The creation and administration of the Brighton hospitals for wounded Indian soldiers in World War I was an unprecedented situation. Not only were Indian soldiers fighting in Europe for the first time, but their wounded were now being cared for in hospitals at the very center of the British Empire itself, England.
The entire British Empire and all of India were watching to see how things would turn out. One wrong move by the British authorities in the running of the Brighton hospitals could become a destabilization catalyst in India as the events that led up to the 1857 Mutiny had been.
The British had carefully crafted themes of ‘white supremacy’, the Raj as a benevolent presence and King George as a father figure. It was imperative that these key aspects of British rule that acted as the ‘glue’ for the British Indian Army and the Raj not be undermined in any way by the ‘Brighton experiment’.
Studying historical documents, once top-secret reports and private correspondences between some of the major individuals of the British Raj during World War I, including Lord Hardinge – Viceroy of India, Lord Kitchener – Secretary of State for War and Sir Walter Lawrence – Commissioner for the Welfare of Indian Troops) provides a glimpse into some of the rationale behind the decisions that governed the planning and administration of the Brighton Indian hospitals.