National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 13 Nov 2017
A delegation comprising of Commandant and Subedar Major of the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre, two bagpipers from the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Pipe Band and Colonel Nitin Negi, grandson of late Naik Darwan Singh Negi, Victoria Cross, attended the ceremony.
On the occasion, homage was also paid to the soldiers of Indian Meerut Division at Nueve Chapelle War Memorial by laying wreaths on behalf of the Chief of the Army Staff, Indian Army by Brigadier Indrajit Chatterjee, Commandant and Subedar Major Trilok Singh Negi, SM of the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre. The Commandant expressed his gratitude to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the excellent care and maintenance of the War Memorial dedicated to Indian soldiers in France and Flanders. He also thanked the Government of France for the conduct of the solemn ceremony.
On 20th September 2016, during an excavation work on southern side of the village of Richebourg near Laventie Military Cemetery, approximately 230 Kms away from Paris, two human remains were found and identified to be of soldiers of 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles.
The office of Commonwealth War Graves Commission in consultation with the French Government and Indian Embassy in France decided to hold ceremony to rest them along with their comrades at Laventie Military Cemetery, with full military honours during the annual memorial service that is held to commemorate the Indian soldiers who were martyred in action in France and Belgium.
In a symbolic gesture, the soil from the graves of these soldiers will be brought back to their homeland.
During World War-I, the Garhwal Brigade comprising of 1st/39th and 2nd/39th Royal Garhwal showed unparalleled bravery in treacherous trenches of France and Flanders. Fighting shoulder to shoulder with British soldiers, the Garhwal Brigade earned six Battle Honours and two Victoria Cross in France and Flanders Theatre.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.