Who wrote them? Who read them?
How did they fool the censor? How did they write an intimate letter?
Some Thoughts On Scribes
Would the scribes have much time or would they have to see several soldiers one after the other?
Would the letter be read back to the soldier so he knew what had been written?
Would the soldier be able to “sign” the letter in any way?
Where were letters actually written – in trenches or behind lines?
Researcher Terhi Manuel-Garner explores the rich dynamics of the forgotten world of the illiterate sepoys and the scribes by stepping into their shoes.
I came to the Subterranean Sepoys Project full of enthusiasm and very keen to learn about the Indian soldiers deployed on the Western Front in WW1.
I never thought this process would also involve me having to learn some painful truths about myself too, specifically re the need for me to broaden the lens through which I seem to see the world.
Researcher Premila Triveda uncovers the close familial bond between Indian sepoy and British officer.
The British Indian Army Officer was like ‘ma and baap: father and mother,’ to the sepoys of his regiment. Even a 21 yr old Lieutenant was expected to lead without fear. 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, imperative for the ‘esprit de corps’. The regiment was their family.