Writing and Speaking

Sergeant Major Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Sargent Major Gandhi

What about Sargent Major Gandhi volunteering to assist the British in WWI?

He was Sargent Major Gandhi a barrister. Gandhi realize that the Indian Army was going to be deployed on the Western Front in late August 1914 and that many Indians would need medical attention. The British steamer SS Kinfauns Castle, a British steamer, had arrive at the English Channel in August 1914 from Cape Town, South Africa. One of its passengers was inform that the British Empire was at war against Germany. He would then declare his unconditional support for the British war effort, and also propose to form an Indian volunteer unit.  Gandhi suggest that an Indian ambulance corps be raised. This was quickly approve by the British war ministry. Gandhi was not the only one to appeal to Indians to get involve in a British war. During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and Zulu War (06/06), Gandhi was in South Africa.

He had previously raise an Indian ambulance crop in which he served a sergeant major in the British Army. Gandhi was able to convince many Indians to sign up for the corps over the next five months. Some of them later serve in hospitals at Southampton and Brighton, where Indian war casualties were treated. His wife Kasturba, Sarojini Naidu and his son, Rahul, help him in this endeavor. They also wrote a resolution to unconditionally support the British Empire.

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Gandhi left England in December 1914 for India and arrive in India in January 1915. In that year, Gandhi receive the Kaiser-i-Hind Medal.

Gandhi remain a strong supporter of the British cause for the next few decades, but he also fought British imperialism through Champ ran satyagraha 1917 and Kheda satyagraha 1918. After Kheda Satyagraha was over, Gandhi began aggressively campaigning for war as a recruit officer for the empire. Gandhi was not recruiting non-combatants, but fighters this time. In varying degrees, other leaders such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Gopalakrishnan Gokhale also supported the cause of the empire.

Vedic Kant (a UK-base author) is visiting India to launch her first book. She says, “If I die here who will remember? India during the First World War, Gandhi was different than other leaders. Kant says,

Pollen Dharamshala, in Godhra, was one of many Gujarati recruiting centers. This is where the 2002 Sabarmati Express fire incident left a lasting impression. On April 16, 1918, there was a large gathering of Thakurs from Parch Mahals and Rewa Kantha Agency, where Gandhi present a report about his recruiting efforts. He stated that the Kiara region had made the greatest contribution to Gujarat. Gandhi donate Rs 102 to the war effort from his pocket. The war effort had already raise Rs 4,500 by the end of the day. Rs 1,000 was also collect from the concert that was held that evening. In gratitude, the government gave bonuses to both recruits as well as recruiters.

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Gandhi lost faith after the war. This was due to the British government’s failure to grant India self-government and a repressive policy.

Many others began to see the Indian soldiers who had volunteered for war as mercenaries. “That’s what we did wrong.

The Indian Army fought only with the approval of the Indian leadership. Our soldiers are not mercenaries. People today might not like the fact that so many Indians fought to defend the empire. But you can’t erase them from history,” Kant states.

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This politics between Indian and British leaders was what robbed the Indian soldier his rightful place as a historical figure.

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