France has expressed its gratitude to all the Indian soldiers who fought in the killing fields of France and Flanders in World War I. A unique Indian Armed Forces Memorial will be inaugurated on December 2 at Villiers Guislain, 100 years after the Indian cavalry had resisted a German counterattack here during the Battle of Cambrai in 1917.
During the event, the Indian Tricolour will be hoisted and French children will sing Jana Gana Mana. The memorial not only cements the historical bonds between the two countries but also honours Indian servicemen who have remained a footnote of history for a century.
Squadron Leader Rana Chhina who has been the driving force of this memorial from the Indian side said that the land was a gift from the village of Villiers Guislain, and the mayor Gerard Alart has been one of the key factors.
Sculptor Anil Sutar was happy and proud to sculpt the memorial. It comprises of a lion capital made of bronze, flanked by two crossed cavalry lances with pennants on either side. A memorial plaque will also be installed there.
Chhina clarified that the memorial wasn’t confined only to the Indian Army but is for all Indian sailors, airmen and non-combatants who sacrificed their lives in war. This would be the second Ashokan memorial in Europe installed by free India, the first being at Menin Gate in Belgium.
Chinna said,"This memorial is to all. We are thankful to the people of Villiers Guislain who donated this land, and the municipality that landscaped it."