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Remember India’s Sacrifice In First World War Urges Commonwealth War Graves Commission

10 March 2015

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is urging the public to remember the contribution and sacrifice made by Indian servicemen and women during the First World War on the centenary of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10 - 13 March 2015).

Indian Army units began arriving in France in September 1914, and went on to fight in some of the bloodiest battles of the first year of the war.

In March 1915, the first major British offensive of the First World War took place at Neuve Chapelle - with the Indian Corps making up half of the Commonwealth fighting force. 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".

Over the course of the war, India sent over 140,000 men to the Western Front. They hailed from the length and breadth of undivided India: from the Punjab, Garwahl, the Frontiers, Bengal, Madras, Burma, and from neighbouring Nepal, and represented an extremely diverse range of religious, linguistic, and ethnic cultures.

Of the combatants, over 8,600 were killed and as many as 50,000 more were wounded. Over 4,000 of these men are commemorated on the CWGC Neuve Chapelle Memorial in northern France.

Click here for the full media release.