Neuve Chapelle Centenary: India tribute in France

Posted on on 13 March 2015
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The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is urging people 'to take a minute' to remember Indian soldiers killed during the First World War, as commemorations are held to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915.

Indian representatives will attend commemorations in France this afternoon (March 13th 2015) at the CWGC Indian Memorial on the outskirts of the modern village of Neuve Chapelle.

The site, near Béthune, remembers more than 4,700 missing soldiers and labourers from undivided India who died on the Western Front.

Indian troops made up half of the attacking force in Britain's first major Western Front offensive at Neuve Chapelle from March 10th-13th 1915.

Soldiers writing home talked of “shells pouring down like rain in the monsoon” and the bodies of the dead “covering the country like sheaves of harvested corn”.

On the Centenary of Neuve Chapelle, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is urging the public to remember the colonial Indian Army's sacrifice during the First World War.

CWGC's Director of External Engagement, Colin Kerr, said: "Very few people are aware of the unique contribution made by Indian servicemen during the First World War. The CWGC commemorates 74,000 Indian servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives during the conflict.

"As we mark the centenary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, we are urging you to take a minute to remember them. Visit the CWGC website to discover more about the battle, and some of those who fought in it."

Despite early gains, the British offensive ended inconclusively after four days, hampered by poor communications.

Today's ceremony, attended by representatives from the Indian Embassy in Paris, starts at 3pm.

Details of March 2015 community events in Richebourg-Neuve Chapelle marking the centenary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle can be found here.

Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News