Buried in France over a hundred years ago, bodies of two Indian soldiers are finally on their way to their motherland. The unknown soldiers were deployed by the British Indian Army in France to fight the World War I, where they were poignantly killed and buried as anonymous martyrs in the war. Burial of the two Indian soldiers was done along with the bodies of a British and a German soldier in a field in Laventie, nearly 70 km from Dunkirk, France.
Giving more details about how the discovery was made, an officer from Garhwal Rifles posted in Lansdowne told Times of India:
The discovery was made during digging for civic work in a field in September 2016. Among the remains were the insignia of 39 Garhwal Rifles. French officials confirmed the finds and wrote to us. Now a team of four Indian defence personnel, including a Garhwal Rifles brigadier, will visit the site next month. Some artefacts, including the regimental insignia, have also been found. Our team will try to determine the identities of the soldiers, and see if any other details can be found….We will try our best to identify them, although it will be difficult. The bodies were buried for more than 100 years, so very little is left.
Many soldiers from the Garhwal Rifles were deployed by the British Indian Army in foreign lands during both World War I and World War II. Records with the Garhwal Rifles have reportedly recorded that more than 721 soldiers from their regiment were killed in the First World War whereas nearly 349 soldiers lost their lives in the Second World War.
One of the most famous Indian soldiers to have fought the wars was Gabar Singh Negi. He was even honoured with the Victoria Cross for his actions in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in France, where he died on March 10, 1915.
The remains of the Indian soldiers found in September 2016 were lying buried near Laventie, where the fierce battle had taken place. So, it can be safely assumed that these two Indian soldiers were killed during the battle.
After the battle of Nueve Chapelle, soldiers of the 39th Garhwal Rifles were moved to Iraq (then Mesopotamia). It is a matter or record that more than 1 lakh Indian soldiers were deployed during the first world war, out of which more than 62,000 soldiers were killed. Hundreds of them were buried in graves maintained by the Imperial War Graves Commission in countries like France and Belgium.