Melbourne, April 25: That was in April 1915, when the Indian Expeditionary force “G” was sent to reinforce the Gallipoli campaign.

The Allied forces consisted of a massive Indian Contingent of 16,000 Crack Indian Soldiers who fought gallantly alongside the ANZACS for the entire 8 long months of Close Battle, as part of British offensive.

Despatched from Egypt, the Indian brigade was attached to British 29th Division, which had been decimated in the earlier battles.

The Indian Brigade’s heroics area many and uncountable, which Col Samir Roychowdhury, Coordinator of Indian Veterans in Melbourne, very proudly narrated.

“In the second battle of KRITHIA; the Indian Brigade’s 1/6th Gurkha Rifles managed to advance along the Aegean Seashore; while the 14th Ferozepore Sikhs (Royal) advancing along the floor of Gully Ravine was almost wiped out, losing 380 men out of 514 and 80 per cent of their officers.

“Later in the battle of Gully Ravine, the 2/10th Gurkha Rifles managed to advance to support the British Force.

“In the battle of ‘SARI BAIR’, under the cover of a naval bombardment, the 1/6th Gurkha Rifles assaulted and captured the hill, which was then shelled by the Royal Navy”, Col Roychowdhury said.

However, with mounting casualties, the Indian Brigade was forced to withdraw and in that process, 1358 brave Indian soldiers gave up their lives and more than 3421 had been wounded.

Those heroes were honoured on this ANZAC Day, when many Indian veterans marched upholding the history of Indians in Gallipoli.

As part of larger Commomwealth group, the Indian Contingent marched, led by General Ranjit Nadkarni VSM(RETD) with the Great Indian Tricolour.

Indian forces in Gallipoli comprised mostly of Sikhs, Punjabis and Gurkhas, who developed a positive relationship with ANZAC troops.

“The ANZACS were highly impressed with the Indian valour, comradeship and total dedication with high military morale of the Indians”, Col Roychowdhury said.

This year’s march was made more commemorative with the joining in of “very-deserving new veterans”.

As VIR CHAKRA awardee, Colonel Ashok Tara and distinguished IAF Fighter pilot, Gp.Capt. Chakrarvarty Zorawar Singh marched with the contingent; there was an exhibition of more valour and colour; and added glory and cheers for the Indian contingent as they marched through a milieu of bystanders and cheerers.

Col Ashok Tara was awarded the VIR CHAKRA for Battle Of GangaSagar in 1971.

Almost 41 years since this battle of “Wits and Guts”, on 20th October 2012, the Bangladesh Government invited him to Dakha to confer a National honour of “Friend Of Bangladesh Liberation War Honour” by current Prime Minister of Bangladesh Mrs. Sheikh Hasina.

Col Tara with his enormous courage and while risking his own life, forced a column of entrenched Pakistani troops to surrender; resulting in a historical rescue and saving of the family members of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from being eliminated.

Current prime minister of Bangladesh is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Fighter pilot, Capt. Chakrarvarty Zorawar Singh, who is an ace flyer of MIG21 and SUKHOY supersonic  jets; was instrumental in demolishing several enemy tanks and well entrenched enemy positions in spite of losing one eye.

Many veterans, who have completed more than three decades of active service in India, marched astride vehicles due to their frailty, to boost national morale and maintain the rich history of sacrifices made by the courageous and gallant Indian soldiers in the Gallipoli campaign.

more photos of the ANZAC Day march[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”10″ gal_title=”Anzac Day parade”]

Speaking to Bharat Times, Col Roychowdhury spoke of the need to “inculcate a sense of pride amongst the vast Indian population settled here”.

Many are not aware “of the tremendous sacrifices made in war, conflicts and peace-keeping operations by their forefathers; for the sake of the country’s integrity and prestige”.

Speaking of disconnect amongst the new generation of Indians in Melbourne, Col Roychowdhury said, they are “totally detached and unaware of the massive turmoil that their great grand parents have made for this phase of prosperity” both in India and their adopted country Australia.

Col Roychowdhury who co-ordinates the Indian contingent march on Anzac Day in Melbourne, said that it is important to “maintain the awareness and history of Indian sacrifices both for India and Australia in Gallipoli, for the vast community who have opted to settle here”.

Assembling at The Princess Bridge, near Federation Square, the Indian contingent led by scouts marched in front of Federation Square through to the Hut of Remembrance, in front of the Cenotaph.

After a tea break they proceeded to the Indian Consulate for a congratulatory lunch.

Melbourne’s Indian Veterans consists of retired tri-service officers and widows of deceased veterans settled in Melbourne.

Shalini Singh

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