Drawing on untapped new sources, the first global history of the Indian Expeditionary Forces in World War I
While their story is almost always overlooked, the 1.5 million Indian soldiers who served the British Empire in World War I played a crucial role in the eventual Allied victory. Despite their sacrifices, Indian troops received mixed reactions from their allies and their enemies alike-some were treated as liberating heroes, some as mercenaries and conquerors themselves, and all as racial inferiors and a threat to white supremacy. Yet even as they fought as imperial troops under the British flag, their broadened horizons fired in them new hopes of racial equality and freedom on the path to Indian independence.
Drawing on freshly uncovered interviews with members of the Indian Army in Iraq and elsewhere, historian George Morton-Jack paints a deeply human story of courage, colonization, and racism, and finally gives these men their rightful place in history.
In this massive, masterful history, author and lawyer Morton-Jack (The Indian Army on the Western Front) illuminates the WWI contributions of the far-flung, multicultural Indian army. He tells "not only of the Indians' part in the Allied victory over the Central Powers, but also of soldiers' personal discoveries on their four-year odyssey." He mines previously unpublished letters and postwar interviews to reveal how Indian officers and enlisted men, as British colonial subjects and people of color, experienced military life. He writes with authority about the wrenching battles of Ypres, Gallipoli, Kut, the Somme, and East Africa, expertly weaving in how soldiers' political loyalty and Muslim soldiers' interest in jihad affected military campaigns. By war's end, the Indians' sense of unity with the British barely masked growing nationalist sentiment on the subcontinent. This book is essential for devotees of WWI military history and those fascinated by the complexities of empire. Illus.