As Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy of India, announced that India too was at war, without consulting Indian political leaders. Yet, the responses to the war within India, both from the native princes and the political elite, were largely enthusiastic.
Of all the colonies in the British, French and German empires of the time, British India (comprising present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma) contributed the highest number of men. Of them, over a million served overseas between August 1914 and December 1919. This book is a visual record of their lives in Europe—in trenches, fields, farms, billets, markets, towns, cities, railway-stations, hospitals, prisoner-of-camps—as well as the world they had left behind in India, the relentless routine of travel and the way we remember them.
The year 2014 marks the centenary of the start of the First World War and this book is a part of the series of commemorative events to be held over the coming four years to remember and honour those who served their countries with distinction, bravery and pride.
About the Author
Santanu Das is Reader in English at King’s College London. He is writing a monograph titled India, Empire and the First World War: Words, Images and Songs for Cambridge University Press and is the presenter for a two-part series on the subject for BBC Radio 4.