasive methods had failed and that an armed assault on the citadel of the British Empire in India was the only alternative left to deliver the country from bondage. While living in Germany, he established the Free India Center, which adopted four historical resolutions that would serve as guidelines for the entire movement. One of these decreed that Subhash Bose would hereafter be known and addressed as Netaji, the Indian equivalent of the “leader” or the “Führer”. Also in November of 1941, he also inaugurated Azad Hind Radio, which opened its program with an announcing speech by Netaji himself, which, in fact, was a disclosure of his identity that had been kept officially secret for so long. A bilingual journal was also being published regularly. It can be said that Hitler had not been entirely comfortable with the idea of helping the Indians — whom he saw as racially inferior — to defeat the British (who were Aryans, after all). He was perfectly willing to use Bose to make trouble for the British, but he had no long-term interest in India's future, one way or another. Bose knew this, of course. He wanted to use the Germans for his own purposes. But eventually, as things turned out, neither was able to do very much for the other side. Besides, by the middle of 1942, Bose was already looking beyond Germany, towards Japan. He started to believe that if he could organize an army in Japanese-occupied territory, and attack on India (along the India-Burma border) would be a relatively practical idea. The army, to some extent, already existed, and all Bose needed to do was take hold of its reins. In February of 1943, the Germans did Bose one last favor: they helped him get to Japan. Leaving behind his chosen 3,500 soldiers of the Indian Legion, who by then had already left its footprints in the battlefields of France and Germany, he embarked on a perilous voyage in one Germany’s submarines to the coast of Mozambique. On April 28th, in what is the only known submarine-to-submarine transfer of passengers (in the annals of World War II), Bose was conveyed to a Japanese 1-29 via a rubber raft. He was then transported to Southeast Asia (the former British colonies of Burma, Malaya, and Singapore had very large Indian populations), where he’d be welcomed as a conquering hero. The story of Bose’s exploits in Germany and the history of the Indian Legion was known to Indian revolutionaries of the IIL in East Asia for some time now. And as the need for Bose’s leadership began to be felt more keenly, they awaited his arrival eagerly.
He reached Sabang, an isolated offshore islet north of Sumatra, on 6 May, 1943. He left for Tokyo by plane, stopping en route at Penang, Manila, Saigon and Taiwan. He finally arrived on the 16th. For about a month, Bose's identity and presence was kept a secret. He was supposed to be a Japanese VIP named Matsuda. Although he remained incognito during the first few weeks in Japan, Netaji did not waste any time by just waiting. From 17 May onwards, he met Japanese Army and Navy Chiefs-of-Staff, Navy Minister and Foreign Minister in rapid succession. However, he had to wait for nearly three weeks before Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo granted him an interview. But Tojo was so impressed with Bose's personality that he offered to meet him again after four days. The two men reached a major agreement and developed an excellent relationship. Two days later, on 16 June, Bose was invited to visit the Diet (the Japanese Parliament). It was not until 18 June that Tokyo Radio announced Bose's arrival. The news was reported in the Tokyo press the following day. At this announcement, the atmosphere was electrified overnight. The Axis press and radio stressed the significance of the event. The INA and the Indian independence movement suddenly assumed far greater importance in the eyes of all. On 19 June, Bose held a press conference. This was followed by two broadcasts to publicize further his presence in East Asia, and during the course of these he unfolded his plan of action. Bose's plan stood for the co-ordination of the nationalist forces within India and abroad to make it a gigantic movement powerful enough to overthrow the British rulers of India. He believed that the internal conditions in India were ripe for a revolt. The no-cooperation movement (civil-disobedience) must turn into an active revolt. Bose’s determination to oust the British from the subcontinent allowed the Indians living overseas to feel that their long-awaited savior had at last arrived. Accompanied by Rashbehari Bose, Netaji (the honorific title by which he was still affectionately known) arrived in Singapore on 27 June. He was given a tumultuous welcome by the resident Indians and was profusely “garlanded” wherever he went. On 4 July, addressing representatives of the Indian communities in East Asia, Rashbehari Bose formally handed over to Subhash Chandra Bose the presidency of the IIL, and command of the INA. At this public meeting, held at the Cathay Cinema Hall (and attended by about 5,000 Indians), Netaji announced his plan to organize a Provisional Government of Free India. The next day, Netaji took over the command of the INA, now christened the Azad Hind Fauj (Free India Army). On 27 July, Netaji left Singapore for a 17-day tour of the East Asian and Southeast Asian countries. The prime objective of this tour was to enlist moral and monetary support for his crusade from other countries, as well as the resident Indian communities. He was given a rousing reception and won tumultuous ovations. Everywhere, standing before thousands of people like a prophet, he held audiences spellbound for hours with his superb oratory. On October 21, in Singapore (one source mentions the Capitol Theater), he formally proclaimed the establishment of the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind (Provisional Government of Free India). At this mass rally, Netaji was unanimously elected as the Head of the State and the Supreme Commander of the INA. The first momentous decision which the new government took was its declaration of war on the Anglo-American Allied Forces, which was decided on the night of 22-23 October. Their intent was broadcast to the world from the radio station of Azad Hind. Netaji, whose overarching aim was to depose the British Raj by germinating public resentment and revolts within the Indian forces of the British Indian Army, was rapidly becoming one of the world’s most remarkable revolutionaries.
