British Officers

Indian Army Western Front

Veteran and later MP, Brigadier John ‘Jackie’ Smyth VC (Victoria Cross won with 15th Ludhiana Sikhs in 1915), explained that the British Indian Army Officer was like ‘ma and baap: father and mother,’ to the men of his regiment.

There were only 12 white British officers in a battalion of around 800 men. They spoke Hindustani (Urdu) and encouraged religious and cultural observance amongst the Indian sepoys. The regiment was their family.

The memoirs, unpublished war diaries and private letters of British Indian Army Officers are an excellent source for unearthing specific experiences.



Letters fromsubterranean sepoys Indian army world war one the Trenches – British Officer

Capt Berryman of the Garhwal Rifles wrote to his sister about distributing balaclavas and mufflers to the men.

The officers had so many warm clothes sent to them from family in England that the sepoys were glad to receive them during Winter 1914-15 when they still had their thin Indian uniforms.

McSwiney distributes them in the play to improve morale.