Indian soldiers who fought as part of the British Army during the Raj in 1917 were among thousands of martyrs remembered at a special 100th anniversary ceremony in Belgium today, of one of the bloodiest battles of World War I. The Battle of Passchendaele, described as one of the bloodiest battles of World War I, took place between July and November 1917 and led to nearly 250,000 casualties on both sides – the Allied Forces fighting the German Army.
Britain’s Prince Charles addressed the service, saying: “We remember it not only for the rain that fell, the mud that weighed down the living and swallowed the dead, but also for the courage and bravery of the men who fought here.” The conflict – officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres – was fought from 31 July 1917 until November that year.
Besides the brutal fighting, many drowned in the mud caused by weeks of relentless rain at Passchendaele, a village in Belgium. According to history records, the Germans had reached the gates of the Ypres municipality until heroic defence by British, Indian, Belgian and French troops held them back.
Nearly 4,000 relatives of the soldiers attended the ceremony at Tyne Cot cemetery in Ypres, Belgium, today alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince William and wife Kate. May read a Bible passage and the ceremony also included singing and the “Calling Of The Names” or personal stories of some of the thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers and others present at the battle, including nurses and medical staff.
“The name Passchendaele resonates with anyone with even a passing knowledge of the First World War. It is on those fields where hundreds of thousands of men of all nations fought and died in appalling conditions,” May said. Thousands of Indian troops fought as part of the British Empire against the German Empire in German East Africa and on the Western Front during World War I.