Indian troops on the Artois front

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Arriving at Marseille in September and October 1914 the Lahore and Meerut Divisions of the Indian Army, under British command, were then loaded on to trains bound for the North of France to join the British Expeditionary Force and the French units on the Western Front which was in the process of stabilizing. On 23 October 1914 the first Indian soldiers arrived in the trenches around Laventie, in the region of Allœu to the west of Lille, to provide support to the British units and the French Cavalry Corps.

In 1914 and 1915 Indian units participated in various combats along the sector of the front which faced Aubers Ridge. They helped contain the German attacks of November and December near Neuve-Chapelle and Givenchy and participated in the British offensive on Neuve-Chapelle in March 1915. In the latter offensive, the British recorded 4,047 Indians among their 11,652 casualties. The Indians suffered more heavy losses on 25 September 1915 at Laventie during a subsidiary attack of the British offensive at Loos where 3,017 soldiers of the Meerut Division were lost in a single day.

By October 1915 the transfer of Indian units to other fronts was gaining pace and thenceforth they were almost completely absent for the Western Front except for two cavalry divisions which saw action as reserve forces up until March 1918.

Yves LE MANER,
Director of La Coupole
History and Remembrance Centre of Northern France

Archive pictures

Marche des soldats indiens

coll. particulière (jpg - 0.07 MB)

Marche des soldats indiens

Soldats indiens

coll. particulière (jpg - 0.06 MB)

Soldats indiens