When war broke out in Europe in 1914 the Indian Government offered Britain two infantry and two cavalry divisions for use anywhere in the World. Initially they were intended to garrison Egypt, but instead were diverted for service in France, where they fought their first battles in October of that year. In October of the following year the Indian infantry were redeployed to the Middle East, where they served in Mesopotamia and Palestine, and also to stations in East Africa. As with all armies, that of India was ill-prepared for the Great War as it developed, but adapted and acquitted itself very well, eventually seeing more than one million troops serve outside their homeland. With so much attention devoted to the Western and Eastern fronts in this war, this set from HaT concentrates on one of the less well-known but still important theatres of war; the fight with the Ottoman Empire for control of the Middle East.
The Indian infantry that initially fought on the Western Front wore their ordinary uniforms for the first few weeks, after which they were given the more practical British Service Dress. For service in the Middle East and Africa however the men wore their ordinary uniform, which is how all of these figures are dressed. Every man is dressed and equipped in the same manner, and wears the Indian kurta (shirt), breeches, puttees and boots. On the head they all have the khulla (cap) surrounded by a pagri (turban), which is fine. Throughout the war Indian infantry wore the 1903 pattern bandolier kit which had been phased out in the British Army around 1908. This consisted of leather belts and a bandolier, haversack, canteen and usually a rolled greatcoat or blanket at the rear. None of these figures have the roll at the rear, which is not a problem, but while the rest of the kit is correct they have all wrongly been given 90-round cavalry bandoliers when they should only have the 50-round infantry version (in fact some look to have even more pouches than that, which is completely wrong). Where visible each man has a single pouch each side of his waist belt, which is OK although up to four of these could be worn, especially when they were this small.
The sculpting is pretty good, with reasonable detail and fair proportions. The faces are quite nice, clearly showing many of the men having a moustache and some having a full beard too. Some of the finer detail in places like the rifles is a bit sparse, but these are still nicely produced. All the poses are well chosen and realistic although we felt some to be a bit clumsy, particularly the man about to throw a grenade. Again however quite acceptable. Happily there is almost no flash and very little extra plastic in hard-to-reach places.
We were pleased to see that every man has a bayonet fixed, which was more appropriate for the more fluid warfare of the Middle East front, and for the most part we liked these figures a lot. The error with the bandolier is very visible and will take some trimming to remove, but otherwise these are very usable figures for an important but oft-overlooked arena of the war. The conflict in the Middle East deserves to have more figure sets such as this, offering as it does some of the most dynamic and interesting game scenarios that that war produced, so this set is very welcome.