World War letters: Letters from the Trenches

Using letters written by Indian soldiers at the frontlines, Gajendra Singh looks at the life of Indian soldiers who fought the two World Wars in The Testimonies of Indian Soldiers and the Two World Wars: Tehelka

Despite the fact that millions of Indian soldiers fought in the two World Wars, these mega wars that shaped the new world order, fail to find any real space in the Indian consciousness. Unlike in Europe or America, where these wars defined a generation, in India they are confined to school textbooks. They briefly explain the wars, their geniuses and ramifications, but thats about it.

When the wars raged, we were not an independent nation and soldiers from the subcontinent were only serving their colonial masters.

In Gajendra Singh’s book, The Testimonies of Indian Soldiers and the Two World Wars, it becomes clear that there is a narrative missing from the how contemporary India looks at the wars — the voice of the Indian soldier. Using the letters written home by Indian soldiers, as well as reports submitted by their British officers, Singh gives a glimpse into the world of the Indian soldier in the British Indian Army, and more interestingly, showcases how the latter thought.

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