The Indian Contingent: The Forgotten Muslim Soldiers of Dunkirk, by Ghee Bowman, The Historical past Press, Cheltenham, U.Ok., 2020, $34.95
This intriguing if neglected story begins on May 29, 1940, when 300 Indian troopers beneath Maj. Mohammed Akbar Khan, a World Warfare I veteran, have been evacuated from Dunkirk. Survivors of the twenty fifth Animal Transport Firm of the Indian Military Service Corps, they have been a part of Power K6 (aka the Indian Contingent), who along with their mules had reached France from India in December 1939.
Greater than 1,000 different troops from Power K6, together with the employees and sufferers of the Indian Basic Hospital, would evacuate by ship from western France. Not less than 10 efficiently escaped from German captivity—first Jemadar Jehan Dad, who on reaching Britain by way of Spain and Gibraltar was introduced with an MBE by King George for his exploits. Others included Buland Khan and Shah Zaman, whom French resistance operators helped escape to Britain.
These of the Indian Contingent efficiently evacuated in 1940 have been distributed amongst garrisons throughout Britain, none extra outstanding than these on Steep Holm, a onetime smugglers’ hang-out within the Bristol Channel, strategically positioned to defend the sea-lanes to Avonmouth and Cardiff. Ten males and a dozen mules offered transport up the steep cliff observe to the garrison, which delighted within the curried mutton offered by the Indians.
Subhas Chandra Bose, the bespectacled Bengali nationalist who urged armed wrestle and civil disobedience as a way of ending British rule in India, had arrived in Berlin in 1941 and begun to recruit dissidents from among the many Indian POWs. Maybe as many as 30 males of the twenty second Firm joined the Indian Legion.
Ghee Bowman’s first guide, The Indian Contingent is the end result of 5 years of analysis. It’s lucky for readers he has chosen a side of World Warfare II that has been nearly wholly forgotten, not less than within the Western world.
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