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HISTORY

How many casualties were there?

World War I - Of the total number who served, including followers, 58,379 were killed or died of wounds or disease,  65,208 were wounded while 1,238 were recorded as missing or prisoners, a grand total of 124,825.

World War 2 - 87,031 named on memorials, and a further 2,350 unknown, a total of 89,381.     These numbers include the Royal Indian Navy and Royal Indian Air Force.  

 

World War I casualty figures recorded up to September 1920 included frontier operations in India which had, of course, continued throughout the war.  Of the total number who served, including followers, 58,379 were killed or died of wounds or disease,  65,208 were wounded while 1,238 were recorded as missing or prisoners, a grand total of 124,825.     In East Africa alone, where the conditions were extremely harsh, the number of Indian casualties was high and amounted to 5,018 (2,972 killed or died of wounds and/or disease, 2,003 wounded and 43 missing).

During World War 2 the cost to India and to her families was high.  The most authoritative source, on Commonwealth War Graves Commission statistics, gives a breakdown by country of the war dead, showing 87,031 named on memorials, and a further 2,350 unknown, a total of 89,381.     These numbers include the Royal Indian Navy and Royal Indian Air Force.  

 

We should also remember the many lascars who served in the Indian Merchant Service as crew on board cargo ships.  Most of those lost at sea during World War I are commemorated on the CWGC Bombay 1914-1918 Memorial, Mumbai, which lists 2151 men, but some are not.  Two examples of such losses are the SS Tangistan, torpedoed off Scarborough on 9 March 1915.  Of the 38 crew lost in the sinking, at least six were from India.  Nine months later the SS Clan Macfarlane was torpedoed on 30 December 1915.  While all crew made it into six lifeboats, three of these were subsequently lost at sea with a loss of 50 men, not all of them Indian.   Another SS Clan Macfarlane was lost in World War 2 when she collided with the British steamship Ganges and sank about 250 miles off the coast of Somalia.  41 of her crew were lost, including a number of Muslims of the Indian Merchant Service.  They are commemorated on the CWGC Bombay/Chittagong 1939-1945 War Memorials.  

It is possible to trace war dead through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website www.cwgc.org the section Find Records takes you to the search engine for Find War Dead.

Punjab and World War One is a new website from the UK Punjab Heritage Association and the University of Greenwich, based on records compiled by the Government of Punjab in 1919.  It contains the records of more than 320,000 soldiers from the Punjab who served in World War I www.punjabww1.com

Sources

    Rana Chhina,  Last Post. Indian War Memorials Around the World. Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research, United Service Institution of India (2014), pp.48-49

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   Statistics of the Military Effort. Op.cit.,  p.777

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    India’s Contribution to the Great War, op.cit., p.177.  These numbers do not include British officers of the Indian Army or British ranks serving on the permanent   Indian Establishment.  The number given for prisoners does not include those who were repatriated

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    Rana Chhina,  Last Post. Indian War Memorials Around the World. Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research, United Service Institution of India (2014), pp.48-49

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    India’s Contribution to the Great War, op.cit., p.177.  These numbers do not include British officers of the Indian Army or British ranks serving on the permanent   Indian Establishment.  The number given for prisoners does not include those who were repatriated

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