First World War

Claude Auchinleck


Claude John Eyre Auchinleck was born into a military family in 1884. He attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and passed with marks just high enough for a career in the Indian Army. In 1904, he joined the 62nd Punjabis. Auchinleck was renowned for his rapport with Indian soldiers and showed an aptitude for learning Indian languages which made him very popular among ordinary Indian soldiers. During the First World War, Auchinleck served as a captain in Egypt, defending the Suez Canal, before being stationed in Mesopotamia, where he was subsequently promoted to the rank of Brigade Major. After the end of the war, his career stalled. He attended the Imperial Defence College in 1927, and was an instructor at the Staff College in Quetta from 1930 to 1932. In 1933, he became Commander of the Peshawar Brigade, and in 1936 Deputy Chief of the General Staff in India.

Auchinleck was heavily involved in the modernization of the Indian Army and very much in favour of Indianisation, replacing British Officers with Indian officers. He was sent to England in 1940 to help with the preparation of the 4th corps, which was poasted to France, before moving to Norway. Here his fraught relationship with Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, emerged, with Auchinleck insisting on more supplies, artillery and air cover. Auchinleck’s insistence was correct as the under-equipment and mismanagement of the campaign led to the defeat of Norway. On his return, Auchinleck was instructed with the formation of the 5th corps for the defence of the south of England in case of a German invasion. In July 1940, he was promoted to the rank of general officer. His antagonistic relationship with Montgomery, who served under him then, dates back to his time at southern command. In November 1940, Auchinleck was promoted to the rank of General and appointed Commander in Chief of the Indian Army as India’s strategic importance in the war effort increased. Churchill later decided to appoint Auchinleck as Commander in Chief of the Middle East to relieve Wavell, swapping their roles in June 1941 after the failure of Operation ‘Battleaxe’. Churchill was impatient for a successful campaign in North Africa, however Auchinleck forewarned him that the inadequate equipment and training of the soldiers would make the success of such an operation doubtful. Auchinleck’s perseverance led to the successful operation at Tobruk in November 1941. However, a series of misjudgments on his part resulted in a crushing defeat in June 1942, with the British Army being pushed back to El Alamein. This led to Churchill’s decision to remove him from his post, replacing him with Montgomery.

Auchinleck returned to the post of Commander in Chief of the Indian Army on Wavell’s appointment as Viceroy of India in June 1943. Auchinleck organized the expansion of the Indian Army as well as the provision of bases, troops and supplies for the campaign in Burma to counter the Japanese attacks. In 1946, Auchinleck was promoted to Field Marshall. Auchinleck remained in India until 1947 and was in charge of preparing the Indian army for the handover of power. Auchinleck was committed to the idea of a united India and had hoped that the Indian Army would remain undivided; however, he quickly became aware that partition and the division of the army were inevitable. Auchinleck needed to ensure that the command structures remained intact once all British officers returned to the UK after independence. His efforts were hampered by Mountbatten’s decision to bring the date of independence and partition forward from 1 June 1948 to August 1947. The division of the Indian Army as well as religious conflict within the army itself rendered it ineffectual to counter the partition violence and to restore law and order. Auchinleck stayed on as Supreme Commander of the Indian and Pakistan forces after independence. As his relationship with Mountbatten grew increasingly hostile, he was asked to resign in September 1947. He left India in December 1947. In 1968, he retired to Marrakesh where he died in 1981.

Published works: 

Operations in the Middle East from 1 November 1941 to 15 August 1942 (London: H.M.S.O., 1948)


Auchinleck, Claude, 'Preface', in J. G. Elliott, A Roll of Honour: The Story of the Indian Army, 1939-1945 (London: Cassell, 1965) 

Date of birth: 
21 Jun 1884

Leopold Amery, Aga Khan, Clement Attlee, Ayub Khan, Ernest Bevin, Winston Churchill, Stafford Cripps, Lord Curzon, M. K. Gandhi, Firoz Khan Noon, Louis Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, Francis Younghusband, Lord Zetland.


For many years now I have wished that the story of the old Indian Army in the Second World War might be written, so that the people of this country could learn what they owe to those soldiers who fought for them against the Germans, the Italians and the Japanese. Without their aid, the war could not have been won.


The differences between the various races and classes which made up the Army of the British Raj were marked indeed, but after a life-long association with them in war and peace, I am of the opnion that, given good officers, there is little to choose between them. When well led, they have proven themselves the equal of any soldiers in the world: well led they always were.


It is well that we should remember our debt to them and try to retain that mutual affection and esteem which was so steadily built up through two centuries of service in many parts of the world.

