- North African soldiers in Oise, France, 1917
- North African soldiers near the Western Front
- Indo-Chinese Sergeant
- Sikh and French soldiers in Pas-de-Calais, France, 1915
- Algerian soldiers in Oise, France, 1917
- Indian troops undergoing a gas mask drill
- Sengealese and other French colony soldiers
- Wounded Indian soldiers in France
- Provenance unknown
- Native American veterans of WWI
I’ve ranted about this before. Popular books on WWI give one the impression that it was a war fought entirely (or at least predominantly) by white soldiers. The reality is that more than a million colonial troops fought on all fronts of the war — and that’s not even counting the Native American and African American soldiers who came later, and the Turkish soldiers on the German side.
I’d include Maori and Indigenous Australians in this too…the latter had to face tremendous obstacles in order to sign up (restrictions were apparently relaxed somewhat towards the end)…indeed, although not even counted as Australian citizens at the time, some traveled great distances to recruiting stations in order to try and sign up, only to be rejected. Still, some managed to overcome this - in some instances by claiming to be Maori or Indian.
And here’s one of our WWI legends: Billy Sing, who had an astonishing record as a sniper at Gallipoli:
Sing’s father was ethnically Chinese (there has been recent controversy over an attempt to film a biopic that cast both Sing and his father as white Europeans - fortunately the uproar was such that the project was dropped, although I’d like to see an accurately cast version of the story).
WW1 was a war that, like most, should never have happened…but in remembering it, I do like to recall that the ANZAC that my grandfather belonged to, and fought in from Gallipoli to the end, was not entirely comprised of white Australians.