World War 1

The Indian Army provided the largest voluntary force assembled in the history of modern day conflict. This had meant that one in five soldiers available for deployment for the British cause was from an Indian background. Hindu contribution amounted to around fifty percent. Therefore the Indian contribution to WW1 was enormous and much of it still to be discovered for the modern audience. Much of it has been missing from the history books, both in the UK and the Indian sub-continent. According to a representative poll carried out by the British Future Think Tank, only around 44% people are aware of the involvement of Commonwealth Soldiers during WW1. Of the 1.5 million of volunteers of the Indian Military who were deployed for duty, more than 827,000 were involved in the theatre of war. More than 74,000 lost their lives and 67,000 were wounded. 13,000 soldiers received Medals for gallantry and 7 Indian soldiers were decorated with the Victoria Cross.

Around 800,000 Hindus, 400,000 Muslims and 100,000 Sikhs fought in the war. There were other soldiers from other faiths (e.g. Christianity and Zoroastrianism) whose contributions have not been fully documented and the data in this area is scarce. The Indian Army fought against the Germans in German East Africa and on the Western Front. Over 138,000 Indian troops fought in Belgium and France during World War I. Indian divisions were also sent to Egypt, Gallipoli and nearly 700,000 served in Mesopotamia against the Ottoman Empire. While some divisions were sent overseas others had to remain in India guarding the North West Frontier and on internal security and training duties.

In the coming months we will be featuring some of the amazing working being carried out to profile the role of the Indian Armed Forces during World War 1.

Tagged on: Indian Military    North West Frontier    Ottoman Empire    Victoria Cross