Secondary works: 

Cornell, John, Auchinleck: A Biography of Field-Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck (London: Cassell, 1959) 

Elliott, J. G., A Roll of Honour: The Story of the Indian Army, 1939-1945 (London: Cassell, 1965) 

Greenwood, A. A., Field-Marshal Auchinleck (Durham: Pentland Press, 1990)

Parkinson, Roger, The Auck: Achinleck, the Victor at Alamein (London: Hart-Davies Mac Gibbon, 1977) 

Warner, Philip, Auchinleck: The Lonely Soldier (London: Sphere, 1982)

Archive source: 

Private papers, University of Manchester

Correspondence with Sir Thomas Riddell-Webster, Imperial War Museum, London

 Mss Eur D 1196, Letters to R. A. Newman, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras


Involved in events: 

First World War

Second World War

Indian Army Campaigns in North Africa, Middle East, Burma

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
23 Mar 1981
Location of death: 
Marrakesh, Morocco

Bhupinder Singh


Born in 1891, Bhupinder Singh was put on the throne of Patiala State in 1901, a year after his father died. Patiala State was a Sikh Princely State in the Punjab. Bhupinder Singh was educated at Aitchison Chief's College in Lahore and was a talented polo and cricket player. In 1911, the Maharaja of Patiala captained the India XI that toured England. He played for various teams in India and as a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club for the season 1926/7. He contributed generously to the Indian Gymkhana Club in London which catered for Indian students and which with his donation was able to move to Osterley Park. He also founded the Sikh Dharamsala in Putney in 1911 (which later moved to Shepherd's Bush).

The famous ‘Patiala Necklace’, one of the most expensive pieces of jewellery ever made, was created for him by the house of Cartier in 1928. Besides his passions for beautiful women (he married ten times and had eighty-eight children) and sparkling gems, the Maharaja’s addiction to the prestigious Rolls-Royce Motor car practically kept the firm in business. In his garage at Moti Bagh, Patiala, the Maharaja had forty-four Rolls-Royces, all especially built for him.

Bhupinder Singh was extremely loyal to the British empire. In October 1914, he left Patiala with his Imperial Service Troops and headed for the Western Front to command his troops there for the British. However, on the journey over he was beset by ill-health and had to return to India. He did though donate his troops to the First World War and spearheaded a large recruitment drive for volunteers. Patiala State sent more than 28,000 men to fight in the war and their involvement encouraged other Sikhs in the Punjab to volunteer; nearly 89,000 Sikhs were involved in the war. The total financial contribution of Patiala to the war in terms of material and cash was Rs 1,17,16,822/6/2. Singh was a member of the Imperial War Council in 1918. After the Armistice, he was appointed Honorary Colonel of 1/140th Patiala Infantry, and had already been appointed Honorary Colonel of the 15th Sikhs. Singh was given Freedom of the City of Cardiff in 1918 and Freedom of Edinburgh in 1935. He was given the keys to Brighton in 1921 and unveiled the Southern Gateway of the Royal Pavilion there in October 1921, a gift from Indian princes for the kindness of Brighton to their wounded soldiers during the war.

Singh was awarded the GCIE in 1911, the GBE in 1918, the GCSI in 1921 and the GCVO in 1922. He also served as a representative of India at the League of Nations assembly in 1925. In 1919, during the 'Amritsar Massacre', the Maharaja gave aid to the British. Sir Michael O'Dwyer, Governor of the Punjab, remembers this assistance in his autobiography and his obituary of the Maharaja for The Times. His eldest son, Yadavindra Singh, succeeded him to the throne when he died in March 1938 in Patiala.


Obituary, in The Times, 24 March 1938, p. 19

Date of birth: 
12 Oct 1891

Two columns dedicated to the life of the Maharaja of Patiala.


Prince Manek Pallon Bajana (team-mate in the 1911 India XI; played for Somerset, 1912-1920; died in Bethnal Green on 28 April 1927, aged 40), Shivajirao Geakwad, Maharajkumar of Baroda (son of Maharaja of Baroda, team-mate in the 1911 India XI; played for Oxford University CC 1911-1913), Bangalore Jayaram (team-mate in the 1911 India XI; played for London County Cricket Club, 1903-4), Edwin Montagu (Secretary of State for India, 1917-1922), Sir Michael O'Dwyer (Governor of Punjab), K. M. Panikkar (Secretary to the Chamber of Princes and later Foreign Minister to Patiala), S. P. Sinha (colleague on the Imperial War Cabinet).


The Times, 14 June 1918 (for involvement in Imperial War Council)

The Times, 24 and 25 March 1938 (for obituary)


Widely known as a sportsman, he was a striking and forceful Ruler. Physically he was a big man, and until frequent illness told on him his tall and handsome figure, fine expresive features, and luminous eyes suggested the flower of Oriental aristocracy.

