Monday, 31 December 2012

Beau Geste Digest

Well, not long left now of 2012. Time for a quick one though from Ana and the team over in Argentina in the shape of two new sets of Indian infantry figures for their ever popular WW1 series

The Indian Army in WW1: a brief history

In 1901 oil had been discovered in commercial quantities at Masjid-e-Suleiman at the head of the Persian Gulf. At the start of the war in 1914, the privately owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company which owned the concessions for these fields was about to be bought by the British Government, primarily to fuel the British Fleet. It soon became clear that the Ottoman Turkish Army was being mobilized and in August the Indian Government was instructed to prepare contingency plans to protect these strategic assets

The plans dictated that in the event of the Turkish Army coming out in support of the Germans, the Indian Army was to act to secure the oilfields. As a contingency, the Indian Expeditionary Force D under command of Lieutenant–General Sir Arthur Barrett sailed from Bombay on 16 October 1914 for Bahrain. They, together with Expeditionary Force A who had been hurriedly sent to Europe at the end of September in response to a request from the Imperial General Staff for men to support the war effort, became the first Indian elements committed to war outside of India

Before the war, the Indian government had decided that India could afford to provide two infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade in the event of a European war. Over four divisions were eventually sent as Indian Expeditionary Force A which formed the Indian Corps and the Indian Cavalry Corps that arrived on the Western Front in 1914. The high number of officer casualties the corps suffered early on had an effect on its later performance. British officers that understood the language, customs, and psychology of their men could not be quickly replaced, and the alien environment of the Western Front had some effect on the soldiers


Their first engagement was on the Western Front within a month of the start of the war, at the First Battle of Ypres. Here, Garwhal Rifles were involved in the war's first trench raid on 9–10 November 1914 and Khudadad Khan became the first Indian to win a Victoria Cross. After a year of front-line duty, sickness and casualties had reduced the Indian Corps to the point where it had to be withdrawn

Nearly 700,000 then served in the Middle East, fighting against the Turks in the Mesopotamian campaign. There they were short of transportation for resupply and operated in extremely hot and dusty conditions. Led by Major General Sir Charles Townshend, they pushed on to capture Baghdad but they were repulsed by Turkish Forces

In the First World War the Indian Army participated in a number of campaigns and battles including:
    The Western Front
    The Battle of Gallipoli
    The Sinai and Palestine Campaign
    The Mesopotamian Campaign, Siege of Kut
    The Battle of Tanga in East Africa

Participants from the Indian subcontinent won 13,000 medals, including 12 Victoria Crosses. By the end of the war a total of 47,746 Indians had been reported dead or missing and 65,126 were wounded in action

Happy hunting!  

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