India and UK commemorate fallen soldiers in World War One: A recognition of shared sacrifice

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Marking 100 years since Armistice Day, the British Deputy High Commission Kolkata commemorated the contribution of the Indian Army to World War One at Kolkata today.

Armistice Day is commemorated every year as it marks the day World War One ended, at 11am on Armistice Day is commemorated every year as it marks the day World War One

This year, 11th November is even more special as it marks the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. This year, 11th November is even more special as it marks the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice Day.

India’s role in the War was significant – over 1.4 million Indian servicemen fought in theatres across Europe, the Middle East and East Africa, making the Indian contribution the largest non-British contingent in the British armies.

A two-minute silence was held at 11am to remember the people who have dies in all wars. In Britain, you can see poppies being worn or used as a symbol of Remembrance Sunday. They were adopted as the symbol of Remembrance because they grew on the battlefields in Flanders during the First World War. The Indian army has adopted the marigold as its symbol of Remembrance.

The British Deputy High Commission Kolkata every year organizes the Remembrance Sunday Commemoration at the Cenotaph on every 2nd Sunday of November, to pay tribute to all those who laid down their lives. This year, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice Day on 11th November,  the British Deputy High Commission also organized a commemoration event at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery (Bhowanipore), straight after the Remembrance Sunday Programme at the Cenotaph, Maidan. The day’s event had a special display of the Indian Army Band at both the venues.

Bruce Bucknell, British Deputy High Commissioner Kolkata

Bruce Bucknell, British Deputy High Commissioner Kolkata said: “I’m privileged to be here in Kolkata and have the opportunity to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in war. We recognize India s remarkable contribution to the war effort, from the third of the total force of the British Expeditionary Force who fought in Belgium in 1914, to the 21,000 from the North East of India who supported the war effort in Europe and the Middle East in 1917-18.”

Defence-Advisor to the British High Commission, Mark Goldsack, said: “Remembrance is our opportunity as a society to recognize the sacrifice made by all soldiers, on all our behalves, irrespective of their backgrounds. It is not about the politics of the conflict, it is about honoring the self-sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price”.

Today’s event in Kolkata was attended by senior representatives from the Government of West Bengal, the Indian Armed Forces, West Bengal/Kolkata Police, Ex-Services Associations Consul Corps, War Graves Commission, and members of the public.

A War Diary is an official record of events maintained during conflict. It will include routine orders, operational orders and administrative orders. In effect a historical record of the Regiment’s life on the front.

Eleven Victoria Crosses (the highest award of the British honor system) were won by Indian soldiers in WW1: two of these were Nepalese nationals and three were soldiers born in areas that are today part of Pakistan.

Over 1.4 million Indian servicemen fought in WW1 and there were over 70,000 fatalities. The Indian Army dominated, but the Indian Navy also contributed and Indians served in the Army Flying Corps. There were also labor battalions recruited from Bengal.

The Indian Army has the distinction of having fought in almost all theatres of the war – France and Flanders, alongside the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) at Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Palestine and North Africa.

WW1 started 28 July 1914 and finished on 11 Nov 1918. It involved all of world’s great powers, 70 million combatants, and saw more than 9 million killed. Armistice Day refers to the armistice treaty signed by the Allies and Germany on November 11th 1918.

British Deputy High Commissions across India will mark the anniversary with separate events.

-Jyotshna Agiwal