In the news

Has India's contribution to WW2 been ignored?
by Yasmin Khan, Historian

BBC News website, 17 June 2015

The numbers are staggering: up to three million Bengalis were killed by famine, more than half a million South Asian refugees fled Myanmar (formerly Burma), 2.3 million soldiers manned the Indian army and 89,000 of them died in military service.

South Asia was transformed dramatically during the war years as India became a vast garrison and supply-ground for the war against the Japanese in South-East Asia.

Yet, this part of the British Empire's history is only just emerging. By looking beyond the statistics to the stories of individual lives the Indian role in the war becomes truly meaningful.

Has the massive South Asian contribution to the World War Two been overlooked? Read more on the BBC News website

Yasmin Khan is an associate Professor of History at the University of Oxford. Her book, The Raj at War: A People's History of India's Second World War will be published in July 2015 by Random House.

Oblivious of History
by Lakshman Menon

The Sunday Guardian, 9 March 2014

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the bloodiest war in history until then. Seventeen million soldiers and civilians perished; slaughtered on the battlefields, bombed, starved or of disease. The Germans prosecuted the war with ferocity. That they were eventually defeated was in no small measure because of the Indian army. Read more

Wounded Indian gunner wins the Victoria Cross
by Michael Tillotson

The Times, Saturday, 6 December 2014

The British Army of 1914 may have been “contemptibly small” in the eyes of Kaiser Wilhelm II, as it was compared with the millions the continental armies could raise on mobilisation, but Britain had call on the Indian army. Like their regular comrades in the British Army every man was a volunteer and long-service professional soldier – but is was a very different army. Read more

Courage of Indian Army in Flanders
Book review by Tom Coughlin

The Times, Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Indian Army on the Western Front by George Morton-Jack contends that the Indian Army arguably saved the BEF from defeat in late 1914 by deploying to Europe far faster than was thought possible. Read more

^ top

Indian cyclistsIndian cyclists
© IWM (Q 3983)

Indian cyclists at the cross roads on the Fricourt-Mametz Road, Somme area, July 1916.
© IWM (Q 3983)

Move cursor over images to enlarge them.

More about the contribution of the Commonwealth Armed Forces in the First and Second World Wars can be found in the History section.