ICRC Reports on Italian Prisoners of War in India

A comprehensive report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on its activities during the Second World War was published in May 1948.

Specific situations relating to India were mentioned:

Conditions of Health in the Camps:

Guerre 1939-1945. Bangalore. Groupe I. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Salle d’hôpital. Word War II. Bangalore. Group I. Italian prisoners of war camp. Hospital ward.

World War II. Bangalore. Group I. Italian prisoners of war camp. Hospital ward. ICRC V-P-HIST-03473-26

India.- The authorities took the necessary measures to ensure health and cleanliness in camps despite the difficulties due to the geographical situation and climate.  Both cholera and malaria had to be dealt with.  The fairly large numbers of cases of syphilis amongst PW should also be mentioned.

In 1941, sanitary installations were satisfactory.  In certain camps there were as many as 24 showers for 400 men.  Many of the rooms were provided with ventilators, and the buildings were properly insulated against the heat.

Altogether, there was a shortage of medicaments, in particular quinine for treating malaria.  The diseases most common were typhoid fever, dysentery, malaria and syphilis.  The majority of PW were vaccinated against typhus.  Paraffin oil was poured on the surface of ponds near some camps to prevent the spread of malaria.

In 1942, cholera broke out in several camps, but was effectively dealt with.  In some camps there were more than 500 cases of syphilis.  One of the most difficult problems to solve was a regular supple of water.  The chief anxiety of the doctors was to prevent epidemics.

It was observed in 1943 that the men who had been vaccinated did not have cholera.  On the other hand, in was found very difficult to contend with malaria in certain camps, where 60 to 80% of PW were stricken.  Typhoid fever and dysentery were an almost continual menace and extensive measures were taken against them; there was also a great need for medicaments, and the ICRC rendered substantial services in this field.

From 1944 onwards everything was working satisfactorily in PW camps in India. Serums were sent out to the infirmaries in Ceylon, where venomous snakes were common.

Guerre 1939-1945. Bangalore. Groupe I. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Lavage du linge. Word War II. Bangalore. Group I. Italian prisoners of war camp. The washing. Au centre, les réservoirs à eau et les latrines.

World War II. Bangalore. Group I. Italian prisoners of war camp. The washing and at rear of photo water tanks for latrine cleaning. ICRC V-P-HIST-03469-05

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Groupe II. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Système de clarification et de purification d’eau. Word War II. British India. Group II. Italian prisoners of war camp. System of water purification.

World War II. British India. Group II. Italian prisoners of war camp. System of water purification.ICRC  V-P-HIST-03470-15

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Groupe V. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Installation de désinfection. Word War II. British India. Group V. Italian prisoners of war camp. Desinfection plant.

World War II. British India. 05/1943 Group V. Italian prisoners of war camp. Disinfection plant. ICRC V-P-HIST-03471-20

Clothing:

In India, as the delegates found when they visited PW camps during 1941 and 1942, conditions in respect of clothing were most inadequate.  There were complaints from every side, with regard to shortage both of clothes and underclothing, and of footwear.  The delegates were moved to intervene, but the situation did not improve to any degree till 1943 and 1944, after fresh issues had been made.

Clothing Issue in India: Michele Truono (NAA:  A7919, C98805)

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