India during WWI Anna, Kesha, and Leila
Background In 1914, India was in a state of growing political unrest Germans had been trying to stir up anti-British movements in India Any conflict GB was involved in would lead to Indian rebellion “The moment Britain gets into trouble elsewhere, India, in her present temper, would burst into a blaze of rebellion.” (William Archer)
The War Fears were flase: those with power (including Indian National Congress) in India knew that independence would come from aiding the British. When war was declared, India rallied for the British cause Financial and military help were offered from all over the country (from Princes) Indian troops -> Western Front by the winter of 1914 and fought at the first Battle of Ypres End of 1915 -> many casualties End of 1915 -> Indian Corps were withdrawn from the front line In total, 800,000 Indian troops fought 1.5 million volunteered to fight
(cont.) Fought in Gallipoli and North and East Africa 47, 746 were classes as killed or missing 65,000 wounded The Indian Crops won 13,000 medals for gallantry including 12 Victoria Crosses Khudadad Khan won the Crops first Victoria Cross Cost of the war pushed India’s economy to bankruptcy
Influence on Indian Civilians From the Indian Army (161,000 strong), the Lahore and Meerut divisions were selected for service in France; Losses were heavy. The average Indian battalion had 764 men when it landed; by early November the 47th Sikhs had only 385 men fit for duty. The fighting came as a shock to soldiers more used to colonial warfare. One man wrote home 'this is not war; it is the ending of the world'. The Indian Corps provided half the attacking force at the Battle of NeuveChapelle in March 1915 Censorship in letters: got around it using figurative language: i.e. 'the black pepper is very pungent, but only a little remains' - meaning that the Indian troops ('the black pepper') were fighting very fiercely, but had suffered heavy losses
Motivations • Money (11 rupees a month) • Honor: A Sikh soldier, Indar Singh, fighting on the Somme in September 1916, wrote home: 'It is quite impossible that I should return alive. [But] don't be grieved at my death, because I shall die arms in hand, wearing the warrior's clothes. This is the most happy death that anyone can die'. • Duty to King George V: One Sikh soldier wrote 'may God grant long life to the generous-hearted sovereign who has deigned to think of his humblest soldiers!' • When fighting included Turkey and the Middle Eastern Powers, some Muslim troops mutinied against taking up arms against their own
Soldier’s Perception of Europe • The wealth and beauty of European cities astonished the soldiers; and they admired Europeans for their honesty, generosity, education and stoicism in the face of bereavement. Some men wondered why India seemed so poor in comparison. The soldiers' attitudes to Europe were not, however, uniformly admiring or uncritical. Several men commented that Europeans lacked spirituality; while one man suggested that India was more beautiful than Europe, because India's beauty was 'clothed in modesty'. • Some embraced the education of women in Europe and applied it in their households while others criticized it. • How they got involved: • British imposed a quota that had to be filled by officials: The officials used bribery and even coercion to find the necessary recruits, leading to some discontent in the main recruiting grounds.
Impact of the War on the Colony’s Status in the Mother Country • During the War, India gave it’s full support to the British army and sent 1.5 million volunteered troops to aid the British on the battle field • The Times wrote, “The Indian empire has overwhelmed the British nation by the completeness and unanimity of its enthusiastic aid.” • After the War, India expected to be rewarded for their contributions to the War, through a move from the British towards Indian independence. • The British did not make any move towards self-government, let alone independence, and from there, the “mood in India became more militant” (historylearningsite.co.uk) • During the end of the War, Ghandi began formulating his campaign towards Indian independence. • The British responded to this by alienating Ghandi.
(cont.) • In 1919, the Government of India Act was put in place • There was a national parliament with two houses for India • 5 million of India’s wealthiest were given the right to vote • Provincial governments, ministers of education, health and public workers could now be Indian nationals • The act was set to action until 1929 to see how India faired before consenting to more independent measures. • Overall, the War increased tensions between the daughter and mother country because Britain failed to give India what they wanted (which was their original reason for entering the war so willingly).
Work Cited Omissi, David, Dr. "India and the Western Front." BBC News. BBC, 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/india_wwone_01.shtml>. Trueman, Chris. "India and World War One." History Learning Site. History Learning Site, 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/india_and_world_war_one.htm>. "World Wars." World Wars. British Library, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/asians/worldwars/theworldwars.html>.