Forgotten stories of the bravery of the 1.5m Indian soldiers

Mail Online | 7/14/1916 | Brendan Mcfadden For Mailonline
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The forgotten stories of the Indian soldiers who served in WW1 have been revealed in newly uncovered interviews with veterans.

Around 1.5 million men, who were mainly illiterate and from remote villages in Northern India fought with the British from 1914 to 1918.

Command - Colonial - Masters - Racism - Brutality

Fighting under the command of their colonial masters they faced racism, brutality and prejudice in the trenches.

The Indians suffered inhumane physical punishments such as floggings, they were denied home leave and were also banned from taking command positions.

Wage - Counterparts - Camps - Trains - Ships

What's more, they received a lower wage than their white counterparts and were segregated in camps, on trains and in ships.

The truth of their service during the war is revealed in 1,000 pages of veteran interview transcripts, which were recorded in the 1970s, and have been offered to the British Library by historian George Morton-Jack.

Recordings - Team - DeWitt - Ellinwood - Historian

The recordings were made by a team led by DeWitt Ellinwood, an American historian and anthropologist and Morton-Jack traced them to his house in upstate New York where they had been stored for several decades.

Until now, the record of their service had been documented in letters which were sent by a small proportion of Indian soldiers on the western front, which have been translated and held in the British Library and are available online.

Letters - Soldiers

The letters were mostly dictated to scribes by illiterate Indian soldiers.

The soldiers were careful not to express their true feelings in the letters as they were sent to censors before being sent back to India.

Interviews - Soldiers - Discrimination - Mr - Morton-Jack

But the interviews show that the soldiers were subject to racial discrimination, according to Mr Morton-Jack.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Morton-Jack said: 'They were careful about what they said [in the letters]. They knew dissent could be punished by the British as their colonial masters. So they habitually held back their true feelings,' said Morton-Jack, the author of The Indian...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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