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France to have memorial commemorating contribution of Indian soldiers during World War I

The memorial is likely to be inaugurated either by President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu or Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Reported by: PTI New Delhi Published on: October 22, 2018 23:45 IST
France to have memorial commemorating contribution of
Image Source : AP

France to have memorial commemorating contribution of Indian soldiers during World War I

A memorial commemorating the contribution of Indian armed forces in the World War I is being built in France and will be inaugurated by an Indian dignitary next month, an ex-serviceman overseeing the project said Monday.

Squadron Leader Rana Chhina (retd.), the secretary of the United Services Institution of India's Centre for Armed Forces Research, said the memorial is being built in Villers-Guislain, a village in northern France.

It will be inaugurated on November 10, which also marks the centenary of the armistice announced during the World War I.

"This will be first battlefield memorial to be built by the Indian armed forces, which will be dedicated to the Indian soldiers who lost their lives in France during the World War I," Chhina said.

There is another war memorial in Nueve Chappelle, but it was built by Commonwealth War Graves Commission in honour of the Indian soldiers who died in France and Belgium.

The memorial is likely to be inaugurated either by President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu or Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said.

The location is also the place where the Battle of Cambrai took place between the German and the British forces.

The 500-square metre land was given for the memorial for 1 Euro by Villers-Guislain, Chhina added.

"The memorial is being built by noted sculptor Ram Sutar and has an Ashoka Chakra over it," he said.

Nearly 1.5 million Indian soldiers participated in the World War I as part of the then British Indian Army, of which 1.3 million fought overseas in places such as Flanders (Belgium), East Africa, Gallipoli, Aden, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Persia and China, Chhina said.

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Some 74,000 Indian soldiers lost their lives, he added.

From November 9-11, there is also an elaborate programme scheduled to commemorate the centenary of the World War I.

On November 9, there is a joint Indo-UK international seminar, titled 'India and the Great War in Research, Memory and Commemoration'. On the next day, there will be a joint Indo-UK military band concert, followed by a joint reception at the British High Commissioner's residence.

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

Chhina said battlefield tourism was already popular in Europe and sustaining local economies in places such as northern France and Belgium. This concept, he said, was gaining prominence in India.

This year, he said, defence personnel of India and UK undertook a "staff ride" of Delhi to understand the 1857 freedom struggle.

"Such visits were important to understand military perspective of any event," he said.

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