Moments before Subhash Chandra Bose passed away in the Nanmon Military Hospital after a plane crash in Taipei on 18 August 1945, he told a doctor: “I feel as if blood is rushing to my head. I would like to sleep a while.”
These and other little known details of Bose’s last day were released on Saturday to substantiate reports that the iconic leader did not survive the plane crash. The details have been in the public domain but have remained confined to archives, inquiries and interviews.
Responding to demands by Bose’s relatives and others, the Narendra Modi government is scheduled to release classified documents from 23 January – his 119th birth anniversary – which is expected to settle the question whether he survived the plane crash or not.
The latest details were released by senior London-based journalist Ashis Ray through a website and include quotes from an interview with the doctor, Taneyoshi Yoshimi, who described Bose’s last moments in an interview in 1995.
Yoshimi said: “A lieutenant called Nonomiya told me this is Mr Chandra Bose, a very important person, and that I should save his life at any cost. That’s how I knew who he (Bose) was.”
When it became obvious to him that Bose’s condition was sinking, he asked Bose: “What can I do for you?” Bose replied: “I feel as if blood is rushing to my head. I would like to sleep a while.” Yoshimi gave him an injection. After some time he was no more.
In a testimony to British authorities after World War II, Yoshimi said: “When he (Bose) was laid on the bed (of the hospital), I personally cleaned his (Bose’s) injuries with oils and dressed them. He was suffering from extensive burns over the whole of his body, though the most serious were those on his head, chest and thighs. There was very little left on his head in the way of hair or other identification marks.”
“As most of his speaking was in English, a request for an interpreter was made, and one was sent from the civil government offices named Nakamura. He informed me that he had very often interpreted for (Subhas) Chandra Bose and had had many conversations with him. He appeared to have no doubt that the man he was speaking with was Chandra Bose.”
“After the fourth hour (following his admission to the hospital) he appeared to be sinking into unconsciousness. He murmured and muttered in his state of coma, but never regained consciousness. At about 2300 hours he died.”
Tsuruta, another doctor in the hospital, was questioned by J G Figgess of the British Army in 1946. The latter’s report said: “…..Bose asked him in English if he would sit with him throughout the night. However, shortly after seven o’clock (in the evening) he suffered a relapse and although the doctor once again administered a camphor injection he sank into a coma and died shortly afterwards.”
Harin Shah, a Mumbai-based journalist who travelled to Taipei, wrote a book in 1956, titled ‘Verdict From Formosa’, in which he quoted nurse Tsan Pi Sha, who looked after Bose in the hospital.
She said: “He died here. I was by his side….. He died on 18 August last year (1945), (Subhas) Chandra Bose….I am a surgical nurse and took care of him till he died…..I was instructed to apply olive oil all over his body and that I did.”
She added: “Whenever he regained briefly his consciousness, he felt thirsty. With slight groaning, he would ask for water. I gave him water several times.” She showed Shah the south-west corner of the ward and the bed where Bose passed away.
Wanting to be doubly certain, Shah asked: “So you definitely know that he is dead?” He noted, she replied, according to Shah, with a tone of rebuke: “Yes, he died. I have told everything about it. I can prove that he died.”