The newly formed government-in-exile consisted of a Cabinet headed by Subhash Chandra Bose as the Head of the State, the Prime Minister, and the Minister for War and Foreign Affairs. It also had advisers representing the Indian communities in East Asia. Netaji became the dominant figure in the Provisional Government, exercising a virtually authoritarian control over the cabinet and the nationalist army. Netaji turned the demoralized and undermanned INA into a professional army under the aegis of the Japanese. With Netaji’s undaunted efforts, the withered condition of the INA was soon revived. Though he had outlined a grandiose scheme for an army of three million men, at its height, the INA consisted of some 50,000-85,000 regular troops, including a separate women's army unit. The regime Netaji put together in Singapore, with the help of people who came forward to work with him, had its own court and civil code. It had the power to make and enforce laws, to collect taxes, and to recruit soldiers for the army. The people who paid the taxes and obeyed the laws did so willingly at first (towards the end of the war, this cooperation would become strained). In the eyes of many Indians, the existence of this government gave a greater legitimacy to their fervid quest to expel the British. Nevertheless, throughout its existence, it remained heavily dependent on monetary, military, and political aid from Japan.
At the end of October 1943, Netaji flew to Tokyo to participate in the Greater East Asia Conference as an observer to Japan's so-called Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (an attempt by Japan to create an autarkic bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers). He could not function as a delegate because India had technically fallen outside the jurisdiction of Japan's definition of “Greater East Asia”, but he made an impressive speech at the conference, stressing the creation of a new Asia where all vestiges of colonialism and imperialism would be eliminated. As a result of Netaji's requests, Prime Minister Tojo announced at the conference that Azad Hind — which until now possessed all the nominal requisites of a legitimate government but lacked large and definite areas of sovereign territory — had been awarded a limited form of governmental jurisdiction over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which had been captured by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the early months of the war. The ceremonial transfer took place in December, and the islands were renamed “Shaheed” (Martyr) and “Swaraj” (Self-Rule). Netaji visited the islands on just one occasion late in 1943, when he was carefully screened from the local population by the Japanese authorities, who at that time were torturing the leader of the IIL on the Islands, Dr. Diwan Singh (he later died of his injuries). The islanders made several attempts to alert Netaji to their plight, but apparently without success. After Bose's departure the Japanese remained in effective control of the Andamans, and the Provisional Government’s authority over the islands was largely fictional and symbolic. Those who experienced the rule of the Provisional Government of Free India, namely the population of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, had largely bitter memories of the Japanese occupation, during which 2,000 people (10% of the population of the Andamans) died, about half of whom were tortured and killed by the Japanese. The Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind was powerless to prevent these atrocities, which gives a true sense of its impotence.
