Rare Photographs of Subhas Chandra Bose

Netaji in early life, as leader of Congress, and as leader of the INA in pictures

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose – The Immortal Hero

In the history of India’s struggle for independence, Subhas Chandra Bose stands out in all distinctiveness and a class by himself. On the occasion of 117th birth anniversary of legendary Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, we present you some rare photos from his life and work that we have painstakingly collected from various sources.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Biography of Netaji is beyond the scope of this article.

However, this article profusely illustrates through dramatic photographs, his early life, student at Cambridge, dedicated Congress leader, sojourn in Europe, presiding over the Haripura Congress, final parting of the ways with Gandhiji, dramatic escape from his Elgin Road house, next European phase activities, perilous submarine journey from Kiel to Sabang, drama of the Indian National Army, parleys with Japanese leaders, proclamation of the Azad Hind Government, Greater East Asia Conference, visit to the Andaman islands, and INA’s historic assault on the north-western frontier of India.

We have added some narratives in the context of the photos published.

Some of these rare photos are displayed at:

  • Netaji Bhawan Museum, Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata.
  • Janakinath Bhawan Museum, Odia Bazaar, Cuttack.

Other online sources:

  • Wikipedia

Netaji’s Early Life (1897 – 1921)

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Odisha to Janakinath Bose and Prabhavati Devi. He spent his childhood at his ancestral house, Janakinath Bhawan, in Odia Bazaar. This house was converted into a museum in 2004.

Jankinath Bose, Subhas Bose’s father, was one of the successful lawyers in Cuttack and received the title of Rai Bahadur. Later, he became a member of the Bengal Legislative Council.

Janakinath Bose

Janakinath Bose

Prabhavati Devi

Prabhavati Devi


He was the ninth child of a total of fourteen siblings.

Bose Family

Subhas Bose, standing, extreme right, with his large family of 14 siblings in Cuttack, 1905.
(Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata)

After securing the second position in the matriculation examination in 1913, he got admitted to the Presidency College where he studied briefly. He later joined the Scottish Church College at the University of Calcutta and passed his BA in 1918 in philosophy.

He set out for England in 1919 to study in Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. He came fourth in the Indian Civil Service examination. He resigned from his civil service job on April 23, 1921 and returned to India.

Subhas Bose as a student in England

Subhas Bose as a student in England preparing for his Indian Civil Service entrance examination, 1920. He ranked fourth among the six successful entrants.
(Author: Unknown)

Subhas Bose at Cambridge

Subhas Bose with friends at Cambridge, 1920.
(Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata)

Subhas Bose after his father's death

In a pensive mood soon after his father’s death, Calcutta, December 1934.
(Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata)

Netaji as Leader of Indian National Congress (1921 – 1940)
[Forward Bloc faction within the Indian National Congress, 1939 – 1940]

In the year 1923, Bose was elected the President of All India Youth Congress and also the Secretary of Bengal State Congress.

He was exiled in Burma from 1924 to 1927.

In 1927, after being released from prison, Bose became general secretary of the Congress party and worked with Jawaharlal Nehru for independence.

He became Mayor of Calcutta in 1930.

Mayor of Calcutta

Subhas Chandra Bose as Mayor of Calcutta.

He enforced exile in Europe from 1933 to 1936, visiting Indian students and European politicians, including Benito Mussolini.

He was elected president of the Congress in 1938 defeating Mahatma Gandhi’s candidate Patabhi Sitaramavya.

He took a two-month vacation in Europe where he had spent one and a half months with Emilie.

Subhas Bose with George Lansbury

January 13, 1938: Labour politician and editor of the Daily Herald, George Lansbury greeting Subhas Chandra Bose.
(Photo by H F Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Subhas Bose arrives in Calcutta

Subhas Bose, the president-elect of the Indian National Congress, arrives in Calcutta on January 24, 1938.

Subhas Bose with Mahatma Gandhi

Congress president Subhas Bose with Mahatma Gandhi at the Congress annual general meeting 1938.

Subhas Bose had been a leader of the younger, radical, wing of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s, rising to become Congress President in 1938 and 1939. However, he was forced to resign from the Congress presidency in 1939 following differences with Gandhiji.

On June 22, 1939 Subhas Bose organized the All India Forward Bloc a faction within the Indian National Congress, aimed at consolidating the political left, but its main strength was in his home state, Bengal.

Netaji’s Illness, Life with Emilie Schenkl (1933 – 1937)

During his visit to Germany in 1934, he had met Emilie Schenkl, the daughter of an Austrian veterinarian whom he married in 1937. In November 1943, Emilie gave birth to their daughter, Anita Bose Pfaff.

Subhas Bose with Emilie Schenkl

Subhas Bose with Emilie Schenkl, in Bad Gastein, Austria, 1936.
(Author: Unknown)

Emilie Schenkl and Anita

Subhas Bose’ wife Emilie Schenkl and daughter Anita Bose Pfaff.
(Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata)

Netaji in Nazi Germany (1941 – 1943)

In 1941, Netaji undertook a fast unto death in the prison against British government. He was released but was kept under house arrest in his residence with round-the-clock vigil.

However, he escaped on January 19, 1941, accompanied by his nephew Sisir Bose in a car that is now on display at his Calcutta home and reached Berlin in April 1941 traveling through Peshawar, Kabul and Moscow.

Bose lived in Berlin from 1941 until 1943.

In February 1943, he traveled with the German submarine U-180 around the Cape of Good Hope to the southeast of Madagascar, where he was transferred to a Japanese submarine from which he disembarked in Japanese-held Sumatra in May 1943.

