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India's Role

The Indian Army before the First World War

  • On the eve of the First World War the Indian Army had a strength of almost 200,000 servicemen
  • They hailed from the length and breadth of undivided India: from the Punjab, Garwahl, the Frontiers, Bengal, Madras, Burma, and from neighbouring Nepal, and represented an extremely diverse range of religious, linguistic, and ethnic cultures
  • These men were led by over 2,500 British officers many of whom had been born in the United Kingdom and had come to India
  • The Indian Army also included some 50,000 men of British Regular Army units


  • Indian Army Expeditionary Forces served throughout the world 
  • 580,000 men of the Indian Army served in Mesopotamia (now Iraq)
  • 140,000 on the Western front
  • They also served at Gallipoli and in Egypt, East Africa and Aden

Undivided India made many other contributions to the Allied war effort

  • By 1918, 3.7 million tons of supplies worth £8 billion in today's money had been contributed, including
  • 170,000 animals
  • Some 650 motor vans, over 200 cars and bicycles, 220 railway locomotives
  • 148,000 military tents and 8,000,000 sand bags
  • 220,000 tons of rice and 133,000 tons of flour
  • 603,223 tons of fire wood

Indian Army War Dead

  • The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates 74,000 servicemen of the Indian Army who lost their lives during the First World War
  • 4,700 are commemorated on the Neuve Chapelle Memorial  in France
  • Many more are commemorated on CWCG memorials and in CWGC cemeteries throughout the world 
  • 53 servicemen of the Indian Army are commemorated at the Patcham Down Indian Forces Cremation Memorial near Brighton and the graves of Muslim servicemen can be found at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey

 For more information visit /foreverindia/fact-file/