Secondary works: 

Bance, Peter, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud: Sutton, 2007)

Copland, Ian, The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire, 1917–1947 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Panikkar, K. M., The Indian Princes in Council: A Record of the Chancellorship of His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala, 1926–1931 and 1933–1936 (London: Oxford University Press, 1936)

Patiala and the Great War: A Brief History of the Services of the Premier Punjab State (London: Medici Society, 1923)

Ramusack, Barbara N., ‘Punjab States, Maharajas and Gurdwaras: Patiala and the Sikh community’, in R. Jeffrey (ed.) People, Princes and Paramount Power: Society and Politics in the Indian Princely States (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 170-204

Ramusack, Barbara N., The Princes of India in the Twilight of Empire: Dissolution of a Patron–Client System, 1914–1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978)

Archive source: 

India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Patiala State Records and Records of the Chamber of Princes, Punjab State Archives, Patiala City, Punjab

Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London

Involved in events: 

First World War, 1914-1918

Unveiling of Southern Gateway of Royal Pavilion, Brighton, 26 October 1921

City of birth: 
Patiala, Punjab
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala

Sir Bhupinder Singh


Marylebone Cricket Club NW8 8QN
United Kingdom
51° 31' 55.0524" N, 0° 10' 40.2708" W
Date of death: 
23 Mar 1938
Location of death: 
Patiala, India

Frederick Duleep Singh


Frederick Duleep Singh was the son of the deposed and exiled Maharaja Duleep Singh of the Punjab. Born in Kensington and bought up at the family home in Elveden, Suffolk, Frederick (or Freddy) was educated at Eton School and then studied history at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Like his father, he enjoyed shooting and country estates. In 1906, he rented Blo Norton Hall in Norfolk, and lived there for the rest of his life (twenty years). In the summer of 1906, Virginia Woolf had stayed at Blo Norton Hall and it provided the setting for her short story, 'The Journal of Miss Joan Martyn'. Frederick Duleep Singh became an amateur archaeologist and historian, specializing in East Anglia and its gentry. He contributed to a number of local periodicals and built up a collection of English artefacts in his home. In 1921, he bought Ancient House in Thetford and gave it to the town as a museum. His collections were donated to Thetford Museum, the Museum of Inverness and Norfolk Record Office.

Frederick joined the Suffolk yeomanry as Second Leutenant in 1893 and was promoted through the ranks. In 1901, he was transferred to the Norfolk yeomanry as Major. In 1909, he resigned from the yeomanry, but at the outbreak of war in 1914 he rejoined. He served in France with training units from 1917 to 1919, but saw no action.

Frederick Duleep Singh did not visit India and was a conservative, Christian loyalist. He was a member of a number of societies, including the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society (President in 1925–6), the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, the London Society of East Anglians (President), the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association,  and the Diss Choral Society, and belonged to White's and the Carlton Club in London.

Published works: 

Pedigrees of the Families of Jay and Osborne (n.p., c.1927)

Portraits in Norfolk Houses, ed. by Edmund Farrer and with a preface by Princess Bamba Duleep Singh (Norwich: Jarrold & Sons, 1928)

Date of birth: 
23 Jan 1868
Contributions to periodicals: 

The Times (16, 19, 28 August 1926; 15 November 1926)

Norfolk and Suffolk Journal (20 August 1926)

The Journal (28 August 1926)

The Burlington Magazine

The Connoisseur

Secondary works: 

Alexander, Michael and Anand, Sushila, Queen Victoria's Maharajah: Duleep Singh 1838-93 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980)

Bance, Peter, The Duleep Singhs: The Photograph Album of Queen Victoria's Maharajah (Stroud: Sutton, 2004)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Visram, Rozina, ‘Duleep Singh, Prince Frederick Victor (1868–1926)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009) []

Archive source: 

Norfolk Record Office

Suffolk Record Office

Ancient House Museum, Thetford

WO 138/9, WO 374/21069, War Office files, National Archives, Kew

L/PRS/18/D/105, L/PRS/10/167, Mss Eur 377/3, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Letter to Isildore Spielmann, V&ALibrary, London

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Kensington, London
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Freddy Duleep Singh


Blo Norton, IP22 2JF
United Kingdom
52° 22' 28.3296" N, 0° 57' 21.5388" E
Date of death: 
15 Aug 1926
Location of death: 
Blo Norton, Norfolk

Blo Norton Hall, Norfolk

Formation of League of Nations

10 Jan 1920
Event location: 

Paris, then Geneva


India was granted unconditional original membership of the League of Nations despite its position as part of the British Empire, and lack of political autonomy at the time. The inclusion was widely considered to be part of an attempt by Britain to influence more votes in the League, but can also be considered ‘an important event full of far-reaching consequences. It resulted in a remarkable spurt of activities in both national and international spheres and gave India an opportunity to develop her international personality’ (Verma, ix).

The roots of this decision lie in India’s involvement in World War I, and independent representation at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Arguably, this participation had its roots in India’s place in the Colonial Conferences and the Imperial Conferences. In March 1917 at the Imperial War Cabinet, India was represented by her Secretary of State, Edwin Samuel Montagu; the Maharaja of Bikaner Sir Ganga Singh; Satyendra Prasanno Sinha, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for India; and James Meston, former Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Montagu, Singh and Sinha were also included in the Indian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Also included as technical advisers were: Arthur Hirtzel, Assistant Under-Secretary of State for India; J. Dunlop Smith, Political Officer of the India Office; and L. Kershaw, Secretary to the Financial and Statistical Section of the India Office. The Indian plenipotentiaries signed the peace treaties alongside representatives of other sovereign states on the basis of legal equality of status. As a signatory of the Treaty of Versailles, India was granted automatic entry to the League of Nations.

