'Far From the Western Front' - Exhibition focussing on South Asian soldiers in WW1

Posted on centenarynews.com on 14 October 2016
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Volunteers have researched an exhibition highlighting the contribution of more than 1.5 million South Asian soldiers who served in the colonial Indian Army during the Great War. 

Supported by a partnership of community organisations based in North London, Far From the Western Front aims to present 'a more diverse picture of the First World War and its global impact.' It opens at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 5 November 2016.

The project was started in response to a need for more awareness about the role played by soldiers from South Asia (present-day India, Pakistan and Nepal) in 1914-18, organisers say.

November's exhibition will focus on the stories of eight men and women, using previously unseen images, digital media and accounts of their experiences uncovered in the archives.
Those featured include:
*The Maharaja of Bikaner, as he led a camel charge towards the enemy
*Sisir Sarbadhikrai, a stretcher bearer piecing together his diary after two years of hiding the pages in his boots
•Soldier Mohammad Aslam, shielding his eyes from scavenger birds in the Middle East

The exhibition serves as a reminder that soldiers of the Indian Army were sent thousands of miles from home in support of the British war effort, fighting in the mud and trenches of the Western Front, the deserts of the Middle East and in the tropical heat of the East African bush.

Hundreds of thousands of men also went to war not as soldiers, but as construction workers, cooks, laundrymen and stretcher bearers, Far From the Western Front points out. And some did not return until years after the war had officially ended.

Volunteer researchers from across London, and further afield, have spent more than a year working on the project, supported with an £88,200 grant from the UK's Heritage Lottery Fund.

Far From the Western Front runs from 5-13 November at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Opening hours are 10am-5pm (weekdays), 10am-4pm (weekends). Entry is free.

Source: Far From the Western Front

Posted by: CN Editorial Team