The Indian Contingent: The Forgotten Muslim Soldiers of the Battle of Dunkirk

Ghee Bowman

01 September 2021
334 pages


‘An important and essential work’ SATHNAM SANGHERA

‘An incredible and important story’ MISHAL HUSAIN

‘Groundbreaking ... a riveting and moving account’ YASMIN KHAN

‘A fitting recognition of the contribution of Dunkirk’s forgotten soldiers’ ANAS SARWAR

On 28 May 1940, in the early days of the Second World War, Major Akbar Khan marched at the head of 299 soldiers along a beach in northern France. They were the only Indians in the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk. With Stuka sirens wailing, shells falling in the water and Tommies lining up to be evacuated, these soldiers of the British Indian Army, carrying their disabled imam, found their way to the East Mole and embarked for England in the dead of night. On reaching Dover, they borrowed brass trays and started playing Punjabi folk music, upon which even ‘many British spectators joined in the dance’.

What journey had brought these men to Europe? What became of them and their comrades captured by the Germans?

With the engaging style of a true storyteller, Ghee Bowman reveals for the first time the astonishing story of the Indian contingent – the Muslim soldiers who fought in the pivotal Battle of Dunkirk – from their arrival in France on 26 December 1939 to their return to an India on the verge of Partition.