First World War
First World War information relevant to British India, including the involvement of the Indian Army and of Anglo Indians in the British Army. During the First World War compulsory service was deemed necessary and the Indian Defence Force Act was passed in 1917. European British men between the ages of 18 and 41 were subject to compulsory service within India. Thus men serving overseas were not sent as conscripts, but had voluntarily joined either the Indian Army, or the British Army.
- 1 General information
- 2 Western Front
- 3 Mesopotamia
- 4 Egypt
- 5 Persia
- 6 British Army Territorial Force troops in India
- 7 POW Camps in India
- 8 Recommended reading
- 9 British Library holdings
- 10 Medals
- 11 External links
- 12 References
Seven expeditionary forces served during World War I
- Indian Expeditionary Force A served on the European Western Front
- Indian Expeditionary Force B served in the East African Campaign
- Indian Expeditionary Force C composed of the Imperial Service Infantry Brigade served in British East Africa
- Indian Expeditionary Force D served in the Mesopotamia Campaign
- Indian Expeditionary Force E served in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign
- Indian Expeditionary Force F served in the First Suez Offensive
- Indian Expeditionary Force G served in the Gallipoli Campaign
The Indian Divisions of 1914-1918 on 1914-1918.net
“Britain's declaration of war on Germany in 1914, brought immediate mobilization in India and by 1915, the British war drain produced hundreds of officer vacancies in the regular army which became accessible to Anglo-Indians for the first time since the East India Company's ban of 1791. Conscription was enforced systematically among the Anglo-Indians at odds with the experience of other Indian communities treated more leniently. (Abel:1988) By 1916, perhaps 8,000 Anglo-Indians had joined British units as in the case of the many "India-born" recruits accepted by the Dorset Regiment. Jhansi's Anglo-Indian Battery, part of the Anglo-Indian Force, attached to the 77th Royal Field Artillery, had the largest concentration of Anglo-Indian conscripts and volunteers and earned a distinguished record in the Mesopotamian conflict. In total, 50-75% of the adult Anglo-Indian population saw active service although non-emergency enlistment in the British Army remained closed to them. (Dover:1937) Most were immediately sent abroad while others were employed by the sudden munitions and supply boom, for instance, at Kanpur where the army's leather processing centre had been located since after the Mutiny. (Thomas:1982)” 
In 1916 the Anglo-Indian Association was asked to raise a battalion of Anglo-Indian soldiers - an Anglo-Indian force; some of them served in Mesopotamia. By the September of 1917 the Anglo-Indian Force had drawn more than 950 men.
Temporary Commissions & Indian Army Reserve of Officers 1917-1921
IOR Ref - (L/Mil/9/435-623)
The First World War necessitated a reserve force of British Army officers for the Indian Army to supplement regular recruitment of cadets from Sandhurst, Wellington and Quetta. Temporary commissions were, therefore, granted to British Officers, NCOs and enlisted men of the required educational standard.
In the same index volume, on the open shelves in the British Library, is a further typed list of about 2,500 names compiled from a card index relating to medal claims. This index gives rank, unit , date of release and post-release address.( It does not actually show medal entitlement)
Finally the volume contains an index of 815 British Army other ranks commissioned into the Indian Army during the First World War. Fuller reference is shown as WO339 (pieces 139092 -139906) – See National Archives Catalogue.
The British Library has the book, in five volumes, covering the First World War, Alphabetical list giving particulars of officers of the Indian Army Reserve of Officers / [issued by] Army Headquarters, India, Military Secretary’s Branch. The catalogue entry states "Contents: [v.1]. 26th June 1916 _ v.2. 24th January 1917 _ v.3. 31st December 1917 _ v.4. 30th June 1918 _ v.5. 31st December 1918". The shelfmark is OIR 355.37 Open Access
As the First World War progressed more troops were needed for the Western Front. To meet this demand Expeditionary Force A from India was sent to reinforce the British Troops – particularly in France.. 
Many men who fell during these campaigns are honoured by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Amongst these are 4,742 soldiers from India whose names are recorded on the Neuve Chapelle Memorialin France. In 1964 these names were expanded to also commemorate 210 servicemen of India whose graves at Zehrensdorf Indian Cemetery in East Germany could not be maintained.
From December 1914 to February 1916 the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, Sussex UK was used as a hospital for troops from the Indian corps who had been wounded during WW1 in France and Flanders. This BBC news item contains photographic detail from the permanent exhibition opened in April 2010. It also contains further links to articles highlighting other ways in which the Indian troops of WW1 have been remembered in the Sussex area.
See separate article Actions in Egypt 1914-15 for an account of Expeditionary Force F.
British Army Territorial Force troops in India
Wikipedia’s Territorial Force gives the background to the sending of Territorial Force troops to India , thereby releasing regular units for service in France.