Wanderer car used by Subhas Bos

The Wanderer car used by Subhas Bose to escape from house arrest in 1941.
(Picture taken on September 30, 2003. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw)

On his great escape to Berlin, Subhas Bose boarded the then Howrah-Kalka mail from Gomoh railway station.

Subhas Bose at Gomoh railway station

Gomoh railway station was renamed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Gomoh railway station in 2009 in honour of Netaji’s long journey from Gomoh railway station out of the British Empire in 1941.

Subhas Bose with Himmler

Subhas Bose talking to Heinrich Himmler and other Nazi officials.
(Photographer: Alber, Kurt)

Subhas Bose with Hitler

Subhas Bose and Adolf Hitler – Germany May 29, 1942.

Netaji as Leader of the INA in Japanese-occupied Asia (1943 – 1945)
Indian National Army (August 1942 – September 1945)

At a mass meeting in Singapore on July 4, 1943, Rash Behari Bose handed over the leadership of the Indian Independence League to Subhas Bose. The next day, Subhas Bose reviewed for the first time the soldiers of the Indian National Army (INA), which then comprised 13,000 men.

Japanese also took possession of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1942 and a year later, the Provisional Government and the INA were established in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with Lt Col AD Loganathan appointed its Governor General.

Subhas Bose visited Andaman and Nicobar Islands in early 1944.

On the Indian mainland, an Indian Tricolour, modelled after that of the Indian National Congress, was raised for the first time in the town in Moirang, in Manipur, in north-eastern India. The towns of Kohima and Imphal were placed under siege by divisions of the Japanese, Burmese and the Gandhi and Nehru Brigades of INA during the attempted invasion of India, also known as Operation U-GO.

When the Japanese were defeated at the battles of Kohima and Imphal, the INA was forced to pull back. A large proportion of the INA troops surrendered under Lt Col Loganathan. The remaining troops retreated with Subhas Bose towards Malaya or made for Thailand. Japan’s surrender at the end of the war also led to the eventual surrender of the Indian National Army, when the troops of the British Indian Army were repatriated to India and some tried for treason.

Submarine Voyage

The crew of Japanese submarine I-29 after the rendezvous with German submarine U-180 southeast of Madagascar; Subhas Bose is sitting in the front row (April 28, 1943).
(Author: Crew member of submarine I-29 of the Imperial Japanese Navy)

Subhas Bose with Hideki Tojo

Subhas Bose meeting Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo in 1943.
(Author: Unknown)

Subhas Bose in Tokyo

Subhas Bose speaking in Tokyo in 1943.
(Author: Unknown)

Greater East Asia Conference

Greater East Asia Conference in November 1943, showing Japanese prime minister Hideki Tojo (centre) with heads of various Japan-supported puppet, collaborationist, or provisional regimes, from left to right: Ba Maw (Burma), Zhang Jinghui (Manchukuo), Wang Jingwei (Republic of China, Nanjing), Tojo, Wan Waithayakon (Siam), José P Laurel (Second Philippine Republic), Subhas Bose (Provisional Government of Free India).
(Author: Unknown)

Indian Tricolour raised in Manipur

On the Indian mainland, an Indian Tricolour was raised for the first time in the town in Moirang, in Manipur.
(Author: PP Yoonus)

Subhas Chandra Bose

Portrait of the leader of the Indian National Army Subhas Chandra Bose that is on display at the Netaji Research Bureau in Kolkata.
(REUTERS/Netaji Research Bureau/Handout)

Subhas Bose inspects Cellular Jail

Subhas Bose inspects the notorious Cellular Jail on Andaman Island – 1944.

Subhas Bose with INA officers

Subhas Bose with his INA officers.
(Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata)

Subhas Bose with his army

Subhas Bose with his army (INA).
(Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata)

INA had a separate women’s unit, the Rani of Jhansi Regiment headed by Capt Lakshmi Swaminathan, which is seen as a first of its kind in Asia.

Subhas Bose with women's regiment

Subhas Bose with INA’s women’s regiment.
(Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata)

Netaji established the Bank of Independence or Azad Hind Bank in 1944 in Rangoon to manage funds donated by the Indian community across the world for the liberation of India.

INA Currency

INA Currency

INA Currency

INA Currency was in use and had value.

Netaji’s Famous Quotes/Slogans

On July 6, 1944, in a speech broadcast by the Azad Hind Radio from Singapore, Bose addressed Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation and asked for his blessings and good wishes for the war he was fighting. This was the first time that Gandhi was referred to by this appellation.

Spoken as a part of a motivational speech for the Indian National Army at a rally of Indians in Burma on July 4, 1944, Subhas Bose’s most famous quote was Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom!

Another famous quote was Dilli Chalo (On to Delhi). This was the call he used to give the INA armies to motivate them. Jai Hind (Glory to India) was another slogan used by him, and later adopted by the Government of India and the Indian Armed Forces. Another slogan coined by him was Ittefaq, Etemad, Qurbani (Unity, Agreement, Sacrifice). INA also used the slogan Inquilab Zindabad, which was coined by Maulana Hasrat Mohani.

Netaji’s Unconfirmed Death (August 18, 1945)

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s life’s abrupt end shrouded with dubious plane crash on August 18, 1945 in Japanese-occupied Formosa (now Taiwan), and Govt of India’s setting up of three Enquiry Commissions still not able to resolve the mystery.

Declassified Intelligence Bureau reports state Bose could have escaped to the USSR under the cover of news of a fake air crash.

The Last Salute

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose – The Last Salute.
(Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata)

Note:
The photos published in this article are now in the public domain in India because their term of copyright have expired (works published 60 years earlier, i.e., prior to January 1, 1954 are considered public domain).
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