“I Shall Die Arms in Hand, Wearing the Warriors’ Clothes”: Mobilisation and Initial Operations of the Indian Army in France and Flanders

Rob Johnson

Abstract


The performance of the Indian Corps in France in the first months of the war was mixed: there were setbacks and also considerable successes. The fundamental and often unacknowledged problem, however, was that the Indian Army was simply not designed for a major war fought in multiple theatres. The Indian Corps’ pre-war weaknesses in numbers of qualified junior officers or trained reservists were painfully exposed in the costly battles of 1914-15 in France, while commitments in East Africa, Mesopotamia, Egypt and later in Palestine overstretched resources. This article evaluates the performance of the Indian Army in the first months of the war and sets it in the context of pre-war assumptions and wartime experiences.

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