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1. The Indian Cavalry Divisions in Somme: 1916

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Chapter Summary

A 'fact' that is often quoted to support the status of the Indian soldier as exploited victim is that the Indian regiments arrived in Marseilles in late 1914 still dressed in tropical clothing and without warm winter kit. This chapter aims to attack these perceptions of the Indian soldier, and of cavalry in the Great War, and to show that the Indian Cavalry divisions were an effective and modern fighting force, fully capable of the tasks put before them. It is not possible in a short piece to cover all the activities of the Indian cavalry in France from 1914 to 1918, but instead their role in the Somme fighting of 1916, and in the battle of 14 July in particular will be examined in detail as an exemplar of their wider performance. The chapter examines how this performance has been represented in later literature, and their effectiveness obscured.

Keywords:France; Indian Cavalry divisions; Somme



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