Punjabi PW1 recorded. courtesy Adeel Khan

These words are spoken by Mall Singh, a prisoner of war in the ‘Halfmoon-Camp’ in
the city of Wunsdorf in Germany. The recording, done on 11 December 1916. From an old shellac record, housed in the Lautarchiv of the Humboldt University of
Berlin emerges crackling a desolate, incantatory voice in Punjabi. The speaker refers
to himself in the third person, as he almost sings out his lament:
“Once there was a man.
This man came to the European war.
Germany captured this man.
He wishes to go back to India.
If the God has mercy, he will make peace soon.
This man will go away from here.”
Mall Singh’s voice echoes through the corridors of First World War history, in its desperate attempt to find a listener. Mall Singh cannot speak, even when he speaks so urgently; he seems to speak to us so urgently today precisely because he could not speak. Between August 1914 and December 1919, India had sent overseas for purposes of war 622,224 soldiers and 474,789 non-combatants, who served in France, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and the Far East. My own great-grandfather (Allah yarhamo) was killed in battle fighting for the British and was burried in Baghdad.link is given at the end.
These words are spoken by Mall Singh, a prisoner of war in the ‘Halfmoon-Camp’ in
the city of Wunsdorf in Germany. The recording, done on 11 December 1916. From an old shellac record, housed in the Lautarchiv of the Humboldt University of
Berlin emerges crackling a desolate, incantatory voice in Punjabi. The speaker refers
to himself in the third person, as he almost sings out his lament:
“Once there was a man.
This man came to the European war.
Germany captured this man.
He wishes to go back to India.
If the God has mercy, he will make peace soon.
This man will go away from here.”
Mall Singh’s voice echoes through the corridors of First World War history, in its desperate attempt to find a listener. Mall Singh cannot speak, even when he speaks so urgently; he seems to speak to us so urgently today precisely because he could not speak. Between August 1914 and December 1919, India had sent overseas for purposes of war 622,224 soldiers and 474,789 non-combatants, who served in France, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and the Far East. My own great-grandfather (Allah yarhamo) was killed in battle fighting for the British and was burried in Baghdad.

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One thought on “Punjabi PW1 recorded. courtesy Adeel Khan

  1. Great to hear this recording of an Indian soldier from World War One and a prisoner of war too. Mall Singh’s voice needs to be heard. He represents 1.5 million Indian soldiers from the Great War.

    Like

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