The scale and significance of the British Indian Army cannot be underestimated – their sacrifice helped sow the seeds for a peace and harmony that we enjoy today and must uphold and celebrate together
The Independent Voices
Today marks the centenary of the First World War and thousands across the country will remember the heroism and bravery of those who have served and continue to serve today. Particularly, as a nation, we will reflect on those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of Britain.
Foto: Major Naveed Mohammad
But many will be unaware of the contribution of those from the Commonwealth, including the largest contribution of almost 1.5 million soldiers from what was, at the time, undivided India.
The scale and significance of the British Indian Army cannot be underestimated. Muslim, Sikh and Hindu men volunteered in the Indian Expeditionary Force, which was the largest of the British Empire’s Armed Forces besides the British Army itself. Indian troops were awarded over 13,000 medals for their brave service. Among them was Khudadad Khan, who was the first Indian and Muslim recipient of the Victoria Cross in 1914.
Many British Indian Army troops travelled thousands of miles to fight in northern France and Belgium where they faced a stark and alien landscape. Those from diverse regions of India, of different faiths, overcame the logistical and cultural challenges to band together and gallantly fight with the Allied Forces.