ANZAC spirit recalls Australia-India friendship

By Vijay Badhwar

Thanks to the Hindu Council of Australia who took initiative last year to erect the Cherrybrook Cenotaph that the Indian community now shares a part of ANZAC history.

On Baisakhi Day, April 13, the Indian community commemorated a service to remember Indian soldiers who took part in two World Wars and gallantly fought alongside their Australian and New Zealand counterparts for freedom and peace in the world.

Amidst the sounds of bagpipes and scouts standing in attention, it was a solemn afternoon to remember those who had sacrificed their lives, to hear their stories of mateship and the honours they had received in acknowledgement of their bravery.

Hornsby RSL Sub Branch president, Terry James, remembered Havaldar Jadav who was decorated with the highest award for gallantry, Victoria Cross, and was among 30 Indian soldiers from the Indian Army within British Army in the Second World War. In WWI, 17 Indian soldiers received the honours, Mr James recalled.

The Acting Indian Consul General in Sydney, Mr Chandru Appar, said that the Cenotaph recognised the contribution of the Indian community in Australia and the soldiers who took part in Gallipoli. In the final evacuation in 1915, there were 80 Gurkha and Sikh soldiers who kept making noises to deceive the enemy into believing that the front was being held.

“There was bonhomie between Indian and Australian soldiers who shared roti and daal together,” he said. This Australia-India friendship is continuing with the two countries sharing exercises and training together, Mr Chandru Appar added.

Federal Member for Hornsby, Julian Leeser, who had attended Gallipoli service, gave an account of the steep terrain where the Indian soldiers had been set an extreme task to defend amidst constant fire from the enemy. The Australian soldiers wrote in great awe about their friendship with Indian soldiers in their letters to their families and friends: one about Karan Singh who, even though he was himself hit, kept on giving orders. “True friendship between our nations – India and Australia – can be traced to the fields of Gallipoli. Today, we commemorate their friendship, pause and reflect on their sacrifices, lest we forget,” Mr Leeser said.

There were representatives from the Gujarati, Muslim and Sikh communities who quoted respectively from their religious texts that whenever there is evil, there is a commandment to fight for the sake of humanity.

The speeches were followed by laying of wreaths by dignitaries and members of the community.

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