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Hi, and welcome back to the second of six lessons looking at, what do the stories of the often forgotten armies reveal about the Western Front? I'm Miss Cusworth.

Thank you so much for looking at this second lesson and today we're going to be learning about a soldier called Ganga Singh.

Now, you remember that we are looking at stories of often forgotten armies because we're hoping they will reveal, or show us something new about the Western Front.

And we looked at the Western Front and the typical usual representation of it last lesson.

And then we also looked at where fighting took place outside of the Western Front, but also the number of countries that were involved to the sen soldiers to the Western Front.

And how those soldiers.

We tend not to talk that much about them, although that is starting to change.

Today we're going to look at Indian soldiers, and one Indian soldier in particular.

But before we do that, I just wanted to give you a little bit of context.

So, we're in 1914, the war has began and something called the Race to the Sea is happening.

And this is sort of the situation in the Autumn.

The was has been going on for a couple of months, and things were not looking good for the Allies.

And when I say the Allies, I'm primarily talking about France and Britain.

And the reason for that was that the German Army was moving after they declared war, was moving really quickly through Belgium.

And the British expeditionary force, which was the kind of relatively small professional British Army had suffered many losses and Indian soldiers of the British empire were brought in to help fight on the Western Front.

I said I was going to talk to you about what the rest of the sea was.

And it kind of started arguably when the German Army, they raced through France, through from Germany kind of swooped around through Belgium and almost reached Paris.

They were really close to taking Paris, which would have been a huge symbolic loss, as well as it would have been devastating, not only for France, but also for their allies more generally.

The French and British managed to push the Germans back.

The Germans had been marching.

They had gone ahead of their supply lines.

It was really hot.

They were struggling.

So the French and the British managed to push the Germans back and they didn't take Paris.

So what happened then was that you've got the soldiers around this area of France and the two sides, the German on one side, the French and the British on this side, were trying to kind of get round each other, right? They were trying to get round each other so you can take more territory.

It's called outflanking each other.

So they travelled North trying to outflank each other, moving up and then trying to get up and around and up and around, around each other.

And they got closer and closer to the North Sea.

Now, that was particularly important.

And this town of.

this place of Ypres was particularly important.

And I'll come back to that in a second.

And Ypres was seen as really important because if the Germans won Ypres, it was thought that they would be able to capture the ports like the way the supplies came in across the sea from Britain to supply the British soldiers.

And this would have been disastrous because if you can't supply your soldiers, you can't fight a war.

And so the situation was looking pretty desperate and the British knew they were going to to call on their army in India.

And at this point, the Indian Army was travelling by sea, and it was travelling up through towards Egypt, and then was going to go through the Suez Canal.

It was thought that actually the Indian soldiers would stay in mostly in this area and look after and protect British interests in this area.

But as they were on their journey, things began looking so bad for the British and for the allies that they were actually brought up to Marseille, which is in the South of France, more around Spain.

More around here actually.

And they were brought up to Marseille with the idea of them bringing them to the Western Front, because things were looking so desperate for the allies and this battle in particular, or goal making sure that the Germans didn't take Ypres and didn't take the ports and cut the British off from their supplies.

That was seen as really essential.

So, Britain needed as many men, as many soldiers as possible and brought those soldiers from India over.

And this is where Ganga Singh comes in, fighting at Ypres.

And we see a.

This isn't necessarily a picture of him, but it is of his regiment of men who he may have known, who he may have fought with.

And you can see them in this still really early stage of the war in Ypres.

And I think what I find fascinating about this photo is two things.

First of all, I want us to have a look at this.

Now, it's kind of a raised bit of earth and that is maybe familiar to us from seeing the trenches.

Remember we talked about the typical representation.

But what I think is fascinating here is that it's really shallow, right? It's not a big trench, the ones that you're used to seeing in films. Similarly, we'll see a really sad photo of the destruction of Ypres later, but at this point the trees are still standing.

The buildings are still standing.

So this is kind of before the First World War really got started in some senses.

Now Ganga Singh was Sikh, and he was from the Punjab, which was at that time, a part of British India.

And British India was made up of several different places, which are now independent countries, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh.

And he was from an area in British India, called the Punjab.

And he was an experienced soldier.

So this is quite different to maybe our traditional image of the soldiers who fought in the First World War.

