History GCSE: Indian soldiers and friendship in World War One

How did the Indian Corps contribute to the Allies on the Western front?

David Olosuga, with historians Santanu Das and Geoff Bridger, explore the experience of Sikh soldier Manta Singh and Indian soldiers brought over to bolster the British army during the war.

The Indian Corps made up a third of the British army and were some of the first troops to be thrown into trench warfare where they experienced the horrors of the front.

Singh was thrown into battle at Neuve Chappelle in 1915 and more than 4,000 Indian soldiers were killed in 3 days of fighting.

He became firm friends with the white English Captain George Henderson and we hear how Singh rescued his friend Henderson after being shot.

Singh was cremated at the Chattri Monument on the South Downs and the legacy of his friendship with Captain Henderson has continued down the generations in their families.

Teacher Notes

Students could develop their questioning and investigating skills by composing questions for Manta Singh.

These could revolve around his new experiences of military training and the curiosity of a foreign culture in Europe.

Working in pairs, students could then try and answer each other's questions by putting themselves in his shoes.

Curriculum Notes

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

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The Chinese Labour Corps in WW1
How the colonies made WW1 a global war
La Force Noire - West African troops in the French army
The African American war hero who had to fight for France
Overcoming racial stereotypes in France in WW1
British Indian soldiers who deserted to get home
Voices of Indian soldiers in WW1
The Indian flying ace of WW1