Col. B. S. Varma, 'India Remembers' Project Evaluator, and Mr Manoharlal Bahanwal, Manager of Kirkee War Cemetery, laying a marigold wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice before the cycle rally was flagged off from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site (Photo © India Remembers).

Cyclists rally for 'India Remembers' commemorative ride

Posted on on 16 December 2016
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Cyclists from Pune have rallied for a 130-kilometre (80-mile) bike ride as part of an initiative to promote remembrance of India's war dead since 1914.

About 30 riders completed the journey from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Kirkee War Cemetery to Apshinge Military, a village in Mahaharastra which takes its name from a tradition of soldiering in the Indian Army that dates back to WW1. 

The entire community turned out to give the cyclists and guests 'an incredible reception', India Remembers says, welcoming them on 11 December 2016 with fire crackers, drum beats and traditional marigold garlands.

'India Remembers' project team with some of the cyclists following their arrival at Apshinge Military, Satara, Maharashtra (Photo © India Remembers)

Launched in July on the centenary of a noted Indian cavalry attack on the Somme, India Remembers aims to raise awareness of the sacrifice of the Indian forces who fought in both world wars, as well as those in conflicts since independence in 1947.

More than a million troops and other personnel from undivided India were deployed overseas as part of the British Empire's forces during the First World War, serving on the Western Front, in the Middle East, Africa, Gallipoli, as well as on the Western Front.

India Remembers is a joint initiative between the United Service Institution of India - Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research (USI-CAFHR) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The project was commended by Lt. General R.J. Noronha, Chief of Staff of the Indian Army's Southern Command in Pune, as he flagged off the cyclists from Kirkee War Cemetery, where more than 1,800 Indian dead of the First World War are among those commemorated.

Lt. Gen. R. J. Noronha, AVSM**, SM, Chief of Staff, Southern Command, speaking at Kirkee War Cemetery (Photo © India Remembers)

The youngest rider was 14-year-old Daanish Mundroina from Pune - the oldest, retired Lt. Gen. Surinder Nath,  PVSM, AVSM**, SM, VSM (Retd.), former Chief of Staff, Southern Command.

Ten of the cyclists were from the Bombay Engineer Group, or 'Bombay Sappers' as they're informally known, a regiment of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army.

The day's events in Apshinge Military included a wreath-laying and Last Post ceremony at the village war memorial, a cultural programme performed by students from local schools, and an exhibition highlighting Apshinge's contribution to the Indian armed forces from 1914 to the present day.

India Remembers comments: "The Remembrance Cycle Rally has been one of the largest India Remembers event since its launch on July 14, 2016.

"It provided a unique opportunity for communities in Pune and Satara in Maharashtra to come together to remember, honour and commemorate the Indian Armed Forces personnel’s service to the nation since 1914 to the present day.

"What is mentionworthy is the incredible reception of the entire village community towards the cause which the India Remembers project seeks to achieve through community engagement throughout the country."

A memorial to Apshinge's First World War soldiers, installed during British rule in India. Such monuments are maintained by local communities. At present, there's no consolidated list of them. But research is being carried out as part of the Great War Centenary Commemoration Project, headed by USI-CAFHR (Photo © India Remembers)

India Remembers is calling for the marigold to join the poppy as a 'unique Indian symbol' of remembrance. It also suggests that India adopts an annual Day of Remembrance.

Full details of the project can be found on the India Remembers, CWGC and Big Ideas Company websites. 

Information & images supplied by India Remembers 

Posted by: CN Editorial Team

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