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North Africa

(2,498 words)

Author(s): Cornelissen, Christoph
North Africa Geographical area stretching from the Atlantic coast of present-day Morocco in the west to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the east. The territories in question experienced various phases of political and military subjugation by the European colonial powers before the outbreak of the First World War. The North African territories were subject to differing external and internal political arrangements, and were then administered under direct and indirect forms of rule. France claimed formal sovereignty in Al…

Uniforms

(1,390 words)

Author(s): Kraus, Jürgen
Uniforms At the beginning of the war, the armies of most warring states were outfitted with a special field uniform, camouflaged to blend into the terrain, in addition to their colorful parade uniforms. Such a camouflage uniform was necessary because of modern weapons technology including smokeless powder. This was already well known from the Boer Wars and the Russo-Japanese War. Still, camouflage uniforms dated back to the colonial wars of the 19th century. Based on experience in India, Great Br…

The Indianization of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force: Palestine 1918

(11,661 words)

Author(s): Kitchen, James E.
Kitchen, James E. - The Indianization of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force: Palestine 1918 Keywords: Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) | Indianization | Palestine | Turkish defences ISFWWS-Keywords: India | Middle East | Military organisation of combat | Experience of combat | The Ottoman Empire and the Middle East | Religion | The French and British Empires Abstract: By the time the campaign ended in Palestine in October 1918, the majority of Britain's imperial army, known as the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), was made up of units dr…

Masuria

(1,257 words)

Author(s): Stone, Norman
Masuria Masuria comprised the southeastern portion of the German province of East Prussia, the part of the Reich that was most exposed to a threat from Russia. Two great battles took place here and immediately across the border in Russian Poland in 1914/15. The Russian Army occupied Masuria at the beginning of the war, and remained there until it was defeated at Tannenberg at the end of August 1914. After this battle the remnants of the Russian Second Army, which had entered Masuria from the south, withdrew across the border into Poland.…

George V, King of Great Britain and Ireland

(357 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
George V, King of Great Britain and Ireland (June 3, 1865, London – January 20, 1936, Sandringham), king of Great Britain and Ireland (from 1910; from 1921 “of Northern Ireland”; from 1911 also “Emperor of India”). Grandson of Queen Victoria; originally third in succession to the throne. He received military training in the Royal Navy before succeeding his father Edward VII on the throne in 1910. After the outbreak of the First World War, George won great popularity with several visits to the front (on …

Dumdum Bullets

(219 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Dumdum Bullets Bullets having their lead core left uncovered at the point (semi-jacketed bullet), or having an unjacketed, but cylindrically bored point (hollow-point bullet). Owing to their construction, the bullets have a somewhat reduced power of penetration. At a short distance, however, they produce large wounds that heal with difficulty. The bullets are named after the Indian town of Dum Dum, where a munitions factory first produced semi-jacketed bullets for the British forces in the 1890s. …

Australia

(2,831 words)

Author(s): Grey, Jeffrey
Australia Australia entered the First World War as a federal dominion of the British Empire (Commonwealth of Australia), having achieved that status in 1901. Although the Australian colonies had sent troops to the Boer War between 1899 and 1902, there was no military tradition in the sense of a high-echelon military leadership and administration and a defense policy, and precious little national experience of war. Yet, by the end of the First World War, almost seven Australian cavalry and infantr…

Suez Canal

(398 words)

Author(s): Mönch, Winfried
Suez Canal A ship canal in Egypt, running between Port Said in the north and Suez in the south. The Suez Canal links the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, via the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea. The canal was the target of Ottoman/German offensives launched from the Sinai Peninsula in 1915 and 1916, and from the beginning of 1917 the starting point for British operations against Palestine. It was of great strategic importance to the British Empire, as it was the shortest route between Britain and its colonies in East Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. After the Ottoman Empire’s entry in…

Ottoman Empire

(2,352 words)

Author(s): Zürcher, Erik-Jan
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire entered the First World War on the side of the Central Powers in November 1914. The real decision to take this step was not made by the cabinet, but by an inner circle of Young Turk politicians on October 25. Two days later, on the orders of minister of war Enver Pasha, a Turkish naval force under the command of the German Admiral Souchon attacked the Russian Black Sea Fleet in its bases. The Turks later sought to justify this unprovoked attack by claiming that th…

Colored Troops

(587 words)

Author(s): Koller, Christian
Colored Troops German war propaganda described the nonwhite colonial troops employed by the Entente Powers in the First World War in general terms as “colored auxiliaries.” The very use of such units in Europe caused a considerable sensation. All in all, some 485,000 nonwhite soldiers from the French colonies and 160,000 from the British colonies fought in the ranks of the Entente Powers in the European theater. Important contingents came from Algeria (173,000), India (153,000), French West Africa…

Colonial War

(1,529 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Colonial War The war against the German colonies of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, led by the forces of Japan, Great Britain, France, Belgium, and their respective colonies. The spread of the war to the colonies was undertaken by Great Britain and France, primarily for strategic reasons. By occupying the German colonies, their respective ports would be closed to the German navy. Also, the German worldwide communications network, which depended upon the wireless stations erected there, would be dis…

