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Stuart and Lee

posted Oct 1, 2016, 6:00 AM by ThinkClickGet Admin   [ updated Apr 13, 2018, 8:25 PM ]
There are two battle tanks - the M5A1 (Stuart) and the M3 (Lee) displayed by the Madras Engineer Group (MEG) center, near Halasuru Lake.
In the 1780s, the Madras Engineer Group, helped the East India Company win battles for supremacy in the Carnatic (Southern India). They also served in the Afghan wars, World War I and World War II as a part of the British Army. In World War II the MEG soldiers were deployed in North Africa by the British, to fight against the advance of Nazi Germany.

Interestingly, during the time of WWII when India was still the "Jewel in the Crown" of the British, there was a raging political debate on India's help to the British against Nazi Germany. While the then Congress under M.K. Gandhi did not want India to help the British during the war (read more...), Aurobindo Ghose, who was the President of the Congress during the time of the division of Bengal (1905), and by this time (1944), a Mahayogi and more popularly known as Sri Aurobindo, advised India to side with the British against Hitler's Nazi Germany. His contention was that Hitler's Germany was much more dangerous than the British under Winston Churchill - so it would not be right to not help Britain against Germany in Britain's hour of crisis. Moreover, a bargain could be made for quick independence with unity by going open with support to a willing Britain, who sent Cripps to negotiate this in 1942. Though independence was not a stated objective, but was on the table on the condition that it will be done once the war ended. Alas! the Congress Party at this time could not see the opportunity that it was to have an undivided independent India. The Congress ended up rejecting the open support to Britain for narrow reasons and ended up with, not only a delayed independence but also a divided India. The British anyway used the Indian military contingents under their command to fight against Germany in various sectors including North Africa where the Nazi juggernaut was the strongest. Over 87,000, Indian soldiers died with valor fighting for the British, officially unrecognized by the political setup in pre-independent India of which the Congress Party was the only component at the time.

It is an irony that the British wanted to eliminate Aurobindo Ghose in the 1900s by imposing a false bombing case (The Alipore bomb case) on him. They had even jailed him in Kala Pani for a year before he was set free. Aurobindo Ghose at the time, took to yoga and settled in Pondicherry (French India) later. Lord Minto went to the extent of saying "I can only repeat... that he is the most dangerous man we now have to reckon with." Refer this.

Incidentally, the Sri Aurobindo Bhawan is also located on the other side of Halasuru Lake.

The M51A (Stuart) is a reminder of The Madras Engineering Group’s participation in the World War II. The battle tank display was inaugurated on the eve of MEG’s 225th year celebrations in October 2005. This tank is placed for public viewing at the Halasuru Lake circle, which is also a war memorial for soldiers who fought the 1944 War in North Africa.

The second tank on display is an M3 Lee tank near the entrance of the MEG Center.

This tank's hull gun has been restored. These tanks usually had a shorter barrel gun on the hull.