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As we approach the centenary of the battle of Gallipoli, much of the focus has been on the Australians and New Zealanders who made up the ANZAC force. But there were also many troops from other countries fighting on the same side as the ANZACs against Turkish forces, including thousands of Indians. UNSW professor Peter Stanley talked about it with SBS Radio Punjabi.
Manpreet Singh - SBS Radio Punjabi

15 Apr 2015 - 11:48 PM  UPDATED 22 Apr 2015 - 5:10 PM

Professor Peter Stanley from the University of New South Wales argues that the involvement that Indian troops made to that campaign has been largely overlooked.

He's told Manpreet Singh from SBS Radio's Punjabi program, the close ties between Australia and India can be traced back to the landings at Anzac Cove.

During the interview, Stanley described the eight month long Gallipoli campaign in 1915 that cost at least 125,000 lives. Fighting alongside the Anzacs and the allies were 16,000 Indian troops, of whom 1600 became casualties of war.

Read the report in Radio Punjabi

Prof Stanley believes that to understand the Indian experience of Gallipoli, you have look at Anzac records – the diaries, photos and letters of Anzac soldiers who wrote endearingly about their Indian mates.

Many Anzacs mention the bravery of the Indian infantry man Karam Singh, who continued to issue orders to his troops, even after he had been hit by a shell and blinded by it.

Even the most famous Australian Anzac John Simpson Kirkpatrick, used to stay with the Indian mule drivers, because he loved the fresh food cooked by the Indian troops much more than the bully beef that was supplied to the Australian troops.

Prof Stanley told SBS Radio Punjabi that amongst the Indian troops, there were four Gurkha battalions,  one infantry battalion of 14th Sikhs which suffered 80% casualties in May alone, and many thousands of Indian mule drivers in Galliopli.

Letters sent by Anzacs show that they had the highest regard for the courage and professionalism shown by the Indian troops. One Anzac even sent a photo with his Indian mate, which was published in the Sydney Mail in 1916 with the title “Best Chums”. Prof Stanley believes that true friendship between Indians and Australians can be traced back to the fields of Gallipoli, a friendship, that must be commemorated at the centenary this year.

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