‘Home’ front: Indian soldiers and civilians in Britain, 1939–45

Stadtler, Florian (2017). ‘Home’ front: Indian soldiers and civilians in Britain, 1939–45. In: Roy, Kaushik and Rand, Gavin eds. Culture, Conflict and the Military in Colonial South Asia. War and Society in South Asia. Routledge, pp. 258–276.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315099910-12


South Asian involvement in the early phase of the Second World War in Britain has received only scant attention. This chapter seeks to challenge some of these myths by focusing on the presence and participation of South Asians resident in Britain in the country's efforts during the Second World War. Some contributed as combatants, some as civilians. The Indian Comforts Fund highlights especially the way in which Indian soldiers, seamen and civilians engaged in the war effort were supported by the organization. It also serves as an example how people across divisions of class and gender participated in this charitable work for an organization which commanded support across political lines. The Fund was run by British and Indian women and took responsibility for the welfare of Indian soldiers as well as sailors of the Merchant and Indian navies. The Fund organized weekly leave parties for Indian soldiers to visit London and introduced a visiting scheme for hospitalized servicemen.

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