First World War and Locality in Colonial Punjab: A Nuanced Understanding of the War Effort


  • Tahir Mahmood


This article in the light of revealing new sources provides a nuanced understanding of the contribution of the British Punjab to the First World War through a case study approach. By focussing on the war effort made by colonial Shahpur district it presents a grassroots perspective of the recruitment processes. It also provides answers to the bigger questions related to the recruitment process, civil-military integrations, handling of the recruits and functioning of the territorial recruitment system. The case study material drawn from the Deputy Commissioner Record Office Sargodha argues that the reality at the locality level was more complex than the provincial picture painted in the existing literature. Civil-military integration worked well where the initiative rested with the military authorities; however, it was chequered when the initiative came from the civilian authorities. So the coordination and cooperation between the civilian and military authorities was not as smooth and harmonious as painted in the provincial picture. Similarly, it also questions the exiting understanding that with the introduction of ‘territorial recruitment system’ the recruitment problems were solved. It argues that despite its introduction, the handling of recruits and the effective distribution of military manpower remained a tricky business. ______