The League of Nations was an attempt to unify the countries of the world against the possibility of future war. In its Covenant’s ‘Preamble’ is written: ‘The High Contracting Parties in order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security; by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war… agree to this covenant of the League of Nations.’ Its members were originally to be restricted to those countries which were ‘self-governing’, but exception was made for India on account of its immense contribution to the Allied forces during WWI. Woodrow Wilson was concerned about how other territories would respond to India’s inclusion, but delegates including the Prime Minister of South Africa pointed out that the Covenant of the League of Nations, drawn up at Paris and signed by India, guaranteed India entry. India was the only one of the original thirty-one members of the League that was not self-governing. The inclusion of India as original member was one of the reasons why the United States did not ratify the Covenant of the League of Nations.

The delegates of India to the Assembly of the League were appointed by the Secretary of State in consultation with the Government in India. The Indian delegations to the annual sessions of the League Assembly for the first five years of the League were as follows:

First Assembly, December 1920:
Sir William Stevenson Meyer (High Commissioner for India)
Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar
Sir Saiyid Ali Imam

Second Assembly, September 1921:
Sir William Stevenson Meyer
His Highness the Maharao of Kutch
V. S. Srinivas Sastri

Third Assembly, September 1922:
Viscount Chelmsford
Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar
Sir P. S. Sivaswamy Aiyer

Fourth Assembly, September 1923:
Lord Hardinge of Penhurst
Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar
Syed Hossain Imam

Fifth Assembly, September 1924
Lord Hardinge of Penhurst
His Highness the Maharaja of Bikaner
Sir Muhammad Rafique

Woodrow Wilson, Jan Christiaan Smuts
People involved: 

Sir P. S. Sivaswamy Aiyer, His Highness the Maharaja of Bikaner, Viscount Chelmsford, J. Dunlop Smith (Political Officer of the India Office), Lord (Charles) Hardinge of Penshurst, Syed Hossain Imam, Sir Saiyid Ali Imam, L. Kershaw (Secretary to the Financial and Statistical Section of the India Office), His Highness the Maharao of Kutch, Sir William Stevenson Meyer (first High Commissioner for India 1920 onwards), Edwin Samuel Montagu, Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar, Sir Muhammad Rafique, V. S. Srinivas Sastri, Sir Ganga Singh (Maharaja of Bikaner), Satyendra Prasanno Sinha (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for India from 1919)

Published works: 

The League of Nation Starts: An Outline by its Organisers (London: Macmillan & Co., 1920)

League of Nations Union, Journal and Monthly Report (London, 1919)

Secondary works: 

Alwar, Maharaja of, India and the League, speech made at the League of Nations Union Dinner, October 25, 1923 (London: Pelican Press)

Baker, Ray Stannard, Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1922)

Coyajee, J. C., Indian and the League of Nations (Madras: Thompson and Co., Ltd, 1932)

Greaves, Harold, The League Committees and World Order (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1931)

Jones, Robert and Sherman, S. S., League of Nations from Idea to Reality: Its Place in History and in the World Today (London: Sir I. Pitman and Sons, 1927)

Kibe, Sardar M. V., The League of Nations and The Indian States (Indore, 1924)

Manning, Charles Anthony Woodward, 'India and the League of Nations' in Freda M. Houlston and B. P. L. Bedi (eds.), India Analysed, Vol. I (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1933), pp. 30-66.

Miller, David Hunter, The Drafting of the Covenant (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928)

Temperley, H. W. V., A History of the Peace Conference of Paris, 6 Vols. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1920)

Verma, D. N., India and the League of Nations (Patna: Bharati Bhawan, 1968).

Vijiaraghavachariar, C., League of Nations and India’s Emancipation (Madras: The National Press, 1929)

Williams, Roth, League of Nations Today (London: Allen and Unwin, 1923)


Verma, D. N., India and the League of Nations (Patna: Bharati Bhawan, 1968), p.20


On India’s unique status in the League of Nations:


Miller summed up Indian’s membership of the League as 'an anomaly among anomalies'. [Miller, Vol. I, The Drafting of the Covenant, 493] … It was a striking paradox almost without parallel, that India enjoyed in theory at least, and as a matter of course, the sovereign rights of dominions, notwithstanding the fact that she had not reached a condition of complete autonomy even in internal affairs.

Archive source: 

The Parliamentary Archives, Houses of Parliament, London

Government of India Files, National Archives of India, New Delhi

Tags for Making Britain: 

William Rothenstein


William Rothenstein was a renowned artist and art administrator, who was interested in various forms and origins of art.

On 4 February 1910, Sir George Birdwood chaired a lecture given by E. B. Havell to the Royal Society of Arts and commented that India had no fine arts. Outraged, Rothenstein, with 12 other signatories (including T. W. Rolleston and George Russell (AE)), wrote a letter to The Times, published on 28 February 1910, to dispute the idea that India had no fine art. Subsequently, Havell and Rothenstein were instrumental in the foundation of the India Society, which was based in London to promote Indian art.

