Remembering World War martyrs! Kolkata to pay photographic tribute to Indian colonial troops

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British Indian Army.
Kolkata, Nov 10: The important role played by colonial troops, including Indian and North African soldiers, in the First World War will be showcased through a collection of rare photographs for the centennial commemoration of the Great War at an exhibition beginning here Tuesday.

Around 70,000 Indian soldiers lost their lives in the war that began July 28, 1914 and lasted until Nov 11, 1918.

Some 150,000 Indian soldiers were deployed in Europe in September 1914. The overwhelming majority of Indian troops, however, fought in Mesopotamia against the Ottoman Empire.

The exhibition "War and Colonies" at Victoria Memorial Hall here will exhibit as many as 35 photographs. It has been organised in collaboration with Alliance Francaise du Bengale.

According to the organisers, "With 35 rare photographs of colonial troops (African, North African, Irish, Indian and Indo-Chinese soldiers) during the Great War, the exhibition brings to focus the relationships between the protagonists of this conflict and their colonies".

They also said it would shed new light on a part of history that is often overlooked. The exhibition will run till Nov 23.

Britain recently honoured over a million Indian soldiers, who fought in World War I, as British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon laid a wreath at the war memorial at India Gate in New Delhi and praised the "enormous contribution" of India to the war effort.

Fallon said Indian soldiers distinguished themselves in every theatre of World War I, earning over 9,000 decorations, including six Victoria Cross medals -- the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy".

The Indian troops were the largest volunteer force at that point in history and the only professionally-trained, combat-experienced force in the Commonwealth.

It had a significant role to play in numerous fronts around the globe -- France, Belgium, Greece, West and East Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Russia and Iran.

IANS

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