This film is part of Free

Gaumont Graphic No. 383

Indian soldiers in Bombay in October 1914 en route to German East Africa (now Tanzania)

Non-Fiction 1914 6 mins Silent


A two-minute item at the end of this Gaumont newsreel, insensitively titled 'Our Dusky Allies', shows soldiers from Indian Expeditionary Force B disembarking trains and boarding steamers to join the British invasion of German East Africa (now Tanzania). The soldiers include artillerymen, men of the Supply and Transport Corps (coaxing truculent mules on board) and a mix of Hindu Jat, Sikhs, Punjabi Muslim, Pathan and Madrasi infantrymen. Also in the same newsreel are items on an American women's peace march and a Scottish regiment in training.

The invasion of German East Africa was intended to be a brief campaign. Brigadier-General Arthur Aitken attempted an amphibious invasion of the port of Tanga between 2nd and 5th November 1914. By the time this newsreel was compiled, however, the Battle of Tanga had already been lost and the campaign aborted. Aitken was criticised for not scouting the enemy and leading his men into an ambush. The result was a campaign that lasted years rather than weeks, involving 200,000 South African, Indian and East African soldiers and several hundred thousand more African labourers. Dr. Gajendra Singh (University of Exeter)