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Wydawca: HELION

Accounts of the Indian Corps as a whole have been published in recent years but few have concentrated on the experiences of a single infantry brigade. The Ferozepore Brigade, part of the Lahore Division, had been created in 1904 during the Kitchener reforms of the Indian Army. As with all Indian Army brigades, it consisted of three Indian battalions: 9th Bhopal Infantry, 57th (Wilde’s) Rifles (Frontier Force) and the 129th The Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis. In addition, the Brigade had one British Regular Army Battalion, the 1st Battalion Connaught Rangers.

The Indian Corps was mobilized very efficiently in August 1914 and embarked for France in the following month. Such was the haste of the Ferozepore Brigade’s mobilization and the anomalies which had been allowed to exist with its organization and equipment that the Brigade’s composition had to be reorganized during the lengthy voyage.

Once in Europe, the problems of feeding, equipping, caring and commanding the Brigade all taxed the administration of the BEF. The differencing dietary requirements which the various racial and religious groups, the lack of modern equipment such as trench mortars and particular medical needs also challenged the British officers attached to the Brigade’s battalions, most of whom were equally unused to northwest European conditions. The paternal relationship between officers and men in the Indian battalions was a great strength but was to prove a weakness when British officers, who were familiars and understood their men, sustained casualties and had to be replaced with substitutes who struggled to fill the gap. It was assumed that the Indians could not fight efficiently without British officers in command. This volume also explores how true this assumption really was.

The Indian Corps had indeed arrived in ‘the nick of time’. The BEF was exhausted and was hanging on having been engaged along the entire length of its sector. Consequently, Indian Brigades went straight to the front where they fought with great gallantly in very unfamiliar surroundings. This book attempts to explain how one Brigade coped with the task they had been given while relating it to the struggle of the Indian Corps as a whole to adjust its strategy and tactics in a European War. Like a tiger on an ice floe, the Ferozepore Brigade had to learn to survive in a completely alien environment.