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Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial

Location

The village of Neuve Chapelle is some 5 kilometres north of La Bassée and 20 kilometres west-south-west of Lille. The Memorial is 800 metres south-west of the village on the east side of the road from La Bassée to Éstaires.

Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial

 

Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial

Historical Information

The Memorial takes the form of a circular enclosure, in the foreground of which is a column nearly 15 metres high, recalling the pillars of Ashokar, surmounted by a Lotus capital, the Star of India and the Imperial Crown.

On either side of the column two carved tigers guard this temple of the dead. The column and the tigers are supported by a podium, on the near side of which is carved India 1914-1918, while on the far side are the Battle Honours of Indian units on the Western Front.

From the ends of the podium a pierced stone railing extends half-way round the circle, and the ends of the semicircle are marked by two small domed chattris, roughly East and West. The far semicircle is enclosed by a solid wall on which are carved the names of over 4,700 soldiers of the Indian Army.

39 members of the 1914-1918 Indian Forces commemorated here were cremated at Patcham Down, Sussex. In 2010, their point of commemoration was transferred back to Patcham Down when a new memorial was unveiled there.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission decided in 2009 that, although these men did not have graves, they were not ‘missing’ in the conventional sense and it would therefore be more appropriate to commemorate them on a memorial at the cremation site. The Patcham Down Indian Forces Cremation Memorial was designed and built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and unveiled on 26 September 2010.

Also engraved on the Memorial is the following inscription:

To the honour of the army of India which fought in France and Belgium, 1914-1918, and in perpetual remembrance of those of their dead whose names are here recorded and who have no known grave.

Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial

The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker with sculpture by Charles Wheeler. It was unveiled by the Earl of Birkenhead on 7 October 1927.

Neuve Chapelle Indian Memorial

In 1964 a Special Bronze Panel was added to this memorial with the names of 210 servicemen of undivided India who died during the 1914-1918 war, whose graves at Zehrensdorf Indian Cemetery, Germany, had become unmaintainable. Although this plaque still exists, the graves were reinstated in 2005.

Zehrensdorf Plaque

 

This site also contains the Neuve-Chapelle 1939 – 1945 Cremation Memorial. In 1964 the remains of 8 Indian soldiers (including 2 unidentified) were exhumed from Sarrebourg French Military Cemetery Extension and cremated.

The names of the 6 identified soldiers are engraved on panels at the Neuve Chapelle Memorial, together with the following inscription:

1939 – 1945 In honour of these soldiers who died in captivity in North-West Europe and whose mortal remains were committed to fire.

 

Victoria Cross

There are two recipients of the Victoria Cross commemorated here


Gobar Sing Negi VC

1685 Rifleman Gobar Sing Negi VC
2nd Bn 39th Garwhal Rifles
Died on 10th March 1915 aged 21
Son of Badri Sing
of Manjaur, Tehri, United Provinces

Panel: 32

The London Gazette
27th April 1915

For most conspicuous bravery on 10th March, 1915, at Neuve-Chapelle. During our attack on the German position he was one of a bayonet party with bombs who entered their main trench, and was the first man to go round each traverse, driving back the enemy until they were eventually forced to surrender. He was killed during this engagement.

The other Victoria Cross holder on the walls is:

Lieutenant William Bruce VC
59th Scinde Rifles
Frontier Force
Died on 19th December 1914 aged 24
Son of Colonel Andrew CB and Margaret Bruce
of La Fontaine Pontac, Jersey

Panel: 25

The London Gazette
4th September 1919

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. On the 19th December, 1914, near Givenchy, during a night attack, Lt. Bruce was in command of a small party which captured one of the enemy’s trenches. In spite of being severely wounded in the neck, he walked up and down the trench, encouraging his men to hold on against several counter-attacks for some hours until killed.

The fire from rifles and bombs was very heavy all day, and it was due to the skilful disposition made, and the example and encouragement shown by Lt. Bruce that his men were able to hold out until dusk, when the trench was finally captured by the enemy.

 

Crichton Memorial

Crichton Memorial

Outside the memorial on the grass bank you will see this cenotaph honouring 2nd Lieutenant Cyril Crichton of the 3rd Bn London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) who died here on 10th March 1915.

He whom this memorial commemorates was numbered amongst those who, at the call of King and Country left all that was dear to them. Endured hardness, faced danger and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self sacrifice giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name is not forgotten.

He is actually buried in Le Touret Military Cemetery not far from here (Grave: IV C 34). The adjacent Le Touret Memorial to the Missing is well worth visiting.

 

Other cemeteries in the area


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

CWGC Poppy Button