Rothenstein travelled to India in 1910 with Christiana Herringham and met Rabindranath Tagore in Calcutta. When Tagore visited London in 1912, Rothenstein introduced him to literary circles. Tagore was often found at Rothenstein's house in Hampstead, North London. Rothenstein urged the India Society to publish Tagore's Gitanjali in 1912, which won Tagore the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

Rothenstein went to the Western Front in 1917 as Official War Artist. With these duties, he was unable to comply with the request from Kedar Nath Das Gupta and Laurence Binyon to decorate the scenery for their production of Sakuntala in 1919. Rothenstein remained an active member of the India Society in his lifetime, Indian art was an influence on his own paintings, and he was a key figure at memorial meetings for Tagore in 1941. He was knighted in 1931 and died in 1945.

Published works: 

Men and Memories (London: Faber and Faber, 1932)

Date of birth: 
29 Jan 1872
Contributions to periodicals: 
Secondary works: 

Arrowsmith, Rupert Richard, 'An Indian Renascence and the Rise of Global Modernism – William Rothenstein, Abanindranath Tagore, and the Ajanta Frescoes', Burlington Magazine (April 2010)

Lago, Mary, 'A Lost Treasure: William Rothenstein, Tagore and the India Society', The Times Literary Supplement (16 April 1999) 

Lago, Mary, Christiana Herringham and the Edwardian Art Scene (London: Lund Humphries, 1996)

Mitter, Partha, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India, 1850-1922: Occidental Orientations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

Mitter, Partha, The Triumph of Modernism (London: Reaktion, 2007) 

Rothenstein, William, and Lago, Mary McClelland, Imperfect Encounter: Letters of William Rothenstein and Rabindranath Tagore, 1911-1914, ed., introduction and notes by Mary McClelland Lago (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972)

Archive source: 

Houghton Library, Harvard University, Boston

Correspondence relating to Indian Art, Mss Eur B213, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

India Society papers, Mss Eur F147, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Tate Britain, Millbank, London

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
14 Feb 1945
Location of death: 
Gloucestershire, England


Tags for Making Britain: 

Saint Nihal Singh


Born in 1884, St Nihal Singh was a journalist. He lived and travelled through the USA, Canada and Japan as well as living in Britain with his wife, Cathleyne. He was educated at Punjab University. Saint Nihal Singh was a prolific writer for American, British and Indian publications.

Published works: 

India's Fighting Troops (London: George Newnes, 1914) 

India's Fighters: Their Mettle, History and Services to Britain (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1914)

Progressive British India, 'Manuals for Christian Thinkers' series (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1914)  

Japan's Modernization, 'Manuals for Christian Thinkers' series (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1914)

The King's Indian Allies: The Rajas and their India, with illustrations (London: Sampson Low & Co., 1916)

India and the War (London: Britain & India Association, 1918)

Ruling India by Bullets and Bombs: Effect of the doctrine of force upon the future of Indo-British relations (London: Saint Nihal Singh, 1920)

(with Cathleyne St Nihal Singh) "Dry" America: An Object-Lesson to India (Ganesh, 1921)

Ceylon: New and Old (Colombo: Ceylon Government Railway, 1928)

Shree Bhagvat Sinhjee: the maker of modern Gondal (Gondal: Golden Jubilee Committee, 1934)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1884

Surendranath Banerjea, Kedar Nath Das Gupta, James Ramsay Macdonald, Motilal Nehru, Cathleyne Nihal Singh (wife), George Russell (AE), N. C. Sen, Rabindranath Tagore, Rathindranath Tagore, William Butler Yeats.

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Asiatic Review

The Bookman (Oct. 1918) (Review of Tagore)

The Contemporary Review

The Edinburgh Review (1912)

The Englishwoman (May 1910)

The Fornightly (1910, 1912)

The Indian Magazine and Review (Journal of National Indian Association)

The Lady

The London Quarterly Review

The Nineteenth Century and After (1911, 1913)

Pearson's Magazine

The Observer (special correspondent during Prince of Wales' visit to India 1921-2)

The Strand Magazine

Vanity Fair

The Windsor (1915)

On Tagore: 'The Myriad-minded poet', Calcutta Municipal Gazette: Tagore Memorial Special Supplement (13 Sept. 1941)

International Journals:

The African Methodist Episcopal Church Review

The American Review of Reviews

The Literary Digest (New York)

The New York Times

The Hindustan Review

The Hindustan Times

The Hindu

The Modern Review

Precise DOB unknown: 

New York Times, 17 January 1915 & 23 July 1916

Scottish Geographical Journal, 1916

Britain and India, February 1920


Archive source: 

Letter from Clifford Sharp to St Nihal Singh, 1 Sept. 1915, New Statesman - First World War Correspondence, Brotherton Collection, Leeds University Library

Letters to Rufus Daniel Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading (1860-1935), Viceroy of India 1921-26, from St Nihal Singh (1921) - Mss Eur F118/8/35-37, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Other names: 

St Nihal Singh


46 Overhill Road
East Dulwich, London, SE22 0PN
United Kingdom
51° 26' 53.7828" N, 0° 3' 54.6444" W

46 Overhill Road, East Dulwich, London (living here at least 1914-16)

Indra Lal Roy


Indra Lal Roy was born in Calcutta to father Piera Lal Roy and mother Lolita. He attended Colet Court Preparatory School, the feeder school for St Paul's, from the age of ten and then went on to St Paul's School, London. Roy played rugby and was captain of swimming. At St Paul's, he was in the school cadet force from September 1914 until March 1917 when he left to join the Royal Flying Corps.

