To honour the sacrifice of Indian servicemen who fell in France in WW1, the USI conceptualised the plans for the Indian Great War Military Memorial in collaboration with the commune of Villers-Guislain, the Indian Armed Forces and the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India.
Although a memorial dedicated to the Indian war dead maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) exists at Neuve Chapelle, a need was felt to build a unique Indian Memorial incorporating the Indian national emblem to honour the service of the Indian Armed Forces in France in WW1. Currently, the UK, Canada, Australia, Belgium and the US have similar memorials in France. The only such Indian memorial today stands at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.
The Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, inaugurated the Indian Great War Military Memorial at Villers-Guislain on 10 Nov 2018. The Director USI, Lt Gen PK Singh, PVSM, AVSM (Retd), attended the ceremony on behalf of the Institution.
The memorial commemorates the men of the Indian Army who fell on the Western Front during WW1. It is the first Indian national memorial in France and is located near the battlefield where Lance Dafadar Gobind Singh won the Victoria Cross for his death defying deeds of valour on 1st December 1917.
The Vice President of India in an article titled “Our fitting tribute”, published in The Indian Express dated March 5, 2019, expressed appreciation for USI’s efforts to institutionalise a grassroots culture of remembrance by highlighting the valour of the Indian armed forces. He acknowledged the Secretary CAFHR’s efforts in this regard in his article.
USI-CAFHR Secretary and Editor Sqn Ldr Chhina represented the USI at the commemoration event at Villers-Guislain in October 2019. The event was organized by Maire de Villers-Guislain Mr Gérard Allart and the Indian Embassy in France.