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U.K. website releases papers of day before Bose plane crash

A U.K.-based website set up to chart the last days of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has released documents relating to the day before his plane crashed in August 1945.

The latest documents on www.bosefiles.info, launched by U.K-based independent journalist and Bose’s grandnephew Ashis Ray, trace his movements on the day before his plane crashed in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.

Arrival in Saigon

The website citing documents said that on August 17, 1945, Bose departed Bangkok and arrived in Saigon before midday. Several Indian and Japanese witnesses testified this to the 1956 Netaji Inquiry Committee headed by Major General Shah Nawaz Khan, among them S.A. Ayer and Debnath Das of the Provisional Government of Free India and Colonel Habib ur Rahman of the Indian National Army (INA) — both headed by Bose.

Maj. Gen. Bhonsle, INA’s chief of staff, who was later interrogated by British military intelligence, concurred that Bose left Bangkok for Saigon on the morning of August 17, 1945.

In Saigon, though, in the immediate aftermath of Japan’s surrender in World War II a couple of days earlier — when this country’s military headquarters were in a state of confusion — no plane was straightaway available to carry Bose to North-East Asia, as was the plan.

Ultimately, General Isoda of Hikari Kikan, the liaison body between Japanese authorities and the PGFI and INA, conveyed to Bose that only two seats would be available on a plane heading for Tokyo.

Not many to accompany him

This meant a majority of his advisers and officers would not be able to accompany him.

According to the deposition of Colonel Pritam Singh of the INA to the Inquiry Committee, Bose was advised to accept the offer.

He selected his ADC Col. Rahman to go with him. Before the flight took off, there was an issue of the aircraft being overloaded. The Committee recorded that Bose “discarded a part of his baggage containing books, clothes, etc.”

Lt. Gen. Shidei flew with him

Among the Japanese passengers on board was Lt. Gen. Shidei, a distinguished officer who was on his way to Manchuria in China near the Soviet border to take command of the Japanese forces there.

“General Shidei was supposed to be an expert on Russian affairs in the Japanese Army and was considered to be a key man for negotiations with Russia. It was suggested that Netaji should accompany him to Manchuria,” Negishi, a Japanese interpreter attached to Bose’s headquarters, told the Shah Nawaz Committee.

Agreed to go to Manchuria

Therefore, it appears to have been agreed that Bose would go to Dairen, in Manchuria, with Gen Shidei.

Lt. Col. Shiro Nonogaki, an Air Staff Officer of the Japanese Army, who was also one of the passengers, independently corroborated to the Committee: “The plane was scheduled to carry General Shidei to Manchuria. Netaji agreed to go with him to Dairen in Manchuria.”

Plane belonged to Japanese Air Force

The plane was a 97-2 (Sally) twin-engine heavy bomber belonging to the Japanese Air Force. The route charted for it was: Saigon-Heito-Taipei-Dairen-Tokyo.

But because of the delay in departure from Saigon, the pilot decided on an unscheduled halt for the night at Tourane on the Indo-China coast instead of going as previously planned all the way to Taiwan.

13 to 14on board

There were an estimated 13 to14 persons on board — Bose and Rahman and the rest of them Japanese.

Rahman described to the Committee: “Immediately behind the pilot was sitting Netaji, and nobody opposite to him, as the space was restricted by the petrol tanks. I was sitting immediately behind Netaji. The co-pilot’s seat occupied by Lt. Gen. Shidei was offered to Netaji, but he did not accept, as it was too small for him.”

Likely, it was overloaded

When taking off at Saigon, the plane needed almost the entire length of the runway to get airborne. This suggested it was still overloaded.

Therefore, on arrival in Tourane, the crew and other Japanese officers off-loaded “no fewer than 12 anti-aircraft machine-guns” and ammunition as well as other baggage, the Inquiry Committee noted, which reportedly reduced the weight by 600 kilos.

In Tourane, Bose spent the night at a hotel, probably Hotel Morin, the website said citing documents.

The remaining future revelations on the site aim to lay the facts behind the plane crash the next day that is believed to have killed Netaji, the website said.

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