From 1914 to 1916 wounded Indian soldiers from the Western Front were brought to Britain for treatment. Special hospitals were set up along the South Coast in Brighton, Bournemouth and Brockenhurst. There were also convalescent camps at Milford on Sea and Barton. In Brighton, the Royal Pavilion was converted into a hospital with further hospitals in York Place and the Old Workhouse. For those soldiers who died, there were crematoria for Hindus and Sikhs, and a burial ground in Woking for Muslim soldiers.

Convalescent soldiers in the grounds of the Brighton Royal Pavilion Hospital, during the First World War (Courtesy of Royal Pavilion, Libraries & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

Convalescent soldiers in the grounds of the Brighton Royal Pavilion Hospital, during the First World War (Courtesy of Royal Pavilion, Libraries & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

In the hospitals great care was taken to accommodate the various religious requirements of the soldiers. In the Royal Pavilion and Dome Hospital there were nine separate kitchens to cater for different dietary needs. Tents were put up in the grounds for religious worship. Opportunities for recreational pursuits were provided including outings to London to see the sights. King George V and Queen Mary visited the Pavilion on several occasions, presenting soldier with bravery awards, including six Victoria Crosses.

Convalescent soldiers playing cards in the grounds of the Brighton Royal Pavilion Hospital, during the First World War (Courtesy of Royal Pavilion, Libraries & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

Convalescent soldiers playing cards in the grounds of the Brighton Royal Pavilion Hospital, during the First World War (Courtesy of Royal Pavilion, Libraries & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

Though the soldiers were all well looked after, interaction with local people was not encouraged. Precautions were taken to keep the soldiers confined to the hospital grounds; some soldiers felt like prisoners and complained, but to no avail. The hospitals were all closed in January 1916 when only the Indian Army Infantry remained on the Western Front.

(Text courtesy of The Lightbox from the ‘Lost Pavilions’ display)

Further sources

Read more about Woking’s Muslim Burial Ground here.

For Indian soldiers wounded and treated at Brighton Pavilion Indian Army Hospital during the First World War, see: http://www.sikhmuseum.com/brighton/remembrance/honour/muslim.html

There are some wonderful newsreels on the Pathé News website featuring Indian Army soldiers who were wounded and treated at Brighton Pavilion http://www.britishpathe.com/ (search using the term ‘Indian Army’)

Rachel Hasted, Indian Army WW1 deaths in England (researched using British Library and Commonwealth War Graves Commission sources), 2014. Click here to download a pdf (PDF) copy.

Tom Donovan, Muslim Brighton Casualties buried at the Muslim Burial Ground in Woking & Brookwood Military Cemetery, extracted from ‘The Chattri’, Durbar, the Journal of the Indian Military Historical Society, Vol 26, No. 2 (Summer 2009) and on the Sikh Museum’s ‘Dr Brighton’s Pavilion’ website http://www.sikhmuseum.com/brighton/remembrance/honour/muslim.html

Click here for further sources for researching the Indian Army during the First World War and the Muslim Burial Ground

Click here to download a pdf (PDF) copy of a booklet by Said Adrus on Woking’s Muslim Burial Ground, ‘Lost Pavilion’. A viewing copy of the film made by Said Adrus on Woking’s Muslim Burial Ground is held with Screen Archive South East, University of Brighton, Grand Parade, Brighton BN2 2JY. Tel: 01273 643213; email: [email protected] Their searchable online catalogue is http://www.brighton.ac.uk/screensearch.

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