New Delhi: A burial ceremony of two Indian soldiers from the 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles, who laid down their lives in World War I in France, will be held on Sunday at the French Military Cemetery in La Gorgue, the Army said.
On September 20 last year, during an excavation on the southern side of Richebourg village near Laventie Military Cemetery, nearly 70 km (43 miles) from Dunkirk, two human remains were found. On examining their belongings, they were identified as causalities of the 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles.
“The office of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWWGC), which is the curator of graves of these unsung heroes, in consultation with the French government and the Indian embassy in France, decided to hold a burial ceremony at the Laventie Military Cemetery, with full military honours,” a statement said.
A delegation of the Indian Army comprising the commandant and subedar major of the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre, two bagpipers from the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Pipe band and Colonel Nitin Negi was nominated to attend the ceremony.
Colonel Nitin Negi is the grandson of late Naik Darwan Singh Negi, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry in the Battle of Festubert.
In a symbolic gesture, the soil from the graves of these soldiers would be brought back to their homeland. In an interaction earlier this week with the PTI, Sqn. Ldr. (retired) Rana Chinna, a military historian, who has done extensive work on the participation of Indian soldiers in the world wars, said nearly 1.5 million soldiers from the country had participated in World War 1.
Nearly 4,500 of them died in France and Belgium, he had said.
“During World War I, the Garhwal Brigade comprising of 1st/39th and 2nd/39th Royal Garhwal Rifles showed unparalleled bravery in those treacherous trenches of France and Flanders. The Garhwal Brigade earned six Battle Honours and two Victoria Cross in France and Flanders Theatre,” the statement said.
On this occasion, homage will also be paid to the soldiers of Indian Meerut Division at Nueve Chapelle War Memorial in France by laying wreaths on behalf of Gen. Bipin Rawat, chief of the Army staff, by Brigadier Indrajit Chatterjee and Subedar Major Trilok Singh Negi of the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre.