Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial
|Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial|
|Commonwealth War Graves Commission|
View from inside the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial
|For Army of India|
|Unveiled||7 October 1927|
Sir Herbert Baker |
and Charles Wheeler
|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 4,742 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, Devanagari and Gurmukhi: "God is One, His is the Victory".
The memorial was unveiled by F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, on 7 October 1927. The Earl of Birkenhead, 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. Foch's speech included the following addressed to them:
|“||Return to your homes in the distant, sun-bathed East and proclaim how your countrymen drenched with their blood the cold northern land of France and Flanders, how they delivered it by their ardent spirit from the firm grip of a determined enemy; tell all India that we shall watch over their graves with the devotion due to all our dead. We shall cherish above all the memory of their example. They showed us the way, they made the first steps towards the final victory.||”|
|— Marshal Ferdinand Foch, 7 October 1927|
Later additions to the memorials commemorated other Indian Army dead of both World Wars.
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:
|“||I am honoured to pay homage to the Indian soldiers here at the Indian Memorial at Neuve Chappelle. Our soldiers who fought in foreign lands in the Great War, have won the admiration of the world for dedication, loyalty, courage and sacrifice. I salute them.||”|
|— Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 11 April 2015|
Footnotes and references
- Neuve-Chapelle Memorial, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, accessed 14 January 2010
- "The Neuve-Chapelle Memorial". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
- Sikhs And The Great War In France, United Sikhs, accessed 14 January 2010
- 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)
- Names of VC Holders on Memorials in France Archived 12 December 2004 at the Wayback Machine., www.victoriacross.org.uk, accessed 14 January 2010
- "Modi in France: Prime Minister visits Airbus facility, pays homage to Indian soldiers". Hindustan Times. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial.|
- Details of the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
- Details of the Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial on the WW1 Cemeteries website
- Battle of Neuve-Chapelle, picture of memorial at time of construction and close-ups of architectural details, on the World War One Battlefields website
- The Indian Memorial at Neuve-Chapelle on the National Archives website
- Sikhs And The Great War In France, on the United Sikhs website