Learning objective

To analyse a range of original sources from one culture as evidence of how some people from it viewed people from another culture.

Learning outcomes

  1. To have analysed a range of British sources dating from the First World War about Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers.
  2. To have identified a range of attitudes evident in British sources about the First World War and Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers.

Note: for a summary of background information on the British Indian Army see Resource J2.

DISPLAY Resource G: Slide 1, the image of the Mohan Singh Trophy.

GIVE OUT copies of the same image from Resource H7 to pairs of pupils and give a limited amount of time for them to generate questions from the following question stems:

Why? Where? When? Who? What? How?

HOLD a discussion and select and write up a range of questions from pairs.

NEXT give pairs time to generate possible answers to the questions.

LASTLY, reveal Resource G: Slide 2 giving details about the trophy.

ASK pairs to discuss what the trophy tells us about what words British officers might have actually used to describe the Sikh soldiers they commanded.

WRITE UP the suggested words for future reference. Explain that these Sikh soldiers came from India and were the same kind of soldier that pupils learned about in Lesson 1.

NEXT display a map of Europe in 1914, such as the one here

EXPLAIN (or recap if pupils have already studied the First World War in some form, for example, through Remembrance as a topic) how Europe was divided between the Allies of Great Britain, France and Russia on one side and Germany and Austria-Hungary on the other.

THEN display the map of the Western Front on Resource G: Slide 3 explaining how British and French soldiers on one side and German soldiers on the other dug trenches facing each other (display the photograph of the British trench on Resource G: Slide 4).Refer to the well-known details of how trenches were sometimes muddy and bitterly cold in winter.

AFTERWARDS display Resource G: Slide 5 showing the photograph of a French woman giving flowers to an Indian Sikh soldier in Paris, France, on Bastille Day in 1916. They had arrived in France in the autumn of 1914 to fight for the British on the Western Front.

DISCUSS with pupils what this source might show us about French attitudes towards Sikh soldiers.

SET UP the furniture in the classroom to roughly resemble a map of the world, with tables and chairs pushed together to form land masses. From the list of locations in Resource I ask individual pupils to stand by desks that correspond to the rough location on ‘the world map’.

PRINT OUT large copies of each location from Resource I and give particular labels for particular pupils to hold up representing a location.

INVITE suggestions as to how these locations might be linked.

DISPLAY Resource G: Slide 6, which shows the location of where Indian Sikh soldiers served as part of the British Indian Army during and just after the First World War.

EXPLAIN that the labels pupils are holding up are the modern names of the countries where Sikh soldiers fought. (Take care to point out the link between the Mohan Singh Trophy, which portrays fighting in Gallipoli in Turkey, on Resource G: Slide 1). The details from the map are given below (Note: it is unnecessary for these to be given to pupils although some might find the detail of interest):

  • Western Front (1914-1918)
  • Italy (1917-1918)
  • Macedonia (1915-1918)
  • Gallipoli (1915-1916)
  • North Africa (1915-1916)
  • Sinai and Palestine (1915-1918)
  • Persia (Iran) (1914-1918)
  • Mesopotamia (1914-1920)
  • South Arabia (1914-1919)
  • North-West Frontier Province (India) (1914-1918)
  • Russia (1918-1919)
  • East Africa (1914-1918)
  • China (1914)

DISPLAY Resource G: Slide 7, which shows an Indian Sikh corporal (naik) on parade in 1910.

EXPLAIN that during the First World War all countries fighting published photographs and pictures of their soldiers which were designed to win the support of ordinary people for the war effort.

EXPLAIN that these images were called propaganda (display this term).

Note: it should be emphasised that in many cases the artists may not have actually witnessed the event being portrayed, even if it is a real event, and will have used their imaginations in deciding what to draw or paint.

EXPLAIN that the British government wanted British people to think highly of soldiers from the British Empire but that at the time most British people were white and most had never seen people with different coloured skins before.

SELECT a British propaganda image from Resources H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 or H6.

ASK pairs to look at one source at the same time and decide:

  • what the source shows;
  • what the artist, photographer or journalist wanted British people who saw the pictures or read the newspaper articles to think of Sikh soldiers.

HOLD a discussion taking suggestions of adjectives.

Note: the emphasis of this discussion is on what the creator of each source may have wanted viewers to think about Sikh soldiers, not the relative accuracy of each one.

THEN display the list of terms from Resource G: Slide 8, ensuring that pupils understand each term.

LEAD a discussion about what details from the source they have been analysing in pairs could be used as supporting evidence for a particular adjective.

PLACE enlarged versions of the remaining propaganda images on different tables supplied with post-it notes. Divide pupils into small groups and allow a set amount of time for them to write down adjectives from Resource G: Slide 8 (or their own terms) on to post-it notes relating to their image.

ALLOW time afterwards for groups to gather round tables in turn and for particular groups to hold up their sources and justify the particular words used on their post-it notes.

GIVE OUT a copy of the image of the Sikh corporal from Resource J1 (previously displayed in Resource G: Slide 7).

ASK groups to arrange copies of the propaganda sources previously discussed and arrange these copies around them, placing the ones they think are more realistic compared to the photograph closest to it, and those that are least realistic further away.

Note: be careful to steer discussion away from dismissing the accuracy of sources totally on grounds of the element of imagination used by their creator. The uniforms may well be accurate even if the scene is fictional.

LASTLY invite groups to write a sentence describing what the propaganda pictures as a whole suggest the British wanted to believe about Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers.