History GCSE: Audio evidence from Empire Soldiers in World War One

David Olusoga explores the story of Mall Singh, one of thousands of Indian soldiers who fought for the Allied Powers in World War One.

Singh was taken prisoner by the German army, which made audio recordings of captured Indian soldiers as part of their study into ethnic differences.

While this recording was made for sinister purposes, it has become a valuable piece of historical evidence for making sense of the contribution of Empire troops to World War One.

This clip is from the series The World's War.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be used to illustrate the differences between 'source purpose' and 'source utility': explore why the Germans recorded these voices, and contrast that with its usefulness to historians beyond that intended purpose.

Students could be encouraged to discuss why the experiences of Empire soldiers are so seldom recorded in writing, and suggest other alternatives to researching their perspectives.

Curriculum Notes

These films are suitable for teaching History at GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at National 5 in Scotland.

More from The World's War:

La Force noire - West African troops in the French army
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Different cultural cooperation in World War One
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Indian deserters caught up in a Wartime strategic mission
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Multi-cultural Troops
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Overcoming racial stereotypes in World War One
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The Chinese Labour Corps in World War One
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The experience of African American soldiers in Europe in WW1
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The Indian Royal Flying Corps fighter Ace
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The Imperial scope of a European War
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