New Delhi, Dec.9 : Distinguished Australian historian Professor Peter Stanley has come out with the first book on the contributions of Indian soldiers during the 1915-16 Gallipoli Campaign, which is also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Ã‡anakkale.
The campaign was part of World War I and took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Gelibolu in modern Turkey) in the Ottoman Empire between April 25, 1915 and January 9, 1916.
The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provided a sea route to the then Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war.
Intending to secure it, Russia’s allies, Britain and France, launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula, with the aim of capturing the then Ottoman Empire capital of Constantinople (now modern Istanbul).
The naval attack was repelled and after eight months of fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign was abandoned and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.
Professor Stanley’s book titled “Die in Battle, Do Not Despair – The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915”, reveals the courage of Indian troops and their camaraderie with Australian soldiers at the height of World War I
In this first-ever account of Indian troops who fought during the Gallipoli campaign, a defining moment in the creation of the ‘Anzac legend’, Professor Stanley of the University of New South Wales in Australia, brings to light an important episode in India’s military history.
Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Patrick Suckling, welcomed the historical contribution to a greater understanding of the Australia-India defence relationship.
“A century after that seminal campaign ended, it is testament to the close Australia-India relationship that this Indian story has been told by an Australian historian,” Suckling said.
“The Anzacs and Indians developed warm friendships, beginning a positive relationship that continues to this day,” he added.
In 1915, some 16,000 Indian Army troops – including Gurkhas, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus – served as part of the British force involved in the dramatic eight-month Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I. About 1600 Indian troops, one man in 10, died while serving alongside Australian, New Zealand and British soldiers whose part in the Great War has been extensively documented.
The Indians, on the other hand, have had to wait a century for their story to be told.
The book contains the legendary stories of Indian soldiers like Jan Mahomed, whose orders were accepted by thirsty Australians when he controlled a well under fire; or Karam Singh, who continued to give orders to his gunners though blinded and Subedar Gambirsing Pun, who commanded the Gurkhas in the fight for the Gallipoli summit.
“Despite barriers of language, culture and religion, it is clear that Australian and Indian soldiers had a deep respect for each other and bonded in battle. I found in Australian diaries, letters and photographs evidence of what Indian soldiers experienced in Gallipoli,” said Professor Stanley.
With over 80 photographs and colour maps, Die in Battle, Do Not Despair – The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915 has a complete list of the Indian dead of Gallipoli. It is published by Helion & Co. UK and distributed in India by KW Publishers. (ANI)