Letters

Letter Trench CorpsesA soldier writes of the horrors he experienced after the arrival in a formerly French trench.

There was no time to bury dead bodies of the previous occupants, so the soldiers would have corpses for company.

One officer, who arrived at a new trench in Festubert in November 1914, wrote of a hardened human face outside his dugout which the men used to scrape their muddy boots before entering.

 


Letter Garhwal Regiment

 

A Garhwali sepoy describes his desolation and loneliness.

Note the un-nerving proximity of the enemy and the bleak, hard, factual nature of his choice of language and short sentences. Perhaps distancing himself by the need for survival and living moment to moment?

Ganesh’s regiment in the play is in this very stalemate.

 


Letter Neuve Chapelle

In March 1915, the Meerut Division began a three-day assault on Neuve Chapelle.

This wounded survivor, recovering at hospital in Brighton, describes the horror of the blood bath. The words speak for themselves.

The Battle of Neuve Chapelle was considered a victory for the British Indian Army. 4,200 Indian sepoys were killed or wounded. A memorial stands at Neuve Chapelle.

 


Letter Feb 1915

This South Indian Mohammedan (Muslim) writes to his friend in India of his declining morale. His spirit is almost completely broken, letter-writing his only solace.

It was feared that letters like this reaching India would discourage recruitment. Because the recipient was often illiterate, another villager would perhaps read this letter aloud to many people.

In the play, Shankar’s letter is based on this one. He is punished for defeatism by his officer, Ganesh, and his letter withheld.