French War Memorial (Puducherry)
The French War Memorial in Puducherry, India (French : ‘’Monument aux combattants des Indes francaises morts pour la patrie’’) is a war memorial dedicated to residents of French India who died for the country during the First World War. It is on Goubert Avenue in Puducherry, located opposite to the Gandhi statue.
France had decided in 1915 to reinforce her army with recruits from her Asian possessions; a recruitment campaign was launched in December 1915.
"India is indebted to France in different ways, it is now the duty of every Indian to stand with France during this period of adversity (...) France will never forget those who have come to her during these difficult times. They will be treated like her own children. Thank you for joining the French army." - from a communique during this period by Alfred Martineau, the governor of French India.
Pondicherry would offer 800 recruits, send 500 combatants overseas and would see 75 deaths from this group.
The monument was erected in 1937 and inaugurated on 3 April 1938 by governor Crocicchia. A subsidy of 5,000 rupees was entered into the colonial budget and was granted "to the committee designated by the decree of 14 January 1936, for the erection of a monument to the memory of the inhabitants of French India who died for France during the 1914-1918 war."  It was designed by the sculptor Gaston Petit and an architect named Delafon.
A bronze plaque lists the names of soldiers who died during the First World War. Further plaques were added, listing the names of soldiers who died during World War Two, the French War in Indochina and the Algerian War. The monument remains the property of France.
The memorial is decorated and illuminated yearly on Bastille Day (14 July) in honour of the soldiers from the colony who took part in World War One. French government officials visit the memorial on occasion and lay flowers at the foot of the monument. A "Defense and Citizenship Day" is held every November, offering students from the Lycée français de Pondichéry and other local schools the chance to attend presentations on the rights and duties of French citizen followed by presentations on national defense. They then attend a ceremony at the memorial on 11 November to honour the end of the First World War.
Notes and references
- "FRENCH WAR MEMORIAL". pondytourism.in. Department of Tourism, Government of Puducherry. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Trouillard, Stéphanie (30 December 2014). "Grande Guerre : les soldats bengalis de l'armée française tombés dans l'oubli". France 24 (in French). Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Deroo, Éric; Champeaux, Antoine (2013). "Panorama des troupes coloniales françaises dans les deux guerres mondiales" [An overview of French colonial troops in the two world wars]. Revue historique des armées (in French). 271: 72–88. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Inde française (22 February 1936). Journal officiel des établissements français dans l'Inde (Report) (in French). Gouvernement de Inde française. p. 247. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Bonnichon, Philippe; Gény, Pierre (2012). Présences françaises outre-mer, XVIe-XXIe siècles (in French). KARTHALA Editions. ISBN 9782811107376.
- "UN AÏEUL OUBLIE DES ANCIENS ETABLISSEMENTS FRANCAIS DE L INDE : REMINISCENCES ET REFLEXIONS". www.pondichery-appafp.com. APPAFP. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- "Monuments in Puducherry". Puducherry Online City Guide. 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- "Le monument aux morts pour la France de Pondichery en Inde par Philippine Huret". Le Souvenir Francais de Chine (in French). 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- "La mission de défense à Pondichery". French Embassy in India (in French). 21 February 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2017.