NEW DELHI:After almost 71 years, the records of Indian soldiers, who were among the 600,000 World War II casualties, were released by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) for the first time to commemorate the victory over Japan (VJ Day) on August 15, 1945.
Andrew Fetherston, the CWGC’s archivist and records manager, said, “The online release of our World War II archive opens a new avenue for members of the public to investigate and remember the individuals we commemorate. With the addition of these documents, alongside the records relating to non-Commonwealth casualties buried at various sites around the world, it will now be possible, for the first time, to see the original records of all the 1.7 million individuals the CWGC commemorates.”
Sapper Kartar Singh, a 16-year-old teenager of King George V’s Own Bengal Sappers and Miners Regiment, was among the 65 Indian soldiers killed on May 11, 1944, in an inadvertent bombing by allied aircraft at Prisoner of War Camp in Epinal, a French town situated on the Moselle.
Kartar, son of Dhian Singh and Biro of Tajpur from Ludhiana, was given a quiet burial, along with other Indian soldiers, at Epinal French National Cemetery on the eastern outskirts of Epinal town. His headstone inscription reads, “This Sikh Soldier of Indian Army is Honoured Here.” The headstone also bears a Sikh emblem. Of a total of 483, there are two graves of Indian soldiers in Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery situated in Southern Poland, about 290 km from capital Warsaw. Those buried here died as prisoners of war(PoW) during the German occupation.
The CWGC also released the 5,509 records of Indian, Pakistani (after partition) and Nepalese soldiers laid to rest in various cemeteries in Italy, such as Cassino Memorial, Sangro River Cremation, Bari War Cemetery and Arezzo War Cemetery. The records made public has details like headstone inscriptions, date of death, rank, regiment, etc.
The Cassino War Cemetery lies in Frosinone Province, around 139 km SouthEast of Rome, where Indian soldiers from Punjab Regiment, Maharatta Light Infantry, Jaipur Infantry, Royal Indian Army Service Corps and Gurkha Rifles were buried.