In this photograph we can see Indian soldiers digging a trench, which is then reinforced with sandbags and protected by barbed wire at the front. Over 1.5 million Indian soldiers fought as volunteers for Great Britain in the First World War.
The Girdwood Collection
This series of several hundred photographs recording the contribution of Indian soldiers to the Allied war effort was produced in 1915 by the Canadian-born photographer Charles Hilton DeWitt Girdwood (1878-1964). As a professional photographer Girdwood had an early connection with India, photographing the Delhi Durbar of 1903, the royal tour of 1905-06 and the Delhi Durbar of 1911. In 1908 he set up a photo agency called Realistic Travels, specialising in stereoscopic photography.
With the outbreak of war in 1914, Girdwood returned from India and in April 1915 was given permission by the India Office to photograph the work of the Indian military hospitals in Bournemouth and Brighton. From July to September 1915 he worked in France as an official photographer to record Indian and later British troops in the field. In the later part of his time in France he also made ciné film of the campaign (which later appeared under the title With the Empire’s Fighters.
- Full title:
- Indian infantry digging trenches [Fauquissart, France]. Photographer: H. D. Girdwood.
- Girdwood Collection
- Charles Hilton DeWitt Girdwood
- Held by:
- British Library
- © Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland
- Photo 24/(299)
- Article by:
- Santanu Das
- Life as a soldier
From smell and sound to touch and perception, Dr Santanu Das draws on soldiers' records to consider the sensory experiences within the trenches of World War One.