Some major developments also took place on the Indo-Burma Front. Immediately after the formation of the government-in-exile, Netaji prepared his INA to spearhead a Japanese invasion of India. He expected that this strategy would totally demoralize and dissolve the colonial Indian Army, drawing its soldiers into the INA. Strengthened by a tremendous influx of fresh recruits, the INA would then march towards Delhi. He expected also that the general public would respond with overwhelming support. In November of 1943, Netaji and the Japanese agreed to move the civil and military headquarters of the INA to Burma. In the early part of 1944, the Imperial Japanese Army was finally ready to begin their invasion of India. Alongside the jawans (enlisted men, soldiers) of the INA, they attacked from Burma in a three-pronged approach, hoping to capture the towns of Imphal (the capital of Manipur, in eastern India), Kohima, and Arakan. Due to the “glorious and brilliant actions” of the Azad Hind Fauj, they occupied the Arakan sector (in Burma) in February. The Japanese-Indian offensive took the British by complete surprise, and the INA hoped that by April, Kohima and Imphal could be conquered at leisure. But the Imphal Campaign, which lasted from 15 March to 9 July 1944, would perhaps go down not only as one of the most daring campaigns in the annals of world military history, but also as one of the most disastrous. Japanese troops, fighting side by side with the INA, managed to breach the British defenses in Kohima. On April 6th, it became the first major town to be captured by the INA inside India. There, INA troops raised the national standard of Free India. At this time, a jubilant Netaji started talking with the Japanese about the administration of the liberated and soon-to-be-liberated territories in India. In response to a call by Netaji, Prime Minister Tojo made an announcement clarifying that all areas of India occupied as a result of Japanese advance would be placed under the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government. Netaji described the march of the INA into India as the event of the century. They succeeded in capturing Mowdok, a small town on the Indian side of the border. And they reached Moirang, where they also hoisted the INA flag. The initial successes of the INA generated much enthusiasm, especially for the ongoing Imphal offensive.
But suddenly, in the middle of April, the military balance — and the fortunes of war — began to shift against Japan and the INA. British forces were being supplied by airlift into the besieged Imphal, and reinforcements began to flow in. British forces were being sent to Kohima to the north by both rail and air. Japan had no matching air power to strike back at enemy air operations. By the end of April, the battle strength of Japanese and INA divisions was decreased forty percent. Time for success by surprise attack had already passed and gradually, largely due to British aerial and naval superiority in the region, the offensive turned into a defensive battle. At this critical point in Netaji's plan, everything that could go wrong went wrong. The fall of Imphal was very near. The monsoon came early, and Operation U (the official Japanese code-name for the action) became bogged down in the rain and the mud. Also, by this point, the war in the Pacific was going very badly for the Japanese. Therefore they had allocated most of their air power to the Pacific theater-of-war, leaving their forces in the Burma-India theater without any air cover. This gave the British a crucial advantage. The INA units had no way of countering the Allied air strikes. As roads became impassable, all supply routes were cut off. In the wake of the monsoon, disease became rampant. Cholera, malaria, dysentery, beriberi and jungle sores began to take their toll. Food rations became exhausted. The INA and the Japanese started living on rations consisting of rice mixed with grass and jungle flowers. The INA fought desperately for forty days without being able to penetrate the British lines at Imphal. Allied air dominance and compromised supply lines forced both the Japanese and the INA to lift their siege on Imphal. Japanese commanders on the ground had made some serious tactical errors. And by the time that vast amounts of military supplies were finally reaching their beleaguered garrison at Imphal, there was virtually no hope for a renewed offensive. By June, it became clear that the Japanese had overreached their capabilities, and their support for Azad Hind declined. On 8 July, on the recommendation of top-ranking Generals, Prime Minister Tojo issued the order to halt the operation. The attack on Imphal — it was supposed to have become the base for the rest of the invasion — failed, and the British counterattack in the winter of 1944-45 was devastatingly effective. The INA became caught up in this disaster, and never recovered. The INA's coordination with Japanese units was poor to begin with. Once the situation worsened for the Japanese, INA units became stranded.
The story of retreat from Imphal is one of the greatest tragedies of WWII. It is a story of misery, hunger and death. Japanese and INA troops began their long trek back through jungles and mountains, headed by division commanders and guards in jeeps and horses. Officers, supply, communication and medical units followed. Behind them marched thousands of stragglers: rain-soaked, emaciated with fever and malnutrition. Soon, corpses began accumulating along the trek, and they had to be left unburied. Of the 220,000 Japanese troops who began the Imphal Campaign, only 130,000 survived, and of these only 70,000 remained at the front to retreat. INA casualties were over fifty percent. Nevertheless, impelled by a lofty spirit of patriotism, the INA had made its mark as an effective combat force. Having undergone all sorts of privations, the INA brigades distinguished themselves in several battles, which they won by dint of sheer bravery, courage and superb discipline. Many INA brigades fought well and there were plenty of individual heroics to go around, but it made no difference to the overall rout of the Azad Hind Fauj. Basically, the Japanese then retreated steadily through Burma and into Malaya, pursued by British and colonial Indian troops. The INA retreated with them. During the last three months of 1944, Japanese forces had withdrawn to the banks of the Irrawaddy in Burma, where they intended to make a stand. In February 1945, the INA held some positions in the region of Mandalay in Burma, giving battle to the advancing enemy. This was the second campaign of Netaji's army, and it held out tenaciously at Nyaungu for some time. However, Allied troops later crossed the Irrawaddy at several points and the Japanese and INA units were surrounded. Despite unique examples of heroism and Netaji's presence in the battlefields, risking his own life in the face of enemy attacks, the second campaign of the INA (which was purely a defensive one) finally had to give way to the gradual reconquest of Burma by the British. Ironically, the INA’s retreat brought out Netaji's best qualities as a leader. On the long trek from Burma to Bangkok, followed closely by British tanks and under frequent attack from the air, he marched for days on end, refusing the offer of a car while his men had to walk. Throughout the march, he made sure that INA troops had proper food and medical care. In the chaos of the retreat, Netaji was their best protection. Without him, the Japanese would have been only too eager to abandon the INA.
