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Information about this Exhibit and Additional Resources

This exhibit contains reports speaking of the Indian contribution to Britain’s army, in specific numbers both in terms of manpower and material support. This support placed an immense strain on India’s own resources, as acknowledged in these documents. Beginning in the later months of 1914, Indian troops were sent to the Persian Gulf to safeguard Britain’s oil interests in Abadan. For the duration of the campaign, around 600,000 Indians served in Mesopotamia including officers, soldiers, as well as non-combatants such as labourers who worked on roads and railways. They fought against the Ottoman Empire which had entered the war on Germany’s side. Many of them lived under miserable conditions, suffering from diseases and left with limited food supplies and clean water in the harsh weather. Indians were also amongst the ones captured by Ottoman forces at Kut-al-Amara and treated brutally on the 500-mile march to Turkish prison camps. Furthermore, Indian troops were crucial to the victory achieved later in the campaign for the British forces. For example, the attack on Shumran in February of 1917 was led by the 37th Indian Brigade. 

While the Mesopotamia Commission’s report acknowledged the Indian contribution in clear terms, noting that ‘India may justly be proud of her contribution to the Empire, while England has every reason for her grateful recognition of her services’ (CAB 24/7/52: p. 10), this contribution was not publicly discussed until recently.  

Indian nationalists had supported the Indian participation in the war hoping that they would be rewarded with self-government in return. However, that was denied to Indians after the war ended.

Additional resources 


Information about this Exhibit and Additional Resources