India’s contribution to First World War

Discussion in 'Military History' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. AVERAGE INDIAN

    AVERAGE INDIAN EXORCIST Senior Member

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    India provided Britain with not just men and material, but money as well to fight the First World War. Apart from 1,440,437 men recruited, 1,381,050 men were sent for service overseas. India also bore the cost of these troops which were being largely used for Imperial rather than Indian purposes, and in 1917 she made an outright gift of £100 million towards the cost of the war.


    The British Indian army, often derided as a mercenary force by nationalists in an attack on British policy in India, and on the British presence itself, was to serve with distinction in nearly every theatre of the war.

    The Royal Indian Marine (precursor of the Indian Navy) was armed in 1914, some of its ships serving with the Royal Navy on escort duties and others as coastal minesweepers or river gunboats in the Mesopotamia campaign. The role of the Indian merchant services in transportation and supply was no less essential than that of their comrades in arms. India also provided over 170,000 animals and 3,700,000 tonnes of supplies and stores.

    In all, some 116,000 soldiers from India sacrificed their lives in the First World War. Over 9,200 decorations were earned, including 11 Victoria Cross. True, this was not our war but we can be proud of our contribution in the worldwide struggle against tyranny and oppression and for truth, justice and liberty. As the world prepares to commemorate the centenary of the war's beginning next year we must come to terms with our colonial past and ensure that we are not left out.

    Indian expeditionary forces in World War 1

    A number of expeditionary forces were sent overseas by the Indian army during the First World War. These included:

    Force A: The Indian Corps and Indian Cavalry Corps in France and Flanders, Cavalry Corps - 1st Division, 2nd Division, Indian Corps - 3rd (Lahore) Division, 7th (Meerut) Division.

    Shortly after arriving, they were involved in some of the fiercest fighting around Ypres in Belgium. The fighting came as a shock to soldiers more used to colonial warfare. The traditional resilience of the jawans asserted itself however and the Germans soon learned to respect the fighting men from India.

    The Indians provided half the attacking force at Neuve Chapelle in March and the Lahore Division counter-attacked at the Second Battle of Ypres in April. Heavy losses were sustained at Loos in September.

    The Corps was withdrawn to Egypt in October 1915 for many reasons. The Indian Cavalry Corps stayed on in France albeit fighting mostly in a dismounted role, moving ultimately to Egypt in the spring of 1918.

    Force B: The 27th (Bangalore) Brigade and the Imperial Service Brigade (States' Forces troops) in East Africa. Force B was broken up in December 1914 and its units used for the defence of East Africa.

    Force C: Battalions in Uganda, 29th Punjabis, Half battalions of Jind, Bharatpur, Kapurthala and Rampur Infantry (Imperial Service Forces) Volunteer 15-pounder battery, 10-pounder mountain battery, Volunteer Maxim battery and Field Ambulance. Force C was broken up on arrival at Mombasa and its units served separately subsequently.

    Force D: Forces in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq), Cavalry Division (created from independent brigades in December 1916), 6th (Poona) Division, 7th (Meerut) Division, 12th Division, 14th Division, 15th Division, 17th Division and 18th Division.

    Force E: Forces in Egypt, 1st Mounted Division (later 4th Cavalry Division), 2nd Mounted Division (later 5th Cavalry Division) and 11th Division.

    Force F: 28th, 29th and 30th Brigades in Egypt, These formed part of 10th Division. The formation was broken up in March 1915.

    Force G: 29th Brigade in Gallipoli. The formation served away from its parent division i.e. the 10th. Other units that took part were the 7th Mountain Battery, an animal transport corps based on mules and a hospital establishment.

    AFPI cadets' success in their initial NDA exam

    My faith in the Armed Forces Preparatory Institute (AFPI), SAS Nagar, its enthusiastic cadets and the efficacy of the methods used by General Baljit Grewal and his dedicated team has been vindicated in the very first test.

    The final merit list for the 130th Course at the National Defence Academy (NDA) starting later this month includes as many as eight cadets from the institution. These results are better than that of any other school in the region, including the defence services' traditional feeder institutions, the Sainik Schools.

    The dynamic, creative thinker General Baljit Grewal and his committed team deserve as much credit for creating a centre of excellence as the keen as mustard cadets they have nurtured. Lastly, one must applaud the vision of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for setting up the AFPI and funding it lavishly.

    India's contribution to First World War - Hindustan Times
     
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  3. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. No worries, just click here to download the PDF file.

     
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  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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  5. AVERAGE INDIAN

    AVERAGE INDIAN EXORCIST Senior Member

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    India and the First World War

    Title: India and the First World War; Author: Vedica Kant; Publisher: Roli Books; Pages 255.

