First World War Memorial at Villers Guislain in France is a Testimony to the Valour & Sacrifice of Indian Soldiers

First World War Memorial, at Villers Guislain – the town in France that was the site of a pitched battle during World War 1, the first of its kind because of the use of the Ashoka emblem, constructed by the Government of India to honour the valour and sacrifices of the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who fought during the First World War, was inaugurated by Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday 10 November 2018. He laid wreath and paid homage to the Indian soldiers who fought selflessly and heroically during World War 1 and made the supreme sacrifice. Gerard Allart-Mayor of Villers Guislain, Vinay Kwatra -Ambassador of India to France, Members of the Indian Community, Representatives of Indian French armed forces and locals witnessed the historic occasion.

The land in Villers-Guislain was donated by the French government to the Government of India for constructing a memorial recognising the sacrifices of Indian soldiers during the Battle of Cambrai in 1917.

A similar Indian memorial of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission built decades ago is located at Neuve Chapelle in France.

Vice President addressing the gathering later at Mayor’s office said that the Indian memorial in Villers-Guislain would stand tall as a towering manifestation of our continuous efforts to express solidarity with France in remembering the martyrs of the First World War:

  • Indian Cavalry comprising of the Deccan Horse, Hodson’s Horse, Poona Horse, Central India Horse and 18 Cavalry had charged at German positions during the Battle almost 100 years back on this same soil.
  • Memorial is a testimony to the valour of the Indian soldiers and the duty they stood for, leaving behind their kith and kin, even though it was not a war that India was involved with directly, they fought for human liberty and freedom.
  • Their contributions can never be forgotten.
  • Valour of Indian soldiers and the duty they stood for, leaving behind their kith and kin, is a memory that can never be erased.
  • They fought for human liberty and freedom, even though it was not a war that India was involved with directly.
  • Sons and daughters of India have always stood on the side of righteousness even when confronting the toughest adversities and have fought gallantly and laid down their lives to uphold and promote these cherished ideals, in the far-flung corners of the world.
  • Nearly 1.3 Million Indian soldiers fought with valour & distinction during World War I.
  • A designated Indian Expeditionary Force ‘A’, the Indian Corps that served in France and Belgium from Sep 1914 consisted of two Infantry and two Cavalry Divisions.
  • Nearly 140000 Indian Soldiers took part in World War 1 in France and Belgium. 9300 of them made supreme sacrifice and are buried in 168 cemeteries in France and Belgium.
  • Battle of Cambrai was fought on this very piece of land in Villers-Guislain from the morning of November 20, 1917 till December 4, 1917.
  • Over 40000 soldiers had died during that battle, including many Indians.
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