Gandhi Served in the British Army
Well, not exactly, but almost. The very basis of Gandhi’s political argument in South Africa was that Indians belonged to the same empire as any other subject, and according to the laws of the British Empire, this qualified them for equality in every respect. This certainly was the case, and the proclamation of the British Raj made that point very clearly. When, therefore, the British in South Africa went to war with the Boer, in the much stories Anglo/Boer War, Gandhi felt that it was an opportunity for the Indian community to display their embrace of the responsibilities that went with rights and liberties they were demanding.
He therefore proposed that the Indian community establish an ambulance corps to serve alongside a regular Indian Army ambulance detachment already active with the British Expeditionary Force. This did not meet with an overwhelming rush of enthusiasm, and in general, the Indian community of Natal felt that so long as business was good, which it was, getting involved in politics and warfare on behalf of the British was more risk than it was worth. What, many asked, would be the result in the Boer won the war?
In the end, however, enough of them were persuaded to join up, and the Natal Indian Ambulance Corps came briefly into existence, serving in two of the major battles fought in Natal. The Corps was attached to the British Army Expeditionary Force, and so it could, at a stretch, be said that Gandhi served in the British Army.
This, however, was a difficult moment in Gandhi’s career, simply because the Boer were fighting the same essential war as the Indians, and that was to try and throw off British imperial domination. He struggled with his conscience over the matter, but eventually resolved the matter in his mind upon the notion that the Boer hated the Indians a great deal more than the South African British did, and that under British domination, they would probably be better off anyway.