The Indian Cavalry Divisions in Somme: 1916

(13,244 words)

Author(s): Kenyon, David
Kenyon, David - The Indian Cavalry Divisions in Somme: 1916 Keywords: France | Indian Cavalry divisions | Somme ISFWWS-Keywords: India | Western Front | Military organisation of combat | Experience of combat | Soldiers and Combat | Published memoirs and biographies | Britain Abstract: A 'fact' that is often quoted to support the status of the Indian soldier as exploited victim is that the Indian regiments arrived in Marseilles in late 1914 still dressed in tropical clothing and without warm winter kit. This chapter aims to…

New Light on the East African Theater of the Great War: A Review Essay of English-Language Sources

(7,917 words)

Author(s): Vandervort, Bruce
Vandervort, Bruce - New Light on the East African Theater of the Great War: A Review Essay of English-Language Sources Keywords: East Africa | Military organisation of combat | Published memoirs and biographies | Literature | Africa | The French and British Empires | Germany | Legacy | India | Portugal | Belgium Abstract: The marine officers interest in the exploits of Colonel Lettow-Vorbeck reflects an earlier period, now superseded, at least as far as academic military history is concerned, in the historiography of the East Africa…

Flanders

(2,611 words)

Author(s): Bourne, John M.
Flanders A province in northwestern Belgium. Western Flanders was the theater of three major battles in 1914, 1915, and 1917, and to these must be added the battles fought during the course of the German spring offensive in 1918. For the British, the battles are inseparably associated with the market town of Ypres. It is accordingly not surprising that the British commission charged after the war with naming the battles and engagements designated the battles fought here as the First, Second, and …

India

(1,806 words)

Author(s): Cornelissen, Christoph
India In August 1914, the Indian subcontinent was the most important pillar of the British Empire. After the start of the First World War India’s importance to the war effort was apparent in the considerable numbers of Indian soldiers employed on the Allied fronts in Europe, Africa, and Asia. By the end of 1918, some 1.5 million Indians had been mobilized for the war. Of these, almost 900,000 belonged to fighting units. More than 60,000 Indian soldiers died in the war and about the same number suffered wounds. It was originally envisaged that only restricted use should be made of I…

Naval Blockade

(1,483 words)

Author(s): Neitzel, Sönke
Naval Blockade During the World War, the Allied naval blockade brought German foreign trade practically to a standstill, especially after 1916. It contributed significantly to the serious subsistence problems in Germany. On the eve of the World War Germany was one of the most important economic powers in the world. Obviously, accomplishing this required extensive trade relationships. This left the German economy highly vulnerable during such a long-lasting war. Indeed, Germany had to import 30% of all processed iron ore. The …

Kitchener, Horatio Herbert

(622 words)

Author(s): Simkins, Peter
Kitchener, Horatio Herbert (June 24, 1850, Crotter House near Listowel [County Kerry, Ireland] – June 5, 1916, off the Orkney Islands; from 1914 the First Earl Kitchener of Khartoum and of Broome), British field marshal (minister of war). Kitchener’s early military career took him predominantly to the Middle East, where in 1892 he became Sirdar (commander in chief ) of the Egyptian Army. In this function he conquered the Sudan, and in 1898 led the successful military expedition to Khartoum (Battle of Omdurman). This brought Kitchener the status of …

Imperialism, Nationalism and the First World War in India

(8,519 words)

Author(s): Das, Santanu
Das, Santanu - Imperialism, Nationalism and the First World War in India Keywords: empire | First World War | imperialism | India | Nationalism | nationalist leaders | sepoys | Western Front ISFWWS-Keywords: India | The French and British Empires | Politics | Western Front | Experience of combat | Published memoirs and biographies Abstract: This article explores the relationship between empire, India and the First World War, by examining both the responses to the war within India, and the experience of the sepoys in the Western Front. In …

Rawlinson, Sir Henry

(307 words)

Author(s): Bourne, J.M.
Rawlinson, Sir Henry (February 20, 1869, Trent Manor [Dorset] – March 28, 1925, Delhi), British general. Rawlinson’s remarkably successful prewar career included command of a mobile column in the Second Boer War (1899–1901), of the Army Staff College (1903–1906), and of the 3rd Division (1910–1914). As commanding general of the IVth Corps, he played a vital role in the battles of 1915. Named commander in chief of the Fourth Army in February 1916, Rawlinson planned the British attack in the Somme Of…

Hamilton, Sir Ian

(524 words)

Author(s): Bourne, J.M.
Hamilton, Sir Ian (January 16, 1853, Corfu – October 12, 1947, London), British general. After attending private school, and graduating from the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, Hamilton entered the army in 1873. His early career was marked by his participation in colonial wars, among them the Afghan War (1878–1880), the Boer War of 1881, the Nile Expedition (1884/1885), the Burma Expedition (1886/1887), the Relief of Chitral (1895), and the Tirah Campaign (1897/98). He gained not only battle e…
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