India made a vital contribution to Allied success in the First World War. The Indian Army grew from some 150,000 in 1914 to nearly 1.4 million by 1918. More than one million served overseas. They served with distinction in every theatre of war: the Western Front in France and Belgium, Aden and Arabia, East and West Africa, Gallipoli in Turkey and Salonika in Greece, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Persia and Russia and China.

Those who served in the Indian Army and other Indian forces hailed from across Undivided India – including territories that are now in Pakistan and Bangladesh – and also from Nepal. Although more than half the army was drawn from Punjab others came from many ethnic groups and classes, including Punjabi Muslims, Sikhs, Jats, Garwhalis, Pathans, Rajputs, Dogras, Gurkhas, Bengalis, Mahars, Kachins and Anglo-Indians.

Indians from the overseas diaspora also served in units of other forces including those of New Zealand and Canada. Indians served at sea and also in the air, in the fledgling flying services. They earned more than 9,200 decorations for bravery including 11 Victoria Crosses.

The CWGC commemorates some 74,000 who lost their lives while serving with Indian forces between 1914 and 1921. Many were cremated in accordance with their faith and their names are inscribed on memorials which can be found from Brighton to Basra, Cape Helles on Gallipoli, to Egypt and eastern Africa.

Related Cemeteries & Memorials

The Neuve Chapelle Memorial was built by the CWGC on ground where Indians fought in March 1915. It honours the efforts of the Indian Army across the Western Front and commemorates some 4,700 soldiers and labourers who died in France and have no known grave.

The India Gate Memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, stands at the eastern end of the Rajpath in Delhi. As well as serving as a national memorial to all Indian service personnel, it bears the names of 13,300 who died fighting around the North-West Frontier during the Third Afghan War (1920-1) and have no known grave.

The Menin Gate in Ieper, Belgium, bears the names of more than 400 members of Indian forces who died in Flanders and who have no known grave. Each night at 8pm, the Last Post is sounded beneath the memorial in honour of all those who died around Ypres during the war.