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World War II and Vizag

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Vizag has always been an important location on the defense map of the country, right from the ancient times, especially during the British rule, The city was a target of invading Japanese during the 1971, fortunately there was no damage to the city. It is this strategic importance World War II. It was only the second region in South Asia to be attacked by Japanese fighter planes during World War II. The Pakistanis also attacked the city during the Indo-Pak war i that pushed the government of India to setup the navel head quarters for the eastern side of India. Yes Vizag is the home to the Headquarters of Eastern Naval Command.
During the World war 2 Vizag have become a major hub between south and north India. Newly Built B N Railways is the major source of supplies to the solders. This is the time when the British Government setup a garden in Padmapuram to grow vegetables specially Potatoes for the soldiers. Even later during the conflicts like Indo Pak War, Bangladesh Liberation Vizag have been a strategic point of importance.

1942 - Japanese tried to bomb Vizag
1945- Air Base built by Military
1947-Then named as HMIS Circars, present Eastern Navel Command was setup
1948- Airbase turned into Airport
Japanese Airstrike

Japanese were fully aware that Vizag was the supply and transit point for the Burma front so they sent A Japanese carrier group (comprising six aircraft and 2 u boats that were on their wayback home from pearl harbour ) to bomb the city in the mornnig April 6, 1942. The entire fleet was positioned in the Bay of Bengal and during that raid the carrier was positioned just 20 km. away from the Vizagapatam coast. "The Japanese during their stay in the Bay sunk a number of merchant and British Navy ships like Indora, Harpasa, Atoalycus, Malda, Dardanus, and Gandara. The Japanese held their sway over the Bay of Bengal during that period and the Royal Navy hardly had any say.

Though the Japanese planes did not deliberately attack any civilian targets here. The British think-tank expected a Japanese landing(The war documents in the later times reveals that the Japanese Imperial Navy had requested for Japanese soldiers to force a landing in Vizagapatam but the Japanese War Ministry declined) after the air strike and hastily converted the saltpans behind the present Naval Armament Depot into an airstrip and a squadron was placed. The same airstrip now is a full fleged arirporrt for vizag.


Political Awakening

The political awakening in the district was initiated with the Vande Mataram movement in 1906. Bhupathiraju Venkatpathi Raju was instrumental in starting the movement. It gained momentum after Bipin Chandra Pal and N.S. Ramaswami addressed a public meeting at the Town Hall. To give fillip to the movement, Marepalli Ramachandra Sastry popularly known as Kavi garu started a Swadeshi shop.

After the Nagpur Congress session in 1920, a town Congress committee was formed with Kavi garu as its president and Butchi Sundara Rao and Kothanda Ramaswamy as joint secretaries.

In tune with Gandhi’s clarion call, the committee organised large scale khaddar sale and door-to-door campaign. Regular ‘prabhat bheri’ was an integral part of the political awakening. Digumarthi Venkata Ramaswamy and his wife Janakibai, V.J. Gupta, Kavi garu, Tenneti Viswanadham and others were regulars at the bheri. Patriotic songs written by Vaddadi Seetharamanjenaya Kavi and Garimella Satyanarayana like ‘Maaku oddu ee tella dorathanam’ and ‘dandalu dandalu bharat matha’ were sung by the activists. Farid-ur-Zama who was popularly known as Babulal, played the role of lead singer in the group.

Act of Defiance

The first act of real defiance came in the form of Salt Satyagraha. Following Mahatma Gandhi’s orders, a group of volunteers led by Kavi garu, Digumarthi Venkata Ramaswamy, Tenneti Viswanadham, Kolluru Suryam Gupta, Bhamidipati Chinayagnanarayana Sarma and Digumarthi Janakibai marched from Vizianagaram to the beach opposite the Town Hall (now where the Visakha Container Terminal stands) to manufacture and auction salt. All the leaders except for Janakibai were arrested. She took over the leadership and during the auctioning of salt, the then Tashildar Kothuru Paparao had to physically prick her hand to make her drop the salt that she had been holding as act of defiance. Janakibai joined her husband for four months of rigorous imprisonment. It was in the Bellary Jail that she was delivered of her first child.

It was during that time, another leader Kapuganti Chidambaram was taken into custody. To instil fear among the people, he was made to walk from the Hindu Reading Room to the One Town Police Station and was beaten and kicked all along the route by the police.

Despite the severe beatings, he went on to chant ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Gandhiji ki jai’ till he fell unconscious near the police station.

Kandala Sarweswara Sastry, Dr. M.V. Krishna Rao and Mallimadugula Jagannadha Rao broke the salt law at Balacheruvu.

Student Movement

During the Gandhian era, the Gandhi cap became the symbol of non-violent freedom struggle. The students of medical and engineering college took it as a challenge and joined the movement by wearing the Gandhi cap and khaddar to the classroom. Thirty students were suspended and a few quoted arrested but that did not prove to be a deterrent. The students joined Lanka Sundaram and K.V. Gopalaswamy in the mock parliaments conducted by them.

Gandhiji in Vizag

Mahatma Gandhi visited Vizag for five times between (1921 and 1946) to promote his message of "Ahimsa " .

Gandhiji addressed a large gathering on the Khaddar Movement on April 28, 1929, at the beach opposite the Town Hall. Women satyagrahis out beat the men in attendance. It was during this meeting that the Father of the Nation was moved when the eldest daughter of K.S. Gupta, K. Sarojini, who was barely 10 years old donated her golden bangle for the cause.

Gandhiji also addressed a large gathering at the Waltair Railway Station in 1921, on his return journey to Calcutta from Vijayawada after the Congress session. He was accompanied by Maulana Mohammed Ali the pioneer of Khilafat Movement. The police arrested Mohammed Ali at the station. A few people tried to prevent the arrest and Gandhiji had to pacify the crowd.

His 1933 conference at the beach for the freedom movement is a big success.










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The Padmanabham War
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