India and WW1

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    India played a significant part in World War One. However, India’s part in the war is frequently overlooked as a result of the horrors experienced in trench warfare and by Europe’s tendency to home in on battles such as those fought at the Somme and Verdun, which many assume only Europeans fought in.

    When was broke out in 1914, India was in a state of growing political unrest. The Indian National Congress had gone from being a group that simply discussed issues to a body that was pushing for more self-government. Before the war started, the Germans had spent a great deal of time and energy trying to stir up an anti-British movement in India. Many shared the view that if Britain got involved in a crisis somewhere in the world, Indian separatists would use this as an opportunity to advance their cause.

    These fears were unfounded. When war was declared on August 4th, India rallied to the cause. Those with influence within India believed that the cause of Indian independence would best be served by helping out Britain in whatever capacity India could – including the Indian National Congress. Offers of financial and military help were made from all over the country. Hugely wealthy princes offered great sums of money, and even areas outside of British India offered help – Nepal offered help and in total sent 100,000 Gurkhas and the Dalai Lama in Tibet offered 1000 of his troops to the cause. Despite the pre-war fears of unrest, Britain, in fact, could take many troops and most of her military equipment out of India as fears of unrest subsided. Indian troops were ready for battle before most other troops in the dominions.

    Indian troops were on the Western Front by the winter of 1914 and fought at the first Battle of Ypres. By the end of 1915, they had sustained many casualties. Along with the casualties from sickness, the decision was taken to withdraw the Indian Corps from front line duty at the end of 1915.

    In total, 800,000 Indian troops fought in all the theatres of the war with 1½ million volunteering to fight. They fought in most theatres of war including Gallipoli and North and East Africa. In all 47,746 were classed as killed or missing with 65,000 wounded.

    The Indian Corps won 13,000 medals for gallantry including 12 Victoria Crosses. Khudadad Khan won the Corps first Victoria Cross.

    Such was the cost of the war, that India’s economy was pushed to near bankruptcy.

    The Indian support given to Britain’s cause surprised the establishment in Britain. ‘The Times’ wrote:

    “The Indian empire has overwhelmed the British nation by the completeness and unanimity of its enthusiastic aid.”

    Many in India felt that they had been badly let down by the British government for their part played in World War One. However, despite this feeling of being let down, India was to play a significant part in World War Two.

    The Garhwal Rifles marching down the La Bassee Road, France, August 1915

    Attached Files:

    Diptangshu likes this.
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Sikhs remember the dead

    More than 30 different nationalities were engaged in the Ypres Salient including the Sikhs. This is the reason why Armistice day is important to the Sikh Nation and Sikhs

    On 6th August 1914, the War Council asked the British Indian government to send two infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade to Egypt. The Lahore and the Meerut Divisions were chosen, later followed by the Secunderabad Cavalry Brigade, which together formed the Indian Army Corps. On 27th August the British Government decided to send the Indian divisions to France in order to reinforce the B.E.F. that had recently been forced to withdraw after Mons. Meanwhile, the Lahore Division was already on its way to the front. Its new destination was Marseilles, where it arrived by the end of September. On its way to France, the Lahore Division left one of its brigades near the Suez Canal, and, as some units of the Jullundur Brigade only left India by the end of September, it was only the Ferozopore Brigade that was at its full strength.

    From Marseilles the Indian troops went north, over Orleans. 47th Sikhs of Jullundur Brigade while moving up to the front reached near Saint-Omer on 20 October 1914. On 22 October 1914, the Ferozepore Brigade arrived in the “new-born” Ypres Salient. They were sent to the trenches between Hollebeke in the North and Messines in the South. The trenches were not an uninterrupted line then, but a series of loose trenches, without the complex system with saps, communication trenches etc. that we are to know later in the War.

    The 1st Connaught Rangers - the British battalion that belonged to the Ferozepore Brigade - were the first to have their baptism of fire. The first Indian battalion that went into the firing line was the 57th Wilde’s Rifles (57th Wilde’s Rifles (Dera Ismail Khan): 2 Sikhs, 2 Dogras, 2 Punjabi Moslims, 2 Pathans) in the vicinity of Wijtschate - Oosttaverne. Later, the entire Lahore Division was involved. In fact, the British Indian Army Corps was only deployed twice in the Salient, but each time at very crucial moments, at the end of October 1914 during the 1st Battle of Ypres, and at the end of April 1915, during the 2nd Battle.

    The 57th Wilde’s Rifles and the 129th Baluchis suffered heavy losses during the last two days of October 1914 (during the 1st battle of Ieper). The Wilde’s Rifles lost 300 men out of 750, the Baluchis had 240 men killed, wounded or taken as POWs. During the 2nd Battle of Ieper, the 47 Sikh Regiment fought alone on 27 April 1915 and lost 348 men out of a total of 444.

    Dr. Johan Meire of Katholieke Universiteit (Belgium) wrote in his book Memories of first World War In and Around Ieper, "Between 24th April and 1st May 1915 in week’s time, the Lahore Division had lost 3,889 men, or 30 % of the troops it had employed. 'It is finished with (Lahore) division', writes wounded Ishar Singh on 1st May 1915 to a friend in India,' It appears on both sides there will be no survivals - then ( when there is no body ) peace will prevail” (page 352).

    In about fourteen months the Indian Corps had lost 34,252 men (dead, wounded, ill, or prisoners of war) on the Western Front in France and Belgium
  3. LoraHup

    LoraHup New Member

    India an

    Tibet is bigger hot potato to both both sides. India and China had never had major conflict historically until Tibet comes into picture. Economy development is a bigger priority for both India and China under current circumstances.
  4. georgew

    georgew Member

    I think that France and Britain would have come close to defeat without contributions from Empire/colonies/commonwealth soldiers. ANZACs, Indians, Canadians , French and their African colonies , all fought on the Western front and deserve huge credit.
  5. Diptangshu

    Diptangshu Active Member

    Thanks a lot for your writing in this good forum for some forgotten Indian brave soldiers,who served on a 'double mission'.And probably in WW History, this type of fighting is unique.

    1] They fought fearlessly on behalf of the Allies to see a Free Indian Sub-continent[their homeland] soonest from The British Government in remembrance of Indian help at their crisis.
    2] Another Indian political segment was trying to free Sub-continent from the British Rule through enemy-allies' help.Trying to avoid this along with any possible mutiny during those days,British Government wanted to engage its colonial resources as much as possible[military] outside India.So they deployed a good number of Man-Power in Europe;assurance further for the National leaders remained same '...... once to be free...' .

    About 1,300,000 personnel fought for different Expeditionary Forces in different parts of Europe. 3,700,000 tonnes of logistics[worth 90 million pounds] send as support to the Expeditionary forces.Casualties toll as high as 121,600.
    Not only this,a direct contribution of 146 million pounds [a part of national-revenue] sent till the War end by '19-20.

    [[Indian Soldiers Effort in WW 1 - War Veterans Remember//LONDON-14th June/2010// - PTI ]]

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