Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Construction workers dig out cannon from BMRCI campus

Central Bengaluru, it seems, hides centuries of history under its garb of concrete and dirt.

Construction workers at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute stumbled upon a cannon hidden underneath the campus. The workers were excavating a foundation for the new block of BMRCI when they dug out the cannon – possibly belonging to Tipu Sultan – around noon on Monday.

Third cannon

This is the third such cannon found in the area in the recent past. The cannon was around 11 feet long and possibly weighs around 400 kg, said Arun Raj T., Superintending Archaeologist of the Archaeological Society of India, who visited the spot.

Source http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/slice-of-history-unearthed-under-concrete/article7195616.ece/

Thursday, March 19, 2015

WWI memorial, museum will be set up in Delhi

2014 marked the centenary of the commencement of the Great War/World War I (WWI), fought from 28 July 1914 till 11 November 1918. Of the almost 1.5 million Indian troops on the rolls of the Indian Army then, 13,81,050, who fought in all theatres of this war, were the decisive factor leading to the Allied victory.
While the Indian Army since its inception 256 years ago, has had a splendid and unsurpassed record of acquitting itself in every theatre, both in war and peace, it was the WWI which established its reputation globally as a very professional, disciplined and fearless fighting force, acknowledged by both allies and adversaries. In ceremonies held in the UK, France, Belgium, Turkey and Australia, in 2014 alone, praise has been showered on Indian Army’s exploits. More events have been planned till November 2018.
Preceding the outbreak of WWI in 1914, the political consensus building up between Indian leaders was that if India desired greater responsibility and political autonomy, it must also be willing to share in the burden of Imperial defence. It is significant that Mahatma Gandhi and other political leaders were of the opinion that participation of the Indian Army would enhance India’s stature, lead to self rule and finally to independence. Mahatma Gandhi even raised an Ambulance Company but could not proceed due to ill health.
While this war was very costly in terms of Indian casualties — 74,187 killed and over 60,000 injured/maimed — the Indian Corps won 13,000 medals for gallantry, including 12 Victoria Crosses (which were never before awarded to non-whites), and Indian regiments were awarded a host of battle honours in both the eastern and western fronts. WWI also paved the way for the development and organisational reforms in the Army, “Indianisation” of the Army’s officer corps and formation of the Indian Air Force.
The advent of the machine-gun, improvements in the accuracy of firearms/artillery greatly increased casualties on the battlefield. With both cavalry and infantry becoming more vulnerable, it was trenches which were found suitable to fight from and within some months of the beginning of WWI, much of the European theatre became furrowed with trench lines. However, rain and the high subsoil water table soon made trench warfare a very messy ordeal.
The Indian Army units landed in France three to six weeks after war had been declared and were involved in their first military operation a month later, briefly capturing the town of Neuve Chapelle, before a strong German counter-attack drove them out again. Less than a month later, the Indian Corps was once again embroiled in fierce fighting, after the German Army had breached the Indian Corps’ trenches in Festubert. Hand-to-hand fighting in the trenches, resulted in heavy losses of Indian troops and trenches.
The trenches were recaptured the following day after an “at all costs” order from the command.
Referring to fierce battles of 1915, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, commander of the Allied Forces in France in WW I, stated: “…The Indian troops were thus among the first to show the way to a victorious offensive. It is only right that a memorial should perpetuate the glorious memory of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the Indian Army at the very spot where later on a general attack by the Allied troops was to bring the decisive victory in sight. Return to your homes in the distant, sun-bathed East and proclaim how your countrymen drenched with their blood the cold northern land of France and Flanders, how they delivered it by their ardent spirit from the firm grip of a determined enemy; tell all India that we shall watch over their graves with the devotion due to all our dead. We shall cherish above all the memory of their example. They showed us the way, they made the first steps towards the final victory.”
While there are memorials to the Indian Army in France, Belgium, the UK and Egypt, the Brits made the All-India War Memorial, now India Gate, located on Kingsway, now Rajpath, which has names of 74,187 Indian soldiers who died in World WarI and elsewhere between 1914-19 inscribed on the memorial arch. In addition, there are names of 12,516 Indian soldiers who died while serving in India, North-West Frontier and the Third Afghan War. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, India Gate resembles the architectural style of the Napoleonic Arc de Triomphe in Paris and Menin Gate, at Ypres, in Flanders, Belgium.
Despite many wars and conflicts since India’s Independence, no war memorial was made. The BJP coming to power last year, announced the construction of a national war memorial at the traffic roundabout behind India Gate and a war museum at the nearby Princes’ Park, with an underground connecting route.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Australia made a special mention of the Australian and Indian soldiers fighting side by side 100 years ago and laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
The following year, the Indian troops were to experience the savagery of chemical warfare in a particularly gruelling offensive in Langemarck, near Ypres. The stalemate left men caught in trenches for months and months. By 1915 the dismally deadlocked western front brought the Allied strategy under scrutiny, with strong arguments for an offensive through the Balkans or even a landing on Germany’s Baltic coast, instead of more costly attacks in France and Belgium.

Monday, March 16, 2015

WW-I exhibition extended till Mar 25 on PM's advice

An Army exhibition commemorating the World War I, in which at least 74,187 Indian soldiers died in action, has been extended till March 25 on the direction of Prime MinisterModi, who was impressed with it and wanted Parliamentarians and schoolchildren to see it. 

