Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Letter to India: what soldiers wrote in the first world war

A very interesting piece in caravan

http://caravanmagazine.in/vantage/what-indian-soldiers-first-world-war-wrote-home-about

To commemorate the centenary of India’s service in the First World War, the British historian David Omissi collected the letters of Indian soldiers away from home in Indian Voices of the Great War, published this year by Penguin. These eloquent letters offer a poignant glimpse into the lives of these Indian soldiers, whom history forgot.

Examples:

A wounded Sikh to his father
[Gurmukhi]
Brighton Hospital
18th January 1915

Tell my mother not to go wandering madly because her son, my brother, is dead. To be born and to die is God’s order. Some day we must die, sooner or later, and if I die here, who will remember me? It is a fine thing to die far from home. A saint said this, and, as he was a good man, it must be true.



Ram Prasad (Brahmin) to Manik Chand (c/o Sikander Ali, Bamba Debi Bazar, Marwari Water Tank, Bombay)
[Hindi]
Kitchener’s Indian Hospital, Brighton
2nd September 1915

And send me fourteen or fifteen tolas of charas, and understand that you must send it so that no one may know. First fill a round tin box full of pickles and then in the middle of that put a smaller round box carefully closed, so that no trace of the pickles can enter. And send a letter to me four days before you send the parcel off. [Letter withheld]

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