The event, at the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, was marking the first major engagement of Indian troops on the Western Front and is part of the Government’s four-year programme to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War.
Religious leaders from the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths joined school children from the North West to commemorate the troops’ involvement one hundred years ago with traditional Indian dance, readings, poems.
In his speech the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid praised the courage and commitment of the Indian troops saying:
Events in France a century ago are still relevant in Britain today. It’s important that we continue to tell the incredible story of the Indian Army and we never forget the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.
Neuve Chapelle is not just the place where the course of the First World War hung in the balance for four long days. It is also the place where men from across Britain’s empire stood shoulder to shoulder, fighting thousands of miles from home in defence of what was right. Men from modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal taking up arms alongside soldiers from every corner of the UK.
Havildar (Sergeant) Rajinder Singh Dhatt Vice-Chairman, of the Undivided Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Association said:
The Indian Troops played a significant part in the First World War and we welcome the Government’s efforts to ensure that the centenary is inclusive of all the faith communities who voluntarily participated in the war and pray that this national commemoration of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle will be a resounding success.