Despite wearing glasses, he was declared fit for military service to fight in the First World War. Roy was appointed to a temporary commission as a second lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps in July 1917. He was posted to the 56 Squadron in October 1917 in France.

On 6 November 1917, Roy crashed his aircraft and returned to Britain for more training. On 19 June 1918, he returned to France where he joined Captain George McElroy's 40 Squadron. He proved himself an excellent fighter pilot, but on 22 July 1918, when on observation patrol over the trenches, he was shot down over Carvin, France.

In September 1918, Roy was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross. He is buried in Estevelles communal cemetary, Pas-de-Calais, France.

Date of birth: 
02 Dec 1898
Secondary works: 

Mead, A. Hugh, A Miraculous Draught of Fishes: A History of St Paul's School (London: James and James, 1990)

Shores, Christopher F., Franks, Norman and Guest, Russell, Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces, 1915-1920 (London: Grub Street, 1990)

Singh, Ranbir, Indian Air Force: In the Footsteps of Our Legends (Noida: Book Mates Publishers, 1998)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: Four Hundred Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Visram, Rozina, 'Roy, Indra Lal (1898-1918)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Archive source: 

War Office Records, WO 339/115198, and Air Office Records, AIR 1/1222/204/5/2634/40 Sqdn, National Archives, Kew

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records, Maidenhead, Kent

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 


St Paul's School
Talgarth Street
Hammersmith, London, W14 9DJ
United Kingdom
51° 29' 25.9548" N, 0° 12' 39.2076" W
Colet Court Prepatory School
Hammersmith Road
London, W6 7JP
United Kingdom
51° 29' 35.772" N, 0° 13' 8.0076" W
Date of death: 
22 Jul 1918
Location of death: 
Carvin, France
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1908
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


Tags for Making Britain: 

Herbert Read


Herbert Read was born on 4 December 1893 at Muscoates Grange Farm in Yorkshire. In 1912, he studied law and economics at Leeds University. From 1915, he served in the army and was promoted to captain by the end of the First World War. After the war he became a convinced pacifist.

While on leave in London during the War, he came into contact with key figures of London’s literary and artistic circles such as T. S. Eliot, Edith Sitwell, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis. After 1918, he continued his career as a poet and literary critic. From 1923 he contributed regularly to T. S. Eliot’s journal Criterion. He published with Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press and became literary adviser to Heinemann and Routledge and Kegan Paul in 1937.

In the 1930s, Read befriended Mulk Raj Anand and, according to Anand’s Conversations in Bloomsbury (1981), the two of them met with Eric Gill and Stanley Morrison to talk about art. Anand describes Read thus: ‘strikingly tall, with tousled hair, sallow face, mongoloid high cheekbones, and soft shy eyes’ (p.112).

Read also befriended M. J. Tambimuttu, the founder-editor of Poetry London. Read contributed to the first edition of Poetry London (1939), Tambimuttu’s Poetry in Wartime (1942) and to the Festschrift for Marianne Moore’s Seventy-Seventh Birthday (1964), edited by Tambimuttu.

By the 1950s and 60s, Read had established himself as a renowned critic on literature and the arts, his reputation resting on several major works. He died on 12 June 1968.

Published works: 

Selected Works:

Art and Alienation: The Role of the Artist in Society (London: Thames and Hudson, [1907])

Songs of Chaos (London: Elki, Mathews, 1915)

Eclogues: A Book of Poems (Westminster: Cyril W. Beaumont, 1919)

Naked Warriors (London: Art & Letters, 1919)

Mutations of the Phoenix (Richmond: L. and V. Woolf, 1923)

In Retreat (London: L. & V. Woolf, 1925)

English Prose Style (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1928)

Phases of English Poetry (London: L. & V. Woolf, 1928)

The Sense of Glory: Essays in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1929)

Ambush (London: Faber and Faber, 1930)

The London Book of English Prose (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1931) (with Bonamy Dobree)

The Meaning of Art (London: Faber & Faber, 1931)

The Place of Art in a University (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1931)

Form in Modern Poetry (London: Sheed and Ward, 1932)

Art Now: An Introducton to the Theory of Modern Painting and Sculpture (London: Faber and Faber, 1933)

The Innocent Eye (London: Faber and Faber, 1933)

Art and Industry (London: Faber and Faber, 1934)

