- Ghee Bowman
- ARRSE Rating
- 4 Mushroom Heads
The author has obviously gone to some lengths to try to research and be as accurate as possible however there are gaps due to a lack of material. There is, to me, anyway often a slight political slant to the narrative, such as the subtitle, although mainly Muslim, there were other religions in the unit.
The purpose of the book is to highlight the role played by these Indian soldiers both in France and the UK, sadly their further wartime experiences in the Far East are not really touched upon.
The 4 companies were sent to different parts of France and had quite different experiences, some seeing action. However only two of the companies were actually at Dunkirk, despite the sub title. One was evacuated via Saint Nazaire, another was captured en masse. The Supply Depot left via Brest.
The story in the UK covers their various postings in England, Wales and Scotland.. They were widely used as a propaganda tool to show how the entire Commonwealth was involved. They were obviously a well travelled unit, usually working independently of each other, so could be spread far and wide.
As well as the military history, the book delves into the social side of the soldiers including an section about the children that they left behind.
The company that were captured have their story told too, the author trying to find a balance between those who stayed loyal to the Empire and those who were successfully recruited by the Germans for their Indian Legion. The treatment of all such POWs is interesting.
Overall it is a worthwhile read, it is enlightening as to what was achieved by a small number of professional soldiers, far from home until they left the UK. I would have liked to have read more about their war time services in the Far East but there are some interesting descriptions of the fate of some after the partition of India. I would also liked to have read more about the Indian General Hospital which was part of the support element, if only because it was near me for a period of time.
The book is well illustrated through out with B&W photos.