"We salute the sacrifice of each and every Indian soldier martyred in the war," the Prime Minister had said yesterday after visiting the exhibition, themed 'and World War I', at the Manekshaw Centre in the Cantonment area here. 

Army officials said the exhibition, which began on March 10 and was to end by March 15, has now been extended to March 25 on directions of Modi with March 18-20 being reserved for Parliamentarians. 

An official release yesterday quoted Modi as saying that the exhibition "brings alive the participation and bravery of Indian soldiers in various battlefields of this war across Europe, and Asia". 

Modi said he was touched to meet the descendants of some of the soldiers, who were decorated for their services in World War I and urged youths to visit the exhibition to learn about the Great War. 

The exhibition, which showcases the gallantry and sacrifice of Indian soldiers in the First World War, is open till 7 PM. 

The army has also created a replica of a World War-I (1914-18) bunker displaying the living conditions of the soldiers then. 

The period between 2014 and 2018 is being commemorated as the centenary of the Great War. 

March 10 coincides with the 'Battle of Neuve Chapelle' marking the British offensive in Artois region of France in which the Garhwal Brigade and Meerut Division of the Indian Corps participated. 

The 'Sacrifice Hall' at the exhibition include replicas of Amar Jawan Jyoti, Indian memorials, busts and paintings of Victoria Cross Winners in India and abroad.
Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/ww-i-exhibition-extended-till-mar-25-on-pm-s-advice-115031601012_1.html

World War I Role of India exhibition

Exhibition: 'Pondicherry and French India in the First World War' at Fayer du Soldat. Photo: T.Singaravelou

First World War weapons and helmets at Redbridge Museum's First World War exhibitionFirst World War weapons and helmets at Redbridge Museum's First World War exhibition
Redbridge Museum has unveiled Redbridge and the First World War – An Exhibition, a display which has been in the works for most of the year.

First World War uniform from India on display with a rifle at Redbridge Museum's First World War exhibitionFirst World War uniform from India on display with a rifle at Redbridge Museum's First World War exhibition

Friday, March 13, 2015

Forces remember WW-I martyrs

NEW DELHI: The armed forces have kicked off a week-long commemoration of the centenary of World War-I, which saw over 74,000 Indian soldiers laying down their lives in battlefields spreading from Sonne and Flanders in France to Gallipoli and Canakkale in Turkey. 

President Pranab Mukherjee, accompanied by defence minister Manohar Parrikar, three Service chiefs and diplomatic heads of several nations involved in World War-I from 1914 to 1918, laid wreaths at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate on Monday. It came on the eve of the centenary of the battle of Neuve Chapple, which saw the maximum number of Indian soldiers being martyred. 

"On the centenary commemoration of World War-I, I join my fellow countrymen in paying homage to the brave and valiant sons of Mother India, who laid down their lives in the line of duty. I am sure that our great nation will continue to draw inspiration from the sacrifice of these bravehearts," said Mukherjee. 

A major exhibition, with war memorabilia from different regimental centres, will be inaugurated by Mukherjee at the Manekshaw Centre in Delhi Cantonment on Tuesday, which will also witness a veterans' heritage run. The exhibition has a "corner of remembrance", a "sacrifice hall", replicas of a dozen World War-I memorials from across the world, outdoor props depicting bunkers and trench-to-trench warfare, among other things. 

"This is an endeavour to commemorate the supreme gallantry and sacrifice that Indian soldiers showed in various theatres of World War-I, winning over 9,200 gallantry awards including 11 Victoria Crosses," said Major-General Narinder Pal Singh, chief of staff of the II Corps based at Ambala. 

"Over 1.5 million Indian soldiers were hurriedly recruited and taken to fight battles in foreign lands. Their sacrifice was tremendous, fighting for their regimental izzat (honour)," added Major-Gen Singh, whose own grandfather served in France for seven years during the "Great War''. 

All of the 30 regiments or units that took part in World War-I and are still part of the Indian Army, from Skinner's Horse and Madras Regiment to Gorkha and Garhwal Rifles, do also commemorate their own "Battle Honour Days" in their own unique way. "A soldier is a soldier, whichever the political dispensation that directs him to go to war may be...It's part of our regimental heritage," said a senior officer. 

The "Battle of Gallipoli" in 1915, for instance, is part of the institutional memory of the 4 Mechanised Infantry Regiment (1 Sikh), which was the 14 Ferozepore Sikhs during World War-I. "Over 15 officers and 371 troops of 4 Mech (1 Sikh) were killed in a single day, with the fearless Khalsas gallantly trying to clear one trench after the other in the bloody battle," said an officer. 

"As many as 36 IDSMs (India Distinguished Service Medal) and three IOMs (Indian Order of Merit) were awarded to the martyrs of the unit. The overall Gallipoli campaign, of course, ended in failure for the British," he added. 

The British raised many new Indian units with the advent of World War-I, including the first Kumaon battalion at Ranikhet, which successfully broke through the Turkish lines of defence in the "Battle of Sharon" to ensure Nahar-El-Falak could be captured in September 1918. "The battalion won nine gallantry awards, including two Distinguished Service Orders, two Military Crosses and five IDSMs," said the officer. 
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Forces-remember-WW-I-martyrs/articleshow/46509416.cms


The Evolution of the Artillery in India: From the Battle of Plassey (1757) to the Revolt of 1857
By R. C. Butalia
Published by Allied Publishers, 1998
ISBN 8170238722, 9788170238720