The INA’s biggest downfall was their inability to break up the morale of the colonial Indian Army, which did most of the fighting at Imphal, and which played a major role in the Allied counterattack. The Allies occupied Arakan and marched towards Rangoon, which the Japanese had already evacuated. In addition to all their other setbacks, the INA was faced with a formidable challenge when its troops were left to defend Rangoon — now the site of Netaji’s headquarters — without any assistance. By May 1945, the British forces had occupied Rangoon and a large number of INA soldiers were taken prisoner. Their remaining units were soundly defeated, and the Provisional Government's aim of establishing a base in mainland India was lost forever. Netaji had expected that when the INA met the British Indian Army, large numbers of colonial troops would immediately desert to the nationalist side. This did not happen on a sufficient scale. Netaji had seriously underestimated the ideological strength of the colonial military. In fact, what often happened was the reverse. Starving and out of ammunition in the jungle, shocked by the failure of the Japanese offensive, many INA troops were eager to return to their old units and their old comrades in the colonial army. There were over 700 desertions, and eventually Netaji had to give orders that deserters would be shot on suspicion. Ranjan Borra ( speculates: “Did the Imphal Campaign come almost two years too late? What would have happened if Netaji had arrived in East Asia a year earlier? by the end of 1942, the Axis had scored successes everywhere.” The Imphal campaign was actually conceived in 1942, right after the conquest of Burma, but the plan was abandoned. According to Lieutenant-General Kuroda Shigetoku, Southern Army Chief of Staff, if the Imphal campaign had been carried out in ‘42 rather than in ‘44 it would have succeeded. Borra provides a quote from Joyce C. Lebra’s Jungle Alliance: Japan and the Indian National Army: “General Tojo stated in the spring of 1945 that he regretted Japan had missed the opportunity in 1942.” Though each Japanese commander had his own analysis of what caused the failure of Operation U (problems in the chain of command, lack of air power, dispersal rather than concentration of forces), “Netaji thought it was timing, with respect to the monsoon. He felt that the only chance to take Imphal was before the rains came, and most strategists agreed on this point. From the historic perspective, however, Fujiwara perhaps was the most correct. According to him, the Imphal disaster could have been avoided had the operation been undertaken a year earlier, at a time when the British power in the region was weak. The delay in launching the Imphal offensive was no doubt due to Netaji's late arrival from Europe to East Asia. The Imphal campaign should have been undertaken at a time when the Axis victories had reached their zenith and the Allied forces were on retreat everywhere.”