We often think of them as being part of like pals battalions of signing up, of volunteering of being men who worked in factories or in the field and then they signed up and they weren't professional soldiers.

That was not the case with Ganga Singh, he was an experienced soldier.

He knew how to fight.

He was a veteran.

He'd fought before.

His regiment arrived in Marseille, which is in the South of France, in late August, 1914.

And he fought and then went up through France and he fought in the First Battle of Ypres.

And this is an image of what we think is him.

There's a little bit confusion about the end of his story but it was on a printed cigarette, in like a cigarette box on cigarette card.

So as I was saying, this is the area of Punjab.

So, now it's sort of split between Pakistan and India.

Then it was all part of what was called British India.

So we're going to be using these four categories throughout our next four lessons.

And we're going to put the details that we learned from his story into this table.

So the question I would like you to write as a sort of heading is what does the story of Ganga Singh reveal about the Western Front? And then what I would like you to do is, I'd like you to pause the video, and I would like you to copy out this table into your exercise book, or maybe onto a piece of paper.

Once you have copied out, you can unpause the video and we'll continue with the lesson.


So hopefully if you're seeing this, you've got your table ready.

Now we're going to be looking at, weapons and technology.

Military strategy, strategy is like having a plan like military plans.

Treatment of troops and life on the front line, and the psychological.

Sort of the kind of effects of war on people mental health fare, their wellbeing and mental wellbeing.

And I want to just start you off by giving you some clues of things to look out for.

So when I think of the Western Front and tech technology and weapons, I think of machine guns, shells, which are like big bits of artillery they get sent over.

I think of tanks, I think of gas.

So look out for some of those things.

Are they in his story.

Military strategy, often you're thinking, or I'm thinking of the past of war of trench warfare of men in trenches then are kind of whistle being blown and them climbing up the ladders and going over the top into No Mans Land fighting with the Germans.

I think of barbed wire as part of the trenches.

Treatment of troops and life on the front line.

I think often when we think of the First World War, we think of the soldiers being badly treated by officers or officers being very aloof and posh and not really caring or knowing very much about them then.

We think maybe of bad conditions in the trenches of a trench for people freezing and lice.

And then in terms of psychological effects of war, I think we also think of what's known as Shell shock.

Maybe in more modern times, we might call it PTSD.

So don't write those things down.

Sorry, I should have said that.

Don't mind this exam.

Those are just ideas.

Those are like typical things about the Western Front.

I want you to look out while I'm reading a story.

I want you to look out for any of those.

As your listening to me tell the story, you can write down anything that you think fits in those boxes.

So, I'm going to read to you the story of Ganga Singh and if you'd like to follow along in the work that should be next to this video on the OAK website, there is the copy of the story.

So if you'd like to, you can have that alongside while I'm reading it cause I won't have the words of the story on the screen.

Now, when I say story, I'm talking about something that a really lovely, talented teacher wrote called Miss Wurth and she very kindly allowed us to use the story.

Now she didn't just get this story.

It's not made up.

It is based on lots of evidence from the book, The World's War that we looked at last lesson by David Olusoga, and then by also other historical details.

But the story is one that Miss Wurth wrote to, I suppose like to dramatise, or to give a better picture of the experience of Ganga Singh.

So that's the story I'm going to be reading to you in a moment.

So, the story of Ganga Singh.

It is October, 1914, Ganga Singh of the 57th Rifles crouches in a muddy ditch.

Despite his awkward position, he feels comfortable wearing his thin tropical uniform.

Looking up, he can see blue skies and green leaves.

Singh is quiet and watchful.

His makeshift trench is within range of German guns.

There is no barbed wire to stop attackers.

The Germans facing Singh have both artillery support and hand grenades.

Singh's regiment meanwhile, has just two machine guns and no grenades.

Instead, Singh holds a jam jar filled with dynamite.

Singh looks around at the other men, a fragment of his battalion.

These Indian forces have been thrown horridly into battle to patch holes in British lines.

Where are his friends? Who is that man at the other end of the ditch, shouting orders in an unintelligible language? It's been a while since he saw an officer he knows.

Singh feels a sense of dislocation, of isolation, of loss.

Singh shoulders his new Mark III rifle, which feels heavy in his arms. The new sighting system will take time to master.

Since regiment is desperately outnumbered, if the Germans capture the ridge he is holding, they'll probably also capture the channel ports.

An unthinkable disaster.

Singh tries to remain calm.

