Writer and historian Shrabani Basu has written a book called “For King and Another Country; Indian Soldiers on the Western Front 1914-18”. The book reveals that the British Army included Indian children as young as 10 to fight against the Germans on the western front. The children were shipped to France to carry out support roles but were so close to the front line that many were wounded and hospitalised.
One of the youngest boys involved in direct combat was a ‘brave little Gurkha’ called Pim, 16, who was given an award for valour by Queen Mary while he recuperated in Brighton.
Some British officials were embarrassed that children were used for the purpose and said so. Around 1.5 million Indian soldiers fought for Britain in the First World War.
Ms Basu’s book that is to be published by Bloomsbury in November, also reveals that British nurses were barred from treating Indian soldiers in war hospitals.
The book is based on official papers Shrabani obtained at the National Archives and British Library.