Getting to Know the British Indian Army Before 1947

 Getting to Know the British Indian Army Before 1947


The Indian army during the days of the Raj was a volunteer force with British officers and was instrumental in helping Great Britain control the subcontinent. In addition this army also manned many outposts of the 303 British ammo   British Empire where the adage ‘The Sun never sets on the British empire’ held true.

One fact that is glossed over is that this army was for the greater part of its existence supported by Indian taxation. London hardly financed this volunteer force. Despite being financed by Indian tax payers this army was an essential cog in the wheel of British domination over the globe, more particularly its grip over India. Perhaps they would never have been able to rule India without this army at their call.

Changes after 1857

The Indian mutiny 1857-1858 was a watershed in Indian history and had far-reaching consequences. Firstly the force was downsized in numbers and artillery and engineering were put exclusively out of the reach of native troops and were thus manned only by Britishers. The second transformation was the induction of the Sikhs, Gurkhas, and Pathans in a main role in the British army as a reward for their loyalty during the mutiny. They replaced the Bengalis, Marathas, and other groups who were earlier part of the East India company army.

The Use of the Revamped Army

This revamped army was used to put down internal dissent and was also used to cow the Indian population. It was also used as a mercenary army against Indians as well like the Jallianwala massacre when Indian troops under General Dyer had fired on unarmed civilians.

The Indian army after 1857 became a trusted part of the Raj and was used for action against the Afghans during the Anglo-Afghan wars. They were also used to enforce the British writ in the North West frontier province. In one famous battle at Saragrahi in 1897 21 Sikh soldiers faced Muslim horde of 10,000 all for the Raj and empire.

The Indian army was also used to defeat Tibet with the YoungHusband expedition in 1903-04. The British Indian army thus became an essential element of the Raj.

The Indian Army in World War I



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