The website The Long, Long Trail (1914-1918.net) states
On 22 September 1914 the government of India agreed to send 32 British and 20 Indian regular army battalions to Europe in exchange for 43 Territorial Force battalions.
- The 43rd (Wessex) Division All units assembled at Southampton on 9 October. Sailing via Malta and Suez, the main body of the Division went to Bombay, landing on 9 November, with three units (4th, 5th and 6th Devons) landing at Karachi two days later
- The 44th (Home Counties) Division All units that were going to India assembled at Southampton and sailed on 30 October. They all went to Bombay, landing between 1 and 3 December.
- The 45th (2nd Wessex) Division On 25 November 1914 it was decided to send from the 2nd Wessex 10 battalions of infantry and the artillery. Two battalions (2/4th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and 2/4th Hampshire Regiment went to Karachi (arriving 9 January 1915) via Aden; the rest landed at Bombay (4-8 January 1915).
This Great War Forum thread advises the book A Strange War: Burma, India and Afghanistan 1914-1919 by C P Mills 1988 describes experiences of Territorials in India during the Great War. The book is available at the British Library. The Regiment was the 2/5th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry
POW Camps in India
See article POW Camps in India-First World War
- Yeats-Brown, Francis Lives of a Bengal Lancer . An autobiographical account of a Bengal Lancer covering the period from 1905 until the end of the First World War. Describes his deployment in India, France and Mesopotamia. See review in FIBIS Biographies reading list
- Spencer, William First World War army service records : a guide for family historians The National Archives, 2008 See Review in FIBIS Military reading list. This book is available in the FIBIS Shop
British Library holdings
- IOR/L/PS/20/H143 Roll of rewards and promotions of officers and men of the Indian Army and departments, and of Royal Artillery and Royal Engineer officers and men attached to Indian units, serving in the undermentioned forces:- France (A) East Africa, including Cameroons (B) Mesopotamia (D) Egypt, including Sudan (E) Gallipoli, including Salonica (G) Indian Frontier Indian area, including Aden, Perim, Somaliland, Gulf of Oman, and China Up to and including "London Gazette" dated 11th May 1917 and "Indian Gazette" dated 3rd February 1917 [?London: India Office, 8th edn, 1917]
- History of the Great War based on official documents by direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Consists of 108 volumes published 1920-1949. The different volumes are explained in this link from www.1914-1918.net. Includes
- Mesopotamia: The Campaign in Mesopotamia, 1914-1918, Volumes 1-4 by Brigadier-General F.J. Moberly , available online, see below, and
- Egypt. The British Library catalogue entry is: Military Operations, Egypt & Palestine, etc. [With maps and plans.] by MacMunn, George Fletcher, Sir, K.C.B., and Falls (Cyril B.) 5 pt. London, 1928-30. Series: History of the Great War based on Official Documents. One volume is available online, see below.
- An account of the operations of the 18th (Indian) Division in Mesopotamia, December 1917 to December 1918, with the names of all the units which served with the division and a nominal roll of all the officers by Walter Edward Wilson-Johnston 1919.
- See also Indian Army
- First World War Medal Index Cards The National Archives Documents Online. Includes a Search facility, information about the medals and how to read the cards, and information about Indian Army Medal Index Cards, catalogue references WO 372/25 to WO 372/29
- Images of the medal index cards are also available on the commercial site Ancestry. A researcher has commented, in respect of some particular cards, that the images are clearer on Ancestry, and you can also view the back of the cards.. The Ancestry website advises some records including Indian Army cards are not included. The images may also be available on other commercial sites.
- Lost or stolen medals cannot be reissued officially (by the Ministry of Defence), replicas may be obtained from medal companies or dealers. 
- The British War Medal 1914-1920 northeastmedals.co.uk. Includes eligibility and images of the medals.
- Indian Army during World War I Wikipedia
- Battles of WWI involving British India Wikipedia
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission Searchable database.
- Geoff’s 1914-1921 Search Engine from Geoff Sullivan’s Great War Assortment. This India List post advises this engine is a lot more flexible than the CWGC site and gives an indication of how the search engine may be used as does this further India List post
- The Great War Forum is a message board for the First World War . It has subcategories Middle East and North Africa and India where archived threads may be read. To place a post, reply to a post or search, you need to be a subscriber.
- Center for Indian Military History, an index of links to articles such as “British-Indian Army: Imperial Service Troops 1888-1918” and “Indian Infantry Regiments of World War I: 1st Brahmans through 30th Punjabis". The History page has some links about the Indian Army pre-1947 which do not appear in the index.
- The Mesopotamian front! As observed by LTC Davis, 1918 MilitaryPhotos.net
- Indian Volunteers in the Great War East African Campaign from the Western Front Association. The North-Western Railway Volunteers.The Calcutta Volunteer Battery. The Indian Volunteer Maxim Gun Company.