Henry Moore, Sculptor: An Appreciation (London: A. Zwemmer, 1934)

Unit One: The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture (London: Cassell, 1934)

Essential Communism (London: Stanley Nott, 1935)

Art and Society (London: Faber and Faber, 1936)

Surrealism (London: Faber and Faber, 1936)

Annals of Innocence and Experience (London: Faber, 1940)

English Master Painters (London: Kegan Paul, 1940)

The Philosophy of Anarchism (London: Freedom Press, 1940)

Education Through Art (London: Faber and Faber, 1943)

The Politics of the Unpolitical (London: Routledge, 1943)

The Education of Free Men (London: Freedom Press, 1944)

A World Within a War: Poems (London: Faber and Faber, 1944)

The Grass Roots of Art (London: Lindsay Drummond, 1947)

Existentialism, Marxism and Anarchism ([s.n.]: [s.n.], 1949)

The London Book of English Verse (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1949) (with Bonamy Dobree)

Education for Peace (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1950)

Art and the Evolution of Man (London: Freedom Press, 1951)

Byron (London: Longmans, 1951)

The True Voice of Feeling (London: Faber and Faber, 1953)

Icon and Idea: The Function of Art in the Development of Human Consciousness (London: Faber and Faber, 1955)

The Art of Sculpture (London: Faber and Faber, 1956)

Truth is More Sacred (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961) (with Edward Dahlberg)

The Contrary Experience: Autobiographies (London: Faber and Faber, 1963)

Eric Gill: An Essay (Berkeley Heights, NJ: Oriole Press, 1963)

Henry Moore: A Study of His Life and Work (London: Thames and Hudson, 1965)

The Origins of Form in Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 1965)

The Redemption of the Robot; My Encounter with Education Through Art (New York: Trident Press, 1966)

The Cult of Sincerity (London: Faber, 1968)

Date of birth: 
04 Dec 1893
Contributions to periodicals: 

Art & Letters

Burlington Magazine


New Age

Poetry London

The Listener


Secondary works: 

Anand, Mulk Raj, Conversations in Bloomsbury (London: Wildwood House, 1981)

Berry, Francis, Herbert Read (London: Longmans, 1953)

Bluemel, Kristin, George Orwell and the Radical Eccentrics: Intermodernism in Literary London (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)

City of Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, A Tribute to Herbert Read, 1893-1968: An Exhibition in Conjunction with the 1975 Ilkley Literature Festival, The Manor House, Ilkley, 25 May-22 June 1975 (Bradford: Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, 1975)

Harrod, Tanya, 'Read, Sir Herbert Edward (1893-1968)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

King, James, The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1990)

Kinross, Robin, 'Herbert Read's Art and History: A History', Journal of Design History 1 (1980), pp. 35-50

Paraskos, Michael, Reading Read: New Views on Herbert Read (London: Freedom Press, 2007)

Read, Benedict, and Thistlewood, David, Herbert Read: A British Vision of World Art (Leeds: Leeds City Art Galleries in Association with the Henry Moore Foundation and Lund Humphries, London, 1993)

Skelton, Robin, Herbert Read: A Memorial Symposium (London: Methuen, 1970)

Thistlewood, David, Herbert Read: Formlessness and Form: An Introduction to His Aesthetics (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984)

Varadachari, C. D., The Literary Criticism of Sir Herbert Read (Tirupati: Sri Venkateswara University, 1990)

Woodcock, George, Herbert Read: The Stream and the Source (London: Faber, 1972)

Archive source: 

Correspondence and literary papers, Historical Manuscripts Commission, National Register of Archives

Correspondence and papers, University of Toronto

University of Victoria, British Columbia

Correspondence with Monty Belgion, Churchill College, Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge

Correspondence with James Hanley, Liverpool Record Office and Local Studies Service

Correspondence with Lord Russell and Lady Russell, William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

Correspondence with Lord Clark, Margaret Nash, Lady Norton and relating to Unit One, Tate Collection

Letters to George Bell & Sons, University of Reading Library

Letters to E. Finlay, Victoria and Albert Museum National Art Library, London

Letters to Naum Gabo and his wife, Beinecke Library, Yale University

Performance recordings, National Sound Archive, British Library

City of birth: 
Muscoates Grange
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Sir Herbert Edward Read

Date of death: 
12 Jun 1968
Location of death: 
Stonegrave House, Yorkshire

Diwan Tulsi Das


Diwan Tulsi Das taught Hindustani at the University of Aberdeen. Das arrived in Britain in 1900 as a student in medicine. He eloped with the daughter of Dr Charles Maxwell Muller and settled with her in Aberdeen. He took up a number of professions, including taxi driving, and served in the army during the First World War, before being appointed Lecturer in Hindustani at the University of Aberdeen in the 1920s.

