Excerpts From "Indian Voices of the Great War"


What follows are excerpts from letters penned by the soldiers themselves as they battled in the trenches.  These personal accounts and stories are the material that will shape the film. 


From a Garhwali in France to his family [1915]

“It is very hard to endure the bombs, father. It will be difficult for anyone to survive and come back safe and sound from the war...The bullets and cannon-balls come down like snow. The mud is up to a man’s middle. The distance between us and the enemy is fifty paces... “



From a wounded Sikh to his father [1915]

Tell my mother not to go wandering madly because her son, my brother, is dead. To be born and to die is God’s order... It is a fine thing to die far from home. A saint said this, and, as he was a good man, it must be true.”



From a wounded Pathan to a relative [1915]

“Do not think that this is a war. This is not a war. It is the ending of the world.



From a Punjabi Muslim to his brother [1915]

“God knows whether the land of France is stained with sin or whether the Day of Judgment has begun in France. For guns and of rifles there is now a deluge, bodies upon bodies, and blood flowing. God preserve us, what has come to pass!” 



From a wounded Garhwali to a friend [1915]

“I have been wounded in the head... My fate now is very lucky in that I am alive while all my brethren have been killed... Such a scene has been enacted as when the leaves fall of a tree and not a space is left bare on the ground, so here the earth is covered with dead men and there is no place to put one’s foot... When we reached their trenches we used bayonet and the kukri, and blood was shed so freely that we could not recognize each other’s faces; the whole ground was covered with blood. There were heaps of men’s heads, and some soldiers were without legs, others had been cut in two, some without hands and others without eyes... If I survive I will tell you all.”



From a Sikh to his brother [1915]

“[The Germans] have many machine guns. Their little bomb guns throw bombs to a distance of 500 yards, and they spray vitriol acid which burns our clothes and dries up our bodies. At night they send up star shells, and also make light with electricity. The war is a great sight at night. Here cannons are firing, there machine guns; here there are bright lights, there bombs hurl through the air. Bullets fly day and night incessantly drinking the blood of heroes.” 



From a wounded Pathan [in England] to a friend [1915]

“The news is that the white men here have refused to enlist, declaring that the German Emperor is their King no less than is the King of England. An Indian black man went off to preach to them. He asked them if they were not ashamed to see us come from India to help the King while they, who were of the same race, were refusing to fight for him. But really, the ways these whites are behaving is a scandal.” 



From a Pathan in France to his brother in Punjab [1915]

“Do your utmost not to come with any party of troops to the war. Make some arrangement, because this is not a war. The righteous God has sent down a calamity; it is the destruction of the Indians by a Flood.” 



From a wounded Dogra [in England] to a friend in Persia [1916]

“I have been shot in both feet and in the right arm. I am all right but my feet have withered and I am neither dead nor alive. I can’t put my foot to the ground, but it is my fate... We shall meet some day in India and till then I will see you in my dreams.” 



From a Punjabi Muslim to a friend at home in Baluchistan [1915]

“For God’s sake don’t come, don’t come, don’t come to this war in Europe.”