Paris, Dec 22: In a moving ceremony, organised here for the first time, martyred Indian soldiers were remembered at the iconic Arc de Triomphe, which is home to the Flame in the Memory of the Unknown Soldier.
The flame has been rekindled by the French army every single day since November 1923, even during the Second World War when Paris was occupied by the Germans. However, so far it had never been done in the memory of Indian soldiers, even though over 10,000 of them laid down their lives in the defence of France and other allied tions in the First World War, which had seen over 130,000 Indian soldiers arrive in France to battle the Germans.
The proof of the valiant Indian soldiers lies in Neuve Chapelle, a small village on the border with Belgium, where 4,200 Indian soldiers were killed in intense fighting that lasted over three days. The Indian armies filly drove out the German occupiers and gained control of this strategic village.
To commemorate these soldiers, the Indian community got together with the Indian embassy here, to organise a ceremony for the first time. The initiative was taken by Rajaram Munuswamy, secretary general of GOPIO Intertiol, the organisation that brings together persons of Indian origin in various countries around the world.
“In this centery year of the World War I, we have organised several events to honour Indian soldiers and that is why we approached the French defence ministry to allow us commemorate the ceremony at this unique monument. (ians)