Overseas national war memorial for Indian soldiers who lost their lives in WW I

By: | Published: October 23, 2018 1:31 AM

India is planning from Nov 9-11, an elaborate programme to commemorate the centenary of the World War I.

Overseas national war memorial for Indian soldiers who lost their lives in WW I

India is planning from Nov 9-11, an elaborate programme to commemorate the centenary of the World War I. As part of this, the 2nd overseas national war memorial for Indian soldiers will be inaugurated at Villers-Guislain in France by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Nov 10 which also marks the centenary of the armistice announced during the World War I.

With the help of the Indian Army and the government and the UK, the United Service Institution of India (USI), one of the oldest military think-tanks, has initiated the work on this memorial. This memorial would also be distinguished as it will have the State Emblem of India.

“The memorial has been erected at a small village named Villers Guislain. Dafadar Gobind Singh got the Victoria Award for fierce fighting at this battlefield only in December 1917. It is in this battle that the tank was used, “said USI Secretary Sqn Ldr RTS Chhina (Retd), told media-persons on Monday.

The first national memorial was built in Belgium a decade ago.

Highlighting the objective of the centenary commemorations is three-fold, according to USI Director Lt Gen PK Singh (retd): to revive the memory of a forgotten legion and to honour its sacrifice; to build bridges with partner nations through acknowledgement of a shared past and to highlight the futility of war. And most importantly, the urgent need to work towards its eradication as a means of settling disputes among nations.

According to him, Indian Army contributed a large number of divisions and independent brigades to the European, Mediterranean and the Middle East theatres of war in World War I.

The USI has also brought into the mainstream the descendants of those soldiers who fought and died during the war.

In her recent visit to France, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had announced the construction of a war memorial in France. “The French government gave around 1000 meters of land at a token cost of Euro one,” Chhina added.

According to the ex-servicemen, the thought behind the memorial was that it should be created for Indians who fought for liberating parts of France.

Overall 1.5 million Indian troops served overseas, of whom over 70,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded, who were part of the then British Indian Army. “Around 1.3 million fought overseas in Belgium, East Africa, Gallipoli, Aden, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Persia and China,” Chhina said.

On November 11, there will be World War Remembrance Service at the Delhi War Cemetery.

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