November Guest Feature

Welcome to another of the regular Guest Spots where this month I’m happy to be joined by Dr Irfan Malik, a Nottinghamshire based GP with an keen interest in the important contribution that troops from undivided India made in the Great War & who ensures that their memory lives on. He has a nice collection of Great War items that he takes with him when he goes to give presentations at schools or to other interested groups

Dr Irfan Malik (Own Photo)

Many thanks Wayne,
My name is Dr Irfan Malik, I was born and bred in Nottingham and have worked in the city as a GP for 25 years. I have an interest in India’s contribution during the First World War. I’d like to share with you all the amazing story of a small village which is now in modern day Pakistan

‘The Village with the Gun’

Dulmial Village is located in the Salt Range, Punjab, 100 miles south of Pakistan’s capital city Islamabad. It is my ancestral village, populated by the Malik Awan clan, a former ‘martial race’

Dulmial has been a military village for many generations and evidence exists that local soldiers had supported the British Army since the Indian Mutiny in 1857.
This small, dusty village is well known as in the First World War it supplied 460 men, a record for any South Asian village. Basically all the able bodied men joined the British Indian Army. Of these more than 100 were Viceroy Commissioned Officers. They were posted to all theatres of war around the globe

Soldiers of Dulmial (Dr Irfan Malik)

Both of my Great Grandfathers Subedar Muhammad Khan and Capt Ghulam Muhammad were part of these 460. The former was with the the 33rd Punjab Regiment and was fortunate enough to be invited to visit London in 1911 for the Coronation of King George V

During the Great War undivided India provided 1.5 million soldiers, of these 680,000 were Hindus, 400,000 Muslims and 124,000 Sikhs. 75,000 Indians died, of these 9000 on the Western Front

Indian soldiers were awarded the Victoria Cross 11 times and overall received 13,000 medals for gallantry

Naik Shahamad Khan VC (© IWM Q36964A)

In addition to the men, 180,000 animals and 3.7 million tonnes of supplies were exported from the Indian Subcontinent & the financial cost to undivided India was a staggering £479 million (in today’s currency £19 billion!)

In the Second War War Dulmial contributed more than 800 men. After partition in 1947 the soldiers became well established in the Pakistan and Indian Armies. Both of my Grandfathers Capt Lal Khan and Subedar Habib Khan were Burma Star veterans

In recognition of Dulmial’s military services in the Great War the British asked Capt Ghulam Muhammad Malik, the village’s most highly decorated officer, ‘What award did the village want?’ He replied ‘a cannon’.
This was because the retired Captain was a lifelong artillery man, starting his career with the Derajat Mountain Battery on the Lord Roberts’ famous march from Kabul to Kandahar in the 2nd Afghan War of 1880

So in 1925 Dulmial was presented with an impressive 12 pounder, Blomefield design cannon. The former British Naval cannon weighed 1.7 tonnes and was made at Carron Ironworks, near Falkirk, Scotland in 1816, serial number 84049. It took 2 weeks for the cannon to be transported by train and oxen cart from the 1st Punjab Regiment base in Jhelum to Dulmial

The cannon itself in Dulmial (Dr Irfan Malik)

In the early years the cannon was referred to as the ‘Birdwood Gun’ as Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood, Commander in Chief of India had visited Dulmial and saluted at the cannon

Nowadays Dulmial is also known as the ‘Village with the Gun’.
In the village primary school a marble stone memorial or tablet is still proudly displayed on an impressive obelisk. It states ‘From this village 460 men went to the Great War 1914 -1919 of these 9 gave up their lives’

Village Memorial Tablet ( Dr Irfan Malik)

The lost soldiers are remembered at memorial sites all around the world, in Dar Es Salaam, Tehran, Delhi (India Gate) and Basra. One soldier, Lance Naik Ismail Khan, of the 33rd Punjab Regiment was killed in battle on the Western Front at the Battle of Loos, in France on 25th September 1915 and his name is engraved on the Neuve Chapelle Memorial

It is indeed unusual for a small Punjabi village to have such a well documented military history, giving it an international profile. It has given me great pleasure researching my ancestral villages history since 2014


The Evening Telegraph and Post, Dundee (30.10.1914) ‘A Cradle of Soldiers’
War Speeches of Sir Michael O’Dwyer, Jhelum Darbar (1.11.1917)
The Punjab and the War, M.S.Leigh (1922)
Wisdom and Waste in the Punjab Village, M.L. Darling (1934)
The History of the Indian Mountain Artillery, C.A.L. Graham (1957)
For King and Another Country. Indian Soldiers on the Western Front 1914 -1918, S. Basu (2015)
The Indian Empire at War, G.Mortan-Jack (2018)

I’d like to thank Dr Irfan Malik for sharing this wonderful story and for highlighting, rightly so, the huge contribution as well as sacrifice that Indian soldiers gave in both World Wars

If you’d like to follow Irfan on twitter he can be found @dr_irfan_malik

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