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201227 Jul


The 1937 Wanderer W24. This is the car in which Sisir Kumar Bose drove Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from Elgin Road residence in Calcutta on the night of 16th-17th January 1941 to Gomoh on the first leg of Netaji’s great escape. This car is on display at the Netaji Bhavan in Elgin Road, Kolkata.


In the late hours of January 16, 1941, one of the most enigmatic leaders of Indian freedom struggle Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose conned the British intelligence and escaped from his Elgin Road residence in Calcutta to wage a war on the Raj. And it was in a car called the Wanderer that the great escape was made possible. autojunction.in turns the pages of history to uncover the chain of events on that historic night that led to “The Great Escape”.  


The external appearance of Netaji Bhavan with its traditional pillars and porticos is that of a typical early 20th century Bengali residential house of Calcutta. A marble plaque bearing the name of J. N. Bose, Netaji’s father decorates the front entrance. As you enter this historical edifice, the Wanderer bearing registration number “BLA 7169” enclosed in see-through glass case will surely grab your attention. And as you draw near, you will notice the marble tablet on the wall beside the glass case that reads, “This is the car in which Sisir Kumar Bose drove Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from this house in Calcutta on the night of 16th-17th January 1941 to Gomoh on the first leg of Netaji’s great escape.”



The rear view of the 1937 Wanderer W24 bearing registration number BLA 7169.


Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s nephew Sisir Kumar Bose in his book “The Great Escape” narrates the beginning of the escape: “As I saw the front-gate opening up in front of me, I started the car and making a hell of a noise, drove out without losing much time. According to his instructions, I took at first a southerly direction although our destination was to the North. We did not find anything within any dangerously short distance from us. The CID people were comfortably settled under blankets on a makeshift wooden bed at the junction of Elgin Road and Woodburn Road. They had chosen this strategic site in order to be able to keep watch on the two Bose houses simultaneously and in case of necessity get to the front of either house without losing time. While we drove out, they were clearly not awake.”


On the night of 16th-17th January 1941, Sisir Kumar Bose drove Netaji to Gomoh. Sisir Bose was passionate about cars since his childhood. His father, Sarat Chandra Bose purchased the Wanderer in 1937. The car was registered in Sisir Bose’s name. At that point in time, Bose was a student at the Calcutta Medical College located in College Street. He used to personally drive this car to the college every day. When he got married in 1955, the car was still being used regularly. Sisir Bose and his wife Krishna Bose would often drive down to various places in the Wanderer, although the car has bluffed them on a few occasions. Old timers living in the Elgin Road vicinity fondly recall a few occasions when they had spotted Bose and his wife pushing the car back home, possibly after encountering a technical snag.


Sisir Kumar Bose founded the Netaji Research Bureau in 1957 and the following year, he donated the Wanderer to the museum. Since then it has been put on display at the Netaji Bhavan on Elgin Road.



A rare photograph of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Adolf Hitler taken in Germany on May 29,1942.


Wanderer was a German manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles, vans and other machinery. Established as Winklhofer & Jaenicke in 1896, the company used the Wanderer brand name from 1911, making civilian automobiles until 1941 and military vehicles until 1945.


The Wanderer W24 was a middle market car introduced by Wanderer in 1937. The car was powered by a four-cylinder four-stroke 1767 cc engine driving the rear wheels via a four-speed gear box. The W24 claimed maximum power output of 42 PS achieved at 3,400 rpm.


The W24’s structural basis was a box frame chassis. At the back it employed a swing axle arrangement copied from the popular small cars produced by sister company DKW. At a time when some of the manufacturer’s larger models featured a twelve-volt electrical system, the W24 still made do with a six-volt arrangement.


The car was offered as a four-seater saloon with two or four doors. In addition, approximately 300 cabriolet versions were produced. Seventy-five years later few of these cabriolet version survive: those that do are much prized by collectors.


By 1940 when the increasing intensity of the war enforced an end to passenger car production, approximately 23,000 Wanderer W24s had been produced.


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