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Remembered Today:

Kipling "forged Indians' letters for British intelligence'


Martin Bennitt
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This may be an interesting book when it comes out. Not quite clear from the story what the "rewriting" entailed. Were the "rewritten" letters then sent on to the intended recipients or were they published in another form?

 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/nov/04/rudyard-kipling-india-first-world-war-mutiny-british-intelligence

 

Cheers Martin B

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Kipling and a host of other famous authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  and John Buchan were employed by the newly formed War  Propaganda Bureau in Sep 1914 to write stories that were then syndicated in the press; effectively planting stories with a positive spin. The primary target was the domestic audience, but this quickly expanded to targeting the US in particular. The Ghadar threat was well understood and this seems to be another extension. When the Indian Army arrived in France in Sep 1914 it opened a new front in the propaganda war. Indian soldiers' letters were censored and monitored (there is a vast archive somewhere ) so that the authorities could gauge morale and sentiment.

 

The Government of India was highly sensitive to any negative comments written by soldiers. The fear of sedition and mutiny was ever present and the Indian Army suffered a spate of desertions to the Germans in France. As well as a rash of self-inflicted wounds. The Indian Army reacted quickly and with some force. Some soldiers were Court Martialled and punished by way of example for propagating "misinformation" At least one war diary I have worked on records an example of this. The subject subsequently deserted. Morton Jack's book on the Indian Corps in France goes into some detail on the surveillance of Indian soldiers' correspondence. Most soldiers were illiterate and their letters were often dictated to a 'writer'. This made it slightly easier to monitor and control the correspondence and lessen the chance of uncensored smuggled letters getting back to India. My understanding is that as a result of this monitoring, the British had a very accurate understanding of the Indian soldiers' morale which serving on the Western Front. While the Infantry were withdrawn in late 1915, the Indian Cavalry Corps remained until early 1918.

 

The Kipling 'revelation' is nothing particularly new or surprising. If one was going to choose an author to ghost write letters from supposed Indian soldiers in France to be planted in Indian newspapers and US newspapers, Kipling would be the obvious choice. 

Edited by Guest
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Thanks - I enjoyed that... Good old frequency analysis... Thomas Young used the method - and if he had worked on the basis that the hieroglyphs were basically Coptic he would have beaten Champollion to deciphering the Rosetta Stone!

 

Julian

 

PS: That September 1932 is full of amazing information which I must try to read more on, e.g., the 'Cigaret(sic) holders for Autos act as humidor' - whoever would have dreamt up the need for such a device!

Edited by trajan
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23 minutes ago, trajan said:

Thanks - I enjoyed that... Good old frequency analysis... Thomas Young used the method - and if he had worked on the basis that the hieroglyphs were basically Coptic he would have beaten Champollion to deciphering the Rosetta Stone!

 

Julian

 

PS: That September 1932 is full of amazing information which I must try to read more on, e.g., the 'Cigaret(sic) holders for Autos act as humidor' - whoever would have dreamt up the need for such a device!

 

 

As a child I read "The Bull of Minos" by Cottrell It had an appendix on how Michael Ventris cracked Linear B. A rather brilliant piece of analysis. I suspect it would be right up your street. 

 

His grandfather commanded 25th Division in 1914-15 

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