Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial

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Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Ypres Salient 23.jpg
View from inside the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial
For Army of India
Unveiled 7 October 1927
Location 50°34′31.31″N 02°46′29.21″E / 50.5753639°N 2.7747806°E / 50.5753639; 2.7747806Coordinates: 50°34′31.31″N 02°46′29.21″E / 50.5753639°N 2.7747806°E / 50.5753639; 2.7747806
Designed by Sir Herbert Baker
and Charles Wheeler
English: To the honour of the Army of India which fought in France and Belgium, 1914-1918, and in perpetual remembrance of those of their dead whose names are here recorded and who have no known grave [1][2]
French: En honneur de l'Armee de l'Inde qui a combattu en France et en Belgique 1914-1918, et pour perpetuer le souvenir de ses morts aux tombes inconnues dont les noms sont ici graves.[3]
Statistics source: Cemetery Details. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial is a World War I memorial in France, located on the outskirts of the commune of Neuve-Chapelle, in the département of Pas de Calais. The memorial commemorates some 4742 Indian soldiers with no known grave, who fell in battle while fighting for the British Indian Army in the First World War. The location of the memorial was chosen because of the participation by Indian troops at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.

The memorial, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, with sculpture by Charles Wheeler, is a circular enclosure centred on a tall pillar that is topped by a lotus capital, and carved representations of the Star of India and the Imperial Crown. One half of the circular enclosure consists of the panels of names of the dead, while the other half is open. Other architectural and sculptural features of the memorial include carved stone tigers, and two small domed chattris. At the foot of the pillar is a Stone of Remembrance inscribed with the words: "Their name liveth for evermore." The main inscription is in both English and French, while the column also bears an inscription in English, Arabic, Hindi and Gurmukhi: "God is One, His is the Victory".[3]

The memorial was unveiled by the Earl of Birkenhead on 7 October 1927. The Earl of Birkenhead (Frederick Edwin Smith), who was present in his role as Secretary of State for India, had served in France in World War I from 1914 to 1915 as a staff officer with the Indian Corps, and later co-wrote an official history titled The Indian Corps in France (1917, revised edition 1919). Also present at the unveiling ceremony was Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who gave a speech in French. Attending the ceremony was a contingent of troops from India to represent the units that fought in France, including Sikhs, Dogras, and Garhwalis.[3] Foch's speech included the following addressed to them:

Later additions to the memorials commemorated other Indian Army dead of both World Wars.

There are two recipients of the Victoria Cross are commemorated on the Neuve-Chapelle Memorial: Gabar Singh Negi and William Arthur McCrae Bruce.[5]

Sikh soldiers charging German positions at Neuve Chapelle, 1915. (Official British Military painting. First published in "The Great War" Ed. H.W. Wilson, 1916)

The memorial was the site for commemorations during the First World War centenary years, including a visit in April 2015 by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. The Indian national anthem was played, a silence held, and a wreath laid. Modi wrote in the visitor's book:

Footnotes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Neuve-Chapelle Memorial, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, accessed 14 January 2010
  2. ^ "The Neuve-Chapelle Memorial". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Sikhs And The Great War In France, United Sikhs, accessed 14 January 2010
  4. ^ Taken from Sikhs And The Great War In France, which states that this extract was taken from Neuve Chappelle - India's Memorial in France 1914-1918, (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1927)
  5. ^ Names of VC Holders on Memorials in France, www.victoriacross.org.uk, accessed 14 January 2010
  6. ^ "Modi in France: Prime Minister visits Airbus facility, pays homage to Indian soldiers". Hindustan Times. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015. 

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