For whose God, King and country? Seeing the First World War through South Asian eyes

Primary History article

Andrew Wrenn, last updated: 16th July 2018

Article from Primary History 79

In October 1914 France faced defeat on what would later become the Western Front. If the Germans captured the channel ports then the small British Expeditionary Force (BEF) supporting the French would be cut off from Britain, and the channel ports themselves might be used to launch a German invasion of the UK.

The British Empire's power rested on its vast Royal Navy rather than its small professional army. Where could Britain turn suddenly for troops to stem the haemorrhage of casualties from the BEF in France and Belgium? The answer lay half a world away – in the Indian subcontinent. 

Andrew Wrenn draws on a remarkable collection of letters in the British Library giving a unique insight into the lives of South Asian soldiers serving on the Western Front.

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