Of the 1.5 million (1,500,000) men who left India to support the war effort, an estimated 68,000 to 75,000 never returned and a similar number returned home wounded. They came home to a country on the verge of famine, nearly bankrupt and hit by a flu pandemic which saw as many as 16 million (16,000,000) people die.
Many returning soldiers would have long-term disabilities and may have suffered from depression and shell shock, now known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All would have been affected by their experiences.
The post-war years in India did see some positive changes which included improvements to medical care and improved access to education. But India had been told that the war was a fight for freedom and many hoped that the British government would give India back its independence in return for supporting the war. Laws that had been imposed to strengthen British control in India during the war were not removed and anti-British feeling grew.
In 1919, violence resulted in martial law being imposed in Punjab and the British killing of civilians in Gujranwala and Jallianwalabagh, an event better known as the Amritsar Massacre.
In the years after the end of the war, memorials were built for the remembrance of the sacrifices and lives lost in the war. Memorials to Indian soldiers can be found in Britain, France, Belgium and India.
Proceeding years would once again see India answer Britain’s call and support the empire during the Second World War. After this war, India finally regained its freedom in 1947. The country that was India was divided into new countries: India, Pakistan and later Bangladesh.
The Punjab was divided between India and Pakistan and people were forced to choose where to live, sometimes leaving friends and homes to live in one country or the other. There were significant political and economic problems and this turned to violence in places. Some Sikhs, with their strong links to Britain and tradition of service in the First and Second World Wars, chose to move to Britain to start new lives.