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Honouring the Valiant: Brighton’s Tribute to Indian Soldiers

In a move to honour the courageous Indian soldiers who fought valiantly in the First and Second World Wars, the Brighton and Hove City Council in England has taken a commendable step. They have decided to hold an annual multi-faith event at the town’s India Gate memorial this October, recognizing the pivotal role played by these warriors from the undivided Indian subcontinent.

The India Gate: A Symbol of Gratitude

The India Gate in Brighton, designed by Thomas Tyrwhitt and influenced by Gujarati architecture, stands as a testament to the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers. Unveiled on 26 October 1921 by the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupender Singh, this historic structure was a gift from the princes and people of India, expressing their gratitude for the care provided by Brighton’s hospitals to the wounded Indian troops.

Honouring the Fallen Warriors

During the First World War (1914-1918), a staggering 1.3 million Indian soldiers from the undivided subcontinent fought for the British Empire, with over 74,000 making the ultimate sacrifice. Their bravery was on full display on the Western Front, as well as in East Africa, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Egypt, and Gallipoli (Turkey).

In the Second World War (1939-1945), the Indian Army, considered the largest volunteer force in human history, saw over 2.5 million soldiers serving in the British ranks. They played a crucial role in battles across Africa, fighting against German tank divisions, as well as against Japanese forces in Myanmar (then Burma). Their unwavering courage was evident in the invasion of Italy and significant battles in the Middle East, where an estimated 87,000 Indian troops lost their lives.

Remembering the Fallen Heroes

Apart from the India Gate, Brighton is home to several other war memorials that honor the Indian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. The Chattri Memorial near Patcham marks the cremation site of 53 Hindu and Sikh soldiers, with inscriptions in English, Punjabi, Urdu, and Hindi. Indian Muslim soldiers who died in English hospitals were laid to rest near the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, Surrey.

The India Gate: A Legacy of Valor

The India Gate in New Delhi, originally known as the All India War Memorial, was part of the Imperial War Graves Commission’s efforts to honor those who died fighting for the British during the First World War. Designed by Edward Lutyens, the 42-meter-high monument bears the names of 13,516 Indian and British soldiers killed in the 1919 Afghan War on the Northwestern Frontier.

The Amar Jawan Jyoti, an eternal flame added later, burns day and night in remembrance of the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971, a testament to the enduring spirit of valor and sacrifice.

As the annual multi-faith event unfolds in Brighton, it serves as a poignant reminder of the courage and resilience displayed by Indian soldiers throughout history. Their unwavering commitment to defending freedom and upholding the values of humanity will forever be etched in the annals of military history, inspiring generations to come.

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