“The soldier above all others prays for peace, 

for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear 

the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

–Douglas MacArthur

Just like the race amongst the European powers for colonies, the Great War, or more popularly known as the World War I that the colonial powers fought, also exacted its toll from the coloured people. During the war, it was important for the European powers to keep the colonial structures even on the battlefields.

Soldiers from over 50 countries fought battles on the West front, many brought from the colonies of the superpowers of the time. More than 4 million non-European non-white soldiers and auxiliaries were enlisted. For instance, British imperialist had recruited up to 1.4 million Indian soldiers. France enlisted nearly half a million troops from its colonies in Africa and Indochina.

While the great war is often depicted as an unexpected catastrophe by the mainstream historians of the then colonisers, many on the left thought that “greed for colonies” was the single most factor that sparked the war. “These colonial subjects remain marginal in popular histories of the war. They also go largely uncommemorated by the hallowed rituals of Remembrance Day,” writes Pankaj Mishra in his recent book titled Bland Fanatics.