NEW DELHI: The second overseas national war memorial for Indian soldiers will be inaugurated at Villers-Guislain in France on November 10 to commemorate all those who fought and lost their lives during the first World War in 1914-18.
The first national memorial was built in Belgium a decade ago. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is expected to inaugurate the memorial.
The United Service Institution of India (USI), which is one of the oldest military think-tanks, has initiated the work with the help of the Indian Army and the government.
"The memorial has been erected at a small village named Villers Guislain. Dafadar Gobind Singh got the Victoria Award for fierce fighting at this battlefield only in December 1917. It is in this battle that the tank was used, " said USI Secretary Sqn Ldr RTS Chhina (Retd).
This memorial would also be distinguished as it will have the State Emblem of India.
The United Kingdom is also supporting the USI in this cause.
The objective of the centenary commemorations is three-fold --- to revive the memory of a forgotten legion and to honour its sacrifice, to build bridges with partner nations through acknowledgement of a shared past and to highlight the futility of war and the urgent need to work towards its eradication as a means of settling disputes among nations, said USI Director Lt Gen PK Singh (retd).
Indian Army contributed a large number of divisions and independent brigades to the European, Mediterranean and the Middle East theatres of war in World War I.
Over 1.5 million Indian troops served overseas, of whom over 70,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded.
The USI has also brought into the mainstream the descendants of those soldiers who fought and died during the war.
It has also got response from Pakistan, which formed a part of undivided India at the time of World Wars.
However, the Pakistan government did not take much of an interest in such activities.
During her visit to Paris in June, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had announced the construction of a war memorial in France.
The French government gave around 1000 meters of land at a token cost of Euro one.
They were of the view that a memorial should be created for those India soldiers who fought for liberating the parts of France.