First World War - Context

Neuve Chapelle

India's contribution to the First World War

By the time the war ended in November 1918:

1,105,000 Indian personnel had been sent overseas

  • 138,000 to France
  • 657,000 to Mesopotamia (most of which is now contained within modern-day Iraq)
  • 144,000 to Egypt and Palestine
  • Smaller contingents to Aden, East Africa, Gallipolli and Salonika

India's contribution was not confined to the army. The Royal Indian Marine was armed in 1914, some of its ships serving with the Royal Navy on escort duties and others as coastal minesweepers or river gunboats in the Mesopotamia campaign.

The role of the Indian merchant services in transportation and supply was no less essential than that of their comrades in arms.

Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service had its origins in the Indian Army. In 1914 there were around 300 nurses in the QAIMNS. By the end of the war this had risen to 10,404. The Army nurses served in Flanders, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Middle East and on board hospital ships. Of the 200 plus army nurses who died on active service, many were Indians.

India also provided :

  • over 170,000 animals
  • 3,700,000 tons of supplies and stores

In all, 60,000 troops from Undivided India sacrificed their lives in the First World War

Over 9,200 decorations were earned, including eleven VCs.

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