Die in Battle, Do not Despair

The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915

Peter Stanley

Date Published :
March 2021
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
War and Military Culture in South Asia, 1757-1947
Illustration :
85 b/w photos, 8 color maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781914059148
Pages : 392
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


In 1915 about 15,000 Indian troops – two or three times as many as previously thought – served in the dramatic and doomed eight-month Gallipoli campaign. Their part in the invasion of Gallipoli has lain largely unknown since the publication of long disregarded regimental histories and forgotten British officers’ memoirs.

Force G, as it came to be known, included Sikhs, Hindus and Punjabi Musalmans (as Muslim soldiers were called) and four battalions of Gurkhas. They served in an infantry brigade, a mountain artillery brigade, in medical units and in a large contingent of mule drivers, who perhaps made the Indians’ most important contribution to the campaign.

About 1,600 of the Indians who served on Gallipoli died, in actions at Gurkha Bluff and Hill 60. They took part in terrible, failed attacks, at Gully Ravine and Gully Spur and in the climactic attempt in August to seize the summit of Sari Bair – one of the Gurkhas’ most cherished battle honours.

Though commemorated on the great memorial to the missing at Cape Helles (because most Indians’ bodies were cremated or, actually, lost) they are practically invisible on Gallipoli today.

The Indian story of Gallipoli has barely been told before. Not only is this the first book about their part in the campaign to be published in the century since 1915, but it also tells their story in new and unexpected ways. Though inescapably drawing on records created by the force’s British officers, it strives to recapture the experience of the formerly anonymous sepoys, gunners and drivers, introducing Indians of note – Mit Singh, Gambirsing Pun, Kulbahadur Gurung, and Jan Mohamed – alongside the more familiar British figures such as Cecil Allanson, who led his Gurkhas to the crest of Sari Bair at dawn on 9 August 1915. It explores for the first time the remarkably positive relationship that grew on Gallipoli between Indians and Anzacs, and includes a complete list of the Indian Army dead commemorated on the Helles Memorial on Gallipoli.

Professor Peter Stanley, one of Australia’s most distinguished military social historians, has drawn on an extensive range of unpublished evidence, including official and private records in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and India to tell the story of the Indian experience of Gallipoli that has waited a century to be told.

About The Author

Prof. Peter Stanley of the University of NSW Canberra is one of Australia’s most distinguished military-social historians. Formerly the Principal Historian at the Australian War Memorial, Australia’s national military museum, he has published over thirty books, many in Australian military history, and especially on the world wars. In 2011 his book Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian imperial Force, was jointly awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History. Peter has published several books on the military social history of British India, including White Mutiny (1998), the first book on the British soldiers’ protest of 1859-60 in Bengal and Die in Battle, Do not Despair (2015), the first book on Indians on Gallipoli.


“ … a profoundly engaging, meticulously researched documentary narrative that puts the Indian contribution to the Gallipoli campaign in context … The author's voice carries the reader through with ease with never a faltering step … I enjoyed Die in Battle, do no despair for its thoroughness and clarity. I feel informed and even entertained. I want to know more and even share what I have discovered. A second read is imminent and then a worthy place for a reference on the Gallipoli Campaign

- Western Front Association

"Stanley paints a fascinating picture of Indian army forces…"

- Military History Monthly

“ … a brilliant account, profusely illustrated … I must have book deserving a place in every member’s library …”

- Bulletin of the Military Historical Society

“ … This is a significant work; at times there is tension between military historians with a focus on the operational, and the military social historians with their greater concern on the Army as an institution and a culture. Professor Stanley has fused both with considerable success; it is not only a superlative specialist account of Gallipoli but an essential work in the developing modern historiography of the Indian Army as a whole.”

- Society of Friends of the National Army Museum

“ … an immense achievement. Stanley’s scholarship and the depth of this research are a credit both to him and to his subject. This book not only fills a yawning gap in our understanding of the Gallipoli campaign but it will doubtless stand as the definitive book on this topic for many years to come.”

- Durbar: Journal of the Indian Military Historical Society

“ … without question, the best work of military history that I have read for a considerable time. Brilliantly researched, fluently written and fascinating to read, I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Gallipoli campaign, the British Army in India, the Indian Army or even the Great War in general … A quite brilliant book, and beautifully produced in high quality paper.”

- The Long, Long Trail

“ … Stanley's book is inspirational and will delight readers interested in the minute details of military history and of the Indian Army in particular. Scholars of late colonial India will find much information to mine, both empirically in terms of the Indian element in the First World War and methodologically in terms of how to write such histories. The instructive quality of Stanley's book is illuminating.”

- Journal of Military History

“ … Stanley deserves our praise in utilising a wide variety of sources, and the book also contains some rare photographs of the Indian soldiers in combat at Gallipoli… A solid book that fills an existing historiographical gap.”

- Journal of the Society for Historical Research

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