World War I comes alive in Delhi

World War I comes alive in Delhi

World War I era weapons, uniforms, communication equipment and scenes came to life here as the Indian Army marked the centenary of gallantry by Indian soldiers.

The central theme of the pageant highlighted faith, heritage and sacrifice of the 15-lakh strong Indian military which fought in the war.

General N.P. Singh, chief of staff of 2 Corps and the chief coordinator of the exhibition, told IANS that the Indian soldiers' contribution in World War I had not been recorded properly.

"Innocent Indian soldiers displayed true gallantry. They were the chosen ones," said Singh at the Manekshaw convention centre.

"As many as 73,000 Indian soldiers died in the war, 62,000 soldiers were maimed and injured, and nobody knows exactly how many did not return," he added.

Many of the soldiers who took part in the war were illiterate, untrained and semi-trained. 

The exhibition - which began on March 10 and will end March 25 - houses stalls with layouts of the war zone, pinpointing the cities where the Indians fought.

Battlefield maps of France, Belgium, Macedonia, Gallipoli (Turkey), Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia (Iraq), East Africa, China and Singapore were erected.

On display are details of all the 11 winners of the Victoria Cross - the highest British military decoration for valour - from the Indian subcontinent. 

Two descendants of Victoria Cross winners narrated the exploits of their relatives in the war. 

B.S. Negi, son of India's first Victoria Cross winner N.K. Darwan Negi, said: "My father was awarded right in the battlefield by King George V on December 5, 1914."

One Irfan Sheikh came all the way from England to share the story of his grandfather Captain Sardar Sheikh Yasin Bahadur. 

"My grandfather joined the army as a lad and he came home alive. We have his medals and uniforms in our home. We are proud of his achievements."

Miniature models of monuments erected in remembrance of the Indian contribution in the war such as the Menin Gate Memorial and Indian Forces Memorial in Belgium were also recreated.

Present-day soldiers wore the uniforms of the period and re-enacted the scenes of World War I communication wing, showing the use of morse code, line stores, signalling stores, dispatch stores and radio stores.

A trench was recreated for the public. Soldiers also demonstrated the artillery operations of that time. Singh said the new generation should know the legacy of the Indian Army and be inspired. 

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