Experiences of colonial troops
Even by conservative estimates well over four million non-white men were mobilised into the European and American armies during the First World War, in combatant and non-combatant roles.
Among the various colonies of the British empire, India contributed the largest number of men, with approximately 1.5 million recruited during the war up to December 1919.
The 1st battalion of the 4th Ghurkha Rifles lined up for kit inspection, in Flanders, Belgium, 1915.
In addition to the 90,000 troupes indigènes already under arms when the war started, France recruited between 1914 and 1918 nearly 500,000 colonial troops, including 166,000 West Africans, 46,000 Madagascans, 50,000 Indochinese, 140,000 Algerians, 47,000 Tunisians and 24,300 Moroccans. Most of these French colonial troops served in Europe. However, the majority of the Africans served as labourers or carriers in Africa.
Cavalry patrol of Moroccan Spahis fighting for the French army near Furnes, Belgium, 1914
With the entry of the United States into the war, nearly 400,000 African-American troops were inducted into the US forces, of whom 200,000 served in Europe.
Harlem Hellfighters 1917