Availability of Urdu newspapers

Newspapers were an important source of information for soldiers too. One Indian soldier in Brighton – S.A.S Abdul Said – wrote a letter to his brother (1/11/1915) in Jammu, telling him how the newspapers are different in England:

‘Here everything but newspapers and vinegar is expensive. The biggest newspapers cost one anna only, which in India would not cost less than four annas. The reason is that everyone great and small reads the papers. Several papers come out during the day. We get the morning’s news in the morning and the evening’s news in the evening. I get a lot of papers; for in fact several Urdu papers come every week, arranged for by government’.

Members of an Indian Labour Battalion reading papers during a work break, Western Front, 1918 - Image courtesy of the National Army Museum

Members of an Indian Labour Battalion reading papers during a work break, Western Front, 1918 – Image courtesy of the National Army Museum

Source: BL L/MIL/5/825/7

Muslims in British news

As the war took its full toll, British newspapers began to praise their heroic Muslim soldiers, particularly as German anti-British propaganda was targeting Muslims in particular. Newspapers also began to take interest in the Muslims in the Brighton Pavilion, and their seemingly ‘exotic’ news became a common interest to many. Newspapers took real interest in the Indians in Brighton, publishing many articles about ‘Our Indians’, with the papers selling in significant numbers.

P7_Indian-troops-on-Mesopotamian-waterway-1916_NAM

1916, Indian Army troops relax on board a barge journeying up one of the major waterways of Mesopotamia. One of the soldiers is reading an English newspaper, perhaps passing on war-news to his comrades – Image courtesy of the National Army Museum.

Many publications had interesting headlines and large pictures. Interestingly, the Indian Army was still presented as savage-like in many of the captions, and the word ‘terror’ is used in descriptions. Here are some examples from The War Illustrated.

Our Gurkhas At Work in 'The War Illustrated' 1914 - Image courtesy of the National Army Museum.

Our Gurkhas At Work in ‘The War Illustrated’ 1914 – Image courtesy of the National Army Museum.

Sources:

Samuel Hyson and Alan Lester, ‘“British India on trial

Brighton Military Hospitals and the politics of empire in World War I’, Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 38 (2012), 18-34 (27).