    The First World War was probably the last war that soldiers went to with a sense of glory and the feeling that something good may come of it. The war itself was to prove otherwise, particularly as the leaders of the military proved inadequate to either understand slaughter on an industrial scale or to manage the administration and logistics for millions of men.

    The Indian army, an all-volunteer force, was one of the few that could be thrown into the trenches to stem the tide against 'civilization' as the purpose of the war was defined. Raised, outfitted and equipped to fight Britain's colonial battles in tropical climes, the Indian troops were ill-equipped to deal with a European winter. All troops were unprepared to deal with the slaughter of the trenches, but the Indians, more than the rest, were stunned by the lack of physical contact of trench warfare and by the death caused by firing at remote distances.

    Great literature came out of the First World War in English, and a whole generation of Indians were exposed to the poetry of Sassoon and Owen. As the leader of the Indian expeditionary corps quite rightly noted - all combatants from Europe would have their experience in the war recorded and published - but the poor Indian soldier, who went loyally to Europe to fight a war, neither comprehended nor agreed to have a chronicler.

    In that sense Vedica Kant has done a great service by writing this book about an army that lost 74,000 solders to the British cause without or at least with little dissent. In macro terms, the Indian nation's contribution to the war was truly monumental.

    Vedica has worked out that India's financial contribution alone amounted to eight billion pounds in today's money but nothing, of course, equals the loss in lives that the Indian army cheerfully contributed.

    The first battle that the Indian corps fought in was Neuve Chapelle, where the Indian contribution helped stem the German advance and where the Indian casualties amounted to almost 5,000. Vedica has sourced much correspondence from Indian soldiers, recording their impression of going abroad, the social turmoil and the strange wonder of being sent to fight 'white men'.

    The author refers to an initial reluctance on the part of Britain to involve Indian troops in a white man's war, for the consequences it could have on keeping the Indians without home rule after the war. But the urgency of the situation on the western front necessitated throwing the Indian army into the cauldron.

    Although the soldiers went without demur, Indian nationalists expected that Indian participation would force the British morally to give India home rule after the war. As quoted, Bal Gangadhar Tilak advised Indians to buy war bonds as they would be uncashed after the war to trade for home rule. So incumbent upon the Indian soldier was the loyalty to cross Kala Pani, to die for the honour of the regiment, and to come back to India without having been corrupted by the idea that he had defeated white men.

    The Germans, on the other hand, were at first contemptuous of the Indian soldier, which he soon corrected after seeing them in battle. In captivity they made every effort to seduce the loyalty of the Indian soldiers, apart from using the human pool for anthropological studies.

    Later on, by 1915-16, the Indians were withdrawn from the western front and the predominant fighting occurred against the Turkish Ottoman empire. Here again there was unease that the position of the Ottoman ruler as the Caliph would suborn the loyalties of the Muslim soldier from fighting the Turks.

    However, apart from the Pathans who were willing to be seduced by Turkish propaganda, the subcontinental Muslim remained loyal to the Raj. In the Middle East, the Indian soldier's loyalty would truly be put to the test by the incompetent leadership of General Townshend.

    In all, a little short of 600,000 Indian soldiers served in Mesopotamia and it must be remembered that at the time, almost 30 percent of the Indian army were Muslims. One of the most serious incidents in this campaign was the shortage of food, and the men being fed horsemeat, which resulted in many suicides.

    Eventually, the war ended, but the troops went on to stay in the Middle East, to set up the boundaries of the countries, now in a state of flux as in Syria and Iraq. The driving purpose was of course oil, which had been discovered in present-day Iraq.

    The tragedy for the soldier returning home was that there was no opportunity to put into practice all that he had learnt in 'Vilayat'. Quite often the soldier was pensioned off to his village. In fact, shortly after the end of the war occurred the tragedy of Jallianwala Bagh which, conceding that 30 percent of the army was recruited from the Punjab, was a slap on the face of the Indian soldier, followed by the infamous Rowlatt Act which indefinitely stretched the wartime restrictions to civil liberty beyond 1919.

    A century later Vedica Kant poignantly illuminates a forgotten chapter of India's military history.

    'If I Die Here, Who Will Remember Me?' India and the First World WarAmazon.in :

    Book Review: India and the First World War - The Times of India
     
  6. DingDong

    DingDong Senior Member Senior Member

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  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Even worst was indian government did not capitalize on contributions in two
    World wars after independence.
     
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  8. Kshatriya87

    Kshatriya87 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Proud of the soldiers. Not proud of the cause or the british.
     
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  9. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

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