Our first novel: a note from the publisher

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Kashi House CIC is a media and publishing social enterprise focused on the rich history and culture of the Sikhs and the Punjab region in both India and Pakistan.

We jumped at the opportunity to publish Major Tom’s War. Not only does Vee Walker’s debut novel serve as a fitting commemoration to the centenary of the Armistice on 11 November 2018, it also recognises the remarkable yet largely forgotten contribution of the Indian Army – and particularly its cavalry – during the First World War. The decimated cavalry remained on the Western Front almost to the end, only departing for Syria in March 1918.

 Tom’s groom, Dafadar Arjan Singh, mounted on Daisy in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, Christmas 1916. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.  © Westmacott Family Archive

Tom’s groom, Dafadar Arjan Singh, mounted on Daisy in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, Christmas 1916. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

© Westmacott Family Archive

Based on Tom Westmacott’s unique and unpublished eyewitness account, the book offers an authentic insight into the surprisingly cosmopolitan camaraderie of the trenches, set against the harrowing nature of warfare on the Western Front.

 Tom (front, nearest to the camera) at the head of B Squadron of the 38th King George’s Own Central India Horse at Amettes, May 1915. The Indian officer directly behind him may be Risaldar Harnam Singh.  © Westmacott Family Archive

Tom (front, nearest to the camera) at the head of B Squadron of the 38th King George’s Own Central India Horse at Amettes, May 1915. The Indian officer directly behind him may be Risaldar Harnam Singh.

© Westmacott Family Archive

Notable among the characters encountered are the Sikh cavalry officers Risaldar Major Amar Singh, the leader and granthi (reader of Sikh scripture) to the cavalry Sikhs on the Western Front, Risaldar Harnam Singh, Tom’s self-appointed protector, and Dafadar Arjan Singh, Tom’s groom. The Sikhs all embody military nobility and courage, their names hitherto unknown, their stories untold.

 Tom in loonghi with Risaldar Major Amar Singh in Thérouanne, January 1915.  © Westmacott Family Archive

Tom in loonghi with Risaldar Major Amar Singh in Thérouanne, January 1915.

© Westmacott Family Archive

Within these pages the Great War unfolds on a very human scale. At its heart is a poignant yet gritty and pragmatic love story: Tom is not handsome, Evie is no beauty, neither is young. Damaged, intelligent people sheltering behind a tough facade.

The four differing perspective strands of this book are beautifully interwoven around the key events of the War from its opening chapters set in India, England, Scotland and France into the stirring denouement that sweeps Tom onwards.

Major Tom’s War is a novel to laugh and cry over, to cherish and share – lest we forget.

If you enjoy it as much as we think you will, we hope you will recommend it to others.