This photograph by Charles Hilton De Witt Girdwood, a Canadian photographer, shows a group of wounded Indian soldiers recovering in a military hospital set up in Brighton. Many wounded Indian soldiers who served on the Western Front made their way to Britain to be cared for in military hospitals along Britain’s southern coast.
In this picture they are entertained by a bagpiper. The official caption reads:
Group of wounded Indian soldiers gathered round a bagpiper. Some with crutches, others with arms in slings, several even on beds, all are enjoying the beautiful sunny days at Brighton, and the sweet strains of the gramophone [sic]. So boisterous has been the applause to several of the favourite pieces that some of the sisters have come out to see the party.
The presence of women nurses in the picture is significant. By June 1915, two months after this photograph was taken in April, they were withdrawn from service for fear of impropriety. A newspaper image showing an Indian soldier with a British nurse standing in the background was deemed scandalous and not an ‘Indian custom’ by an advisor to the War Office. This led to all white nurses being withdrawn by June that year, with one exception – the Lady Hardinge hospital in Brockenhurst, which was run by the Indian Soldiers Fund charity. There British nurses continued to work as supervisors.