Netaji returned to Singapore and tried for a while to rebuild the INA. Tokyo's funding for Netaji’s army had dried up, and this was the period when he demanded ten percent of the value of peoples’ assets to pay for military expenses. Netaji pressed the local Indians for higher war taxes, and punished people who tried to hold back. This cost him some of his overall popularity, especially with the wealthier Indians. World War II was practically over, especially for Japan. Thus, Netaji decided that there was nothing for him to gain by continuing to work with Tokyo. He then made a political gamble. The Soviets had been an ally of the British during the war, and an enemy of his allies, the Germans and the Japanese. But Netaji correctly foresaw that the Soviet alliance with the west would not last. He decided to travel to Manchuria, which had just been overrun by the USSR. He planned to continue his fight against the British, but from Russia this time. On August 16th, a day after the Japanese surrendered, Netaji boarded a Japanese bomber in Saigon. He was on his way to Darien, in Manchuria (there is speculation that he was attempting to make his way to Russia). On the 18th of August, after a refueling stop in Taihoku/Taipei (in Japanese-occupied Formosa/Taiwan), the bomber rose to a height of about 30 feet, suddenly burst into flames, and crashed to the ground. Netaji was still alive, but badly burned. Soon afterwards, he was taken in serious condition to a Japanese military hospital in Taihoku. Subhash Chandra Bose passed away 6 hours later, as a result of the injuries he sustained in that terrible tragedy. That is the “official” version. But for unknown reasons, the body could not be taken to Japan and was sent to a crematorium. His ashes were then brought to Tokyo’s Renkoji Temple for preservation. The news of his death caused shock and despair among the members of the INA. He immediately became a hero of mythical proportions. Because Bose’s body was never recovered by the INA, many theories have been put forward concerning his possible survival. One such claim is that Netaji actually died in Siberia, while in Soviet captivity. Several committees have been set up by the government of India to probe into this highly controversial matter. Indians who refused to believe that he was actually dead, and who continued to believe for decades that he was alive somewhere in the Soviet Union, hoped he would just surface again some day like a messiah, and solve all of India's problems. He would become immortalized in Indian history as one of the most prominent leaders of the Indian independence movement against the British Raj.
Essentially, the very lifespan of Azad Hind was coterminous with that of the INA. While the government-in-exile which Azad Hind had established on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands itself continued until the civil administration of the Andaman Islands was returned to the jurisdiction of the British towards the end of the war (the island garrisons of Japanese and Indian soldiers were defeated by British troops and the islands themselves retaken), the limited power of Azad Hind effectively ended with the surrender of the last major contingent of INA regiments in Rangoon. The Provisional Government of Free India ceased to exist in 1945 — not only with the fall the Axis and the INA — but with the supposed demise of Netaji, which is seen as culmination of the entire Azad Hind movement.
The troops who manned the brigades of the INA were taken as prisoners of war by the British (the defense of these individuals from prosecution by the British became a central point of contention between the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the post-war years). During and after the trials of those INA soldiers in 1945 (seen as so inflammatory that, fearing mass revolts and uprisings — not just in India, but across its entire empire, the British Government forbade the BBC from broadcasting their story), mutinies broke out in the British Indian Armed Forces, most notably in the Royal Indian Navy. These mutineers garnered public support throughout India. A wave of nationalist sentiments swept through the Indian troops who had fought with the Allies and who were in the process of being de-mobilized. The Naval mutiny was followed up by another one among the ground crew in the Royal Indian Air Force. Another Army mutiny took place at Jabalpur during the last week of February, 1946.
Ultimately, Azad Hind had been recognized as a legitimate and independent successor state to British rule in India by only a small number of countries. President Eamon de Valera of the Irish Free State had sent a note of congratulations to Netaji upon the formation of Azad Hind. Vichy France, however, although being an Axis collaborator, never gave formal political recognition to the Provisional Government. In all actuality, the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind had diplomatic relations with only nine Axis states: Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, Fascist Italy, the Independent State of Croatia, Wang Jingwei's Government in Nanjing, Thailand, a provisional government of Burma, Manchukuo and Japanese-controlled Philippines. Of those regimes, five were puppet states established by Axis occupation. Consequently, the Allies at the time, as well as some post-war historians, claim that Azad Hind was merely another puppet state on the grounds of this lack of universal political recognition, its almost ineffective control of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and its continued dependency on Japan for its very survival. Despite this, throughout the existence of Azad Hind, Netaji sought to distance himself from Japanese collaboration and become more self-sufficient, but found this difficult since the very existence of Azad Hind as