How had he got here? He remembers the ship that sat him down just a few weeks ago.

He remembers a long journey across the black waters of the deep oceans.

He remembers cigarettes placed in his hands as he arrived.

He remembers flowers pinned to his tunic.

He thinks he is near Paris, or did the officer say Persia? It's hard to know.

Singh is a Veteran, he has experience.

He's part of what will later become the largest volunteer army in the world.

The Battle of Moms that showed the British just how strong the German force was.

The British now needed Indian troops to plug gaps in the front lines.

Singh has been brought into the eye of the storm.

The shelling is continuous.

Hour by hour the ancient town of Ypres is being pounded into rubble, and then fall to the ground.

Singh carefully puts down his jar.

He's heard the sound of enemy approach.

He picks up the bayonet.

One, two, three, four, five.

Five German soldiers are killed.

The bayonet breaks in two.

Ignoring the jar, he picks up a sword.

He fights on until he collapses, wounded.

He is later found alive when the Germans are gone.

The trenches he had so ferociously defended are successfully retaken by the 5th Dragoon Guards.

Singh survived the battle of Ypres and the British lines held, but only just.

He was awarded the Indian Order of Merit for his actions.

By the end of 1914, the Indian court held 10 miles of the 25 mile sector in a British sector in Northern France.

After an unseasonably warm Autumn, the Winter of 1914-15 was very harsh.

Men stood for days in freezing mud.

It was this Winter that brought the terms, Trench foot and Shell shock into common news.

So what I would like for you to do, you might want to kind of go back and relisten to the story, as I want to you to try and fill in some of the boxes here.

So think about maybe what weapons Ganga Singh had.

Maybe that's a good way to get started.

You might want to think about how he was treated, maybe something about his uniform, or what he did and didn't have.

Thinking a bit about why he was there, a bit about the British he reveals to us, something about the British military strategy.

So, I'm going to ask you to pause the video before I take you through some of my answers, because I'd love for you to write your own down first.

So pause the video now, and fill in the box the best you can.

When you're done, unpause and I'll take you through some things that I've thought of.


So you probably have loads of really brilliant ideas.

Some that I I'm sure have not thought of.

But these are some things that I had thought about.

So he was given a new weapon that he didn't have access to before.

So although he was a veteran, while he was fighting before, the British hadn't given him such a high quality weapon when he'd been stationed elsewhere and he hadn't really been trained to use it.

He used a dynamite in a jam jar, whereas the Germans had grenades.

So, we'll think in a moment about what maybe that reveals the difference between the two sides and what they had access to.

In terms of military strategy, the British were really desperate to stop the German Army.

And that's partly why, or a big reason why the Indian soldiers fought in the Western Front instead of being stationed elsewhere, perhaps in Egypt.

They were plugging gaps in the British lines of the British that had suffered heavy losses.

Treatment of troops and life on the front line.

He'd been issued a really thin uniform, and it was quite a chaotic situation that at the beginning of the Indians being in the Western Front, they often had offices that they knew really well, right? Because they were like professional soldiers.

They had British officers who could speak their language, who really understood about them, and their culture where they were coming from.

But as they got to the Western Front and as people were killed, often they got separated from those offices.

So it was a pretty chaotic situation.

You get a sense that he feels alienation.

There's a kind of lack of safety.

He can't find his officers, he can't understand others necessarily.

Often troops ended up fighting in the First Battle of Ypres, sometimes quite separate to their offices.

So, you might want to pause and add some of those things if you've not got them to your sheet.

Once you have done that, you can press play again and we'll continue with the lesson.


Hopefully you've got that everything down on your sheet.

So let's do a few little multiple choice questions.

And I want you to think.

Indian soldiers were used to plug gaps in the British lines after the British had suffered heavy losses.

What does that reveal about the Western Front? You can pick two options.

Does it reveal, the British were in trouble in 1914.

The Indian soldiers were better fighters than the British.

The Indian soldiers were an important part of the British Army.

Or the Indian soldiers weren't very good fighters.

Can you write down the number of the two options you're picking now.


So I think that's option one and option three.

We talked about how the British were in trouble, right? And they really needed to not to lose if they really needed not to get cut off from their supply lines.

They brought in the Indian troops, which also, I think reveals Indian soldiers were an important part of the British Army.

Singh couldn't find or understand officers.

