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War and Indian military institutions: The emergence of the Indian Military Academy

Published in Taylor & Francis
Pages: 230 - 257

This chapter explores the role of South Asian soldiers and civilians in Britain between 1939 and 1945. By focusing in particular on the four animal transport companies seconded to the British Expeditionary Force in France in the autumn of 1939, RAF pilots and the UK-based South Asian community’s involvement in ARP and charity relief work, this chapter investigates why their well-documented archival presence in this early phase of the war has received little attention. While the significance of their contribution in the war effort in France and on the home front is evidenced by archival and photographic records and through media coverage of the time, in the post-war process of memorialisation it has received little attention. These records raise important questions about the production of historical narratives in the context of Britain’s ‘island’ story. The sources highlight how this earlier diasporic community of South Asians positioned itself within British society, demonstrating the depth of their contributions to the fabric of British life at the time. This chapter, then, seeks to address in what way the prevalent narrative of Britain and the Second World War needs to be reconfigured as the contributions of soldiers and civilians are excavated in the archive and feature more prominently in film, fiction and television. As Britain has become increasingly perceptive of its own cultural and ethnic diversity, the manner in which it remembers the Second World War, too, requires readjustments as the efforts of its imperial citizens in the fight against fascism need to be acknowledged.

About the journal
JournalCulture, Conflict and the Military in Colonial South Asia
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Open AccessYes