PA/23/15 8 December 2015
First book on Indian troops at Gallipoli reveals courage, comradeship and camaraderie with Anzacs
Distinguished Australian historian Professor Peter Stanley reveals the courage of Indian troops and their camaraderie with Australian soldiers during World War I in his new book, Die in Battle, Do Not Despair – The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915.
In this first-ever account of Indian troops who fought during the Gallipoli campaign, a defining moment in the creation of the ‘Anzac legend’, Professor Stanley of the University of NSW, Australia, brings to light an important episode in India’s military history.
Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Patrick Suckling, welcomed the historical contribution to a greater understanding of the Australia-India defence relationship.
“A century after that seminal campaign ended, it is testament to the close Australia-India relationship that this Indian story has been told by an Australian historian,” Mr Suckling said. “The Anzacs and Indians developed warm friendships, beginning a positive relationship that continues to this day.”
In 1915 some 16,000 troops of the Indian Army – including Gurkhas, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus – served as part of the British force involved in the dramatic eight-month Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I. About 1600 Indian troops, one man in 10, died while serving alongside Australian, New Zealand and British soldiers whose part in the Great War has been extensively documented. The Indians have had to wait a century for their story to be told.
Stories of Indian soldiers like Jan Mahomed, whose orders were accepted by thirsty Australians when he controlled a well under fire; Karam Singh, who continued to give orders to his gunners though blinded; and Subedar Gambirsing Pun, who commanded the Gurkhas in the fight for the Gallipoli summit.
“Despite barriers of language, culture and religion, it is clear that Australian and Indian soldiers had a deep respect for each other and bonded in battle,” Professor Stanley said. “I found in Australian diaries, letters and photographs evidence of how Indian soldiers experienced Gallipoli.”
With over 80 photographs and colour maps, Die in Battle, Do Not Despair – The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915 has a complete list of the Indian dead of Gallipoli. It is published by Helion & Co. UK and distributed in India by KW Publishers.