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The Indian Army on the Western Front
India's Expeditionary Force to France and Belgium in the First World War


Part of Cambridge Military Histories

  • Date Published: June 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107027466

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About the Authors
  • The Indian army fought on the western front with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from 1914 to 1918. The traditional interpretations of its performance have been dominated by ideas that it was a failure. This book offers a radical reconsideration by revealing new answers to the debate's central questions, such as whether the Indian army 'saved' the BEF from defeat in 1914, or whether Indian troops were particularly prone to self-inflicting wounds and fleeing the trenches. It looks at the Indian army from top to bottom, from generals at headquarters to snipers in no man's land. It takes a global approach, exploring the links between the Indian army's 1914–18 campaigning in France and Belgium and its pre-1914 small wars in Asia and Africa, and comparing the performance of the Indian regiments on the western front to those in China, East Africa, Mesopotamia and elsewhere.

    • Recasts the hitherto neglected and misunderstood history of the role of Indian soldiers on the Western Front
    • Compares the Western Front to African and Asian theatres of war, highlighting the global dimensions of the conflict
    • Presents a full picture of the Indian experience, covering a broad range of themes from generalship and prisoner-taking to sniping and cooking
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'George Morton-Jack's wonderful book, his first, brings a wealth of much-needed analysis to this subject … A compelling narrative [of] an extraordinary transition for an Indian Army trained in mountain warfare … that successfully transformed itself into a modern army.' Tim Wilsey, International Affairs

    'An excellent military history, and should be the first reference point for those curious about battles fought by Indian troops in Europe.' Vedica Kant, The Caravan (

    'By shining the light on a little discussed subject, this book fills a big hole in the literature on the war.' Mihir Bose, History Today

    'Extremely stimulating and should appeal to academics and enthusiasts alike; it is a must-read for students of the First World War. Morton-Jack's approach to the fighting record of the Indians sets this book apart from its predecessors … [It] is so much more than a simple account of the Indian Army on the Western Front. Morton-Jack has produced a volume that incorporates almost every strand of current research on the BEF. It is a very welcome addition to First World War literature and could well prove to be a framework for future works.' Adam Prime, Reviews in History (

    'Superb research … An excellent volume that places the Indian Army firmly into the context of the modern military historiography of the First World War.' Spencer Jones, British Journal for Military History

    'A compelling account of an army trained to fight in the mountains of the North-West Frontier and thrust instead into the mire of a European war.' Tom Coghlan, The Times

    'George Morton-Jack's deeply researched writing is accessible and rewarding.' David Filsell, Stand-To

    'The Indian Army on the Western Front will certainly generate new debates and rejuvenate old debates … Morton-Jack's monograph will remain a benchmark work as regards the Indian Army's contribution to the imperial war effort in Western Europe.' Kaushik Roy, War in History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107027466
    • length: 348 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.66kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The army in India
    2. Small wars and regular warfare
    3. Strengths
    4. Weaknesses
    5. To Flanders
    6. 'Saving' the BEF
    7. Climate, casualty replacements and departure
    8. Self-inflicted wounds and flights
    9. Old tactics
    10. New tactics
    11. Commanders and staff
    12. Administration

  • Author

    George Morton-Jack
    George Morton-Jack studied history at the University of Oxford before becoming a barrister. This is his first book.

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