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1882
Precise DOB unknown: 


United Kingdom
57° 8' 50.9748" N, 2° 5' 43.4112" W
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1951
Precise date of death unknown: 


Kamal Athon Chunchie


Kamal Athon Chunchie was a Methodist minister and the founder of ‘The Coloured Men’s Institute’ in Tidal Basin Road, Victoria Docks, Canning Town. He was the eldest of nine children born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to Muslim parents of Malay origin. His father was one of the leading Muslim figures in Ceylon. He was educated at Kingswood College, Kandy. In 1915 he enlisted in the public schools battalion, 3rd Middlesex regiment, joining around 28,500 other South Asian troops in the trenches. During the First World War, he saw active service on the Western Front, in Italy and Salonika. Chunchie converted to Christianity while convalescing in an Army hospital in Malta. He arrived in London on 6 March 1918. Towards the end of the war, while stationed in Chatham, he met Mable Tappen, who was stationed there as a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. They married in July 1920 and had one daughter, Muriel.

In December 1921, Chunchie began to work as a missionary for the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society among the Asian, Chinese, African and Caribbean sailor community in the Canning Town area of London. He initially took up a position at the Queen Victoria Seamen's Rest in Poplar, which was affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society. He would visit the local residents and the seamen population in ships, hospitals, and lodging-houses, preaching to them and providing material assistance. His missionary and philanthropic work also extended to the small ethnic minority community resident in the docklands, many married to white partners, and their children, as well as colonial and Indian students. Chunchie spoke out against racism and the plight of the dispossessed in the East End which he saw as incompatible with Britain's Christian values.

In 1923, in a rented hall in Swanscombe Street, Chunchie founded the Docklands' first black Wesleyan Methodist church, and a Sunday school. In his efforts to counter racist discrimination of the black and Asian population he lobbied for the establishment of an organization that catered for London’s East End’s black and Asian community, a plan that came to fruition in 1926 with the establishment of the Coloured Men’s Insitute (CMI) in Tidal Basin Road, Canning Town. It was a religious, social and welfare centre for sailors and local residents with Chunchie as the responsible pastor and warden. From 1926 until the centre's demolition as part of the West Ham Road widening scheme in 1930, Chunchie worked tirelessly as a fund-raiser to keep the centre open, addressing Methodist gatherings all over the UK. He was an accomplished speaker, invoking the Christian ideals of equality and brotherhood to combat racism, unmasking the hypocrisy of Christian England and its attitudes to race. Chunchie was well-respected and well-liked by the black community in East London; however he faced criticism from the East End Branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, who accused Chunchie of patronizing black people and fostering segregation. Chunchie was also criticized by the Methodist Mission House over his management of the CMI. After 1930, no plans were drawn up to reopen the CMI elsewhere and Chunchie worked as a missionary deputation in the home church from 1930 to 1932.

Chunchie, however, would continue to work tirelessly to relaunch the CMI as an independent organization. With the support of a multi-racial council that included Dr Harold Moody of the League of Coloured Peoples, Professor R. K. Sorabji, and Lady Lydia Anderson and dedicated volunteers, amongst them his wife, he worked hard to build a new CMI. However, due to a lack of funding this never came to fruition, which meant that Chunchie had to use the limited facilities of the Presbyterian church in Victoria Dock Road as the centre and his own home as a base to continue the numerous pastoral, charitable and religious activities of the CMI.

Chunchie played cricket for Essex, was a member of the Royal Empire Society (from 1935), and was vice-president of the League of Coloured Peoples (1935–7). During the Second World War he was a member of the voluntary firefighting party in Lewisham, South London. In 1943 he also attended meetings of Swaraj House. He died on 28 June 1953 after a heart attack. He is buried in Hither Green cemetery.

Date of birth: 
04 Jun 1886

Lydia Anderson, A. C. Bannerji, Tarapada Basu (Indian Seamen's Welfare League), Dr H. K. Handoo, Jabol Hoque, N. Datta Majumdar, S. P. Mitra, Harold Moody (League of Coloured  Peoples), Dr H. K. Orr-Ewing, Ajit Kumar M. Roy, Dr M. D. Rutnasuriya, Dr A. M. Shah, Martin Sasthri, Canon H. R. L. Sheppard, Shoran Singh (Christian Sikh and YMCA worker), Professor R. K. Sorabji, Lady Dr C. B. Vakil.

Ceylon Friends' League (patron), Royal Empire Society (member).

Secondary works: 

The Other Eastenders: Kamal Chunchie and West Ham's Early Black Community (London: Eastside Community Heritage, 2002)

Sadler, John, 'A Champion of London's Docklands', Contemporary Review (April 1991)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Visram, Rozina, 'Chunchie, Kamal Athon (1886–1953)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Visram, Rozina,  ‘Kamal A. Chunchie of the Coloured Men's Institute: The Man and the Legend’, Immigrants and Minorities 18.1 (March 1999), pp. 29–48

Archive source: 

Box 672, FBN 18, WMMS Home and General, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London

L/PJ/12/658, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Sri Lanka


Coloured Men's Institute
13-15 Tidal Basin Street Canning Town
E16 1PH
United Kingdom
51° 30' 30.1644" N, 0° 0' 57.492" E
Date of death: 
03 Jul 1953
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
06 Mar 1918
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


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