The Bengal Ambulance Corps on duty in Mesopotamia - IWC
Letter from the Trenches -
" Ma it's been almost 5 months since I sat down to write to you. I've often thought of writing in these months but since nothing was known about when we would be able to send letters, I never got around to it. Since yesterday people here have come to accept that we will not be relieved. The troops have been on half rations for the last month and even those have been steadily cut over the last 15 days, but despite these measures, there's only enough food to last three more days. In the last 15 days, many have died for lack of food."
- Captain Kalyan Mukherji, 6th Ambulance Corps attached to 6th Division in Mesopotamia
Bengal Ambulance Corps: The ‘Bengal Ambulance Corps (BAC) Committee’ was sent to Mesopotamia, the cost of which was borne by the people of Bengal. On 26th June, BAC started from Kolkata and reached Amara (Mesopotamia). BAC continued to render their medical service till 31st May 1916. Members of BAC also performed active duty in the battlefront. The work of the Corps was universally appreciated. On 5th September 1916, the Viceroy said, “The Bengal Stationary Hospital recently has broken up rendered admirable service in Mesopotamia and its record there was one of which the promoters of the scheme may well be proud of.”
Chandannagar Volunteers: France decided to recruit soldiers from India in December 1915. A good number of young men came forward from Chandannagar, an ex-French colony in Bengal. Twenty-six young men were recruited, sent to Pondicherry for training, and then dispatched to France to serve in the army. Here they were posted in different Artillery units. Bengali soldiers fought in different battlefields of France, Morocco and Tunisia. One of these volunteers received the Croix de Guerre for his outstanding performance in the army.
49th Bengalis: On the 7th August 1916, Government announced the raising of an infantry regiment for Bengalis. The first step in this process was the formation of the Bengali Double Company (BDC), popularly known as the Bangali Polton. In March 1917, Government decided to upgrade the BDC to a regular infantry regiment, and it was officially formed at Karachi on 1st July 1917 as the ‘49th Bengal Infantry Regiment' and in short '49th Bengalis.’ Lt Col A L Barrett was posted as Commanding Officer. The 49th Bengalis were sent to Mesopotamia for active service. The regiment was first sent to Aziziyeh, and then to KuK-el-Amara. On 29th October 1918, the regiment was ordered to move further back to Tanuma, an extension of Basra city.