Photograph of the front gate to the cemetery for Muslim Indian Army soldiers


This photograph, taken in early 1917, depicts the western entrance to the Common Muslim Burial Ground which had recently opened in Horsell, Woking. The first reference to a cemetery for Muslim soldiers appears in October 1914, when the India Office decided that ‘a plot of land should be acquired at Woking. […] to produce an excellent impression in India from a political point of view or religious aspect of the question’.[1] Woking was home to the Shan Jahan Mosque, the first official place of worship for Muslims in Britain.

Under the supervision of the Secretary of State’s council and the co-operation of Maulvi Sadr-Ud-Din, T Herbert Winney, an India Office Surveyor, began to design the burial ground. In order to be sympathetic to its purpose, the ground was designed with Islamic design motifs. For instance, the west entrance is a square building topped with a dome (chattri), with overhanging eaves (chhajja) and an arched door with an Islamic ogee profile.

This photograph was released in both India and Britain to counter criticism of the British treatment of Indian soldiers.

Soldiers who died at the Brighton Pavillion Hospital and other hospitals in the south east were buried here. These included:

Abdul Wahab, 29th Lancers

Sarmas, 57th Rifles

Zarif Khan, 127th Baluchis

Mahrup Shah, 129th Baluchis

Sikandar Khan, 82nd Punjabis

Bagh Ali Khan 

Khan Mohammad, 108th Infantry

Bostan, 9th Mule Corps

Mehr Khan, 19th Lancers

Fazal Khan, 93rd Burma Infantry

Hansa, Indian Gen. Hospital Brighton

Abdulla, Personal servant to A G J Copeland

Sher Zal, 57th Rifles

Shaikj Mohi Uddin, 112th Field Hospital Lady Hardinge-Indian

Ashgar Ali, General Hospital

Kala Khan, 2nd Mountain Bty

Alla Ditta Khan, 15th Lancers

Baboo Muhammden, F C Depot.[2]

[1] IOR/L/Mil/7/17232

[2] A copy of this list is available at IOR/L/Mil/7/17232, f.20

Full title:
Collection 425/77 Provision of burial ground near the mosque at Woking and at Brookwood necropolis for Mahomedan (Muslim) soldiers who have to be interred in England
Early 20th century
Photograph / Image
Bedford Lemere & Co
© Heritage Images / Getty Images
Held by
British Library

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