Does that reveal that soldiers were stupid? Does it reveal about Western Front that it was quite chaotic like busy hectic? Does it reveal that there.

So sorry, that should say that there were soldiers from different countries on the Western Front.

Or does it reveal that all of the officers were dead.

He couldn't understand some of them, couldn't find them.

Does it reveal all the officers were dead? Choose your options now.


So I think it reveals that he couldn't find or understand his officers in the story.

I think it maybe shows two things.

That the Western Front, especially at this stage of the war was quite chaotic.

It was quite hectic.

Like things were still moving quite quickly.

And option three, that soldiers were from different countries.

So in the Western Front, you had soldiers from different countries who spoke different languages, even within the same army.

So we saw this image from before.

It's the regiment in 1914.

And thinking about this image shows that big trenches weren't yet built.

You can see it's pretty shallow.

So, the fact that big trenches were near there, what does that reveal? That trench warfare didn't start right from the beginning of the war.

The soldiers were lazy.

It takes a long time to dig a trench, or does it reveal about the Western Front that not all fighting in the First World War happened in a trench.

Choose your two options now.


I think it reveals these two things.

That trench warfare, although it was a really big feature later on, didn't start from right at the beginning of the war.

Beginning of the war, there still wasn't an element of movement.

They didn't have those big, deep established, formalised trenches.

You also think it reveals that, not all fighting in the First World War happened in a trench.

On the Western Front they're often dead.

In other parts of the world, trenches were much less common.

And even on the Western Front beginning of the war, they existed, but they were kind of shallow and more informal.

So we've come to the end of the lesson.

And I'd like you to ask normal, answer these five questions, and then there's an extension activity afterwards.

So question number one.

Where did Ganga Singh come from? Question number two.

Why was he brought in to fight at Ypres? Question number three? What weapons did Ganga Singh have? Question number four.

What did he do during the battle? Question number five.

What happened to him after the battle? So as usual, I would recommend that you pause the video while you complete the task, answering the questions, and then when you are done, you can unpause and we will go through the answers together.


So welcome back.

What I'm thinking those done.

So where did Ganga Singh come from? Yeah, in India.

If you've put anything like India, excuse me, give yourself a tick.

I think it would be a good answer if you gave a little bit more detail about the fact that he was a Sikh and he came from the Punjab, which was then a part of British India.

Why was he brought to fight at Ypres? Things looked bad for the British.

Give yourself a tick if you put anything similar to that.

A good answer would be, things were not looking good for the Allies.

So both the British and the French.

The German Army was inflicting heavy losses on their armies.

The British Expeditionary Force had suffered many losses.

Indian Army soldiers were brought to the Western Front to help fight on the British side of Ypres as it was very important not to let the Germans break through there and capture the ports.

So any extra detail that you can add to that answer.

Well done.

Give yourself a tick.

What did he have? So he had a new rifle that featured in our story.

He also had that kind of dynamite in a jam jar.

Do you remember that? To kind of stand in for a grenade, which the Germans had, but this time he didn't.

And then he had a new rifle, which he hadn't had access to before.

It's interesting now you think about what that reveals.

And he had a bayonet, which is kind of like a sword that was often attached to the rifle.

And then it was said that in the report about Ganga Singh, it was said that he then found, I think a sword after his bayonet broke, and continued fighting with that.

What did he do during the battle? He killed many Germans.


He killed several Germans.

And then he continued to fight even when his bayonet had had broken.

And then what happened to him after the battle? He almost died.

So something about that he almost died, he was very badly wounded.

But to add more detail, he was found alive and he was then awarded the Indian Order of Merit for his actions, and was recognised for what he did that day at Ypres.

So in terms of an extension activity, if your feeling like you've got a little bit more time, you want to continue, is to answer this question.

What does Ganga Singh's story, what does it show us? What does it reveal about the Western Front? Now I'm giving you some sentence starters here and they're somehow like a structure.

Sorry, for your paragraph.

And a couple of key words, but use the table that you have when you're thinking about what it reveals to us about the Western Front.

And maybe think back to those multiple choice questions that we did together.

That should give you some ideas for your paragraph.

So this is the end of the lesson.

Whether or not you do the extension activity, make sure that you complete the end of lesson quiz to check your understanding about Ganga Singh, his story and what it reveals.

That's it for today.

And I very much look forward to seeing you for our next lesson about a different group of soldiers next time.

See you soon.