Remains of the day: India to bring home war dead

GALLANTRY: The Victoria Cross medal
GALLANTRY: The Victoria Cross medal

INDIAN defence authorities will trav­el to France in November to identify and bring back remains of two Indi­an soldiers killed during the First World War, an army official said last Saturday (28).

The remains of two unnamed sol­diers of the Garhwal Rifles, along with their regimental insignia, were found in September 2016 in a field near the northwestern French town of Laventie, nearly 70 km (43 miles) from Dunkirk.

The remains of a British and Ger­man soldier were also found at the site during civic work by local au­thorities. The combatants are be­lieved to have been killed in a battle with Germans, nearly 100 years ago.

France informed India about the discovery, and Delhi said it would send a team of four officials, includ­ing a brigadier from the regiment, to identify the soldiers and artefacts found with them and bring back their remains.

“Some artefacts, including tregi­mental insignia, have also been found. We will try our best to identify them, although it will be difficult,” said Colonel Ritesh Roy of Garhwal Rifles. “The bodies were buried for more than 100 years, so very little is left.”

The Garhwal Rifles, which was named after the northern Himalayan region of Garhwal, was raised in 1887 as part of the Bengal Army before it was incorporated in the British Indi­an Army.

It remains an infantry regiment in the Indian Army.

The regiment had an active role in both the First and Second World Wars. It lost nearly 700 men in the former conflict and another 350 dur­ing the latter. Two of its soldiers were awarded Victoria Cross – the highest gallantry award in the United King­dom and Commonwealth – for their bravery during the First World War.

Over a million soldiers from the Indian subcontinent served the Allied Powers during the first World War, with nearly 70,000 of them dying. An­other 2.5 million Indian soldiers par­ticipated in the Second World War.