The Indian Contingent: The Forgotten Muslim Soldiers of the Battle of DunkirkAuthor: Ghee BowmanPublisher: PanMacmillanPages: 310Price: Rs 699The endpapers of Peter Clarke’s monumental book The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire (Penguin, 2007) reproduce a colourful British propaganda poster. The artwork resembles that uniquely juvenile, muscular style immortalised by Soviet art and the text employs bracing language: “The British Commonwealth TOGETHER”. It portrays soldiers representing various nationalities of Empire, ramrod straight and iron-jawed, marching in lockstep for a common cause.It’s a travesty. White soldiers — British and from the Dominions— occupy the first two rows. The last row is reserved for a Sikh and an African soldier. Yet India and Africa played a disproportionately large role in churning out the men, materiel and other war supplies to fight Britain’s battles from the jungles of south-east Asia to the deserts of North Africa and even the frozen fastness of Norway.