Gandhi now felt that his mission in South Africa was over and he wanted to return to India.
At that time Gokhale was in England. He wanted Gandhi to meet him in London before returning to India. Gandhi promised to do so.
Gandhi announced his decision to Kasturbai.
‘You are going to London with me,’ he said. ‘From England we will go back to India.’
Gandhi with Kasturbai and kallenbach, sailed for England on July 18, 1914. On August 4, two days before he reach London, the First World War was declared.
On arrival in London, Gandhi heard that Gokhale had gone to Paris for reasons of health. Communications were cut off between London and Paris because of the war. Gandhi was disappointed. He did not want to return to India without seeing Gokhale, so he stayed on in London.
The war was on. What could Gandhi do in England? The war was on. What could Gandhi do in England? At the suggestion of some Indian friends, a meeting was called of the Indians in England. Gandhi expressed the view that Indian s residing in England ought to do their bit in the war. English students had volunteered to serve in the army and Indians should do no less. There were objections to his views and many Indians were of the opinion that the war provided an opportunity to get freedom for India and that Indians should assert themselves and claim their rights.
Gandhi felt that England’s difficulty should not be turned into India’s opportunity. He insisted on rendering all possible help to England. He organized an ambulance corps which, in spite of all difficulties, helped the British in their time of need.
After some time Gokhale returned to England. Gandhi and Kallenbach went to see him often and they talked together about the war and other matters.
Then Gandhi had an attack of pleurisy and Gokhale and his friends were worried. Dr. Jivraj Mehta treated Gandhi but there was little relief. Gandhi was still ill when Gokhale returned to India.
As the pleurisy still persisted, Gandhi was advised to go back to India as soon as possible. He accepted the advice and returned to India.