During the First World War, over 140,000 volunteers from the Indian sub continent saw active service in Europe. In addition almost 80,000 volunteers from African colonies and the West Indies took part in the fighting.
Indian soldiers wounded in battle on the Western Front were sent to England for treatment. The Royal Victoria Military Hospital at Netley was unable to handle the large numbers of wounded so alternative arrangements were made. Towns on the South Coast of England to offer assistance included Brighton, Bournemouth, Brockenhurst and New Milton in the New Forest to name but a few.
It is believed that at the end of the war a total of 64,449 Indian soldiers had been reported dead or missing and over 65,000 wounded. Queen Mary visiting wounded Indian soldiers at Brockenhurst, Hampshire, November 1914.
Indian troops carrying out bayonet practice outside Forest Park Hotel, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, in preparation for returning to the Front, 1915. ‘The troops were taken out of the line and rested in early 1915, but were soon back in the trenches. The Indian Corps provided half the attacking force at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and the Lahore Division were involved in the Second Battle of Ypres’ Source: Dr David Omissi
Indian troops leaving for the Front at New Milton and Brockenhurst railway stations, 1915.
To see an archive film of Indian troops observing a troop march through Bournemouth click on the hyperlink below. You may have to download Quicktime Viewer. Follow instructions on the website page. http://www.hants.gov.uk/record-office/film/video/sample2.html
By 1918, some 827,000 Indians had enlisted, in addition to those already serving in August 1914.Today two memorials exist in Brighton to commemorate the Indian soldiers who passed through the town’s hospitals during the First World War. The gateway to Brighton Pavilion and a memorial known as the Chattri. Both were erected after the war. The Chattri memorial, Brighton, Sussex