They also served: The Commonwealth in WWI

wwi commonwealth armies

While the British Isles suffered greatly in WWI, the Commonwealth nations of the larger Empire have something of an unsung history.

Portrait of an Indian cavalryman. Note the SMLE and saber

Portrait of an Indian cavalryman. Note the SMLE and saber

India (which at the time included modern Pakistan and Myanmar) had 74,000 soldiers killed in the war with a further 65,000 wounded.  The Government in India was pushed close to bankruptcy because of the war.  Besides the 140,000 on the Western Front, nearly 700,000 Indian troops then served in the Middle East, fighting with great distinction against the Turks in the Mesopotamian campaign.

WW1 Tamil recruitment poster. Rs 50 on signing up. Rs 15 on clearing training. Rs 24 after completing 6 months

WW1 Tamil recruitment poster. Rs 50 on signing up. Rs 15 on clearing training. Rs 24 after completing 6 months in service. Contact the nearest Taluka office for further details.

At the disastrous and badly-prepared Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey, which incurred a huge loss of life to Allied troops;  Indian, Gurkha, Australian and New Zealand troops fought side by side. The Indian Corps won 13,000 medals for gallantry including 12 Victoria Crosses.

photos show the aftermath of a successful Gurkha assault on a German trench in France, September 1915

Photos show the aftermath of a successful Gurkha assault on a German trench in France, September 1915

photos show the aftermath of a successful Gurkha assault on a German trench in France, September 1915 3 photos show the aftermath of a successful Gurkha assault on a German trench in France, September 1915 2 photos show the aftermath of a successful Gurkha assault on a German trench in France, September 1915

Australian soldiers dressing the head wound of an injured comrade with his first aid field dressing, Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey, 1915.

Australian soldiers dressing the head wound of an injured comrade with his first aid field dressing, Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey, 1915.

Speaking of the ANZACs, 330,000 Australians saw active duty, of which over 60,000 died and 137,000 were injured. 100,471 New Zealanders fought in the war, with over 18,000 killed and more than 40,000 wounded.

West Indian soldiers cleaning their rifles enfields smle wwi

West Indian soldiers cleaning their rifles

15,000 soldiers from the West Indies Regiment saw action in France, Palestine, Egypt and Italy during the First World War.  2,500 of them were killed or wounded.  Men from the West Indies won 81 medals for bravery, whilst 49 were mentioned in dispatches.

Canadians at the Second Battle of Ypres (Frezenberg) by artist William Barnes Wollen, 1915 in collection of Canadian Military Museum

Canadians at the Second Battle of Ypres (Frezenberg) by artist William Barnes Wollen, 1915 in collection of Canadian Military Museum

Then there were the Canadians. Canada’s total casualties stood at the end of the war at 67,000 killed and 250,000 wounded, out of an expeditionary force of 620,000 people mobilized (39% of mobilized were casualties). Seventy Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War, many of them posthumously.

Rare and fascinating image of a South African fighting regiment in World War 1. Here South Africans from the 4th Regiment 'South African Scottish' perform a traditional 'African Tribal War Dance' with drawn bayonets and dancing in their distinctive 'Murray of Atholl' tartan kilts. The image was taken at the 'Bull Ring' in Etaples, France prior to the troops final deployment to trench warfare 18 June 1918. (Colourised by Royston Leonard from the UK) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Colourized-pictures-of-the-world-wars-and-other-periods-in-time/182158581977012

Rare and fascinating image of a South African fighting regiment in World War 1. Here South Africans from the 4th Regiment ‘South African Scottish’ perform a traditional ‘African Tribal War Dance’ with drawn bayonets and dancing in their distinctive ‘Murray of Atholl’ tartan kilts. The image was taken at the ‘Bull Ring’ in Etaples, France prior to the troops final deployment to trench warfare 18 June 1918. (Colourised by Royston Leonard from the UK)

55,000 men from Africa fought for the British during World War 1 and hundreds of thousands of others carried out the vital roles of carriers or auxiliaries. Contributing African countries included Nigeria, the Gambia, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), South Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Nyasaland (now Malawi), Kenya and the Gold Coast (now Ghana). It is estimated that 10,000 Africans were killed.  African troops were awarded 166 decorations for bravery.

For more on the Commonwealth Contribution, click here

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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