When the guns finally ceased thundering in 1918, sixty thousand Indian soldiers had fought and died for regiment and empire in blood-soaked battlefields from Europe to East Africa. The scale of their contribution can be judged from the fact that the Indian army earned no less than 9,200 decorations including 11 Victoria Crosses. Indeed, by November 1918 India had despatched 1,302,394 men—138,000 to France; 657,000 to Mesopotamia; 144,000 to Egypt and Palestine; and smaller contingents to Aden, East Africa, Gallipoli, and Salonika. Additionally, India supplied 170,000 animals (mainly mules and horses) and 3,700,000 tons of supplies and rations for a million men. 1 By contrast, all of the dominions together could only send 978,439 men. 2 A thankful British government recognized this sacrifice; Prime Minister David Lloyd George, supported by Austen Chamberlain and the War Cabinet, decided unanimously in favor of India's inclusion in the Imperial War Conference in March 1917. 3 Four months later, on 20 August 1917, Mr. E.S. Montagu, the liberal secretary of state for India, made a historic statement to the House of Commons. “The policy of His Majesty's Government, with which the Government of India are in complete accord, is that of the increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British empire.” 4
As S.R. Mehrotra points out, the declaration of 20 August 1917 “marked a definite repudiation of the concept of 'the two Empires'—the concept that there could be, under the British flag, one form of constitutional evolution for the West and another for the East, one for the White races and another for the non-white.” 5 Montagu's statement represented a funda-
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Publication information: Book title: Gentlemen of the Raj: The Indian Army Officer Corps, 1817-1949. Contributors: Pradeep P. Barua - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 25.
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