The South Asian Soldiers on the Western Front 1914-1918

This tour follows the story of some of the many thousands of soldiers from south Asia who served in France and Belgium in the Great War. In October 1914 an army corps of 20,000 soldiers from the Indian sub continent landed to fight for the British on the Western Front. Over 8,000 did not go back and are buried or commemorated in Britain, Belgium and France.

Indian Soldiers landing in Marseilles France

The itinerary is in two parts. One is for the UK and requires a UK Visa. The second is for France and Belgium, and requires a Schengen Visa. It is possible to see a lot with a tour which just visits Belgium and France. Both parts of these tours could be combined with a visit to other cultural sites

Day 1 – London

Focus on the background to the Indian Army and the Great War

  • National Army Museum – The British Army, India and the Indian Army
  • Imperial War Museum – The Great War and India’s role in it
  • Indian Army Memorial – Green Park
  • Potential for cultural event with an appropriate London Community

Day 2 The Indian Army in Britain

Ambulances and Indian soldiers at the Brighton Pavilion Hospital
  • Brighton Pavilion – the Indian Army Hospital in the Great War. 14,000 wounded Indian soldiers passed through the hospitals in Brighton
  • Patcham Down Chattri Memorial
  • Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Indian Army Memorial Room
  • Brookwood Commonwealth War Cemetery, the resting place of the Muslim Indian Army soldiers who died in the UK

Three days – Belgium and France

Day one – The Indian Army at Ypres.

  • Flanders Fields Museum. Orientation to the Western front
  • The story of the Indian Army in the 1st Battle of Ypres in 1914. Stories of Indian soldiers who distinguished themselves including Khudadad Khan VC and Subedar Thakur Singh MC
2nd Rajput Regiment in Flanders1914-15
  • Preserved Trenches on Messines Ridge, close to where the young Adolf Hitler fought
  • The Indian army at the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the first use of poison gas. Story of Mir Dast VC
  • Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate and opportunity to lay a wreath at this ceremony

Day two – Neuve Chapelle and Loos

Indian Army memorial to the Missing Neuve Chappelle

• The Battle of Neuve Chapelle
• The Battle of Loos and the role of the Indian Corps. the story of Kulbir Thapa VC
• Zelobes Indian Cemetery
• Indian Army memorial and memorial to the Missing Neuve Chapelle

Day Three – The Indian Army Cavalry at Somme, Arras and Cambrai

Indian Cavalry somewhere on the Western Front
  • Technology and the Great War – The Historial Museum of the Great War (1914-1918) Peronne.
  • Thiepval memorial
  • The Indian Cavalry on the Somme, the charge of the Deccan Horse horses versus machine guns.
  • The Indian cavalry at Arras
  • Cambrai – The Indian Cavalry and Army and Tanks

“One dead for every kilometre home”
Anonymous comment in the visitors book, Neuve Chapelle, Indian Army Memorial France