Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: Sepoys in the Trenches

Why would I ever want to read a book about Indians (not Native American Indians) in WW1? Didn't they just lug stuff about and form labor battalions?   You might think so, but no.

Being one to never turn down a book if it is not about the 506th PIR, I had gotten ahold of a copy of this and had it on my "to read" list. Finally got o it, and am glad I did.  Now I have a passing interest in the WW1 British Military, but in the past few years have tried to stick to US subjects.  That being said I really enjoyed this book and found it quite interesting.

I really did not know much about the British/Indian Army of WW1, and found their dual command system fascinating. I was also struck by how the British managed to take multiple units of varying sizes, all composed of different groups, with different languages, from different castes and religions (many having very different dietary restrictions) and actually form them into a pretty good fighting force.  

Consider that some of the men in some units, could not eat food prepared by anyone other than men from a certain caste. Or that one company might be able to eat beef, but not the one next to it. Then consider that replacements were a million miles away (sort of), and the regular QM stocks did not hold some of the proper uniform items, or sizes.

While a good history of these guys in WW1, its also  a really unusual study in the logistics of bringing groups of various backgrounds together in the same unit. I still find it hard to believe they pulled it off.

So, yeah. Recommended if you are keen on the WW1 Commonwealth Army, Obscure WW1 stuff, or just want to read about how they managed one of the strangest forces I have ever read about.