The Forgotten Muslim Soldiers of Dunkirk

The Indian Contingent

On 28 May 1940, 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 of comrades captured by the Germans?

With the engaging style of a true storyteller, Ghee Bowman reveals in full, for the first time, the astonishing story of the Indian Contingent, from their arrival in France on 26 December 1939 to their return to an India on the verge of partition.

It is one of the war’s hidden stories that casts fresh light on Britain and its empire.

हमारी वेबसाइट मे आपका स्वागत है!

फोर्स के-६ (जिसे भारतीय टुकड़ी /सैन्यदल भी कहते थे)  द्वितीय विश्वयुद्ध मे सैनिकों का एक छोटा बल था, जिसे रॉयल इंडियन आर्मी सर्विस कॉर्प्स भी कहते थे। उन्होंने दिसंबर 1939 में भारत छोड़ कर, ब्रिटिश सेना के साथ फ्रांस में सेवा की। मई-जून 1940 में उन्हें जर्मन आक्रमण के बाद फ्रांस से बचाया गया था। दो कंपनियां डनकर्क के रास्ते निकाली गई, उनमे से एक कंपनी युद्ध के कैदी बन गए,
और शेष सेंट नाज़ायर के माध्यम से वापिस आ गए। इसके बाद वे 1944 तक ब्रिटेन में रहे।

इस वेबसाइट का उद्देश्य उनके नाम और उनकी कहानियों को साझा करना और सूचना के लिए केंद्र बिंदु के रूप में काम करना है।

हम आशा करते हैं कि सैनिकों के रिश्तेदार, और जो लोग उन्हें जानते थे, वे एक साथ आ सकते हैं, अधिक जानकारी प्राप्त कर सकते हैं, और जो वे जानते हैं उसे साझा कर सकते हैं।

ہماری ویب سائٹ پر خوش آمدید

فورس K6 (جسے ہندوستانی دستے کے نام سے بھی جانا جاتا ہے) دوسری جنگ عظیم کے دوران انڈین آرمی سروس کور کے  فوجیوں کا ایک مختصر دستہ تھا۔ اس فورس نے دسمبر 1939 میں انڈیا سے کوچ کیا اور برطانوی فوج کے ہمراہ فرانس میں اپنی ذمداریاں  سرانجام دیں۔ جرمن فوج کے حملےکے بعد 1940 کے مئی اور جون میں انہیں فرانس سے نکلنا پڑا۔ دو کمپنیاں ڈنکرک (Dunkirk)کے راستے نکل گئیں جبکہ ایک کمپنی کو جنگی قیدی بنا لیا گیا۔ باقی کمپنیاں سینٹ نازااری (St Nazaire) کے زرئیے نکلنے میں کامیاب ہو گئیں۔ اس کے بعد  انہوں نے 1944 تک برطانیہ میں قیام کیا۔

اس ویب سائٹ کا مقصد  K6کے ان فوجیوں کے نام اور ان سے جڑی کہانیوں اور معلومات کو پہنچانا ہے۔ ہم یہ امید رکھتے ہیں کہ ان فوجیوں کو جاننے والے اور ان کے رشتہ دار اس ویب سائٹ پر نہ صرف ایک دوسرے سے مل سکیں گے بلکہ ایک دوسرے کو مزید جانکاری دے سکیں گے۔

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An incredible and important story, finally being told.

- Mishal Husain

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The Indian Contingent Ranks

This database includes 2238 names of soldiers of Force K6. 65 of these are British, 6 are French and 2167 are Indian. One of the British names is a woman. Out of a total of 4227 men in Force K6/The Indian Contingent, this is over half.

If you find something that you think is wrong, please let us know. If you find something that relates to your family, please let us know. And if you have more information, please let us know.

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This book needs to be on the national curriculum. The kind of story that brings us together. It would be the perfect tribute to those who fought for our freedom.

- Adil Ray, actor, writer and broadcaster

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Force K6 website

Meet the author

Ghee Bowman was born in 1961. After careers in the theatre, education and the voluntary sector, he returned to university in 2014.

Educational resources

Here you’ll find some information about further reading and research, and about how I can help your school, community group or university.

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The astonishing story of the Indian Contingent, from their arrival in France on to their return to an India on the verge of partition.

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Force K6 blog

In this section I’ll be posting regular updates about ForceK6. These will include new stories that emerge from the public in Europe and South Asia, as well as stories of specific soldiers or places that aren’t covered so deeply in the book.

You’ll also find links to press articles, videos and radio interviews here.

Risaldar-Major Mohamed Ashraf Khan

Risaldar-Major Mohamed Ashraf Khan

Mohamed Ashraf Khan was the Risaldar-Major of Force K6 when they arrived in France in December 1939, and continued in that role through most of their time in Europe. The rank of Risaldar-Major was similar to a Regimental Sergeant Major in a cavalry regiment. He was...

25th Animal Transport Company at Dunkirk

25th Animal Transport Company at Dunkirk

Extract from 'The Indian Contingent', chapter 4, pages 51-55 The 25th Company were somewhat later escaping to the coast than 32nd Company. There was an initial flurry of activity on 10 May, while the rest of the BEF left their carefully prepared defence lines and...

Virtual Book Launch – 19th June 2020

Virtual Book Launch – 19th June 2020

The book came out just a month ago, on 21st May. Since then, there has been a whirl of activity in the press and on social media. These include an article by Magnus Linklater in The Times in Scotland. A podcast with Dan Snow in his ‘History Hit’ series Interviews with...