Far From the Western Front Exhibition

An exhibition exploring some of the untold stories of the more than one million South Asian men who served during the First World War.

This WW1 recruitment poster asks in Urdu, ‘Who will take this uniform, money and rifle?’ © IWM (Art.IWM PST 12574)
This WW1 recruitment poster asks in Urdu, ‘Who will take this uniform, money and rifle?’ © IWM (Art.IWM PST 12574)

Royal Geographical Society
Saturday 5 November – Sunday 13 November
Monday to Friday 10.00am – 5.00pm
Saturdays and Sundays 10.00am – 4.00pm Free entry

Using previously unseen images, digital media, and individuals’ experiences uncovered from the archives, Far From the Western Front presents the First World War through the eyes of South Asian soldiers and non-combatants.

Following the stories of seven people across the globe, we are taken away from the Western Front to battlefields across the world; from Gallipoli to Mesopotamia; East Africa to the Suez Canal. Their experiences remind us that there was more to WW1 than the mud and trenches of Europe: instead, this exhibition astonishes visitors with the threat of lions on patrol, thirst in the 50 degree heat of the Sinai desert, and starvation at the Siege of Kut, during one of the Allies’ most significant military operations in the Middle East.

You cannot tell a single story about the experiences of the men of South Asia who enlisted during the First World War. Caste, community, geography, status, religion, ethnicity, role, age, and prior experience were all elements which shaped the way each of the 1.5 million men experienced the War (as they do all of our lives). Through the lives of a volunteer with the Bengali Ambulance Corps; the Maharajah who signed the peace treaty that concluded the war; and others, Far From the Western Front presents a diverse picture of the contribution of South Asians in WW1.

Far From the Western Front is created by volunteers from across London, including Indian, Pakistani and Nepali communities, and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The exhibition examines how photography and historical bias have obscured the contribution of South Asians in the First World War, and seeks, through imagination, empathy and creativity, to fill in the gaps and tell their story.

Far From the Western Front has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is a partnership between the Asian Centre, the Pak Cultural Society, the Gurkha Veterans’ Foundation, Nanak Darbar and Collage Arts.

 

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