a governmental entity had only come about with the support of the Japanese. The fact that Azad Hind was aligned politically with Japan may actually have had little to do with explicit agreement and support for Japanese policy in Asia, and more with what Netaji saw as a pragmatic approach to Indian independence. He was clearly of the camp that supported exploiting British weakness to gain Indian independence. Netaji advocated the approach that the political instability of war-time Britain should be taken advantage of, but according to an amazingly even-handed biographical text/lecture (, by Professor Satadru Sen (then at the University of Washington, Seattle) about Netaji, “It can also be argued that Bose misread the political situation in India in the 1940's. Being away in Germany and southeast Asia had isolated him from the political realities of wartime India, and he had missed some crucial changes in the way the wind was blowing. By 1942, the British were willing to discuss independence for India when the war ended. By 1945, there was no doubt that negotiations would soon begin. Yet Bose continued to fight a military battle, instead of rejoining the political process. Was this unnecessary, and a mistake? Not if you were in Bose's shoes. He had taken up arms against the British, and his relations with the Congress had collapsed. He had reason to believe that if he returned to India while it was controlled by the British or the Congress, he would be treated as a war criminal. Also, although India was clearly on its way to independence by the mid-40's, this was not the kind of independence that Bose had wanted. For Bose, the revolution at home was as important as throwing out the British, and for this he needed to be completely in charge. He did not believe that the replacement of British rule by a conservative parliamentary democracy would not bring about fundamental changes in the structure of Indian society. This brings us some of the most basic questions about Bose, the nationalist and the politician. What are we to make of the fact that he wanted to invite the Germans and the Japanese to invade India? And how do we reconcile his heroic status with the fact that he aligned himself with Nazi Germany, and that he openly advocated dictatorship as the best form of government for India? Perhaps the biggest weakness in Bose's plan was his belief that even after bringing the Japanese into India, he could maintain effective control of the country.” But “if the invasion of India had succeeded, it is difficult to see how he could have remained fully independent of Japanese control. Bose felt that since the people of India would be with him, he would be able to resist Japanese demands. He knew that India was a long way from Japan, and that the Japanese were already at the limits of their capabilities.” Nevertheless, “Given the fact the INA was completely dependent on Japan for arms and ammunition, and that it would take time to develop an industrial infrastructure in India, Japan would probably have had a lot of leverage. There is no getting away from the fact that Bose deliberately ignored the moral evil that Nazi Germany represented. He had lived in Germany for much of the 1930s and the early 40s. He must have known something of what was going on. He had the courage to speak out against some of the racist aspects of the Nazi ideology, and even speak his mind to Hitler himself. But he was not sufficiently disturbed by Nazism to reject Hitler's help. Similarly, his alliance with Japan ignored the atrocities that the Japanese had perpetrated against people in the countries they had occupied. Unlike Gandhi and Nehru, Bose believed that the end justified the means. He wanted freedom for India, and to some extent, he didn't care who he had to approach for assistance. But this explanation, I think, is too kind to Bose. At some basic level, Bose had an ideological affinity for fascism, and he was a little too comfortable with using the state to crush dissent and ideological diversity.”
Nevertheless, Subhash Chandra Bose remains a hero in present-day India and is remembered as a man who fought fiercely for Indian independence. It is widely regarded that it was the INA and the mutinies it inspired among the British Indian Armed Forces that were the true driving force behind the British decision to relinquish the Raj, which led to India's independence.
As sources for this write-up, I utilized some of the valuable information found at the following sites:
Another interesting site is:
Numismatically, I can only offer a limited amount of information. From Mr. Maideen Abdul K.M. Yusouf, I purchased the attractive 1 Rupaya, issued for the “Aarzi Hukumat Azad Hind” (notice the incorrect spelling of “Provisional Government”). This silver coin is dated 1943, but according to fellow numismatist Mr. Chaim Dov Shiboleth, these pieces “were made in the 1990’s, during the upsurge in Hindi Nationalism and the (partial) rehabilitation/adoption of the Azad Hind movement by the nationalists.” All of the text on the coin is in English. I later received a 1 Anna piece (round) and a 2 Anna piece (square) from Mr. Shiboleth. Compared to the Rupaya, these pieces are less sophisticated in appearance and manufacture. They bear no English text. I was able to obtain a small bit of information about them from Mr. Chaudhary Vinod. If I have understood him correctly, the provenience of these Anna pieces is a tad different than that of the Rupaya. According to him, there are many types, all of which were made between 1942 and 1949. They were “made in happines of the freedom in India. A coin in which 15 August 1947 printed is struck after freedom. A coin in which printed only Azad Hind is struck before freedom.” Therefore, because my pair is dated August 15, 1947, they were supposedly struck following India’s independence.
