IMAGE CREDIT: Indians in Britain during the First World War, HIstory Today, Suzanne Bardgett: A wounded Indian soldier dictates his letter home to a scribe, Brighton, c 1915. Suzanne Bardgett is Head of Research at Imperial War Museums.
We hope to be in a position to republish our second ever book, Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients (1997) which is currently out of print.
Written by local resident, Joyce Collins, the book traces the history of the care given to wounded Indian soldiers in the Royal Pavilion in Brighton between December 1914 and January 1916.
Perhaps, along with Backyard Brighton, Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients is our most talked about book.
Joyce Collins begins with the story of Dr. Brighton from 1750-1914. From there she looks at the War in Europe in 1914 and the story of the Indian Army, turning next to when the War came to Brighton.
The book looks at the background to Indian Military Hospitals in Brighton. the Indian Army in France and the treatment of the wounded, their lives in hospital and impressions of England and details the many different cases arriving at hospitals in Brighton, most of the patients suffering from gunshot wounds.
The book is well researched bringing together local newspaper sources as well as some well chosen national sources, identifying the story and honouring the lives of the wounded Indian soldiers who were cared for in Brighton at the time.
So much more is known now about the Indian soldiers wounded and cared for in Brighton at the time, with original letters home discovered and much more detail in other books. The story has appeared in the media in a number of places.
One of the best accounts is by Suzanne Bardgett in the BBC magazine, History Today. The story is now a key presentational part of the profile of Brighton Pavilion and the Museum.
Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients was not the first book published about the subject, but it was the first book published by a local publishing house of the calibre of Brighton Town Press. In that sense the title also played a key part in the story also of Brighton Town Press.
The book emerged from a chance conversation between Joyce Collins and Selma Montford. At the end of a talk given by Joyce Collins, Selma Montford suggested the idea for the book.
Joyce Collins records that “medical and surgical treatment was given by British doctors and surgeons, most of whom were from the Indian Medical Service of the Civil Medical Service in India, and these woud have had the knowledge of Hindustani and experience of working with Indians. The sub assistant surgeons were Anglo-Indians, and ward orderlies were drawn from either the RAMC or the IMS”. Untouchables were employed – and separately housed p- to carry out the duties of sweepers and dhobis. The writers and clerks were Indians. All were under the supervision of Colonel R.N. Campbell who was in charge of the three Military Hospitals in Brighton”.
Simon Montgomery, the new director of Brighton Town Press said “I have been working with Selma Montford since 1988.
“I have seen In her role as director of Brighton Town Press that she has developed a canon of, books about neighbourhoods, people and amenities in Brighton and Hove that is unique.”
“I first read Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients when the book came out in 1997, and along with Backyard Brighton, also published as part of the Brighton Town Press catalogue, both books made an impression on me.
“In particular the well researched sources in Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients, together with the accessible narrative and the well thought structure, all display what I would call the essence of Brighton Town Press.
“I am an Anglo—Indian who has lived in this wonderful unique city for 46 years and been involved with Brighton Town Press and the layout and production of the last seven titles, so choosing this book as our first reprint was an obvious decision.
“The book has been quoted often, often without attribution, and the story is now well known and a feature of the history of the Brighton Pavilion..
“This book was one of the ways that the story about the indian patients reached a wider audience in 1997. What I want to do is restore this book to a rightful place in the story of Brighton.
“Working with Selma Montford, who is advising me as I begin the planning of new books as the director of Brighton Town Press, with Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients as our first project, is such a delight.
It is hoped that the reprint of Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients will take place at some point early in 2018.
As well as the original text and photographs, we hope to publish, as part of the book, an update about the ways in which the story as told by Joyce Collins, has informed the Brighton Pavilion and Museum, in their own more extensive documentation of the story.
Joyce Collins ends the book by saying that her interest in the Indian Expeditionary Corps arose from seeing the Chattri on the Downs and reading about the arrival and departure of the Indian wounded between December 1914 and January 1916 in her research with the Brighton Gazette and other local newspapers.
Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients by Joyce Collins, also saw part of the proceeds from sales donated to the Gurkha Welfare Trust. We will also make a donation with the reprinted book.
Dr. Brighton’s Indian Patients will be priced at £18:00 with £2:00 from the sale of each book donated to the Gurkha Welfare Trust.
From town to city, without stories there is no culture. In the retelling of this particular story we hope to add something back again to the culture of Brighton.