Indian soldiers’ sacrifices remembered at the ANZAC ceremony in Cherrybrook

By Neena Badhwar

Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) along with Hornsby Shire council, RSL Hornsby sub branch celebrated special memorial service in memory of the sacrifices made by around twelve Anzacs of Indian origin at the ANZAC Jawan Cenotaph at Greenway Oval, Shepherds Lane, Cherrybrook on Sunday April 18, 2021. This Cenotaph was erected in 2018 to celebrate the Centenary of Armistice of ANZACs and to recognise the mateship and shared sacrifices made also by the Indian soldiers since they were employed under the British Armed Forces during World War 1.

Many Indian soldiers were listed to go to war from Australia which the historians like Len Kenna have researched on the role of Indian servicemen in the war at Gallipoli along with Aussie soldiers.

The ceremony started with the hymns sung in honour of the soldiers by the congregation with guests from the Indian army personnel, politicians and members of the Indian community.

Said Bhagwat Chauhan, President HCA, NSW, “Our soldiers sacrificed their lives for the good of humanity and defending their adopted country in 1915. Anzac soldiers’ sacrifice marked the real birth of our nation with a legacy of mateship, endurance, courage and sacrifice. These characteristics helped us together to overcome disasters such as draught, bushfires and recent unprecedented Corona virus. This memorial links the new generation Australians of Indian origin inspiring them to associate with the history of Australia as well as encourage them to follow path of sacrifice like the Indian soldiers did hundred years ago.”

Julian Leeser, Federal Liberal MP from the seat of Berowra remembered how fourteen Victoria Cross Awards were conferred on Indian soldiers which is quite a high honour by Britain as he related the story of valour and courage of an Indian soldier who carried supplies on his horse even when badly wounded to the soldiers fighting in Turkey.

Indian troupe’s camaraderie and valour by the Indian soldiers drawn from India of Gurkhas, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus who died alongside Australian, New Zealand and British soldiers is a well known fact. Although the sacrifices of the Australian soldiers are extensively documented but Indians had to wait for a century for their stories to be told, “They paid supreme sacrifice. We stand to pay homage to them today. Lest we forget,” said honourable Primrose, Labor MLA, NSW.

Matt Kean, New South Wales Minister for Energy and Environment, said, “It really was the birth of us as a nation based on the sacrifices made by the Anzacs, 61,000 of the over 300,000 who did not make it back home as well as the allied soldiers under the British empire which included the Indians.”

Honourable Phillip Ruddock said, “Anzac Day is an occasion when we remember the people who served our nation, sought to protect our values, parliamentary democracy and rule of law. The sort of society we live in would not be there if we were not there to protect it. Australians and Indians have fought together for those shared values.” He went to add about the dawn on the 25th of April, 1915, when, “The Anzacs landed on the beaches under cover provided by the 7th Indian Mountain Artillery Brigade, you would understand how we have the shared history.”

Ramanand Garge representing the Consulate General of India in Sydney also paid his tribute to the supreme sacrifices made by the soldiers when he said about the ceremony which commemorates and preserves the legacy of shared values, an occasion to draw inspiration from the valour of the Indian soldiers by the coming generations of Indian origin.

Prayers in Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Hindu religion were sung as well as national anthems of both Australia and India sung by the students of IABBV Hindi school. Students of Cherrybrook High school also took part. Finally two minute silence was observed followed by the Rouse played by the Hornsby RSL Pipe Band.

The ceremony was an emotional moment as guests laid wreaths with the Band playing with scouts standing in honour of the Indian soldiers, not just the twelve names written on the Cenotaph but also in memory of the sixteen thousand Indian soldiers who lost their lives along with the ANZACs in World War 1.

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