- "Battle of Tanga, German East Africa, 1914". Kenneth J Harvey, 2003. Master of Military Art and Science Theses from Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library. In November 1914, British Indian Expeditionary Force "B" conducted an amphibious assault on the Port of Tanga in German East Africa
- "British experience in Iraq from 1914-1926: what wisdom can the United States draw from its experience?" by Matthew W Williams,2004 from Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library
- Rudyard Kipling’s poem Mesopotamia from Steve Brown's site.
- "Mesopotamia". An article about Kipling’s poem Mesopotamia from Kipling.org.uk
- The war service of the Sappers of the Indian Army, in the Western Front, in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine, Persia and East Africa is mentioned in The Military Engineer in India by Lt. Col. E.W.C Sandes 1933 which has been reprinted by Naval and Military Press. This may be bought from the FIBIS Shop through Amazon.co.uk. Also available at the British Library
- "Kut War Graves - Iraq" "Basra"
- "Extracts from the Muster Rolls of the Anglo-Indian Force" angloburmeselibrary.com
- This article dated 8 July 2011, The Tribune, Pakistan by Sonia Malik gives details of records held at the Lahore Museum in respect of over 100,000 Indian soldiers who served in the British Army during the First World War.
- India and the Western Front Article by Dr David Omissi on BBC History website.
Historical books online
- History Of The Great War: The Campaign In Mesopotamia 1914-1918 Volumes I-IV by F J Moberly. 1923-1927 are available to read online on the Digital Library of India website. The Contents pages of Volume IV are computer pages 15-20. Refer Online books-Digital Library of India for more details about this site.
- History of the Great War: Military Operations, Egypt & Palestine: Volume 2 June 1917 to the End of the War: Part 1 by Cyril B Falls is available to read online on the Digital Library of India where it is catalogued as History of the Great War Miltary Operations Egypt and Palestine. Contents, computer page 13
- A brief outline of the campaign in Mesopotamia, 1914-1918 by Roger Evans, 1926 Archive.org (You will need a Djvu plug-in, see our article Online books-Archive.org)
- "Progress in Mesopotamia" from The war illustrated album de luxe; the story of the great European war told by camera, pen and pencil Volume 9 The Fourth Year 1917-1918 ed by JA Hammerton 1918 Archive.org
- "Final Victories over the Turk" from The war illustrated album de luxe; the story of the great European war told by camera, pen and pencil Volume 10 the Last Phase ed by JA Hammerton 1919 Archive.org
- The war in the cradle of the world Mesopotamia by Eleanor Franklin Egan 1918. Archive.org The author was correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post. More details in "Writing "Mesopot": Eleanor Franklin Egan on the river to Baghdad, 1917" by David Hudson.
- "Letter from Sir Charles Monroe, C-in-C in India, dated Simla, August 15, 1917" regarding conditions in India from The First World War, 1914-1918, Volume II, page 110 by Charles Repington 1920 Archive.org
- United Empire: The Royal Colonial Institute Journal Volume 6 New Series 1915
- Under Ten Viceroys: the Reminiscences of a Gurkha by Major-General Nigel Woodyatt 1922 Achive.org, from page 210 describes the author’s service in India during the First World War, including his responsibility for the arrangements for all "enemy subjects" of military age in India, both civilians living in India and prisoners of war from East Africa, Mesopotamia Persia etc . Turkish prisoners were sent to Burma. Others including the Germans were placed in an interment camp at Ahmednagar, near Poona.
"Some Comments on stereotypes of the Anglo-Indians: Part II" by Megan Stuart Mills from the International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies 1996, quoting
- Abel, Evelyn. (1988). The Anglo-Indian Community. Chanakya Publications: Delhi.
- Dover, Cedric. (1937). Half-Caste. London: Martin, Secker and Warburg.
- Thomas, David A. (1982). Lucknow and Kanpur, 1880-1920: Stagnation and Development under the Raj. South Asia. 5, 68-80.
- "Christopher Hawes in Conversation with Glenn D'cruz" in The International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies Volume 3, Number 1, 1998.
- "Loyalty, Parity, and Social Control-The Competing Visions on the Creation of an ‘Eurasian’ Military Regiment in late British India" by Satoshi Mizutani The International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies Volume 10, No. 1, 2010, quoting
- Speeches by Lord Chelmsford, viceroy and governor general of India, page 172, 1919 Archive.org
- India and the Western Frontbbc.co.uk/history
- Kitchener's Army and the Territorial Forces: the Full Story of a Great Achievement, page 164 by Edgar Wallace 1915 Archive.org
- "The Territorials in India",page 255 from Under Ten Viceroys: the Reminiscences of a Gurkha by Major-General Nigel Woodyatt, Colonel 7th Gurkhas. 1922 Archive.org
- By email to User:Maureene dated 14 January 2011
- Medal FAQs Ministry of Defence (U.K.)