2.7 Soldiers of Empire

When the First World War broke out in 1914, places such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, the West Indies, South Africa and other parts of Africa were under British rule. As a result, around 2.5 million men from Britain’s colonies fought for Britain. In fact, the British would have struggled without them, because when war broke out there were ten times as many soldiers in the German Army as there were in the British. These films provide a glimpse into the contribution of these troops in the First World War.

14 MINS 10 SECS, NO SOUND, B/W, 1910-19

King George V and Queen Mary present medals to Indian officers on the steps of Buckingham Palace. Around 1.4 million Indians volunteered as both soldiers and labourers in the First World War (1914-18), the largest volunteer army the world has ever seen. Indian soldiers fought on the Western Front, in the Middle East and alongside British and Anzac troops at Gallipoli in Turkey.


1 MIN 6 SECS, NO SOUND, B/W, 1924

Mirza Mahmood Ahmad, the leader of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, visits a British memorial to Indian troops killed in the First World War. India lost up to 64,000 soldiers in the war.


1 MIN 32 SECS, SOUND, B/W, 1932

In 1932, Canada’s National War Memorial was put on display in Hyde Park, London, before being shipped to Canada. Over 600,000 Canadians served in the war and Canadian soldiers fought in most of the major battles.

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