The First World War (1914-1918) or the Great War for Civilisation, as it was known at the time, was a watershed event in modern world history. The events of that conflict changed the social and political map of the world forever. Its repercussions reverberate through time and many contemporary conflicts, particularly in the Middle East, trace their roots directly to the fallout of that war.
Though a colony at the time, India actively supported the war effort in its bid to gain Dominion status. The overwhelming majority of mainstream political opinion in 1914 was united in the view that if India desired greater responsibility and political autonomy, it must also be willing to share in the burden of Imperial defence.
As a result, India contributed immensely to the war effort in terms of both men and material. Her soldiers served with credit and honour in numerous battlefields around the globe: in France and Belgium, in Aden, Arabia, East Africa, Gallipoli, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Persia, Salonica, Russia, and even in China. By the end of the war 1,100,000 Indians had served overseas at the cost of 60,000 dead. They earned over 9,200 decorations for gallantry including 11 Victoria Crosses. These figures include the contribution of over 26,000 Imperial Service troops who were a part of the Indian States Forces.
New Delhi: Manohar Publishers & Distributors, 2014.