In an article entitled Banknotes of the Azad Hind (Free India) Movement (originally published in the International Bank Note Society Journal Volume 40, No. 3, 2001), Herbert A. Friedman provides superb information about a facet of the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind that has been greatly overlooked: the Azad Hind Bank. This repository was established in Rangoon by Attavar Yellappa, an advisor to Subhash Bose, in order to serve the financial need of the Provisional Government. The bank was also a way of managing the overwhelming contributions made by the Indian communities that wanted to take part in funding the war effort. “As an early president of the Indian Independence League in Singapore, Yellappa had collected large sums of money in Malaya and Burma from patriots, investors, businessmen, and traders. The bank was created on 5 April 1944 and capitalized at several million rupees...The bank quickly became the preferred bank of the Indian community in Burma. It held a sizeable amount of gold from ornaments and valuables donated by Indian women. The bank paid all the expenses of the Provisional Government and the INA, and even repaid some loans given by the Japanese government.” When the British managed to reclaim Burma from the Japanese, “the war department seized the Azad Hind Bank’s assets. After many debates, the British turned over the assets to the newly formed Reserve Bank of India in Calcutta. Distributions were made to verifiable account holders, although it appears that in some cases the Bank held back funds. One published report tells of an individual named Ramalinga Nadar who had deposited 423 million rupees and 16,105 gold coins in the bank and who was refused repayment. This might be due to the fact that he supplied workers to the Japanese during the war.” Also referred to as the National Bank of Azad Hind (by at least one other source on the Internet), the institution purportedly struck its own paper currency (and coins). In his in-depth analysis, Friedman acknowledges that “The title of this article is misleading. There is no proof that the Free India Movement ever produced banknotes, so we might more accurately call it ‘Banknotes Commemorating the Free India Movement.’ What I hope to do is survey some of the various ‘banknotes’ that have been produced which seem to honor the movement, and try to reach a conclusion about what they really are.” The author goes on to explain that he first wrote about Azad Hind banknotes in a composition entitled The Almost Stamps of Free India published in the December 1971 Journal of the Society of Philatelic Americans. “The article was on the postage stamps of the Azad Hind movement. However, I stated in the story that I had received a letter from Biren Roy, a member of the Indian Parliament in 1968. Biren Roy said, ‘I have spoken to Colonel Prem Sahgal of the Indian National Army who was Netaji’s private aide-de-camp in the Far East. He stated that the stamps were printed under the orders of Netaji Bose in Germany. He states that currency notes were also printed, but lost when the ship in which they were carried was sunk.’ This was my first clue that banknotes might exist.” Friedman then cites another early source of information: the June 1981 (volume 5, part 1) issue of Numismatics Digest (Bombay). In an article entitled I.N.A. Currency, Pukhraj J. Surana “states that ‘(the bank) had issued notes in the denomination of 5, 10, and 100 rupees.’ The author illustrates an Indian rupee coin of King George VI dated 1942, counter struck on the obverse over the crown ‘P.G.A.H. 1943.’ The author says this is proof that the Provisional Government of Azad Hind was eager to produce its own currency. However, the editor of the journal disputes this assertion. He says that the bank ‘was intended to be a note-issuing bank, but at the time of opening, no notes were printed.’ He then goes on to report ‘A friend from the USA reports that an English friend of his has informed him of having a five rupee note of the Azad Hind Bank.’ It had been obtained from a British soldier, who had allegedly picked it up shortly after the British forces entered Rangoon. This third-hand anecdote is the only reference we have to such notes actually being extant during the war.” Friedman offers two more quotes: “He created the National Bank of Azad Hind…which was to print Indian currency and finance the war effort.” (Leonard A. Gordon, in Brothers against the Raj: a Biography of Indian Nationalists) and “He must prepare the ground for the freedom army’s triumph, prepare it in every detail (already the details included freshly printed Azad Hind rupee notes and Azad Hind stamps).” (Peter Ward Fay, in The Forgotten Army). Nevertheless, Friedman stands firm in his belief that “We do not know if any banknotes were ever really printed for the Azad Hind Government, or if any of them still exist. The ‘banknotes’ we will discuss are probably commemorative issues in honor of the Free India Movement or Subhash Bose. Some of the notes were clearly produced after the war, but we cannot rule out wartime production of others. They bear such names as Azad Hind Bank, Bank of Good Luck, Bank of Independence, Bank of Independent, Jay Hind Bank, or are without bank name. The known denominations are from 1 to 10,000; in all but one case no currency unit is specified. They occur in various colors, including some in black and white. I know of 60 such notes at present, and since it is impractical to describe each one in detail I will just mention a few of the more interesting notes.” Friedman then proceeds to offer a cursory overview of this brief sampling of banknotes.
Images of a couple of the Azad Hind coins can be viewed at the Web-site of Mr. Jorge Fernández Vidal:

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