'Bloodstained glasses' and artefacts of Jogen Sen



A collection of objects and papers, including a dog-tag (to identify the injured), a photograph of a young European woman, a ‘Book of Friendship’ possibly given by the same lady (signed as ‘Cis’), a small leather wallet, and, finally, the pair of 'broken and bloodstained glasses' placed alongside a photograph of Sen wearing them.


Jogen Sen was the only non-white member of the Leeds 'Pals' battalion or, indeed, of any other battalion of the West Yorkshire regiment. He came to England in 1910 as a student and completed a degree in Engineering at the University of Leeds in 1913. He volunteered in the opening months of the conflict in the Leeds Pals Battalion. Popular as 'Jon' Sen among the 'Pals', he was gunned down on the night of 22 May 1916 and his death was reported in The Times on 4 September 1916 as ‘A Bengali Soldier’s Death’. During an interview in 1988, Arthur Dalby, a Leeds Pals veteran, remembered his Indian comrade: ‘We had a Hindu in our hut, called Jon Sen. He was the best educated man in the battalion and he spoke about seven languages but he was never allowed to be even a lance corporal because in those days they would never let a coloured fellow be over a white man, not in England, but he was the best educated.’ More recently, a wartime letter, written by another Leeds Pals member Private Harold Burniston just before his own death on 1 July 1916, surfaced. It notes: ‘I heard poor Jon Sen had been brought in killed. He was hit in the leg and neck by shrapnel and died almost immediately’.