During the First World War,over 140,000 volunteers fromthe Indian sub continent sawactive service in Europe. Inaddition almost 80,000volunteers from African coloniesand the West Indies took part inthe fighting.
Indian soldiers wounded in battle on the WesternFront were sent to England for treatment. The RoyalVictoria Military Hospital at Netley was unable tohandle the large numbers of wounded so alternativearrangements were made. Towns on the South Coastof England to offer assistance included Brighton,Bournemouth, Brockenhurst and New Milton in theNew Forest to name but a few.
It is believed that at the end of the war a total of 64,449 Indian soldiers had been reported dead or missing and over 65,000 wounded.Queen Mary visiting wounded Indian soldiers at Brockenhurst,Hampshire, November 1914.
Indian troops carrying out bayonet practice outside Forest Park Hotel, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, in preparation for returning to the Front, 1915.‘The troops were taken out of the line and rested in early 1915,but were soon back in the trenches. The Indian Corps providedhalf the attacking force at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and theLahore Division were involved in the Second Battle of Ypres’Source: Dr David Omissi
Indian troops leaving for the Front at New Milton andBrockenhurst railway stations, 1915.
To see an archive film of Indian troops observing a troop march through Bournemouth click on the hyperlink below. You may have to download Quicktime Viewer. Follow instructions on the website page.http://www.hants.gov.uk/record-office/film/video/sample2.html
By 1918, some 827,000 Indians had enlisted, in addition tothose already serving in August 1914.Today two memorials exist in Brighton to commemorate theIndian soldiers who passed through the town’s hospitalsduring the First World War. The gateway to BrightonPavilion and a memorial known as the Chattri. Both wereerected after the war. The Chattri memorial, Brighton, Sussex