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Forgotten stories of the bravery of the 1.5m Indian soldiers who fought alongside the British in WWI and the racism they faced in the trenche


dallysingh101
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“How were the letters written? It is clear some men wrote or addressed their own letters, but the vast majority of letters were probably written by scribes on behalf of their senders, since most Indian Army soldiers were illiterate. In the Punjab at this time no more than 5 percent of the population could read; among rural military communities, however literacy was would have been very much less, since the British deliberately recruited from the least educated segments of the rural population, who were thus least effected by ‘dangerous’ Western political ideas. Indeed, some of the letters contain explicit references to the ‘writer’s’ own illiteracy, while others refer to scribes.”

 

Whilst it must be borne in mind that certain restraining factors would have influenced what was being divulged in these communications (awareness of censorship being an obvious factor), they still provide valuable insights into the thoughts and situations of the soldiers even with these limitations. Some of the letters that were sent by soldiers were indeed ‘suppressed’ by the censors and the criteria for the said suppression included:

“incitements to crime, and even murder; accounts of sex with white women, which were seen as damaging to white prestige; particularly distressing letters from men who had been badly disabled by wounds; letters which were flagrantly dishonest, mentioned drugs or included slighting references to whites; and accounts from prisoners of war of receiving good treatment from Germans, which might have encouraged desertion. In each case, either the offending passage was deleted or the entire letter was destroyed.”

 

“From the autumn of 1916, various forms of coercion were also used to secure recruits. The Government of India discussed conscription, but preferred to employ informal methods of compulsion, especially in Punjab. For example, Indian officials were told to produce a given quota of men on pain of losing their posts if they failed. Some men were simply kidnapped, or their womenfolk held hostage until the men enlisted. After the war, the authoritarian Governor of the Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer, was even accused of using ‘terrorist methods’ to find recruits. He fought and won a libel case over the phrase, but there remained no doubt that forcible recruitment was widely resented.“

 

https://www.sikhawareness.com/topic/13952-letters-of-indian-soldiers-of-world-war-1/

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1 hour ago, dallysingh101 said:
British general and scholar Lieutenant-General Sir George MacMunn (1869–1952) noted in his writings "It is only necessary for a feeling to arise that it is impious and disgraceful to serve the British, for the whole of our fabric to tumble like a house of cards without a shot being fired or a sword unsheathed". To this end, it became British policy to recruit only from those tribes whom they classified as members of the 'martial races', and the practice became an integral part of the recruitment manuals for the Army in the British Raj. According to Dr. Jeffrey Greenhut, "The Martial Race theory had an elegant symmetry. Indians who were intelligent and educated were defined as cowards, while those defined as brave were uneducated and backward." 
 
The British regarded the 'martial races' as valiant and strong but also intellectually inferior, lacking the initiative or leadership qualities to command large military formations. They were also regarded as politically subservient or docile to authority.  For these reasons, the 'martial races' theory did not lead to officers being recruited from them; recruitment was based on social class and loyalty to the British Raj.  
 

Many Punjabi communities were included in this "martial race" list by the colonisers. 

 
From an anonymous list (c.1860) titled -"Rajputs"- in the collection of the British Library of the races declared by the British as martial races  

They are listed below in alphabetical order:

Awans
Bhumihar
Cheema
Dogra
Garhwalis
Gujjars
Gurkhas
Irish
Jats
Javanese
Kamboj
Kumaoni
Minhas
Mohyal
Scottish
Sikhs
Tarkhan (Punjab)
Pashtuns/Pathans
Rajputs
Tyagis
Yadavas
Zulus

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23 minutes ago, 5aaban said:

Many Punjabi communities were included in this "martial race" list by the colonisers. 

 
From an anonymous list (c.1860) titled -"Rajputs"- in the collection of the British Library of the races declared by the British as martial races  

They are listed below in alphabetical order:

Awans
Bhumihar
Cheema
Dogra
Garhwalis
Gujjars
Gurkhas
Irish
Jats
Javanese
Kamboj
Kumaoni
Minhas
Mohyal
Scottish
Sikhs
Tarkhan (Punjab)
Pashtuns/Pathans
Rajputs
Tyagis
Yadavas
Zulus

I know, but look at who from amongst us jumped onto that whole theory with (characteristically gay) abandon. You'd only hear one group banging on and on about it. Thankfully we seem to have a 'no more sepoys' movement starting in the UK, so some of those from this background are (characteristically very slowly!!!) waking up. 

Most of the rest of us have enough brains to see it for what it exactly is, a manipulative, racialised theory designed to have dimwits fighting to prove themselves to people who see them as lesser developed, expendable pets, instead of uniting as a panth for its own collective future. 

Not only does this ideology damage the psyche of dimwits in our panth, it also messes up the heads of many dumb goray, who also curiously start to think we are some brainlessly loyal 'emergency response team' for military messes they start but can't finish.  Fight for their shyte and you're a hero, but fight for a Sikh sovereign state or against the mass rape and abuse of your females (i.e. grooming), or attacks by fundamentalist sullay - and these very same people will be calling you an extremist or terrorist.   

 

PS - Goray weren't keen on tarkhans having guns. I think they knew some of us would stick it up their ar5e and pull the trigger if they went too far, and the others, they took in in droves wouldn't........

 

image.jpeg.264566f27cd2813080ab705e9ffcc822.jpeg

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